Film may have largely disappeared, but the photographic is sticking around. We’ve covered the best instant printing cameras that use Fujifilm’s Instax technology for the last year or so. They produce Polaroid-style prints, but there’s another option: Zink printing.
Zink is short for “zero ink.” Zink eliminates the annoying need for (and running out of) ink cartridges in your printer. Instead Zink prints hold layers of ink in the paper itself. When the image prints, a pressure-based process mixes the ink around to produce the image. Zink produces more traditional prints that look like what you’d get from a professional printer (without the professional quality), instead of the Polaroidesque big-bordered pics of Instax cameras.
Zink printers are slower to spit your images than Instax, but they’re done the minute they emerge. They’re also sticky-backed. Zink prints tend to have better dynamic range—meaning there is a broader range of color and tone in the image—compared to Instax prints, but they struggle to produce the rich blacks you’ll find in Instax prints.
Since the technology is basically the same across all of these devices, you’d think that the results would be similar, but we found a surprising amount of variation when we tested different cameras and printers. Below are our top recommendations for Zink-based camera and printers.