Socialmatic Camera on Zink: Does Print Size Matter?


In the days of analogue photography, all you got were negatives or slides which needed to be exposed via a hardcopy print. You went down to the Photo Lab, told them which frame you wanted to print and you'd be given a choice of sizes. I remember fondly that it was the infamous 3R size photo that did the trick and much later in the 1990s, it was the postcard sized 4R.

The 4 x6 inch print won the world over as it was a 3:2 aspect ratio that suited 35mm photography. The 3R eventually fell out of favor world wide as the cost of the print was only marginally cheaper than the 4R.

Why did the 4R print won the world over? Well if you care to look, it was the natural size for almost everything from landscapes to portraiture.

What your Eyes Can See

Unfortunately for mankind, we are not built with auto zoom lenses to which we can zoom onto details like a camera. Images have to be of a certain size before we are able to admire and see them in their full glory. The 4R print is probably the best size for just about any type of photo and I tell you this from experience. Any print that is too small will mean you need the eyes of a hawk to admire and appreciate.

Pros always love having large prints made of their photos for use on walls. The crucial thing about having it big is that all the detail and nuances of what makes that photo great is for all to see. No squinting required. This is why large screen devices are always the preferred choice for showing off a digital photo portfolio. Devices like the tiny iPhone is just not going to cut it.

The 4 x 6 postcard is probably the optimum size for everyone if you ever wanted to make your pictures available for viewing.

Printing on Digital Printers

There are two competing print standards in digital portable media for photos, those from Zink and the other is from Canon and Sony. Both the Sony and Canon photo printers are geared towards producing 4R size photos.
Of late, there has been a lot of interest in photo printers from Zink as they are known to be much cheaper than the ones offered by Canon and Sony. Initially, Zink photo printers produced very poor quality photos from the Pogo line of printers but over time, the quality has gotten better. Zink paper sizes for photo printing comes in three sizes, 2x3, 4x6 and 3x4. The Socialmatic camera is rumoured to be using a 2x3 print just like the new LG Portable Printers. 

I won't go into detail on the 3x4 print as it was made solely for the Polaroid Digital Instant cameras that failed to rock the photography world. The Socialmatic camera seems to have piqued the interest of the masses with its stylish design and instant photo capability with a smaller size print. 

I must add that judging from the print size alone (2x3) which is technically half the size of a borderless 4R photo, Socialmatic cameras will have limited appeal with more demanding mobile photographers. 

As I have mentioned before, print size will dictate how useful a print will be. For something this small you only have two choices:-

  • Portraiture, half body capture or Selfies
  • Close up to Macro of still life or any objects

The Zink's  2 x 3 smallish photo size is unsuitable for a host of other things you'd might want from a printer namely:
  • Lanscape or Cityscape photo
  • Architectural Photography
  • Group Photos with a Background Scenery
  • Full body Photos

First, the print resolution plays a part in giving you detail in a photo but on a smaller print area, you are not going to see much. This means that should you frame or print a photo that has got wide vistas, chances are you won't be able to see the faces of people in group photos or see the details found in any form of architecture with Socialmatic Camera Prints. 

I don't know about you but this is a huge bummer for people who want slightly larger prints. The 4 x 6 paper option is still yet unavailable for Socialmatic use and even if it does come out, it will be a humongous piece of hardware. That's not going to be a hit with people who already carry too much gear with them when they travel or move about. 

This doesn't mean you can't have an optional 4 x 6 printer from Zink which cost roughly US$0.50 a print whereas the Sony and Canon print version cost roughly US$0.36 per print. At those prices, there is nothing to stop you from walking into a Photo Lab and getting yourself a print from a self service Kiosk at the same price. 

Socialmatic will have its Day

I think it would be great if you could hand someone a print the moment you capture an image and still retain a digital copy of the image in your camera and this is what the Socialmatic camera is going to be used for. 

Often, people these days never get to see pictures of themselves in print as everyone shares them digitally via social media. Thus the Socialmatic camera will be primed for social occasions where a digital print will be made for all those in attendance instead of having them shared on Facebook. 

This might sound quite useless to some but for the socialites among us, it will be god send. Socialmatic camera at least in my books will be what its moniker says about it. It's for social use only.