Remember the first Polaroid cameras? Until then, there was no real way to know how your pictures came out until you got them developed. Sure, they were a little on the bulky side and the pictures had to be left to develop for a minute or two before you could see the full exposure, but the Polaroid was really a cutting-edge camera when it first hit the market. For the first time, people were able to get an instant result when it came to their pictures. It made sharing photos with friends easy, and in many ways set the precedent for the way we think about photo technology today.
Most smartphones have cameras built right into them, and with dozens of photo sharing websites, it’s hard not to want show off the photos you take when you’re on the go. Every smartphone has enough memory to contain a few albums worth of high-quality photos, and is fast enough to email, upload or text those files to anyone in the country. Much like the first Polaroid was, the prospect of sharing digital images is still really exciting.
However, sometimes a digital photo doesn’t feel quite the same as a glossy print once did. You can view them any time you want, and they are still as crystal clear as the moment you took them, but for those who miss the days of traditional photography it still misses the mark in some way. Technology typically doesn’t go backward, and that also applies to photography, but sometimes it does borrow ideas from the past to improve upon current gadgets.
Like their earlier analog ancestors, some digital cameras are now being released with printers built right into the body. That’s right. You can shoot, edit and print photos all on one camera for an exciting union of new technology and nostalgia. There are more and more of these products appearing on the market and some are really impressive, while others are still trying to catch up.
In this review we’re going to be taking a look at the newly released Kodak Mini Shot Wireless 2 in 1 Instant Print Digital Camera and Printer. The Kodak Mini Shot is a beginner’s camera at an affordable price point that lets you shoot and print photos just like an old Polaroid. The big difference is that it’s totally digital. We’re going to be looking at the design, features, image quality as well as any downsides the camera has, to give you a full breakdown of whether or not this camera is here to stay.
At first glance, the Kodak Mini Shot looked extremely intuitive to just about anyone who’s ever used a camera. On the front you’ll find the lens, a small built-in flash as well as the Kodak logo, and on the right side you’ll find the printing slot. The top is also pretty simple, with a clearly marked power button, and bright orange shutter button.
The back of the camera has a 1.7 inch LCD viewfinder, as well as some menu buttons. You’ll find a menu button, two buttons for scrolling, as well as a print button. There’s also a built-in USB port for charging.
The entire camera is about the size of a smartphone, measuring at 3 x 5.2 x 9 inches and weighing in at 8.4 ounces. Also, if you’re wondering about other colors, the Kodak Mini Shot does come in black, white and yellow.
As far as the design and layout is concerned, we felt that the Kodak Mini Shot was basic and simple, but that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. Right away, we felt that the intuitive, stripped down design would make using this camera a snap.
Even though the Kodak Mini Shot is an all in one camera, it can still connect to smartphones and tablets. It’s Bluetooth compatible, mainly to allow for the editing of photos from your smartphone via the free Kodak app. It would have been nice for this to be more of an on-board feature, but considering that most expensive DSLR’s don’t even do this, we couldn’t be too picky.
One thing we really did find useful was that the Bluetooth connection worked both ways. You can not only send photos to your smartphone or tablet, but you can also send photos to the camera to print. We thought this was an excellent addition because it enables you to share a hard copy of a photo anywhere even if it’s one that you’ve saved on your phone.
Power and Charging
The Kodak Mini Shot contains a 620 mAh lithium battery that’s completely rechargeable via a micro USB cable. It takes about 1.5 hours to fully charge, and will yield about 20 photos. We weren’t particularly impressed by the battery life, mainly because we felt that an on-the-go camera like this one should be able to last a little bit longer. Furthermore, you could theoretically take twenty photos and only want to keep a few of them, leaving you with a drained battery and no way to take more pictures.
Granted, it only takes 1.5 hours to charge the camera back up again, but you’ll have to stop somewhere which, if you’re on vacation or with friends, can be a little bit of a damper on your good time. That being said, the ability to wirelessly print photos from your smartphone to the camera’s printer. This means that you could use your smartphone’s camera as a backup and print from the Kodak Mini Shot later—if you found yourself with a really dynamite photo opportunity.
Printing from the Mini Shot really could not be any simpler. All you have to do is take your photo, select it using the camera’s menu buttons and the press print. That’s it. It’ll take about 50 seconds for each photo to print and you’ll get an image that is 2.1 x 3.4 inches, about the size of a credit card.
Considering that Kodak fitted this camera with its patented 4Pass printing technology that significantly enhances image quality, this is a pretty fast print speed. 4Pass printing technology refers to something called dye-sublimation that uses a heat transfer process to evenly distribute a range of colors. In fact, the Mini Shot’s printer is capable of producing 256 levels per color, or a total of 1.67 million colors.
This ensures that your print looks as close to your original photo as possible. If that isn’t enough, the camera also coats each photo with protective layer to ensure that it doesn’t fade over time. You can also print from the Kodak app, as long as you have your Bluetooth enabled phone or tablet connected to the camera.
The Kodak App was extremely easy to use. It’s available on both the App Store as well as Google Play and enables you to edit, customize or alter photos before you print them. It even has built-in templates cropping tools, filters, stickers and borders to give your photos a little something extra. Considering that this is not a professional camera, editing photos on expensive photo editing software might have been a bit overwhelming. The app was the right speed for a beginner, but was still loaded with enough features to adequately edit photos to your liking.
The Kodak Mini Shot is capable of shooting in up to 10 megapixels and is equipped with full autofocus, auto-exposure, white balance and gamma color control. These features certainly improved image quality drastically and took out some of the guesswork that new photographers may find themselves doing. 10 megapixels isn’t particularly dazzling, but for a camera that is designed to take photos the size of a credit card, it was more than enough.
The only reason one might want a higher resolution would be if they were planning on heavily editing, or blowing up the photos they take with it, but in that instance, they’d need something more heavy duty anyway. This is not the camera for a professional photographer but for the average person looking for something with appropriate resolution for what it produces. The details of each photo come out sharp, with mostly excellent, vibrant and well-saturated colors. The result wasn’t exactly what we saw in the LCD viewfinder, but in a side-by-side comparison, were close enough.
The Kodak Mini Shot is a great camera – no question there. However it does have a few minor flaws, even for the amateur. First and foremost, the LCD viewfinder may be considered too small. 1.7 inches isn’t nearly large enough to give you a good idea of how your shot looks.
If the camera was loaded with a ton of buttons or switches that made it impossible to build in a larger viewfinder, we’d understand, but the back of it is filled with empty space! Kodak could have easily made the viewfinder a few inches larger to give you a clearer look at what you’re shooting. The fact that it’s so small made using it a little difficult at some times.
We also would have liked for it to be a bit more energy efficient. Like some other Kodak products, the battery just doesn’t seem to last long enough. After twenty shots, you’ll have to recharge it. Considering that the printing cartridges come in packs of up to 50 sheets, this just didn’t seem like it was enough. Sure, you can use your smartphone as a backup and print later on once you’re connected to power, but if you’re looking to share a photo on the go, the poor battery life could pose a problem.
Overall, the Kodak Mini Shot is really nifty and easy to use. It yielded some excellent photos and was made even more convenient when it came to customizing images because of the free Kodak app. With the exception of a few small design flaws, we felt that this new release from Kodak was reminiscent of old Polaroids, while also seamlessly integrating the technology of today.
It’s definitely not a camera for professional photographers, but has some impressive features and also comes at a very affordable price point. If you’re looking for a unique 2-in-1 camera and printer to take with you on the road, to the beach, or on vacation, you may want to give it a chance.