KODAK Smile Classic Digital Instant Camera 2020 Latest Updated Review
Kodak Smile Classic is a digital camera that can produce instant 3.25 x 4.5″ ZINK prints. The camera’s simple point-and-shoot design features a pop-up optical viewfinder for intuitively composing images
The Kodak Smile Classic instant camera (made by Kodak licensee C+A Global) starts up with a melodic beep that sounds like a 90s handheld video game — a sense of nostalgia that continues throughout the clunky, plastic body.
The metadata even dates the photos for 1979. But while the camera may look retro, the innards are all digital, with a 16-megapixel sensor and a Zink printer that spits out 3.5 x 4.25-inch prints.
The 2-in-1 camera also uses Bluetooth to connect to and print photos from your phone.
However, retro technology doesn’t always spark a longing for the ‘good old days’ and instead gives us a better appreciation for how far we’ve come.
Nobody’s replacing their broadband internet with a dial-up modem, after all.
Digital instant camera design falls into two categories: The more popular is a rectangular shape that evokes budget point-and-shoots. Rarer are the ones that look like the Polaroid cameras of old.
Polaroid (actually, companies that licensed the Polaroid brand name) leaned into this with the Polaroid OneStep , and Kodak’s license-holders have followed suit with the Kodak Smile Classic.
The Kodak Smile Classic is a bit more compact than the OneStep, but at 7.5 x 6.5 x 3 inches and weighing 1 pound, it still isn’t something you’re going to stuff into a pocket.
Kodak Smile Classic
The front of the Smile Classic, where the lens and flash reside, is a bit taller than the rear. A slider switch along the left side both turns on the camera and causes the viewfinder to pop up, a fun little design feature.
The top has a shutter button and one to set a 10-second delay, while the right side has a micro USB port to charge the camera, as well as a microSD card slot.
Paper loads via a large door on the camera’s bottom.
The Kodak Classic app (Android, iOS) lets you print photos from your smartphone using the camera.
Here, you can apply filters, edit the photo (crop, adjust contrast, warmth and brightness, etc.) add text, stickers and borders.
It doesn’t break any ground, but it’s fun and easy to use.
You can also add AR elements, such as face filters and videos, to an image.
After you print a photo, if you or someone else scans it with a smartphone camera using the Kodak Smile app, the filter or video will appear on their smartphone.
It’s amusing, but I don’t think many people will download an app just for this feature.
Pictures snapped with the Smile Classic have a faded look, as if you rediscovered a shoebox of photos taken in the late 1970s.
If you like that aesthetic, then this is the camera for you.
In general, though, I was pleased with the quality of the prints, which had plenty of detail and color.
The Kodak Smile Classic takes very large prints — 4.25 x 3.5 inches in size, which are a lot more rewarding than the smaller prints from other digital cameras.
The Fujifilm Instax Wide is the next closest in size, with 3.8 x 2.4-inch prints. The only catch is that the Kodak’s Zink paper is expensive, at about $1 per page.
Considering the camera prints a photo every time you press the shutter, that can add up to an expensive proposition.
You can also use the Smile Classic as a Bluetooth printer when connected to your smartphone via the Kodak Classic app.
These photo prints also came out really well — more akin to modern photos, with more saturated colors, and details were fairly sharp.
Printing From Your Phone
The Kodak Classic app for iOS and Android turns the Smile Classic into an instant printer. Connect your phone to the Classic via Bluetooth and you can print any image on your device.
For the sample images in the section above, I transferred photos from a full-frame DSLR to my phone and then printed them.
The app has all the standard editing features you’d expect these days. You can adjust the crop, rotation, brightness, contrast, saturation, and more.
There are also plenty of filters and a feature Kodak calls Style, the ability to add text, doodles, stickers, and borders to your image.
An augmented-reality option allows you to add videos and “face filters.” At the time of writing, the latter is not yet available, but the video feature embeds a 30-second video clip (with sound).