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Kodak Smile vs Printomatic (2021): Which Instant Camera Delivers Better Quality Prints?

While digital photos are easy to store, having your memories printed out brings about a stronger sense of nostalgia. If you miss having physical photos to look and sort through, both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic are instant cameras that can print out your snaps seconds after you take them. To help you decide between the two models, here’s an in-depth comparison that covers their design, photo quality, and printing quality.

Kodak Smile vs Printomatic Comparison Chart

ModelKodak SmileKodak Printomatic
 KODAK Smile Instant Print Digital Camera – Slide-Open 10MP Camera w/2x3 Zink Printer (Black/...KODAK Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera - Full Color Prints On ZINK 2x3' Sticky-Backed Photo...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
LCD DisplayYesNo
ViewfinderLCDOptical
Sliding MechanismYesNo
Image Resolution10MP10MP
Paper TypeZink paperZink paper
Digital StorageYesYes
Smartphone PairingYesNo
Image EditingYesNo
Dimensions4.8 x 3.1 x 0.9 inches7.5 x 6.1 x. 2.3 inches

Design

The Kodak Smile has a trendy sliding mechanism while the Kodak Printomatic charms with its retro look.

Kodak Smile vs Kodak Printomatic design
The Kodak Smile (left) has an LCD display while the Kodak Printomatic (right) doesn’t.

Like those cool phones back in the day, the Kodak Smile has a sliding mechanism. It’s not just for fun though and actually serves a good purpose. When the camera is not in use, the lens and controls are protected so there’s no way to accidentally press or scratch anything. Once you’re ready to use it, just slide it up to turn the device on. One annoying thing about it though is that it takes its own sweet time to get ready so it’s hard to capture fleeting moments. As for size, the Kodak Smile is nice and compact so you shouldn’t have any trouble stuffing it into your bag or pocket.

Unlike the Kodak Smile, the Kodak Printomatic doesn’t have a sliding mechanism and is instead one flat slab. The lens is smack dab in the middle and is exposed at all times. While the Smile’s design is more innovative and protective, the Printomatic’s retro look is too charming to pass up. Also, it’s easier to capture moments because there’s no need to slide and wait. Though in terms of size, the Printomatic is significantly bigger than the Smile. Measuring in at 7.5 x 6.1 x. 2.3 inches, it’s a little harder to fit it into small spaces and bring it around with you.

Another design difference between the two models is that the Smile comes with a small color LCD screen while the Printomatic doesn’t. The Smile’s display gives you a live preview as well as tells you whether there’s any battery or paper left. As for the Printomatic, it has small LED lights to show you the information you need.

Image Quality

Both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic struggle with image quality but the former makes up for it through additional features.

Kodak Smile vs Kodak Printomatic quality
The Kodak Smile can be paired with smartphones while the Kodak Printomatic can’t.

If you already have a smartphone, don’t expect to get better image quality with either the Kodak Smile or the Kodak Printomatic. While both instant cameras claim to have a 10MP resolution, the images they produce lack sharpness and detail and aren’t the most accurate in color. Things get even worse when you’re inside and the lighting conditions aren’t ideal. While it’s all too easy to spot the shortcomings on a computer screen, the imperfections aren’t actually as noticeable on print. With that, it’s safe to say that the images you get with these instant cameras are really meant for small 3-inch prints and no more than that.

However, the Smile does provide a way around the poor image quality issue. You can pair any kind of smartphone with it and doing so will allow you to print out photos taken on your device. This way, your print outs will be sharper and more vibrant, even the ones taken indoors. You can even transfer shots from your mirrorless camera or DSLR to your smartphone so that your printed images will have more depth to them. Unfortunately, the Printomatic isn’t Bluetooth-enabled so this workaround isn’t possible with it.

Another feature you can enjoy with the Smile that’s missing on the Printomatic is filters. You can apply either aqua, vintage, or monotone filters to your images and even put borders on them. The Smile also has a Photo Booth mode which allows you to print out two images on one piece of paper.

Print Quality

The Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic are at a disadvantage compared to other instant cameras.

Kodak Smile vs Kodak Printomatic print quality
Both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic make use of Zink technology.

Both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic make use of a different kind of technology for printing. Instead of traditional photo paper, they use Zink paper which relies on heat to activate colors. This is a weird choice on Kodak’s part because compared to real photo paper, the colors on Zink paper turn out to be less vibrant and accurate. With Printomatic, for example, the printed images are kind of washed out and they have a pinkish hue to them. While the results are better with the Smile, it’s still not comparable to that of instant cameras that use photo paper and most definitely not to real film.

As for the printing experience itself, the Smile provides a slightly more enjoyable time. Given how expensive Zink paper is, it’s great that the Smile doesn’t automatically print out your shots and will instead give you the option to store them digitally. You can store your photos digitally on the Printomatic as well but only if you choose not to load it with paper. Otherwise, it will print out your shots the minute you snap them.

Verdict

The Kodak Smile wins for having features that enhance the instant photography experience.

Both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic struggle with image quality and are at a disadvantage with their use of Zink technology. However, we would recommend the Smile more given that it has more features to make up for these flaws. The fact that you can connect it to your smartphone solves most of the issues already. As for the Printomatic, it’s not great but it should suffice for children who want to try their hand at photography. And because it’s affordable, parents probably won’t mind purchasing it.

FAQs

📌 Can you connect the Kodak Smile to your smartphone?

Yes, you can pair any kind of smartphone with the Kodak Smile and doing so will allow you to print out photos taken on your device. This way, your print outs will be sharper and more vibrant.

📌 Can you digitally store photos on the Kodak Printomatic?

Yes, you can. However, you have to make sure that there’s no paper loaded into it. Otherwise, the Kodak Printomatic will automatically print out your shots after you’ve taken them.

📌 What kind of paper do the Kodak Smile and Kodak Printomatic use?

Both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic use Zink paper instead of traditional photo paper. Zink paper relies on heat to develop colors.

📌 Which one should you buy, the Kodak Smile or the Kodak Printomatic?

While both the Kodak Smile and the Kodak Printomatic aren’t perfect, we recommend the Kodak Smile more. The fact that you can connect it to your smartphone already makes up for a lot of its flaws.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.