Instant Camera Review: Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer

The Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer is fun for selfies at parties but hampered by the limitations of ZINK print technology.

The Canon IVY CLIQ+ is the company’s way of tackling the Instant camera market that has made a massive comeback in recent years. Printing photos has seen a resurgence in popularity. This is a welcomed trend considering pretty much everyone has a camera in their pockets at all times these days. While more photos are being taken than ever before, very few are printed. Most are never looked at again. Seeing a physical print from an instant camera never gets old. People instinctively gather for selfies whenever someone busts out an instant camera. Canon is hoping to tap into this market with the newest product in their IVY line: the Canon IVY CLIQ+. It uses Polaroid’s ZINK Zero Ink Technology to make prints that double as stickers. It’s both a pocketable instant camera and a mobile printer. In addition to taking photos and creating prints on the fly, you can even use the IVY CLIQ+ to print images from your phone. So, does the Canon IVY CLIQ+ live up to the hype?

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The low profile form factor makes the Canon IVY CLIQ+ easily pocketable
  • Large “selfie mirror” and ring flash around the front element makes it easier light and compose your selfies
  • ZINK prints double as stickers, adding to the novelty factor

Cons

  • The area printed on the ZINK paper is slightly smaller and offset than the field of view seen through the optical viewfinder’s grid lines
  • Will not capture images when no ZINK paper is loaded, even if a microSD card is inserted
  • Short battery life
  • ZINK photo paper’s lackluster image quality is the Canon IVY CLIQ+’s Achilles’ heel

 

Gear Used

We tested the Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer with the Canon ZINK Photo Paper.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer taken from Adorama’s listing page.

Print Technology
ZINK – “Zero Ink”
Print Speed
50 Seconds or less
Print Resolution
314 x 600 dpi
Borderless Printing
Yes
Automatic Paper Sensor
Yes
Supported Media Type
ZINK Photo Paper
Maximum Paper Size
2×3″
Paper Capacity
Up to 10 Sheets of Canon ZINK Photo Paper & 1 SMART SHEET
Camera Resolution
8MP
Photo Format
JPEG
Video Capable
No
Camera Aspect/Print Size
2×2″, 2×3″
Flash
Yes
Focus
Auto
Zoom
Fixed
ISO
Auto (100 -1600)
White Balance
Auto
Exposure Adjustment
Auto
Self Timer
Yes, via Mini Print app (10 Sec/5 Sec/ 3 Sec)
Viewfinder
Yes
Remote Shutter
Yes, via Mini Print app
Selfie Mirror
Yes – Large 2″ Circular Selfie Mirror
Tripod Mount
No
Bluetooth
Bluetooth 4.0
Wifi Capable
No
Printer Connection
Bluetooth – via the Canon Mini Print App
Built-In Storage
None
Memory Card Compatible
Yes, MicroSD Memory Card (Up to 256 GB)
Mass Storage Mode
Yes, via included Micro USB 2.0 Cable
Battery Type
Built-in Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer (700 mAh)
Battery Life
Approx. 25 Photos
Battery Charge Time
Full Charge in Approx. 90 Minutes (Measured at 5V/1A Charging Speed)
USB Port
Micro USB for Charging & Data
Auto Power Off
Yes (10 Min / 5 Min / 3 Min)
Control Panel
Power Button, Shutter Button, Reprint Button, Aspect Ratio Button (2×3 / 2×2), Flash Side Switch (Auto / On / Fill Light)
Dimensions
4.8″ (L) x 3.2″ (W) x 0.9″ (H)
Weight
0.4 lbs

Ergonomics

Let’s look at the front of the Canon IVY CLIQ+. The first thing you’ll notice is the selfie mirror and ring light surrounding the camera’s front element. There’s a small LED flash as well, along with an optical viewfinder. The selfie mirror makes it easier to frame your shot when taking selfies.

The minimalist design continues towards the rear. The cover to the ZINK paper compartment takes up most of the real estate on the back of the IVY CLIQ+. You’ll also find the optical viewfinder, the print aspect ratio button, and the reprint button towards the top. The print aspect ratio button lets you select whether your image will print out as a rectangular 2″ x 3″ print or a square 2″ x 2″ print. Unlike the smooth front end, the rear of the IVY CLIQ+ is covered with little bumps. They give the back of the camera some texture and make it easier to grip.

On the top of the IVY CLIQ+, you’ll find a status light, the flash selector, power button, as well as the shutter release. When on, the status light will be white, flashing multiple colors when printing, and alternates between white and red when the camera is low on battery.

The micro USB charging port, microSD card slot, and the small reset hole can be found on the bottom of the camera. If the Canon IVY CLIQ+ bugs out and becomes unresponsive, you can reset the camera by inserting a paper clip into the reset hole. Thankfully, we never had to reset it while we were testing the camera.

 

Build Quality

The Canon IVY CLIQ+ weighs about the same as an iPhone 7 Plus with a case on. Unless you’re wearing really skinny jeans, you shouldn’t have a problem fitting it into your pockets. In terms of construction, the IVY CLIQ+ is quite plasticky. We can’t imagine it surviving a drop from anything above waist height. The textured back of the Canon IVY CLIQ+ helps provide extra grip. You’ll still want to attach the included wrist strap to the camera to minimize the chance of dropping the camera. The last thing you would want is to drop and break the camera while taking selfies at a party. If you’re accident-prone and have butterfingers, you’ll want to be extra careful when handling the Canon IVY CLIQ+. Throughout our tests, the ZINK paper compartment’s cover came loose on several occasions. This led to the ZINK paper falling out of the camera. The rear cover can undoubtedly benefit from a better retention system in a future redesign. It’s also too easy to turn the camera on unintentionally and accidently take unwanted photos. We experienced this on multiple occasions. A redesign of the power and shutter release should help minimize this happening.

 

“To be fair, if you’ve got a phone that was made within the last few years, you’ll likely take better photos with it than with the Canon IVY CLIQ+.”

Ease of Use

The Canon IVY CLIQ+ is a fully automatic point-and-shoot as well as a portable photo printer. The only adjustments you can make when shooting with the IVY CLIQ+ is whether you want the flash to be set to auto, fill, or off. Although the Canon IVY CLIQ+ has an optical viewfinder with builtin frame lines, they’re more of a suggestion. They help to give you a general sense of what your framing will be, but that’s about it. You’re going to have a hard time framing shots precisely, so don’t stress over that too much. Treat it like a fun point-and-shoot rather than a workhorse camera.

Annoyingly, the IVY CLIQ+ will not capture images when it’s not loaded with ZINK photo paper, even when a microSD card is inserted. To be fair, if you’ve got a phone that was made within the last few years, you’ll likely take better photos with it than with the Canon IVY CLIQ+. Using Canon’s free Mini Print app, you can print images shot on your phone with the IVY CLIQ+ via Bluetooth. The Mini Print app allows you to make basic adjustments as well as add borders, text, and “stickers” to an image before printing. A fun feature if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also use the app as a remote trigger for the Canon IVY CLIQ+, but you’ll have to figure out a way to position the camera properly. The inclusion of a tripod mount would help in this regard.

 

Autofocus

While the Canon IVY CLIQ+ functions like a fully automatic point-and-shoot camera, its autofocus system is understandably rudimentary. There is no way for you to adjust the focus point. The IVY CLIQ+’s autofocus is really only suitable for nearby subjects that are stationary or slow-moving. In many ways, the camera feels reminiscent of disposable point-and-shoots of yesteryear. You press the shutter release and hope the result turns out as you’d expect.

 

Image Quality

Images produced by the Canon IVY CLIQ+ are understandably soft, particularly towards the edges of the frame, since it has a plastic lens and an 8-megapixel sensor. The ZINK prints are small to begin with and have pretty low fidelity. You’ll really only notice the lackluster image quality when looking at the JPEGs. Colors on the ZINK prints look generally muted, lacking the vibrancy of the original images. They also tend to exhibit a blue color cast. The photographs also tend to crop into the picture by about 10% on each side. Yake this into account and leave some room on the edges of your frame when composing your shot.

Additional Image Samples

Here are some additional straight out of camera JPEGs we shot with the Canon IVY CLIQ+. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced by this camera for yourself.

Shutter lag is definitely an issue when photographing with the Canon IVY CLIQ+. Everyone in the frame was standing still when I hit the shutter button, but it didn’t capture the image until a few seconds later.

In theory, the selfie flash helps to illuminate you and your friends in low light situations. In practice, it tends to overexpose everyone’s faces.

Who doesn’t love an overexposed photo of the inside of their camera bag?

 

Conclusion

Likes

  • low profile design
  • selfie “mirror” and ring light are useful when taking selfies, especially in low light situations
  • doubles as a mobile printer

Dislikes

  • ZINK photo paper is terrible
  • subpar image quality
  • seriously, why ZINK?

Here are some facts: Canon makes some of the best photo paper on the market, and is considered by many to be a gold standard in the industry. The photo paper Canon uses in their SELPHY line of dye-sublimation mobile printers produces respectable results as well. With these things in mind, we were disappointed with Canon’s decision to go with ZINK as their media of choice for the Canon IVY CLIQ+. With an MSRP of US $160, it’s understandable that Canon had to make some concessions to get the IVY CLIQ+ down to that price point. The camera’s plasticky construction was no doubt a result of cost savings. But we wish Canon would have developed their own paper for the IVY CLIQ+ instead of using Polaroid’s craptastic ZINK tech. The images produced by the Canon IVY CLIQ+ are on par with what you’ll find from a lot of entry-level camera phones. But, the ability to print photos taken with your smartphone is an added bonus.

To add further salt to the wound, the best photos end up looking like they were taken with a potato when you print them out on ZINK paper. Print and image quality aside, you cannot discount the Canon IVY CLIQ+’s novelty factor as well as it’s pocketable design. Like it or not, selfies are here to stay. When you look back on them, what you’ll tend to remember was the time you spent with your friends rather than how bad the picture looked.

The Canon IVY CLIQ+ instant camera earns three out of Five Stars.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.