The new instant cameras that are all the rage nowadays are not just good for nostalgia. While it is still impossible for them to rival DSLRs and most mirrorless cameras when it comes to the quality of the images rendered, they are capable of producing decent enough pictures –also, no one would argue that they are not fun. In fact, pulling one out is almost guaranteed to liven up any party or special occasion. Everyone gets so excited seeing their faces and smiles printed out instantly. This is probably because in this day and age of intangible digital photos stored in DSLRs and camera phones, this relatively old technology seems newer and more novel.
Once relegated to the trendy technologies of yesteryears, it’s obvious that instant photography has made a huge comeback – and we’re all happy for it. There is a multitude of cameras to choose from, and each one has its own special feature that makes it unique. Features include a classic chassis, lo-fi color capabilities, exposure controls, and even smartphone connectivity.
Whichever brand of camera you end up buying, one thing is for sure: even if the image quality may not be high definition, there is just something about an instant photo that makes it impossible to ignore. Could it be its novelty, giftability, tangibility, or artistry? Depending on personal preference, it’s probably all of these reasons – to a degree. So, allow us to help you with your research as we present to you the 12 best instant cameras on the market today.
The granddaddy of the instant camera craze way back when it is back, and it’s bringing in the big guns – or rather, cameras. The Polaroid Originals OneStep+ is a point and shoot beginner camera that utilizes the Polaroid 600 & Polaroid i-Type film. It has both a flash and a self-timer. You can also choose between three available focus modes: macro, normal, and landscape. The image size as printed is 108 x 88 mm, and this is produced with a 103mm / 89 mm lens. This camera also has a Bluetooth shooting control mode.
This beautiful camera from the Impossible Project is actually the revamped version of their Onestop2. The added features include the aforementioned Bluetooth mode, an 89 mm portrait lens as well as several other shooting modes that include light painting, noise trigger, and double exposures. When you choose this retro-style camera, you are tapping into the very history of instant photography.
It can’t be said enough that Fujifilm has initiated the revival of instant photography fandom – and, in more recent years, it was all because of the Instax Mini line of cameras of which the Mini 9 is one of the fan favorites. The Instax Mini 9 is available in various bright and fun colors, so pick the one you best like. It works great with taking selfies, too, since it has an integrated selfie mirror.
Though this great camera may lack more manual features, it still delivers as a simple camera that takes great pictures given the format. Anyone who has held one or has owned one loves the ease of taking perfect adorable photos. The photo prints are just about 2.4 x 1.8 inches since it’s the Mini film format. It’s awesome for parties, artistic photo projects, as well as a side travel camera.
The best thing about the Instax Mini 9, aside from its exciting color palette, is probably the fact that it’s so affordable. This allows anyone curious about instant photography to get a low-cost yet decent enough camera to play around with.
The Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is the synergistic result of combining premium quality with retro yet modern aesthetics. This camera features a range of functions that include various shooting modes. With the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, you can now create double exposure effects as well as macro shots. These are on top of a host of other features, such as a 3-range focusing capability from the previously mentioned macro to normal and then landscape.
The pictures you get with this camera are simply stunning, and because of this, it’s a perfect travel companion to capture your memories on. Many would attest that it’s the best Instax camera available today since it offers an aesthetic upgrade from the toy-like Mini 9 with its leather-like finish as well as other added control features, including flash control. All these account for it being well ahead of its more basic brand-mates.
If you’re the type of camera enthusiast who wants to tweak every manual control feature to get that perfect shot, then this Lomography entry might be your best choice. The Lomo’Instant Wide is considered the instant camera that provides the most manual control features, which range from lens adapters to a host of control settings. This makes it unique in a field where automatic settings seem to be the norm. With this range of settings, it is capable of making shots that look better – rather, shots that look like how you intend them to look. You can even play around with the color tones of your photos with the multiple color gels.
This Lomography enthusiast’s dream instant camera utilizes the wide film, which allows you to bring in more details into your shot. The instant prints come out as 3.9 x 2.4-inch photos. While larger prints might be favorable, it does, however, cause one drawback: a relatively bulky body that can sometimes be awkward to handle. Another thing worth noting is that this can be quite a rather expensive choice, which can be construed positively as an indicator of its premium quality.
Fujifilm realizes that their Instax Mini prints are tiny, and this is why they also have a wide-format instant camera – the Instax WIDE 300. This chunky camera prints out an image size of 99 x 62 mm. This is captured with a 95mm f-14 lens, which is effective at a minimum distance of 40 cm. There is a built-in flash as well as exposure modes that range from dark to normal and then light.
The Instax WIDE 300 does not come with a self-timer. This is a beautiful camera that’s a good choice for both entry-level instant camera enthusiasts and even more experienced hobbyists. This is especially fun to have when you’re at a party with a lot of people whom you may want to get in the shot or when you’re out traveling the world and have a lot of memories you want to capture.
Lomography comes back on this list of the best instant cameras with another premium entry – the Lomo’Instant Automata. This is a superbly designed camera with the ability to mount different lenses. This makes it more special than many of the other options available on the market today. Out of the box, it comes with a 60 mm f/8 lens. It has a built-in flash and is capable of three focusing ranges: close-up, normal, and landscape). However, it does not have a self-timer.
The design is relatively much more appealing than those of many of its competitors. This well-dialed design might have stemmed from the fact that this was initially a crowdfunding success on Kickstarter. While it is its own brand, it does, however, rely on using the Instax Mini Film format. If you want to play around with your shots, you can also purchase close-up, fisheye, or wide lenses. You can also use multiple exposures an unlimited number of times. This specialized premium camera looks and feels like it’s expensive – and that it is. While this may be a hindrance to your decision to buy, it has been pointed out by many that it is worth the price.
The brand that became the verb for taking instant photos now offers one of the best cameras that have a digital storage. The reason why this is such a big deal is that so many of these instant cameras shy away from going the digital storage route opting for a purer retro feel. However, if doing it retro-style with a defining hint of modern is your thing, then the Polaroid Snap Touch might be the camera for you. It’s the best of both worlds since it can print instantly as well as store the images as you would other digital cameras. It even comes with a 3.5-inch touchscreen display for setting control and viewing.
Much like other digital cameras, the Snap Touch can also record HD videos too. This is one feature that has many competitors beat. You can save your photos and videos on a microSD card. When you choose to print the shots directly, they come out as 2 x 3-inch photos through the use of Zink or “zero ink” technology. This technology is what is claimed to be the reason why this Polaroid is priced much more expensively.
How would you like Instagram-like pictures, but only this time, it’s more tangible? If you have become a fan of the square image because of IG or if you have nostalgia about the old Polaroid square format, then the Instax Square SQ6 from Fujifilm is right for you. It’s considered by many to be the best square-format camera available in the market today. You can take it with you on your vacation, or you can use it to complete your artistic photography projects when you need the aesthetic value of a square image.
Aside from its square output (which is its main pull), this camera has other features that make it superior to others, such as flash controls, exposure controls, double exposure, and landscape mode.
While there may be others who think that Leica joining the instant camera game is a shock, it was an inevitable progression of the brand since more and more camera enthusiasts are now buying instant cameras both as their main camera or as a side-camera that adds a more artisanal touch to any project. The result of this is the Leica Sofort.
Since Leica is a premium camera brand, it has to be mentioned that this is, in fact, the most affordable Leica to date. However, the “low” price that Leica puts the Sofort up for sale can still be a little pricey, relatively speaking.
This Leica instant camera comes with a 60 mm lens and is capable of macro, normal, and landscape focusing shots. It has a built-in flash as well as a self-timer. This camera does employ the Instax Mini film-format, and it does kind of look like an Instax Mini 90. It has a few features you’re sure to enjoy, such as a wide array of shooting and focusing modes that include sport & action, double exposure, selfie modes, bulb settings, a self-timer, party &people, and, of course, macro.
Canon, the DSLR giant, finally makes it onto this list of some of the best instant cameras that you should consider buying with the camera that they thought was too nice that they named it twice – Canon Ivy Cliq+ or the Zoemini S. This camera is an amalgam of the digital and the old school analog camera technologies. It comes equipped with a 25.4 mm lens that is capable of normal and landscape focusing (no macro, though). There is, however a built-in flash and a ring flash – the latter is used to enhance facial features. It also comes with a self-timer that can only be accessed with an app.
The Zink technology utilized by Canon does not need light exposure to develop the film when taking pictures, so it became relatively sleeker after foregoing the use of the more traditional instant camera components.
The Impossible Project I-1 might just be the weirdest looking instant camera on this list. or on any other list for that matter. While the design may be relatively unorthodox, there is a reason for the madness. The thing that makes it conspicuous is the ring flash that dominates its facade. This ring flash is a feature that allows the Impossible Project I-1 to take better portrait photos that are developed on the Polaroid Originals i-Type film format.
This camera can be controlled with a smartphone via an app. With the app activated, you can use a self-timer, a remote trigger, or a noise trigger. Many have gravitated toward its strange retro vibe, but sine it is cumbersome, it is not the ideal camera for quick informal shots at parties.
Kodak, once Fujifilm’s fiercest rival, has a hybrid camera that marries the novelty of instant cameras and the modern convenience of digital cameras with the Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera. This Kodak Camera uses the Zink printing system to produce an image size that is 2 x3 inches taken with a 32 mm f / 2.8 lens.
This camera allows you to shoot either in color or black and white. It uses the LCD screen as the viewfinder, has a built-in flash, and a self-timer. Because it is relatively easy to use, this hybrid camera is perfect for beginners who want the camera to do the work for them.
Aesthetically, it looks great. It’s sleek and is comparatively as slim as the regular smartphone. You can expand the memory by inserting a micro SD memory card of up to 256 GB. The drawback with this sleekness is that it is also powered by a slim battery that can only print out about 40 photos per full charge, which is fewer than the photo counts of other cameras.