Instagram is Fine, But Real Prints are Better


There is something about holding a print in your hands that can never compare to the digital screens of our smartphones. I must admit, Instagram and Snapchat may be great for getting more eyes on your work but, if you really want to make an impression, then the best bet is to hand your friends, both old and new, a physical photograph at a party. So how do you go about getting your everyday snaps off your phone and into the real world? Easy. You use a portable printer.

Portable, mobile, or instant printing has really taken off in recent years, with many brands getting into the game and developing and updating products over time with enhanced connectivity and functions. One of the most capable examples of this is the dye-sublimation SELPHY series from Canon. Currently starring the CP1300, users can easily and quickly have a full-color printer that can run on AC or battery power and print at sizes up to the standard 4 x 6". The variety of sizes is the huge advantage of this model because you can produce anything from a 2.1 x 2.1" square to the more conventional 4 x 6" mentioned earlier. And it can even print directly from an SD card or USB flash drive via its large 3.2" touchscreen or directly over its Wi-Fi connection, using an app.

Canon SELPHY CP1300 Compact Photo Printer

While the SELPHY is certainly a nice option for printing, it isn’t the most portable. By portable, I mean something that will feel at home in your pocket or next to your smartphone. This makes the Polaroid ZIP an excellent choice. There is a lot to love about this tiny printer, but I must highlight its use of ZINK Zero Ink Technology to produce images quickly and without requiring anything more to be loaded in than a ZINK paper pack, which offers the bonus of being smudge proof and having adhesive backing so you can stick the 2 x 3" photos anywhere. Designed to be carried around with you, the ZIP has a built-in Li-ion battery and Bluetooth and NFC connectivity for connecting to your iOS or Android device through the Polaroid ZIP app. The app really opens the possibilities with editing tools, filters, and more, to make even better photographs.

Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

Operating in a similar manner, but with its own unique trick, is the Lifeprint Hyperphoto Printer. It is a fast, compact, Bluetooth-connected printer much like the ZIP, and can produce a 2 x 3" ZINK print in just 30 seconds. The real trick here is in the implementation of Augmented Reality, where individuals can take the printed image, examine it through the Lifeprint app and their smartphone’s camera, and then watch the associated video, almost as if you were living in a real wizarding world. Lifeprint also features its own social network for sharing videos and photos, making it arguably the best of both worlds when it comes to sharing physical media and digital imagery. Additionally, it has direct support for GoPro cameras and Apple Live photos, something nothing else on this list can do.

Lifeprint Hyperphoto Printer

Along the same lines, too, Fujifilm also has its instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2, which is also a portable printer for use with your smartphone or tablet. The key difference with Fujifilm’s offering is that this device prints directly to instax mini instant film, rather than using ZINK or a dye-sub process. This gives you the chance to produce the beloved petit analog prints with the convenience of your smartphone.

Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-2

Let’s say you miss your old Polaroid, or Fujifilm’s instax line is very appealing, if only you could also capture the images and share them on Instagram later, this is where the Kodak PRINTOMATIC is the perfect solution. This is a stand-alone point-and-shoot camera with a 10MP sensor and wide-angle f/2 lens that captures digital images and then uses built-in ZINK technology to print them. This means you can walk around with a single device for capturing and printing your photos, and it features Kodak’s distinct yellow color that will make it a fun accessory for every day.

Kodak PRINTOMATIC Instant Digital Camera

Finally, we have the original instant printers: instant film cameras! This sector of photography has had a huge resurgence in the past year with makers like Fujifilm and the Impossible Project spearheading the charge to bring back this endangered format. The Impossible Project deserves a bit of applause here, due to its efforts to revive Polaroid film and cameras, especially since now the company has revealed Polaroid Originals and the brand new OneStep2, a sequel to one of the simplest instant film cameras ever made. This is the best choice if you want to embrace instant printing, as each photo you take will be immediately memorialized as a physical print.

Polaroid Originals OneStep2 Instant Film Camera

There is almost no excuse to not be printing at least some of your photos these days, especially with so many options being available with a range of features and prices. Which of these instant printing tools is most appealing to you? Share with us in the Comments section, below!


I love the Portable and Mobile Printing for the Holidays that can print photos from a phone or tablet. These printers can be taken anywhere such as a party, a wedding, and on vacation.

the brother rj4040 and the print n share app also make a neat combo