hese days, we’re more used to getting instant gratification than ever before. We want to buy something – no problem, we just go online. Soon, it’ll be delivered right to our front door. It’s no wonder then that instant cameras are making a comeback.
The instant camera reached stratospheric heights during the 1970s and ’80s. Now, it’s back again for the 21st century and it has even more to offer. If you want speedy snaps to share with friends, you’ll find one of today’s top 12 instant cameras will be ideal.
When you’re excited by the idea of an instant image materializing before your eyes, you’ll love an instant camera. They’re not just a throw-back to a bygone simpler age, they’re actually a cutting-edge photographic tool. In fact, they’re one that could take your shots to a completely different level.
With so much choice out there it can be hard to know which model to choose. You don’t want to waste precious time fiddling around with settings or getting blurry shots. In today’s Instagram generation, you need an instant camera that can tick all the boxes.
With that in mind, we’ve taken all the hard work out of making the right choice. We’ve tested some of the top selling models on the market today, and we have the best of the best. Before we get to those, however, there are some FAQs to get to first.
What are the main things to consider when buying an instant camera?
Although instant gratification is your goal when buying an instant print camera, it’s important to take your time. You don’t want to make mistakes when it comes to your purchasing choice. The wrong instant camera can be a drastic mistake, as you may not be used to using certain kinds.
On top of this, you may not like how one functions.
This is not uncommon, as many people like certain types and prefer them more. Some photographers swear by one brand and never use anything else. We want to make sure you get what you want, but we don’t swear by one brand at Men’s Gear.
In fact, we love all types of brand and will show that below.
However, before we get to this we need to make sure you know a few things. There are some very important factors to consider before you buy. Check them out.
Ease of use:
You don’t want to spend ages fiddling with the film pack wasting time when you could be pointing and shooting. You need to choose a model that makes it quick and easy to set everything up. Most instant cameras are easy to use. It’s pretty much snap and go with them.
However, with the rise of the digital instant camera…they have gotten far more advanced.
Due to this advancement, instant cameras are not like those of the past that we grew up using on vacations. This means you may have trouble using certain types. It’s best to look at each version and see how they operate or look into their operation before you buy.
When you’re buying an instant camera, it’s important to remember the ongoing costs too. It isn’t just about the upfront expense of buying the camera. Some come with refillable film, which means you can take out the old and put in the new. This also means that some need to be developed.
Meanwhile, others are one-time use and that is all you get with them. All of these things are relatively affordable. If a camera nearly breaks the bank in the instant genre, you don’t need it. You could get a major camera for that type of price if we’re all honest here.
The instant camera is beloved due to affordability, so most will be relatively low with all its parts also being reasonably priced.
The best instant camera will give you creative options to choose from. Although simply pointing and shooting is great for beginners, at some point you might want to make adjustments and changes. Finding an instant camera that lets you customize your shots is best.
Obviously, proper cameras will let you set up some amazing shots. Creative options are a bit limited with these cameras honestly. That is more for the expensive type, so don’t assume white balance and all sorts of other things will be in all instant cameras.
However, the creative thing it does bring is the opportunity to be creative.
What we mean is, most instant cameras allow you to make the choice about what you capture. They’re often lightweight and some are even waterproof. This means you can go wild and find awesome shots. The instant camera just gives you the tools to be the creative person you always were.
You don’t want to have to bring several sets of batteries with you wherever you go. You’ll want the freedom to be able to take a large number of shots before your battery runs out. The best instant cameras will let you take a minimum of 100 images before the battery dies.
Others do not use batteries at all. However, these are mostly disposable cameras. A lot of cheaper options tend to use less to no batteries at all. The more pricey the item, the more likely it is that it needs a recharge. Some come with certain types of batteries you can recharge at home too.
Ultimately, this depends on what you prefer.
Some instant cameras are only suitable for use as an instant printing camera. Others have Bluetooth connectivity or a MicroSD slot, which allows them to be a printer type as well. This makes your purchase an even better value for the money since you can print the shots.
You can do it with ease from your smartphone as well as from the camera itself.
You can also store images on the camera and then peruse them later to choose which ones to print. This is pretty awesome when you think about it.
While battery life is an important consideration, it’s also important to think about the type of battery each model uses. Some use AA batteries while others have an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Some have a CR2 battery. The type to choose is really up to you.
A rechargeable battery may be the most convenient, although a model that uses AA batteries may be more appropriate. Especially if you plan to use your camera while out and about and have no power outlet available for recharging.
Not every brand of instant camera uses the same type of film, which could have an impact on your decision. Fujifilm cameras, for example, use Fuji Instax films. Whereas Polaroid cameras use 600 or i-Type film. Meanwhile, some other models use 4Pass.
The availability and the cost of the film type your chosen camera uses should be kept in mind. Film types are often overlooked in purchases for some reason. Don’t be that guy who forgets about it!
One of the main reasons to choose an instant camera is its portability. Think about this, honestly. It’s a lot of fun to us while out and about with friends at parties or social gatherings. Therefore, you should look for a small, compact, and lightweight model.
This will allow any instant camera to be easily carried around with you. On top of this, it can fit into a bag or pocket on the way out of the door.
What are the main benefits of instant cameras?
Instant cameras offer a host of benefits that a standard camera just can’t offer. While they aren’t the perfect choice for every application, they’re a great way to have fun with friends. Here are just some of the benefits they provide:
- User Friendliness – instant cameras are usually really simple to use. Many are just point-and-click models that let even a complete beginner take shots with ease.
- Fun to use – an instant camera gives you a level of fun that you just don’t get from your regular DSLR. The excitement of seeing how your shots are going to turn out adds something to your photography experience.
- Processing time – most instant cameras have a virtually instant processing time, although you do have to wait for the picture to dry afterward. That could take as long as 40 minutes.
- Extra features – some Polaroid instant cameras come equipped with extra features. A flash is a common extra, which is quite useful. It’ll allow you to take shots in low lighting conditions. Some also have self-timers letting you join your friends in the shot.
- Useful for practice shots – if you’re excited to find out how your shot is going to turn out with your regular camera, you can use an instant camera first. This was a common use for Polaroid cameras back in the day and its use in this respect is back on the rise. Also, instant cameras are great for taking instant images when recording unusual natural finds or for archaeological digs.
- Heat resistant – instant cameras are also known to be more resistant to high temperatures than a regular DSLR camera. This makes them a good choice when on vacation in a hot climate.
What are the main brands of instant cameras?
There are several brands of instant cameras out there. Some are even synonymous with quality manufacturing and image production. There are three that stand out above them all, however. One of the biggest names has to be Fujifilm – they are one of the oldest Japanese brands in the photography industry.
Fujifilm is one few manufacturers still producing instant cameras today. Ultimately, due to being so well-known for them, it makes sense. Fujifilm’s Instax range is very popular and beloved by even professional photographers. Thanks to their fun colors and small designs, the Fuji instant cameras are ideal for taking out and about.
Another major name in the business is Polaroid. They became so well-known for their cameras that people actually called pictures “Polaroids” for a very long time. The Polaroid instant camera has a strong reputation in the photography industry and is the oldest manufacturer still making instant films and cameras today.
A third big name in instant cameras has to be Kodak. Like Polaroid, Kodak is synonymous with photography. The term “Kodak image” was massively popular for years, in fact. You can depend on a Kodak instant film cameras to produce impressive results.
Well-designed and highly functional, Kodak models cost a bit more than their rivals. However, the functionality and quality of their manufacturing make them well worth the additional expense.
How to take good photos with an instant camera
Since you don’t have a lot of time to spend setting up a shot with an instant camera, it’s important to have some expert tips in mind first. After all, you don’t want to waste your precious film since you usually only get 10 shots in a pack!
When you’re using a smartphone camera or a DSLR, you can take numerous shots and delete them if you don’t like what you see. With an instant camera, you don’t always have that luxury. That means you have to go back to the good old days when you used to have a one-time shot!
Whether you’re taking a portrait or a landscape shot, knowing how to get the most out of your instant camera is an absolute must.
Here are some tips to help you take good photos with your instant camera so you can impress your friends:
Keeping your distance:
Instant cameras usually have a minimum focusing distance of around 30-60cm. That means if you’re too close to the subject of your shot you’ll end up with a blurry shot. Keep the shooting distance in mind before you press the shutter button.
A lot of the cameras will have viewfinders in there to allow you a chance to see your shot. With newer cameras, you’re getting an HD thing today. Back in the day, you did not have to wait as much for a shot. Today, you need to as HD needs time to set up.
Usually, this takes less than 5 seconds, but that is a truly precious 5 seconds.
Distance shots are often the easiest to get in a fast period. Whereas an upfront type may take slightly longer to focus. Weird, we know.
Don’t stand too far away:
Although you shouldn’t stand too close to the subject of your shot you shouldn’t stand too far away either. Most instant camera prints are small in size. This means you won’t be able to see the subject of your picture if it’s too small in its frame.
5 to 6-feet away from your subject is ideal. Of course, you could be longer but this is often the best set-up compared to others.
Don’t obscure the flash:
It can be tricky to avoid getting your fingers in the shot when using an instant camera. You’ll often end up obscuring the flash because of the lack of handgrips and small size of the camera itself. Take care how you hold your camera before you shoot to ensure that you won’t be affecting the quality of your image.
The best way to do this is to consider how you hold the camera from the beginning. If you’re holding it high, you’ll likely feel your finger near the snapper. The bottom of your finger can be felt at this point. This means you’re up too high and of great risk to get your finger in the shot.
You want to make sure you have the knuckle and up in this area. This will allow you to get a better image without a finger jumping in the way.
Use natural light:
Whenever you can, try to shoot in natural light while using an instant camera. You’ll notice that your images can look very washed out when using other light sources. You might find that deactivating your flash will produce a better subject definition and contrast when shooting indoors.
Natural light is often the best thing to have. However, this can be an issue on overcast days or even ones where it’s far too sunny. The flash will be of use in the darker points, but never use the flash when the light is large. If you do, your image may turn out crazy.
Consider different angles:
You don’t want to waste your expensive instant film. That means you need to think carefully about the angle you choose for your shot first. Once you take the image, you’ll thank yourself for doing this. Consider whether you should shoot upwards or downwards towards the subject.
You may also want to consider if you have to move at any point. If so, you’ll need side angle shots or possibly overhead shots. All of this can be done with ease if you plan it out perfectly.
Choose the right subjects:
Not every shot looks great on an instant camera. Close up portraits lend themselves well to this type of photography. However, if you’re looking for detail you’ll need to stick to your DSLR. The subjects you’ll use will tend to be non-moving shots like buildings, statues, etc.
You’ll also take still images of family members on them too.
The ultimate goal really is to find the best possible shot. However, some subjects may not stop moving or you may not be able to get a certain shot. That is okay, as some shots are not for you to get sadly.
Choose the right background:
When using an instant camera, the best backgrounds are typically light-colored, blank, or white. This works especially well if the subject is dark in color. While it may seem a bit wrong, if you put a black man in front of a black building, some instant cameras will wash him out like a man wearing green in front of a green screen.
You can avoid this by simply picking the better building or you can simply have that person move up in the shot. This will allow you to set them apart from their background.
Double exposure experimentation:
Not every instant camera offers the possibility of double exposure. However, the best instant cameras will. You might want to try experimenting to see what kind of effects you can create. This is not really something you “need” in a camera.
Despite this, it’s still cool to have and most people love it.
When using an instant camera, candid shots are often best. Asking subjects to pose doesn’t always lend itself well to this type of photography. You truly do want great shots that people are not always expecting. It turns out better and very organic.
Although, we’re not telling you to break into the women’s locker room and raid the showers to get images.
This will not only get you punched and/or kicked very hard but likely killed by some women. If not them, their boyfriends or husbands. What we mean is, catch your sister or mom eating at the cool Hardrock Cafe. Try getting a crazy image of your brother when you’re on a cool raft down some insane rapids.
As the first rapid comes up and he hits the sky scared for his life, it’ll be the perfect time to get him. They won’t expect these images to come out of your camera, but that is the point. It is organic and worth it really.
1) Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera
If you’re looking for a user-friendly and affordable instant camera that’s perfect for beginners, the Fujifilm Instax Mini is the one for you. Powered using 2 AA batteries, it’s cheap and cheerful. It won’t blow you away with features, yet it’s convenient and low-cost to take for nights out with the guys.
The chunky, plastic construction features large buttons for ease of activation and the bright colors make it especially visually appealing. You get 10 prints per pack of paper and the end result is a credit-card-sized print that measures 54mm x 86mm.
There is an inbuilt flash that allows you to take shots in poor lighting conditions or indoors, meaning you have greater versatility over where you shoot. If you’re worried about your appearance when taking a selfie, you don’t have to be here.
These instant cameras come with a handy mirror at the front so you can see how you look first.
You can select different shooting modes quickly and easily by simply turning the lens ring. They even illuminate when being used so you can see at a glance which mode is in operation. You can take close-ups near to you with ease at just 35cm.
Thanks to the point-and-shoot design, it’s never been easier to take those shots on the fly.
2) The Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
The Polaroid Snap camera lets you relive the good old days of the classic Polaroid shots of yesteryear. Its compact size lets you easily put it into a pocket to take anywhere. Yet there’s no compromise on the quality and vibrancy of the photographs.
All can be instantly shared without any need for a computer connection.
Thanks to the Zink technology, there’s no need for any toner and the results are instant. You’ll be able to print out full-color shots that measure 2” x 3” and are completely smudge-proof. Thanks to the 10MP sensor, you’ll be able to capture quality images.
Compatibility with 32GB microSD cards means that you can also save your shots.
These instant cameras have various modes, also a selfie mirror to make sure you look awesome first. Images can be posted quickly on any surface due to their adhesive backing. You can choose from different filters and tones to get the perfect shot to suit your needs.
Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic or modern image, you can get the perfect picture.
The camera comes with an inclusive USB cord and wrist strap for extra value. As an extra bonus, this is a particularly affordable option. That makes it a perfect camera for taking on vacation.
3) Fujifilm Instax Mini 8
This compact instant camera is small enough to easily fit into your pocket and light enough to use anywhere at 10.8oz in weight. Its rounded edges are stylish while its range of colors makes it especially attractive.
With its 60mm fixed-focus lens, you can capture shots from as close up as 2-feet up to infinity. The field of view is a little tighter than you might expect when using your DSLR or smartphone camera. However, you should still be able to get some great quality shots.
Powered by 2 easily replaceable AA batteries, these instant cameras are incredibly convenient. Lining up film is done with ease. Simply line the yellow stripe up with the mark on the compartment and you’re good to shoot away. Just to capture the old-school feel, there’s even an old-fashioned analog counter on the back to tell you how many shots remain.
Activating the camera is a breeze, you just have to get it to the right light exposure. The light settings you can choose from are bright, sunny, cloudy, or indoor conditions. There’s even a Hi-Key mode to intentionally over-expose images to achieve different effects.
The inbuilt flash means that you can easily take photos in poor light and indoors and thanks to the placement of the shutter button. This makes it a perfect camera for portrait shots. It’s also incredibly affordable, so you’ll easily be able to push the limits of what a camera can do with this model.
4) Kodak Mini Shot Instant Camera
Packed with excellent features, this Kodak instant camera delivers impressive 10MP quality pictures in just seconds with point-and-shoot functionality. One excellent advantage of this model is that it has Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to instantly send your favorite snaps to your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet for viewing and editing.
As an added advantage, you can actually send your images from your phone back to the camera to print. This just makes it doubly useful as a standalone printer as well as a camera. With its portable size, it can easily be carried wherever you want to go without compromising on power or features.
With its white balance and gamma correction, auto exposure and focus and 1.7 inch LCD viewfinder, you can really capture your creative side. It also has a long battery life, allowing you to take up to twenty prints on a single charge.
Meanwhile, its 4Pass printing technology produces stunning prints.
5) Polaroid Originals 4723 Camera
If you love the old school Polaroid camera, you’ll love the Polaroid Originals 4723. With its original look and its user-friendly operation, this quality camera is an iconic model.
Using the classic 600 film type, these instant cameras couldn’t be easier to use. That’s regardless of you wanting to take black and white or color snaps. There’s nothing complex about this instant camera. You simply point-and-shoot and it does the rest for you.
The built-in flash allows you can take shots anywhere you like, even indoors or in poor lighting conditions. Meanwhile, there are no batteries needed with this model. With this, you won’t have to worry about the hassle of charging up every time you want to take your camera out with you for the day.
6) Polaroid POP Camera
This Polaroid snap camera is an impressive 20MP model that brings quality to each image. Allowing you to snap pictures that measure 3.5” x 4.25” instantly, they even have the iconic Polaroid border for an old school feel.
There’s no need for any ink, computer, or printer when using this camera. It also has an intuitive 3.97” touchscreen, enabling you to see what you plan to photograph before you press the shutter button.
Suitable for shooting anything from portraits to landscapes, the Zink technology prints and dries without any need to flap or wait and the colors are vibrant and beautiful. There are also many different fun borders, filters, stickers, captions, and emojis to customize your shots.
As an added bonus, the Polaroid POP camera gives you the perks that come with other modern digital cameras. This includes HD video, built-in speaker, as well as a microphone. With a digital zoom and a built-in flash, these are impressive instant cameras despite their diminutive size.
7) Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
The FujiFilm Instax Mini 90 is capable of automatically detecting the brightness levels of the surroundings. These instant cameras can adjust the shutter speed and flash to make photos the best possible quality. There are also a number of creative modes offered by this camera.
This includes a macro mode, kids mode, bulb mode, and double exposure mode. All allowing you to create the perfect effect for each shot.
The high-performance flash makes it a breeze to take shots indoors or at poorly lit locations. On top of this, its compact size and lightweight design make it very simple to take anywhere you need to go. With its stylish old-school appearance, this is one of the most attractive models on the market today.
Despite this, it doesn’t compromise on functionality.
8) Polaroid Originals 9010
Designed to emulate the original Polaroid camera, these stylish instant cameras are incredibly easy to use. In fact, they perfectly capture the bygone era of instant photography! With an impressive 60-day long battery life, you’ll have no difficulty capturing all the photos you like.
A powerful flash comes with this camera, allowing you to take photos in dim light or indoors with ease.
The self-timer mode is a great addition to this instant camera, allowing you to get in on the action yourself. Meanwhile, the Bluetooth connected app lets you send images to anyone you like. Other creative features include double exposure mode, light painting mode, and even a noise trigger mode.
You can also choose between 2 different lenses. The portrait lens allows you to take snaps from as close-up as 1-foot while a standard lens is made for distant shots.
9) Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Camera
From the popular Polaroid brand, this high-quality OneStep+ camera is very user-friendly with point-and-shoot technology built in. Despite its ease of use, it still boasts some fun features and it even has a Bluetooth compatible application that will show those features off even more.
These instant cameras are compatible with both i-Type film and 600 film types in either black and white or color. This camera is easy to carry, allowing you can take around with you wherever you want to go. Thanks to the energy saving mode, you can even save even more battery life.
10) Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
If you’re looking for an instant camera that has the look and feel of a more solid model, the Fujifilm Instax WIDE is the one for you. Delivering bigger than average sized prints, it produces some seriously impressive images and yet it’s incredibly simple to use.
Although it has a larger size, these instant cameras have a plastic build. Therefore they weigh less than you might imagine, making it easier than you might have thought to take anywhere you want to go. The inbuilt flash is also larger than usual and is automatically operated so you won’t have to even think about it.
There are controls to help you adjust the fill-in option on the flash and the level of brightness. Meanwhile, the quality of the shots is exceptional. The cameras offer excellent prints that are close to the same dimensions as those of a standard photograph.
11) Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 Instant Camera
If you’re an Instagram fan, this Fuji instant camera is an excellent choice. It offers several different shooting modes including automatic, normal, macro, double exposure, landscape, darken and lighten. These instant cameras also boast an inbuilt flash with suppression mode.
This is something rare to see in an instant camera.
You can even get into the shot yourself with the self-timer addition. Especially if you don’t have long enough arms to take useful selfies. Two CR2 Lithium Ion batteries are included with some extremely long battery life. In fact, FujiFilm claims it takes up to 300 shots for it drain down. That is saying a lot.
The square format prints of this camera are ideal. Meanwhile, the selfie mode, choice of body colors, and three different color filters can be attached to a flash drive. That means it’s possible to get a wide range of shots to suit your mood.
This is a very simple camera to use, even if you’re a complete beginner. Plus, with its affordable price tag, you can take as many shots as you want. This is also the perfect instant cameras to give as a gift.
12) Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Instant Camera
The iconic Kodak brand has produced the Printomatic instant camera to cash in on the demand for speedy prints. They use today’s Zink technology for excellent quality pictures that see a 2″ x 3″ measure. These instant cameras are capable of shooting in either color or black and white.
The inbuilt flash allows you to take shots in any kind of environment. Meanwhile, the user-friendliness of this model means that even a complete beginner can produce impressive results.
It’s incredibly compact and lightweight, making the camera portable and capable of taking nearly anywhere. Due to the MicroSD slot, you can conveniently store images and print favorite later on with ease. These instant cameras can either be used as a 10MP camera or as a simple standalone printer thanks to that incredible MicroSD slot.
The images are quite small – just under the size of a regular credit card. This allows easy picture storage. Plus the camera is very affordable, making it a perfect gift.
Unlike many of its competitors, this instant camera has an internal battery. Instead of having to constantly stock up on AA batteries, you can just plug in your camera via the USB cable and charge it up between uses. These water-resistant prints aren’t as high-quality as those produced by some.
However, the great functionality and great appearance make up for this.
Making It Snappy!
You could be looking for a fun camera to capture exciting times with your friends or long to recapture the good old days of the original Polaroid. Regardless, an instant camera is a really cool accessory to add to your photographic equipment.
Keep in mind, instant cameras are not supposed to replace your trusty DSLR or even your smartphone camera. They’re simply a really great way to enhance social events or to break the ice at gatherings.
If you’ve decided to make the investment in an instant camera, you won’t have to spend a fortune. Most models are very affordable, putting them well within easy reach of everyone. Even complete beginners with very little previous photography experience can use them with ease.
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that all instant cameras are the same, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are some major differences between the different brands and different models on the market.
We pointed that out above.
To decide the instant camera that’s right for you, our buying guide presents you with all the considerations that you should keep in mind.
This should allow you to end up making the right decision. It doesn’t matter if you want to replicate the look of old-school Polaroid cameras. Nor does it matter if you want the same functionality of modern cameras with an instant print feature. A lot of them are two-in-one like this, giving you all you want.
By following our guide, you’ll avoid making a costly mistake. All while finding the perfect instant camera to capture the good times in the most fun and appealing way.