Digital cameras with built-in printers combine the classic joy of holding a tangible snapshot in your hands with the contemporary ease of simple social media sharing. For that convenience, the majority of digital instant cameras will set you back a few hundred dollars, but the Kodak-branded Printomatic kind of twists the rules.
In our Kodak Printomatic review, we evaluated what is arguably the most straightforward and budget-friendly instant digital camera available, with a suggested retail price of just $70. There are no ink cartridges necessary since Zink zero-ink paper is used; simply load the paper, and full-color prints appear. It appears that an LCD panel is not necessary either, as the Printomatic does not have one.
Any minimalist would like the Kodak Printomatic’s basic rectangular form and rounded edges and corners. A little coating of gray or yellow gives some color. Less than five inches broad and less than an inch deep, the camera weighs around half a pound.
A tiny optical viewfinder is employed to frame the image in the absence of an LCD panel. Digital images are saved to a MicroSD card while prints are created on 2 by 3-inch Zink paper that spits out of a tiny hole on the side of the camera. The camera charges through USB and does not have a replaceable battery. The only controls are a power button, a shutter release, and a switch to transition from color to black and white.
Although the major selling point of instant prints is that they can be made right away, digital photographs can also be saved. But you can only do that if you don’t put any paper in the camera. You will get prints if there is paper available. You will be alerted when you run out of paper, memory card space, or battery life by little LEDs that will light up.
It goes without saying to use the Printomatic for shooting. As soon as you press the shutter, the printing process will start, bringing a whirling sound to your ears. There are no print heads or ink in a Zink print since heat is used to activate color crystals that are already present in the image. The entire process takes around 40 seconds, which isn’t very fast, but when it’s over, you receive a real print that you can hold in your hands.
In the purest meaning of the word, the Printomatic is obviously intended to function as a point-and-shoot camera. The focus seems to be fixed, and there are no exposure options. Instead, a deep depth of field is produced by using a small aperture to give the impression that everything is in focus. It’s not a fantastic camera for action or catching brief moments as they happen since there is a tiny delay between pushing the shutter and when the shot is actually captured.
This is as easy as it gets because virtually everything is automated and beyond the user’s ability to influence. Some individuals may enjoy this, while others will find it aggravating. For instance, the Printomatic will automatically activate the flash in low light. It might be bothersome since there is no option to manually toggle it on or off.
A warning that reads, “Do not expect a $70 camera to surpass your $700 smartphone!” should be included with every cheap camera. Now that all is out of the way, how do the Kodak Printomatic photos look?
The 10-megapixel resolution of the camera produces digital photos that are around 3,600 pixels wide, which is a somewhat modest image given the state of technology at the time but not too awful for the price. While the detail isn’t very precise, it’s acceptable for a print that is only 3 inches across.
The fixed focus method has limitations but is intended to maintain the majority of things in sharp focus. Anything that is too near the lens will be out of focus. Landscape and group photography benefit from the camera’s greatest performance when it is four feet or further away from the subject, but macro photography and close-up portraiture suffer.
Generally speaking, color is accurate to reality, but not as vividly as we would have desired. Also, there are no alternatives for modifying it; granted, you can always edit digital photos later on your computer or smartphone, but there is no way to change the appearance of the picture before a Zink print is produced.
The camera struggles to capture motion in low light because its shutter speed lowers, resulting in blur. The issue of fuzzy motion persisted even with the light. It’s not the best for photographing children and animals (unless you’re outside), and the shutter lag initially gave the impression that the camera shouldn’t be used for motion.
The outdoor, overcast settings we used to test the camera’s exposure metering were favorable. The exposure is a little trickier when using flash. Flash is most effective when it is at least 4 feet away from the camera; otherwise, it is too bright and will blow out nearby things.
Given that the Printomatic is a $70 camera and Kodak (or brand licensee C+A Global, rather) had to cram a camera and a printer in, none of this should come as a big surprise. Even while the camera isn’t going to win any prizes for image quality, under favorable lighting, images turn out alright and are often suitable for those 2 x 3-inch prints. Also, the prints feature an adhesive back that makes it simple to attach them wherever, which heightens the pleasure.
Kodak Printomatic: A cheap camera or just one?
The Printomatic is among the most affordable digital cameras you can buy, even with a printer connected. The Printomatic’s closest rival in terms of pricing is the original Polaroid Snap, which costs approximately $100 and shares most of its DNA with the Printomatic. For an extra $80, you can upgrade to the Polaroid Snap Touch, which has an LCD screen, Bluetooth connectivity for sharing photographs to a mobile device, three more megapixels, and even 1080p video. The Polaroid Pop features a far superior 20 megapixel sensor for $200.
There is yet a choice. Although though even these normally cost more than the Printomatic, adding a mobile printer gives you access to both digital images and tangible printouts as most smartphones shoot better-quality pictures than the Printomatic.
Fun is what the Printomatic is all about. The camera is saved by its inexpensive price, which makes it a decent option for circumstances where a real camera would be overkill, despite the image quality being subpar and the lack of manual control being bothersome. The $70 Kodak Printomatic is the ideal camera to use for parties, Homemade photo booths, or to introduce children to the fundamentals of photography.