Ask LH: What’s The Best Way To Print Instant Photos At My Wedding?

Ask LH: What’s The Best Way To Print Instant Photos At My Wedding?

Hey Lifehacker, I’m on the hunt for an instant print camera that also saves to SD card for my wedding coming up in a couple of months. I have delved the depths of the internet and found two options — the Polaroid Socialmatic and the Polaroid Z2300 — but the reviews suggest the printing is slow and I don’t want the guests to have to work out the menu (especially as the night races on and the drinks are flowing). Any other options for a combined digital/printing solution? Thanks, Groom-To-Be

Dear GTB,

I’ve got to say, this is a great concept for a wedding! Most people just give their guests disposable cameras and print out the results a week or two later. If I ever remarry (er, “renew my vows”), I’m totally stealing this idea.

Unfortunately, the number of instant-print digital cameras currently being manufactured is pitifully small. Apart from a few professions in the fashion and art world, there isn’t much demand for the technology. Indeed, even the mighty Polaroid Corporation was forced to pass through bankruptcy twice due to the rise of digital cameras. It’s a very niche market.

In addition to the two models you mentioned, there’s also the Fujifilm Instax range, which makes instant photos on Fujifilm’s propriety instant film. However, the majority of Instax models produce miniature prints that are no bigger than a credit card. In other words, you won’t be able to make normal-sized photos at your wedding. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though — you could use your guests’ photos to make an excellent wedding collage, for example. They’re also enticingly cheap with prices starting at around $80.

Another model that might be worth considering is the Olympus C-211 (this camera has been discontinued but is still available online). It boasts a memory card slot for photo storage and an inbuilt Polaroid 500 film printer. You can also crop photos in-camera and adjust the colour, contrast and brightness prior to printing. Print time takes around 20 seconds. Unfortunately, the image quality is rather poor for the asking price: it comes with a lowly 2.11-megapixel sensor and a 3x optical zoom. It’s also prohibitively expensive, with online prices regularly exceeding $500.

If neither of those cameras take your fancy, another option is to hire an instant photo booth. These have become increasingly popular in recent years and most companies provide a range of costumes and props for guests to dress up in. On the downside, all the photos will essentially look the same and you won’t get any candid shots of the reception area. Your guests are sure to love it though — especially kids and drunk bridesmaids.

On a final note, have you considered buying portable photo printers instead of cameras? This will allow your guests to use the cameras they’re already familiar with, resulting in much better photos. It should also save you a significant amount of money — you can get decent camera printers for as little as $40 and you only have to purchase one per table. For an even cheaper approach, you could use a single printer with inbuilt Wi-Fi and ask everyone to print the photos they take on their phones.

We’re also going to throw this one over to our readers. If you have any suggestions for printing instant wedding photos, let GTB know in the comments section below!

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Having a Wedding in April, any ideas for a reasonably priced wi-fi printer. Is it best/easier on the night for one with WiFi direct?

    I’ll have to do some research to see if its possible setting up a Raspberry pi with a wifi dongle and connecting a USB printer to it to do the same thing. I already have a pi and printer at my disposal.

  • I haven’t read through the entire article but lots of people (even myself) are considering a Photo Booth at weddings. Check out a few to see what options they offer. Obviously they give you the instant print out (usually 2 at a time, one for the person in the photo and one for you) and they also give you all photos in Hi Res on a USB.

  • You could even use a multifunction inkjet printer that has a photo holder that supports 4″x6″ snapshot paper, load it with high-capacity cartridges and have it work on its own Wi-Fi segment that is served by a WPS-capable access point or router. WPS-capability for the router allows Android and Windows users to “push-to-connect” to the segment. As well, the printer should support PictBridge so that one can print pictures from their camera by connecting a USB cable to the printer’s “walk-up” USB socket.

  • Look at getting a device called instaprint. It monitors a hashtag on instagram and prints every photo with that tag. Many photo booth hire companies offer them. I’ve seen them at plenty of weddings and they work really well since just about everyone has a smart phone.

  • Alternately get a tech savvy guest to upload the photos to flickr, dropbox/onedrive either at the end of the night or even during if you really want to (and have a liveish screen show of photos on a projector) with the URL on a card and people can then go to that url when they get home and print out what they want. People could even email photos to flickr from their phone to get them added.

    If you get a camera like the samsung galaxy camera it could probably be setup to do it all quite nicely (if you have good networking access at the venue)

    Edit: We did disposable cameras at our wedding, not only was it expensive to process, it looks like most people no longer know how to operate them, most photos were black due to them forgetting to turn on the flash.

    • Put a QR code on the card as well, and ask your “tech savvy guest” to do an upload half way through the night if possible.

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