There is a portable printer for photographers

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With the Canon Selphy CP1300 (test report), printer specialist Canon has a mobile printer on offer, which we liked very much in the test. One of the few points of criticism: At 1260 g and 180.6 × 63.3 × 135.9 mm, it fits easily into small backpacks, but certainly no longer in trouser pockets. The Canon Zoemini presented at IFA 2018 is completely different. It weighs only 160 g and, thanks to its compact dimensions of 82 × 19 × 118 mm, hardly holds more than a pack of cigarettes. It uses the same zinc printing technology as the competing printers HP Sprocket Plus (test report) and Polaroid Zip (test report).

The Canon Zoemini is made almost entirely of plastic. We have the black version, on which fingerprints are visible despite the matte surface. It is also available in white and rose gold, the problem should be alleviated here thanks to the lighter color. Canon prints its logo and Zoemini lettering on the top. The lower shell is colored silver.

Similar to the Polaroid Zip, there is a micro-USB port on the back for charging the device, a charging LED and a recessed reset button. On its left side, a round push button switches the Zoemini on. The status LED is right next to the button.

Canon dyed the lower plastic shell in silver. The Zoemini slides on smooth surfaces because it does not have rubber feet. Overall, like almost all mini printers, it looks well made.

The Canon Zoemini has only been on the market for a few days, so the app is young at the time of the test. Nevertheless, despite version 1.1.2, it already feels much rounder than the app disaster of the Polaroid Zip (test report).

When the app is started for the first time, the app explains in clear diagrams how to connect the mobile phone to the printer via Bluetooth and how the top cover slides to the side to accommodate the photo paper.

The app takes pictures from the internal memory or shoots them itself. It even offers some more or less useful augmented reality functions: placing sunglasses over live faces works well. Contrastingly, “funny” facial contortions produce creepy results.

After the user has selected an image for printing, he can adjust the size and orientation very easily and in a self-explanatory manner using the pinch-to-zoom gesture. The app also offers the ability to adjust parameters such as brightness, contrast, color intensity and a lot more. She also knows a wide range of stickers, filters and effects. On request, she can print a photo in mosaics comprising 2 × 2 or 3 × 3 images.

Overall, we like the app. It is self-explanatory, looks clear and tidy, runs smoothly and offers useful printing features.

Like the HP Sprocket Plus and the Polaroid Zip, the printing technology is based on zinc. The printer works without ink; all color information is already on the unexposed paper and comes to light through different temperatures and exposure times. The patent for this is held by Zink Imaging, a subsidiary of Polaroid.

One package contains ten self-adhesive images measuring 5 × 7.6 cm and a Smartsheet, which the printer scans with each new package and thus adapts the printing process to the paper. Canon wants 12 euros for 20 pieces. That corresponds to a price of 60 cents per printout and is roughly on par with the price of paper for the HP Sprocket Plus and the Polaroid Zip. At 5.8 × 8.7 cm, the printing paper for the HP Sprocket Plus is around 30 percent larger than the paper for the Canon Zoemini. Much more expensive, but in our opinion also prettier, are the pictures of the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 (test report) at around 95 cents each.

It takes about 50 seconds from the print job to the finished image. 10 seconds of this is needed to transfer the image data to the printer via Bluetooth, while the printing process itself takes 40 seconds.

The image quality of the Zoemini is good. In contrast to the HP Sprocket Plus, no horizontal stripes are visible. Color gradients also look clean and no fragmentation can be seen. However, it is noticeable that the color is a little too weak. Here, users should manually increase the color intensity before each print. The pictures do not have a border and are self-adhesive after removing a protective paper on the back.

The Zoemini is the best mini printer with zinc paper that we tested. Compared to the HP Sprocket Plus (test report) the pictures look much better. The Polaroid Zip (test report) offers a comparably good print quality, but is disqualified by its lousy app. The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 (test report) even prints a bit better than the Zoemini and also offers a good app. However, at 95 cents instead of 60 cents per printout, it is too expensive to maintain. The Canon Selphy CP1300 (test report) also prints very nice pictures and is by far the cheapest at 20 cents per printout. However, the mechanics sometimes seem rickety and at 1260 g it is the heaviest mobile printer in our test series. If you are looking for a very compact fun printer for parties and events and have the necessary change, you can use the Canon Zoemini without hesitation.