The Instax Share SP-3 certainly costs plenty to run. Film comes in packs of ten which typically cost around £9/$12, so that’s way more expensive than using a photo lab or even a desktop printer.
But the whole point of this printer is to produce an instant momento for people to take away with them. Instant photography is enjoying a significant resurgence for this very reason – and what the Instax Share SP-3 offers is instant pictures, but without the bulk, cost and relatively crudeness of an instant camera.
Instead, you simply send pictures from your smartphone, via Wi-Fi, from the free companion Instax Share app. The app has access to your camera roll, so there’s no time-consuming import process. And, being a smartphone, you can print other people’s pictures too – just get them to send them to your phone.
The Instax Share SP-3 isn’t exactly pocket-sized, but it’s small enough to slip into a shoulder bag and is entirely self-contained. It’s powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a colored LED lamp on the top lets you know how much power it has left.
Easy to use
Also on the top is a row of ten white LEDs that correspond to the ten prints in each film pack. Every time you print a picture, an LED goes out.
Swapping empty film packs for fresh ones is easy. You press a button on the side to open a large access door (don’t do this if you still have unexposed pictures inside!) and remove the empty cartridge. New cartridges have a protective light-proof sheet and when the door is closed the printer automatically removes and ejects this sheet ready for your first print.
The color rendition of the prints is a little warm and there’s quite a lot of contrast, so that subtle highlight details tend to disappear. These aren’t really issues, though, because the Instax Share SP-3 is about capturing memories, and if anything the quirky, old-fashioned look adds to their charm.
Given the cost of both the Instax Share SP-3 and its film packs, it’s impossible to offer any practical arguments at all for getting one. But of course, it’s not about the money. Its appeal is purely emotional, offering an permanent physical token of a fleeting event.