Fujifilm Instax Pal: Pocket-sized cuteness that’s inessential but fun

More fun than a smartphone for taking snaps, but it is pricey and you’ll need a dedicated printer

It is relatively rare that I find a tech product I could genuinely describe as “cute”. Functional? Yes. Unnecessary? Sometimes. Expensive? Far too often. But cute? That is a rarely bestowed description in this line of work.

And in this case, it is even rarer because I’m talking about a camera. Even the name wants to make you like it. The Instax Pal sounds safe and non-threatening. You want to own one, even if you don’t really know why.

The camera fits in the palm of your hand, but that doesn’t mean it is purely for novelty value. It has a built-in wide-angle lens, which will take images at a resolution of 2560×1920, or 4.9 megapixels. And all the settings, from ISO to exposure, are automatic, so even if you have never picked up a film camera before, you can use this.

You can shoot up to 50 images and store them on its internal memory, but the camera also has a Micro SD slot, as you would expect on a normal point-and-shoot camera, plus a tripod mount if you need it.


You can take photos on the device using a button on the rear, or you can use your phone as a remote viewfinder. The latter can have mixed results, as there is a bit of a lag between the two devices. That means instead of snapping a nice photo of the kids or the pets, I end up with empty space – particularly when trialling it with the kids, who want to see the photographs as soon as they are taken.

For less impatient, more sedate subjects, that will be fine. You could also use the interval shooting mode, which will take a series of photos for you at the touch of a button.

There are filters you can apply, depending on this week’s aesthetic preferences, or add effects, stickers and frames later in the app.

If you want to print your photos, you can connect the app to an Instax printer. Fujifilm is selling the cameras separately from its printers, which is great if you have already bought into the Instax ecosystem. And the app lets you take photos to fit your preferred format – mini, square or wide – so you don’t have to edit them afterwards.

But that also makes it a little harder to see where the Instax Pal fits into the wider scheme of things. The company already offers a number of hybrid cameras that print photos without the need to cart along a separate photo printer.

So why does it exist? The world is full of products that could be aptly described as a solution that has no problem. But the Instax Pal isn’t trying to solve a problem; it’s trying to be a bit of fun. And who couldn’t do with more of that in their life?


Impossibly small, it fits in the palm of your hand. You can tuck it in your pocket to take with you, and the included multi-use ring can be used as a makeshift viewfinder, or a wedge to angle the camera. Or a way to keep hold of it securely while you are out and about. The resulting photos are surprisingly good, on a par with anything other Instax cameras can produce.

It also has some cute sound effects, though these could easily tip into irritating after a while. But fear not: Fujifilm has built in the ability to record your own sound effects, so you can personalise the camera a little more, potentially with hilarious results.

The camera is durable, too, which is probably for the best, given its likely target audience. It has already survived a few bumps during this review, and more than one full-on drop from a height.


No video, no viewfinder, and no way to print without investing in a separate printer. The Instax Pal may be a camera, but it has far fewer features than some of the other products in the line-up.

Considering the cost of the Pal, plus the need for a separate photo printer, it might be cheaper to go for another Instax camera, such as the Evo or the LiPlay.

Everything else

The Pal only lists compatibility with the Instax Mini Link 2, Instax Link Wide and Instax Square Link printers, but that’s only for direct print via Bluetooth straight from the camera. Using the smartphone app opens that to everything from the Instax photo printers to the previously mentioned LiPlay and Mini Evo hybrid cameras.

And as usual there are extra features – animations and so on – that can be used alongside your photographs.

It comes in a number of colours, from the standard white and grey to the more colourful blue, green and coral.

The verdict

Novelty value aside, the Instax Pal is a more discreet way to take photos, and certainly more fun than your smartphone. But despite the joy, it is pricey, and you’ll still need that printer.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist