While many people believed that the heyday of instant photography had long passed, this fun and whimsical art form has made a surprise comeback. For those of us old enough to remember the joy of taking an instant photo and watching it develop, these cameras can bring a sense of nostalgia that can’t be matched to newer digital cameras. For the younger folks, instant cameras are a fun and useful gadget, that will give them a physical image of a photo in an age where we all have become accustomed to seeing photos through digital means.
Our Best Instant Cameras list has been put together to help go through the explosion of new instant cameras that have come out in recent years. There are modern twists to an old form of photography or traditional Polaroid style cameras to chose from. Original Polaroid cameras that have been refurbished are available for those who love vintage things at heart.
The ability to take a photo and immediately hand it to a friend is something that typical digital photography just lacks. In comparison, newer cameras like the uHWK sports camera are mountable and are used for high action shots, a much different type of photography.
Instant cameras, quite frequently known as Polaroid cameras, bring back memories, are fun gadgets for making physical copies or scrapbook photos, or perhaps transferring to a digital drawing tablet. They are even a good gift to give to our children. In today’s world we have more options than ever when trying to chose the right one.
How To Choose the Best Instant Camera
Instant cameras have come a long way in recent years, and so have many more functions than the older versions. With all the new features it may be a bit hard to decide which camera is best suited for your needs.
Whether you are looking for a camera that will produce the old style charming instant “Polaroid” pictures, or a newer version that prints digital or smart phone photos, there are many options available. In this top ten roundup I have compiled all the cameras with the best reviews to help sort it out and make the choice a bit easier.
Don’t forget to check out my Instant Photography Tips at the bottom of this article for ideas on taking great instant photography.
Instant Camera Film
An important thing to keep in mind when purchasing an instant camera is that you will also need to purchase film. Each camera is compatible with its own type of film and the price of film will vary, so this is an important consideration when buying an instant camera. Most cameras do not come with film, so don’t forget to purchase film when buying a camera!
Top Ten Instant Cameras
Here is our breakdown if the Best Instant Cameras. Before you leave, we would love to hear your experience with any of the instant cameras. Have you tried one yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera Review
Battery: Rechargable lithium-ion battery
The FujiFilm line of Instax cameras have become bestsellers among instant photography cameras. This newer version of an old trend has reinvented the classic “Polaroid.” Fujifilm has created a line of cameras that are appealing to just about everyone. The Instax Mini 90 gets high ratings because it has a vintage charm, is very small and portable, and produces good quality image.
This model in Fujifilm Instax line of instant cameras comes with more options and more control of picture quality. It brings in more creative modes for different shots. There is even a Macro mode and a “bulb” mode for night painting. Additional modes include Kids mode (to take photos of fast moving subjects) and double exposure mode. Subjects and backgrounds in a photograph are illuminated in the party mode. Control over the flash takes the picture quality of your instant photos to the next level.
This camera can automatically adjust the light exposure and camera flash. The Instax Mini 90 detects the amount of light in the area being photographed and adjusts the flash.
The Instax Mini 90 features a nice retro look, has a good grip and is overall more rugged than the other cameras in the Instax line. The print size is about the size of a credit card, and has the white border that we come to expect with instant photos. This camera is easy to use, and is very popular among instant camera users.
While it is a pricier camera, the picture quality, and wasting less expensive film, may make this camera worth the price tag.
Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 9 Instant Camera Review – Most Popular
Print Size: 2X3
Battery: 2 AA batteries
This camera is a very popular choice among instant cameras. It is a lightweight, cute, and has great reviews. The previous generation of this camera, the Instanx Mini 8, consistently ranked as a bestseller on Amazon. The Mini 9 has even more potential to be trendy and bestselling camera. The camera is also available in multiple fun and bright colors. Pick the camera that best suits your personality. The Instax Mini produces good quality photos in auto mode. The camera has a reputation for being simple and easy to use.
The Instax Mini 9 has been updated to include a selfie mirror, and macro lens adapter. It also has an automatic exposure and a high key mode to take better portraits.
This camera is a very affordable option in instant cameras. The Instax Mini 9 is practically a steal as it can frequently be found for under $70. It is easy to use, and makes a great camera for beginners or kids.
With credit card sized prints, the photos capture all the charm of a traditional Polaroid camera. The border is a large white frame that surrounds the photo and has a larger white space at the bottom of the photo. There are also additional border choice available.
Other features include a built-in flash, optical viewfinder, and automatic exposure mode. It runs on two AA batteries.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera Review – Best for wide photos
Film Size: 10.6x 8.4
Battery: 4 AA batteries
This Fujifilm camera is probably the most like the traditional Polaroid photos that we were used to seeing. Its wider film size gives it the traditional charm and feel of these first instant photos. The wider frame allows you to get more into your pictures, whether that be more of a horizon shot or big groups of families and friends. The film also has a the traditional large white border.
This is a larger camera with a sturdy feel, considering its all plastic construction. Built wide, it has a nice grip on it, a built-in flash, DSLR- style of shutter, and a rubber focus zone ring. Reviewers of this camera do comment that the viewfinder is slightly off from the picture that is being taken. It may take some time to learn to adjust to the viewfinder position and taking a good framed photo.
Polaroid Z2300 10MP Digital Instant Print Camera Review
Print Size: 2×3
Battery: 4 AA batteries
This camera was made for fun. It is essentially a digital point-and-shoot camera with built in memory, that also can print full color 2×3 photos. Reviewers of this camera report that the image quality of the prints are decent in comparison to many other instant cameras. The images will not be the same quality as a proper photo print, but serve the purpose of an instant photo.
There is also the option of saving your photos to an SD card and have better quality prints made, or even save them in digital format. The images can also easily be uploaded to social media platforms. It is also possible to make multiple prints of one picture.
This camera is a happy medium of watching a instant photo come from a camera and still keeping all the control of digital photography. You can edit, delete or save your image as well immediately print them with ease on the LCD screen.
Keep in mind, this camera is on the bulky/heavy side in comparison to a regular shoot-and-point camera. It may be a bit larger camera than many people are used to toting around for quick photos. Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that the printer paper that comes with this machine has adhesive backing on it, to easily turn your images into stickers. There are a whole host of things the stickers could be applied to, and if scrap-booking is your thing, that might be one feature you love.
As long as you keep in mind that this camera was made for quick, easy and fun photo shots then you should be happy with it.
Impossible Polaroid 600 Round Camera Review
Print Size: 4.6 x 3.8
The 600-series of Polaroid cameras have been brought back and refurbished by the Impossible company. This 90’s style instant camera brings back all the memories of life when ripped jeans, neon colors, and mood rings were all the rage. The retro camera is simple and easy to use with its point and shoot style,a built-in automatic flash, and a fixed-focus lens. With simple exposure controls it easy to lighten or darken a photo.
The Impossible Company (also known as the Impossible Project) was started by a couple of Polaroid fans who first began by creating Polaroid film, once the original Polaroid company went bankrupt and stopped producing film. Now they also refurbish old Polaroid cameras (and sell the film) for all analog photography enthusiasts.
Overall, reviews of this camera were good. The quality of these photos is similar to the quality of a typical 90’s instant camera. This refurbished Polaroid is retrofitted with Impossible’s “frog tongue” to protect photos as you take them out of the camera.
The Impossible Project has also refurbished other 600-series Polaroid cameras, so there are many options to choose from.
It is a good choice for people looking to re-create a vintage style of instant photography, beginners, and fans of analog photography.
Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera Review
Print Size: 2.1″ x3.4″
Battery:4 AA batteries
This small, portable, lightweight Polaroid camera is ready for fun whatever your destination. The small 2×3, business card-size prints bring back a retro look that is reminiscent of the first Polaroid instant photos. However the image quality of this camera is sharp and very good. It is very easy to use. Just snap, print and go!
There are four scene settings to help control the exposure/lighting of the photo quality and it also has an auto mode for quick and easy use. Auto flash lets you take photos in all settings.
This fun and trendy camera is perfect for quick and easy photo shots to capture many memories. Like many of the other instant cameras, if you keep in mind this camera is best used for fun and sharing with friends, you won’t be disappointed.
The Impossible Project Polaroid SX-70 Original Instant Film Camera Review
Print Size: 3.5″ x 4.2”
This is a classic and serious camera made for artists and photographers. The Impossible company has taken this historical camera and refurbished it for today’s instant photographers. The Polaroid SX-70 was the first instant SLR ever made, and with its exceptional photography quality and exposure modes, it is all you could ever want in an instant camera.
In the world of instant photography this camera is the cream of the crop. Andy Warhol was one artist who used this camera, and helped its rise in popularity. The most important things when learning to use this camera is adjusting the focus and exposure. You will quickly be taking beautiful photography with time and experience.
While this camera does not come with a built-in flash, you can purchase a standard flash or flash bars to attach. It is highly recommened to purchase the attachable flash for the best quality photos.
With a price tag of around $400, this camera is not for anyone who is just wants a fun experience of instant photography. This a great camera for anyone looking to expand the photography skills though a high quality instant camera.
Impossible Project I-1 Analog Instant Camera Review
Print Size:4.6 x 3.8
Battery: internal, rechargeable battery
The Impossible Company (also known as the Impossible Project) was started by a couple of Polaroid fans who first began by creating Polaroid film when the original Polaroid company went bankrupt and stopped producing film. Now they also refurbish old Polaroid cameras (and sell the film) for all analog photography enthusiasts. The I-1 is the Impossible Company’s new Polaroid style camera. It is currently the closest camera available that gives a mix of the original format of instant photography with today’s digital technology.
The Impossible Project I-1 Analog Instant Camera is a camera that has been created with today’s generation of analog photography enthusiasts in mind.
It is an easy to use point-and-shoot instant camera, that creates the original style of Polaroid pictures that analog photography fans often desire. In manual mode, you can take full control of the I-1’s aperture and shutter speed. However with its mix of analog with today’s digital controls, instant photography can be taken to new level with the creative features that are available on the iOS app. You can use Bluetooth to connect to the app which has many photography tools such as double-exposure, and light painting.
The I-1 comes with an advanced ring flash which adapts to your environment, providing the correct light for your subject wherever you are shooting. The ring flash creates diffused light and is best used for portraits.
I-1 camera reviews are mixed. Overall Impossible has impressed reviewers with its innovation, and by bringing back a popular and fun way to use photography. The camera has a quirky and fun design. It brings instant photography to the digital age with it modern use of the photography controls through the free app. However, there have been complaints that photography results are mixed. Furthermore, it may take some time to become comfortable with controls, buttons and exposure. The film is expensive, and wasting photos can be a disappointment. Photos also have a very long waiting time to develop.
It is a good choice for people looking for ways to expand their creativity with analog photography. If you are looking for the Polaroid style photography and ability to digitally control your images, this camera can provide both.
Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera (Blue) with ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology Review
Print Size: 2″x 3″
Film/Paper: Polaroid 2×3 inch Premium ZINK Photo Paper
A new version of an old classic camera, Polaroid Instant Digital cameras have updated instant photography. Digital images are instantly printed out into small 2×3 prints. These prints are reminiscent of old style Polaroid photos. The digital images are 10MP.
The photos created by this camera are border-less, and bright. This isn’t your Mother’s old Polaroid camera! With its modern technology edge this may not be exactly what comes to mind when someone thinks of Polaroids.
Unlike the Polaroid Z2300, which we also reviewed in this post, the Polaroid Snap does not give you the option to print. Every photo taken on this camera will print out. If you are looking for the optional printing capabilities you may want to upgrade to the Polaroid Z2300. You can purchase separately a micro SD card (up to 32 GB) and then have the ability to store your photos and print them out later on a higher quality printer.
The ZINK technology printing paper requires no ink or toner to quickly develop its images. The adhesive backed printing paper has endless applications. The Zink paper is also more affordable than other types of film for other instant cameras.
This is a sweet little hybrid camera with an affordable price. The Polaroid Snapwas definitively made for capturing quick and fun moments. The quality of the photos is decent for an instant camera. It is enjoyable for what it is.
The Prynt Case for Apple iPhone Review
Print Size: 2″x3″
Film/Paper: Prynt, 2×3 inch ZINK Sticker Paper
Yet another option to quickly be able to print out instant hard copy photographs, is this neat case that can print out iPhone photos. The case is attached to the phone, then photos are available to print immediately through the app. Great for anyone wanting a to a hard copy to keep, or give to a friend.
The Prynt Case takes and saves videos too. When you give the photo to a friend they can use the Prynt app to unlock the hidden video. The app also allows you to store and edit your photos. They have many fun features and filters to edit your photography with.
This definitely a fun and modern twist to instant photography. With the surplus of digital phtotgraphy we now all own, its great to be able to immediately be able to print out and hold a copy of photographs again. The small print size makes it ideal for handing off a copy to our friends while on the go.
The photo quality is little less than ideal, but it serves its purpose for a quick and easy photo. Overall reviewers of the Prynt case have been fairly happy with the product.
Tips for Instant Photography Beginners
The art of taking an instant photograph may seem pretty simple and straightforward (just point and shoot, right?), but there are a few tips available to make those quick and easy shots better.
An arsenal of editing tools are available to today’s digital photographers. From online editing tools, zooms, cropping, to color editors, the final photograph can be greatly changes and manipulated. However, with instant photography you only get the one chance to get the shot right.
If instant photography can teach us anything in today’s digital world, it is to just slow down. Take your time and think carefully about setting up the image. Lastly,with practice and patience we can learn to get it right the first time.
So I have complied a short list of quick tips to help you get your photos just right.
Pick the right Camera
Doing your research to find the right camera, is the first important step to getting the most out of instant photography. Learn which cameras and films are producing the best results.
Since there are many options when it comes to instant cameras, get to know the one you purchased well, learn it’s quirks and practice to get the best possible results.
In photography, lighting is everything to determining the final image. Too dark? Your image may only end up as shadows. Too much light? You may have white blurs.
Check the camera that you using to see if it has a light indicator modes. Many of the instant cameras have tools on them to help ensure you are lighting the area that you want lit. Master and use those tools.
If the camera has a flash, it may take some time to become accustomed to how bright it will light your photograph. It is a common experience to see your image well lit up and the background either too bright or too dark.
With time and practice, mastering the lighting in an instant photo can become doable.
Close up, please!
Lets face it, instant photographs tend to be, well, small. Unless you are using a wide camera, the photographs tend to be about the size of a credit card.
Fitting the image into the frame is typically going to give you a better image. People standing far away, will be hard to see in a small image. Closer is better.
Play around with the viewfinder, until you see the image in the best perspective. Find the happy spot, where you can see the whole image in detail, without being too close for comfort.
Ensuring that what you want to be in the frame, is in the frame, and nothing else, will give you the best image. Remember most instant cameras do not let you crop things out later.
Always be aware of what’s going on in the background of your photograph. Are people walking by? Is the background desirable for your image? Is there anything floating above the heads of your subjects?
Checking for a pretty and appealing background will go along way in determining you satisfaction with your image.
Learning to take great instant photographs may take some time and can be an investment when it comes to purchasing multiple packs of film. Enjoy the learning process. You just may have a lot of fun along the way.
The Final Say
Ultimately its up to you to decide what you are looking for when purchasing an instant camera.
- Are you looking a vintage camera that produces all the charm of a traditional camera? Then you should check out a refurbished Polaroid from Impossible or the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90.
- If you want to an updated digital camera that instantly prints then check out Polaroid’s line of Snap instant cameras.
- Or maybe you just want to print out photos from your iPhone, then a Prynt case would be just right for you.
- The most popular instant camera is the FujiFilm Instax 8- which is great for beginners or kids.
- Lastly to consider is a hybrid camera such as the Impossible I-1 which has combined the nostalgic Polaroid instant photos with new digital controls.
Whichever type of camera is right for you, I hope that you enjoy your journey into the world of instant photography!