The Instax Pal is essentially a round, palm-sized digital camera that doesn’t print any photos and lacks a built-in viewfinder. Instead, you generate images using the companion app and can then print these photos via the included Instax Mini Link 2 smartphone printer. The price also includes a 10-pack of Instax Mini films, which is a nice extra that Fujifilm instant cameras don’t usually include.
I’m not going to lie: the first thing I thought when I heard about Instax Pal was: “But… because?” After all, Fujifilm already sells the Instax Mini Evo instant camera, which can also send images to an app. and prints photos for about the same price. It also comes with a real viewfinder along with other controls that make it feel like a real camera. The Instax Mini Evo also doesn’t try to make me feel guilty about using it by making strange, sad sounds when idle.
My best guess is that Fujifilm is trying to replicate some of the success of its Instax Mini Evo instant camera by creating a cuter, easier-to-use version for kids. That’s why everything camera related is designed to scream “fun.” You can, for example, create your own custom shutter sounds, add filters, text, and stickers in the app, and apparently even earn rewards (although 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 can choose which photos they want to print. This is a feature that parents will especially like, as it can help children avoid wasting expensive movies on bad shots.
But is all that worth $199.95? I’m still testing the camera and its app, which is still a work in progress, so I can’t give a definitive 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 seem like the Instax Pal is so much a camera as a nice accessory bundled with a smartphone printer.