This battery-free ‘printer’ turns your smartphone pics into film

Before digital, some cameras could run battery-free entirely on mechanics. Now there’s a mobile “printer” that uses the same idea to turn smartphone snapshots into real instant film. The Holga Printer is a completely mechanical mobile printer that is designed to work with the Holga app to mix the perks of smartphone photography and instant film.

The Holga Printer doesn’t actually fit into the usual definition of a printer — it’s actually more like an instant camera that’s designed specifically to take a photo of a smartphone screen. A smartphone platform unfolds from the Holga Printer. With the photo you want up on the screen, you place the phone screen down and press the shutter. The mechanical camera inside then snaps a photo of the screen and spits out a print from Instax mini film.

Holga isn’t the first to allow digital smartphone images to be transferred on real film instead of Zink photo paper, but the unique approach means there are no batteries required or Bluetooth connection, for that matter. There is a bit of work involved to spit that print out though — you have to turn a manual crank because there are no batteries to power an automatic feed. And unlike an actual instant film camera, the mix of old and new means you can choose which images to print instead of using up a piece of film with each shutter click.

An accompanying Holga app is designed to give those smartphone photos the classic look of a Holga camera. Holga is known for its plastic toy-like cameras that create neat, unusual film effects. The app contains several of those effects. The app also recommends settings to help the printer best capture the photo on the screen. The app also allows for double exposure effects as well as adding text on the “printer.”

The company says the Holga Printer mixes a classic Holga design with modern perks. It’s designed to look like a Holga 120 that’s missing the lens. A more modern construction mixes anti-slip materials for enhanced user experience, Holga says. The printer will also be available in four different colors: White, black, pink, and a mix of colors.

Holga is taking to Kickstarter to bring the “printer” to life. Backers pitching in on the first day of the campaign today can pick up a Holga Printer for about $48 while pledges with a printer increase later in the campaign. If the Kickstarter is successful,the company says backers will receive the Holga Printer in March 2019.


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