PrintSnap Instant Camera

We always love hearing about new instant cameras/printers and today we feature the PrintSnap Instant Camera.  Having been featured on several tech blogs recently, the PrintSnap Instant Camera, developed by Seattle-based Michael Ciuffo, is made of wood and prints your images right on to thermal receipt paper.  While still in development, with enough interest, Michael hopes to soon launch a crowd-funding campaign to make this camera available to us. Below, Michael answers a few questions, giving us a little background on the camera. You can find links to his website after the interview.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you are from and what you do. 

My name is Michael Ciuffo.  I was born and raised in Virginia and attended college at MIT.  I recently moved to Seattle where I work full time as an electrical engineer for a product development consulting firm.  In my free time, I also enjoy developing products like PrintSnap.

What has your experience been with instant photography and/or different film types?

My first camera was my father’s Canon AE-1 35mm SLR which I used throughout my childhood.  Since then I’ve moved on to digital SLRs. One of the upsetting things about digital photography is that there’s always that extra step to print pictures.  Sure, they only cost a few cents a piece, but I always find myself being generous with the number of photos I take yet stingy with the number I print.  Just because a photo is bad doesn’t mean you shouldn’t print it.  There’s a certain value in coming across an old candid photograph of yourself with a goofy face that I think connects you better with your past than the few portraits you hand-picked to tell a specific story.  When they’re trapped on a hard drive, you’re much less likely to see them without looking for them.

What’s the idea behind the camera and using thermal paper and instead of perhaps creating something like the Instant Lab or the Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer – or even possibly using your camera with an Instax back (for example)?

As an engineer, thermal cameras are what I like to call a “solved problem”.  There are a number of manufacturers who make thermal printer modules, and due to the high demand in receipt printers around the world, these modules can be purchased and integrated into a product for a very low price.  Any other kind of proprietary technology like Instax takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. The end user ends up paying for this with the high price of the technology and film.

Crowdfunding: We just received your customer survey about the camera – does that mean we are closer to seeing a Kickstarter soon? 

The customer survey is just the first step in moving towards a Kickstarter.  One of the great parts about crowdfunding is the back and forth it affords you with your customers even in early stages of development.  It allows us to develop the PrintSnap’s features to better match what consumers want.  Even the price is totally up in the air.  Some of the questions we asked respondents are what they think is a fair price and what features they can do without.  If we can’t get the PrintSnap to fall within that price range, we already know our next steps in a costing down effort.

To find out more about the PrintSnap Instant Camera, including signing up for email alerts, check out the PrintSnap website. For a more in-depth read on the components and design, check out Michael’s post on the Ch00ftech blog.


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