Would you love your photos to be printed instantly? Don’t want the hassle of printing them yourself? An instant camera may be just what you need. Let’s have a look at the best instant cameras out there now.
Analog is back in fashion. A few years ago, instant cameras saw a decline in sales, but recently the printed image has come back in style. Whether you are searching for a camera to use at parties, holidays, or family reunions, there are dozens of options available out there.
Instant cameras allow you to shoot and develop your photos in a matter of minutes, often with an artistic touch that will enhance your memories.
We have selected the ten best instant cameras, accounting for the prize, film size, and, of course, stylish design.
If you are in a hurry, here is a summary of our picks for the best instant camera in 2022.
Polaroid Originals OneStep+
User level: Beginner | Film type: Polaroid Originals for i-Type cameras | Image size: 108 x 88mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 103mm/89mm | Minimum shooting distance: 60cm | Exposure modes: Macro, Normal, and Landscape | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
One of the most classic-looking instant cameras, the OneStep+ brings some exciting features to the table.
The camera is beginner-friendly and serves well for many types of photography including macro photography and portrait photography.
It combines vintage aesthetics with modern technology, including Bluetooth. This connectivity provides you with double exposure and light painting effects, as well as a noise trigger that lets you shoot remotely with just a clap of your hands.
The camera uses i-Type and 600 films, as well as a battery that will last up to 60 days of shooting.
Fujifilm Instax mini 90 Neo Classic
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax mini | Image size: 108 x 88mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 60mm, f12.7 | Minimum shooting distance: 30cm | Exposure modes: Party, Kids, Landscape, Macro, Double Exposure, Bulb | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
This is the only Fujifilm instant camera with a rechargeable battery, which sets the mini 90 Neo Classic apart from its peers.
The battery lasts long enough to shoot 10 packs of Fujifilm Instax film. A 60mm lens and multiple camera effects allow you to experiment with your photography, both up close or far out into the landscape.
Fujifilm added a built-in flash and a small LCD for extra versatility. The flash extends the camera’s working hours in low-light conditions. When this is paired with the party mode, the Neo Classic yields some beautiful shots. In terms of design, it is simplistic and retro with advanced manual controls.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax mini | Image size: 62 x 46mm | Self-timer: No | Lens: 60mm, f12.7 | Minimum shooting distance: 35cm | Exposure modes: Sunny, Cloudy, Indoor and Hi-Key | Flash: Built-in (cannot be deactivated) | Viewfinder: Optical
This simple and fun instant camera by Fujifilm may not suffice an enthusiast, but it will suit a beginner on a budget.
Its body is plastic but colorful and harbors easy controls, such as switching camera modes by turning the lens ring.
This camera boasts a great deal of variety for novices: you can take self-portraits with the aid of a mirror on the front of the lens, plus you can shoot close-ups of flowers with a macro lens attachment.
It is compatible with the Instax Mini film and has a regular 60mm lens. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the perfect family camera and a great choice among the best instant cameras.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax mini | Image size: 62 x 46mm | Self-timer: No | Lens: 60mm, f12.7 | Minimum shooting distance: 30cm | Exposure modes: Macro, Normal, Selfie and Landscape | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 has a trick or two up its sleeve.
This camera was made for Instagram selfies. It has a mirror on the front of the lens, helping with composition, as well as a dedicated Selfie mode.
As you’d expect, this mode results in ideal exposure of the surroundings and makes your skin look even. As a bonus, there is a 10-second timer, so you can set the camera up on a tripod.
However, the design of the camera isn’t as Instagrammable, since it is simple and a little dated. But if that doesn’t bother you, it’s one of the most affordable on this list.
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax mini format | Image size: 62 x 46mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 60mm, f12.7 | Minimum shooting distance: 60cm | Exposure modes: Macro, Bulb, Automatic, Party and People, Sport and Action, Double Exposure, and Selfie | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
If the budget is not one of your concerns, the Leica Sofort might be the one for you.
It boasts a high-end retro aesthetic, plus many features. It can be used with a selection of Instax films, such as Leica color and monochrome. Plus, it has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 100 shots per charge.
Both beginners and advanced photographers can use this camera thanks to the intuitive controls; it has a target spot technology to help out with image composition, plus it has a 3-zone manual focus selector for landscape enthusiasts.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax WIDE film | Image size: 99 x 62mm | Self-timer: No | Lens: 95mm, f14 | Minimum shooting distance: 40cm | Exposure modes: Dark, Normal, and Light | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
Unlike the other cameras on this list, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 produces large photo prints. This, however, means that the camera itself is big: problematic if you want to take a selfie.
Despite its size, the camera is lightweight and has an ergonomic handgrip. A lever around the shutter button extends a 95mm lens, to which you can add a close-up adapter for macro photography.
To help you out with compositions, there is a target spot feature and exposure control. As for the film, you can use Instax WIDE or ISO 800 films, which you can always check on through the camera’s film confirmation window.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax Square film | Image size: 62 x 62mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 65.75mm, f12.6 | Minimum shooting distance: 30cm | Exposure modes: Automatic, Macro, Normal, Landscape, Double Exposure, Lighten, and Darken | Flash: Built-in (with flash suppression mode) | Viewfinder: Optical
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is a haven for artistic souls. Not only does it look like the Instagram icon, but it also produces square prints–the perfect format for your feed.
Another creative feature is the inclusion of 3 color gel filters; orange, purple, and green–attach to the flash for a retro lighting effect.
Further bonuses for Instagram users are a selfie mirror and a Double Exposure feature. The camera also has a target spot, and an automatic exposure control, and uses 2 CR2 lithium batteries that last for an impressive 300 shots.
Lomo’ Instant Wide
User level: Beginner | Film type: Fujifilm Instax Wide film | Image size: 99 x 62mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 35mm, f8 | Minimum shooting distance: 35cm | Exposure modes: Auto, Bulb, 1/30 fixed shutter speed mode | Flash: Built-in (flash deactivation possible) | Viewfinder: Optical
The Lomo’Instant Wide is another addition to the retro-style instant cameras.
The body of the camera is big, but thin, which isn’t necessarily comfortable for everyone. And beware–it is heavy!
As for images, it produces large prints using the Fujifilm Instax Wide film. Just as you’d expect, it has a selfie mirror, a built-in flash, and a lever shutter button.
But what distinguishes this from other cameras, is the versatility of its lens cap. This small device harbors a lithium cell that gives it the power to act as a remote shutter.
The lens itself is 35mm, making Lomo’Instant a good wide-angle instant camera.
User level: Beginner | Film type: i-Type Film, 600 Film | Image size: 88 x 107mm | Self-timer: Yes | Lens: 82-109mm, f10-67 | Minimum shooting distance: 30cm | Exposure modes: Multiple exposures, slow shooting, manual control | Flash: Built-in (ringflash) | Viewfinder: Optical
The Impossible l-1 is probably the most vintage-looking instant camera you can buy.
There is a removable optical viewfinder, consisting of 2 pop-up windows. This camera is also one of the few that supports Polaroid 600 and I-type films. Plus, its unique ring flash that encircles the lens, provides uniform lighting.
But besides the vintage look, this camera is packed with advanced technology. For example, it has 5-zone autofocus and Bluetooth LE 4.0 connectivity. The autofocus will adjust the focal length of the lens for optimal composition.
Meanwhile, the Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone allows you to add extra creative filters and a noise trigger function.
Contrary to expectations, this unique and advanced camera is affordable.
User level: Beginner | Film type: Zero Ink (ZINK) | Image size: 50.8 x 76.2mm | Self-timer: No | Lens: 8mm, f2 | Minimum shooting distance: Not given | Exposure modes: Colour and B&W | Flash: Built-in | Viewfinder: Optical
The simple and minimalistic Kodak Printomatic shies away from the vintage and retro styles.
It is one of the most tech-savvy on this list thanks to a USB charging slot, as well as a microSD card that saves all your photos.
It is the only model that uses ZINK, or zero ink, film, which uses printer-like technology and passes through a test sheet before any photos are printed. Plus there are two color modes: ‘Black and White’, and ‘Vibrant Color’.
The prints it produces are smudge-proof and waterproof. Also because of the film it uses, the body of the camera is small and portable enough to fit in your pocket.
Finally, the Printomatic has a 10MP sensor, which may be far from a DSLR, but is very good for instant cameras.
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What to Consider When Buying an Instant Camera
Although instant cameras are straightforward to use, there are a few things you should keep in mind before buying.
Here are the key features you should pay attention to when choosing the best polaroid camera to suit your needs.
Think About Size and Weight of the Camera
The size of the camera largely depends on the film that it supports. The bigger the dimensions of the film, the bigger and heavier will the camera be. Most instant cameras are fairly portable unless they use a wide film or have an unusual vintage shape.
Smaller cameras will fit into your pocket but may be difficult to handle when you’re looking through the viewfinder–especially for people with large hands.
Bigger cameras need bags, and they aren’t packable unless they can be taken apart. The handling of these may be challenging for people with small hands, especially if the cameras don’t have hand grips.
As for weight, instant cameras are usually heavier than compact digital cameras, but this is not necessarily a disadvantage. Increased size and weight can increase stability, as long as the camera feels balanced in your hand.
What Will You Take Photos Of?
Instant cameras can be used to take selfies, portraits at parties, pet photography, and even food photography. But you can also do creative projects. Instant cameras produce prints with a special aesthetic that you can apply to anything.
Some instant cameras have a built-in flash with color filters and many have different settings that you can experiment with.
Some have a Double Exposure feature, with which you can create a ghosting effect: especially cool for street photography and portrait photography.
Instant films can be used to create light paintings or laser writing, as well as photograms. A photogram is an effect when you put an object onto film and expose it to a burst of light.
Choose the Right Type of Instant Camera Film
We differentiate film by size, chemical make-up, and the technology that is used to apply color to it.
Most films available on the market are Fujifilm Instax; although Polaroid, Kodak, and Lomography brands are available too.
Instant camera film comes in many different sizes:
- Regular: these are a similar size to credit cards and are the most common type of film used. It is great for party selfies and portraits;
- Square: can be used for most subjects and are great for avid Instagram users;
- Wide: these are close to the size of conventional print photos and are usually used for group shots. They are great if you shoot landscape photography with a retro-style; and
- Mini: these are only used by Kodak Printomatic for their ZINK technology.
Films can also be categorized based on ISO: this is the film’s chemical makeup. The film ISO tells you how sensitive it is to light. Higher ISO means it is more sensitive to light and can shoot in low light conditions. You can also have films that are in color or monochrome.
Films can come in the form of sheets or rolls, have different developing times, and even different expiry times. Mostly, they are fairly similar, working with chemicals and dyes. However, Kodak’s ZINK (Zero Ink) technology works like a printer.
You need to budget carefully for the film as, on average, it costs $1 per shot.
Set Your Instant Camera Budget
Expensive cameras tend to be compact and full of creative features, such as double exposure. Also, expensive models will give you more control over the exposure and brightness of the resulting photo. These cameras are also more likely to have rechargeable batteries.
If you’re after a budget choice, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 and Impossible l-1 are great options. However, they have fewer creative controls, and the photos may come out over or underexposed.
Instant Camera Limitations to Be Aware Of
Instant cameras will never match digital cameras in terms of image resolution: digital cameras have bigger sensors so can capture more detail.
Instant cameras will have a slower shutter speed: no good if you like to capture wildlife photography. They also don’t offer much control of exposure, so you are not in full control of the result.
Instant cameras offer fewer modes and effects, plus you can’t edit the final image. They generally have fewer features than digital ones. Although some manufacturers develop noise triggers etc, the arsenal doesn’t reach the level of DSLRs.
Due to the retro style, many don’t usually have LCD screens on which you can see the image, you have to use the viewfinder to compose your shot. This has pitfalls and can crop the image.
The cost of the film is expensive, especially if you shoot a lot. This is a problem, especially in the beginning when you’re learning and developing your style.
Despite these limitations, you can’t really put a price on having an instant print of your favorite shot! That is why instant cameras are so popular. Both among photographers and people around them.
Time to Choose
Instant cameras are a great way to share your images with the people around you, transforming moments worth remembering into tiny, collectible artworks.
Cheap models may often do the job as well as more high-end products, especially if your goal is collecting memories, rather than building a portfolio.
With the analog trend constantly growing, we will be updating this list as new cameras are put out on the market. Make sure you come back and check for updates.
Read more: Best Mirrorless Cameras