Does the Canon Zoemini S2 beat Instax at its own game?

Canon Zoemini S2
(Image credit: Canon)

The Canon Zoemini S2 – also known as the Canon Ivy Cliq 2 – is a fascinating device. One part smartphone-sized instant camera, one part pocket-friendly instant printer, it would seem to be the perfect gadget for those of us who demand instant gratification from our photography.

I make no bones about the fact that I'm a big Instax and Polaroid fan. I own many of the models on our list of best instant cameras (opens in new tab), because I adore the photochemical process – as a child of the Eighties, there is simply nothing that matches the uniquely retro, bleached, contrasty vibe of an instant photo. 

Perhaps it's for this reason that while I also own a number of the best digital instant cameras (opens in new tab) like the Canon Zoemini S2, I feel less attached to them. Rather than the decidedly low-fi grinding, whirring, chemicals-and-cartridge approach of old, these clever contraptions pack a digital camera in a body with an instant printer. 

Which is, in many ways, much better; the image quality is technically superior, and the printed photos have a unique sticky back design that means you can easily affix them to your fridge, laptop, notebook, phone case or anything else.

Still, digital superiority isn't everything. It's why I still have a collection of vinyls to complement my MP3s – because crunchy analog things just, somehow, have so much more personality.

So I greeted the Canon Zoemini S2 with a small degree of trepidation. I expected it to be perfectly capable at what it wanted to do, but was it really going to make me give up the retro gratification of the Polaroid Now+ (opens in new tab)? Or the hybrid print-a-picture-on-Instax-film wizardry of the Instax Mini LiPlay (opens in new tab)

The truth is, no – it didn't. But it came close. The Canon Zoemini S2 is a delightful little device, and importantly it's packed with personality. The design of the camera looks straight out of a Pixar film; a sleek slab of color with a big giant selfie mirror on the front. 

It's even more svelte than the tiny Polaroid Go (opens in new tab), which means I can slip it in my pocket "just in case" I want to use it – a fancy that invariably takes me. Especially since the world has opened up again, and I find myself going to dinner and visit with friends, I don't just want a selfie on my phone – I want a little physical reminder to share with friends. 

The fact that the Zoemini doubles as a printer means that I can snap a shot, then print out multiple copies to give to everyone at the table. And if the 8MP camera doesn't quite match the quality of my iPhone 13 Mini (opens in new tab), no problem – I can just print out the shot from my phone instead. 

I didn't think there was room in my life for a camera like this, but in our increasingly post-pandemic world I'm starting to wonder how I did without it.

Read more: 

What type of instant film do I need? (opens in new tab)
Polaroid Now review (opens in new tab)
Polaroid Now+ review
(opens in new tab)Polaroid Go review
(opens in new tab)Polaroid Lab review
(opens in new tab)Instax Mini 11 review
(opens in new tab)Instax Mini Link SE review (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.