The Instax Pal is essentially a palm-sized, round digital camera that doesn’t print any photos and lacks a built-in viewfinder. Instead, it outputs images using the companion app, and you can then print these photos via the included Instax Mini Link 2 smartphone printer. The price also includes a 10-pack of Instax Mini film, which is a nice extra that Fujifilm’s instant cameras don’t often come with.
I’m not going to lie: my first thought when I heard about the Instax Pal was: “But… why?” After all, Fujifilm already sells the Instax Mini Evo instant camera, which can also output images to an app and prints photos for around the same price. It also comes with an actual viewfinder along with other controls that make it feel like a real camera. The Instax Mini Evo also doesn’t try to guilt trip me into using it by making strange, sad sounds when it’s sitting idle.
My best guess is that Fujifilm’s trying to replicate some of its Instax Mini Evo instant camera success by creating an easier-to-use, cuter version for kids. That’s why everything about the camera is designed to scream “fun.” You can, for example, create your own custom shutter sounds, add filters, text, and in-app stickers, and apparently even earn rewards (though I’m still figuring out how). And, of course, its small size and detachable ring should make it easier for smaller hands to hold.
At the same time, like the Instax Mini Evo, kids get to choose which photos they want to print. That’s a feature parents will particularly like, given it can help kids avoid wasting expensive film on bad shots.
But is all that worth $199.95? I’m still testing the camera and its app — which is still very much a work in progress — so I can’t give a definite opinion yet. But so far, I’m not convinced it is. An instant film camera that doesn’t print any photos and lacks a built-in viewfinder? It doesn’t feel like the Instax Pal is a camera so much as a cute accessory bundled with a smartphone printer.