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What's the difference between the Kodak Printomatic and the Kodak Mini Shot?

What's the difference between the Kodak Printomatic and the Kodak Mini Shot?

Best answer: While they are similar products, both being instant cameras from Kodak, the Printomatic and the Mini Shot are still quite different. For example, the Printomatic has a microSD card slot, the Mini Shot can connect to a smartphone, and while the Printomatic uses Zink paper, the Mini Shot uses a special ink cartridge.Get the Printomatic: Kodak Printomatic (opens in new tab) ($70 at Amazon)Get the Mini Shot: Kodak Mini Shot (opens in new tab) ($100 at Amazon)

How photos print is the biggest difference

Both the Printomatic and the Mini Shot are instant cameras from Kodak. Both cameras utilize a 10MP sensor to take photos, and they both offer similar rounded rectangle designs. That's pretty much where the similarities end.

The biggest difference between the two is in their printing technology. The Printomatic, like a lot of instant cameras today, uses Zink paper, which prints photos without using ink, instead relying on a layered photo paper to print images that don't smudge. There are no cartridges; instead you just insert the paper packs into the camera.

The Mini Shot, on the other hand, does not use Zink, instead using specialized all-in-one cartridges that contain both paper and ink, a technology Kodak calls 4Pass printing. These cartridges each have 10 sheets of paper and enough ink to print 10 photos. When you run out of paper, you replace the entire cartridge, including the ink.

Zink vs 4Pass

One of Zink's biggest advantages over 4Pass is waste or rather, the lack of it. There's no ink cartridge to replace and throw away when you're done. You just insert the pack of Zink paper, use it all up taking photos, and insert the new pack. The only things to throw away are the wrapping for the pack and the calibration card.

Not using ink also means that there's no chance of a messy cartridge situation, and if anything breaks, you're not getting any ink on yourself.

While these are great reasons to choose a Zink product like the Printomatic over the Mini Shot and its 4Pass system, 4Pass has an advantage of its own, and its a big one for photographs: color. While Zink can print a vague "millions" of colors for beautiful photos, 4Pass prints in a very specific 16.7 million colors, resulting in more colorful, vibrant prints than you'll get with Zink. If you don't mind throwing away an ink cartridge every 10 shots, you might think it's worth it to get a Mini Shot based on this quality alone.

And like Zink photos, photos printed with 4Pass are water- and fingerprint-resistant, so they'll stay intact under most conditions.

The Mini Shot connects to your smartphone while the Printomatic features expandable storage

Another difference between the two cameras is how they deal with connecting to other devices and storing photos.

The Kodak Mini Shot comes with Bluetooth compatibility, allowing it to connect to your smartphone. This lets you connect to the Kodak Mini Shot app (opens in new tab), which lets you both send photos from your Mini Shot that you can edit and share on your iPhone, as well as send photos from your iPhone to print on the Mini Shot.

The Printomatic doesn't connect to your phone. It is mostly an island unto itself. It only has enough memory to store the last three photos you took, but you can expand that. The Printomatic has a built-in microSD card slot, which lets you expand the storage capacity of the camera up to 32GB. You can then take this card and transfer the photos to your PC, Mac, or, if you have the means to do so, on your mobile device. The Mini Shot, meanwhile, doesn't store any photos.

Both cameras have their own advantages and disadvantages

The Kodak Mini Shot offers smartphone connectivity and overall better photo results than the Printomatic. That being said, both the camera and the paper/ink cartridges are more expensive than the Printomatic and its Zink paper. The Mini Shot also lacks expandable storage.

The Printomatic, on the other hand, is less expensive (as is Zink paper), offers expandable storage, and you never have to worry about ink. That being said, the photos you print won't be up to the quality of those printed by the Mini Shot, and getting photo files off your Printomatic and onto an external device can be a bit of a chore.

I'd probably ultimately pick up the Printomatic if I was getting this type of camera. It's less expensive, I wouldn't ever need to worry about ink, and while Zink photos aren't the most colorful you'll ever find, they're good for what they are.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.