Best Instant Cameras Reviewed & Rated for Quality
With smartphone cameras getting better and better with each passing day, digital cameras being centered as the new normal, and a host of other extenuating circumstance convincing people that print is dead, some reading this may be shocked to discover that instant cameras are still around. They have existed for quite some time, so it’s going to take a lot more than a bit of progression on technology’s part to just snuff them out. The following entries are what we believe to be the absolute best instant cameras on the market right now.
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Automatic exposure measurement
Macro lens adapter for great close-ups
10 Best Instant Cameras
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Automatic exposure measurement
Macro lens adapter for great close-ups
Needs a lot of light for optimal shots
Kicking off our list on a great foot, we have the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. If you want truly high-quality instant cameras, then you can’t go wrong with Fujifilm. While there are other brands out there, we were very impressed by the performance and features of this camera. Some of which include the following.
Selfie culture isn’t a genie that’s going back in the bottle, sorry to say, old fogies. But as long as it’s here, we may as well adapt accordingly. Which is why this instant camera comes with a built-in selfie mirror, for when you have the perfect opportunity for a great selfie but have no skill with a camera when you can’t see where you’re aiming.
Automatic Exposure Measurement
Screwing up the exposure on a camera will make even the best shots in the world turn into incoherent garbage. Which is why this camera is happy to help you find the perfect exposure for any shot. This is thanks to the flashing LED light that the camera uses to signal the recommended aperture setting. Helping you capture the perfect photo.
Cost and Value
Of course, such high-quality hardware doesn’t come cheap. But considering everything that this camera is offering you, the price is more than worth it. And it’s not the most expensive price on the list, to boot.
2. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
Automatic flash and shutter adjustment
Double exposure mode
Bulb mode allows for light trail photography
Coming in second place, we have another Fujifilm camera, with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90. Despite sharing 90% of the name, this actually is a very different camera from the previous entry. So, what puts this entry 81 steps above the Instax 9? Let’s find out.
Auto Flash and Shutter Adjustment
There are three things you need to keep track of with your camera if you want to get that perfect shot: exposure, flash and shutter speed. All three of which, this camera automatically adjusts depending on the amount of light in the shot. This means that your camera will automatically adjust as needed in order to get the best, clearest shot possible for the situation you’re in.
Double Exposure Mode
Double exposure mode can help you get those really difficult pictures that you just can’t get with a normal camera and are impossible to get with a smartphone camera. What this mode does is produce 2 images on a single sheet of film by pressing the shutter twice.
Cost and Value
If you can’t afford the previous entry, then you definitely can’t afford this one. Make no mistake, a lot of the cameras on here, in fact, the majority, are for professionals, and so they are priced with professional salaries in mind.
3. Kodak Mini Shot Wireless
Portable and powerful
Endless editing capability
No internal memory
Finishing up our top three segment, we have the Kodak Mini Shot Wireless Instant Digital Camera. You’ve no doubt heard of Kodak before, considered one of the undisputed masters of cameras and photographic technology. And even to this day, they’re of course still churning out excellent cameras.
Portable and Powerful
Technology is only getting smaller with each passing year, and the trend continues with this camera. Despite being one of the most portable cameras on the market, it’s also one of the most powerful on this list. Sporting a 1.7” LCD Viewfinder, and the ability to automatically correct the gamma, focus, exposure, and white balance, this camera will never let you down when you’re trying to get that great shot.
Endless Editing Capability
Digital photography will always have one distinct advantage above analog cameras. And that is their capability to be edited. And like a smartphone camera, once a picture is taken with this camera, you can transfer it to either your phone or your computer and edit it in almost any kind of editing software on the market, including photoshop.
Cost and Value
While still a bit pricey, this one is a good bit cheaper than the previous entry. So, if you’re in need of a new digital camera, we highly recommend this one.
4. Kodak Printomatic
Quick and fun
Picture quality could be better sometimes
Coming in at #4, we have the Kodak Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera. Another Kodak camera, as if it’s any shock that they have more than one entry on a list of best cameras. And this is definitely one of their best instant cameras yet. Especially if you aren’t looking for anything professional, and just want a nice affordable camera.
The way things used to be was that you’d take a photo and a few seconds later, the picture would pop out of a slot in the bottom. Believe it or not, though, that style of the camera has no gone away, as shown here. This 10-megapixel camera offers a powerful 10MP sensor and sports and wide angle. Once the photo is taken, it instantly comes out of a little slot in the camera’s side. And the best part? Through the use of specialized Kodak Zink Photo Paper, this camera requires no ink cartridges, toners, not even film.
Quick and Fun
Forget having to transfer data to a printer and have to deal with the million and one things that can go wrong from a process that should be the simplest thing in the world. This camera will get you high-quality photographs instantaneously. No more printer ink running out mid print, making the whole thing look terrible; you get high definition photographs the second you take the photo.
Cost and Value
We return to more affordable prices with this camera, as it’s a fair bit cheaper than the previous two entries. Which only makes sense, seeing as how it’s more of a hobbyist camera.
5. Polaroid Pic-300
Manual exposure compensation
Picture size is small
For our #5 spot, we chose the Polaroid Pic-300 Instant Film Camera. If Kodak is the kings of cameras, then Polaroid are the queens. They were the pioneers of instant photography, to the point that we still call physical photographs made by an instant camera a “polaroid.” Has this trend continued into the 21st century? Let’s find out.
Manual Exposure Compensation
Automatic exposure correction is all well and good, but there are a lot of photographers out there who prefer to do the work themselves. And for those folks, this camera is perfect for them. This device offers complete manual control of the exposure of your picture. No more worrying about the light changing ever so slightly, causing your entire picture to be thrown out of whack. And if you need further alteration than that, this camera also comes with four scene settings, to be used for complete control over the picture.
Usually, the flash is something you have to turn off or on at will when working a camera like this. The flash is made manual so that you can decide if you need it or not. But generally speaking, if you need a flash, you don’t really care if you have to turn it off or on because there will be no question about it. Which is why this camera, upon sensing a low amount of light in the area, will automatically turn on its flash.
Cost and Value
Once again, we have a very hobby oriented camera, with a price that reflects this. If you’re planning a big trip, and just want a camera that will help you capture the various moments that follow, this is the one for you.
6. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10
10 filters to be applied to the pictures you take
Coming in at #6 on our list, we return to Fujifilm, for the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Hybrid Instant Camera. Quite the mouthful, isn’t it? Well despite the word salad name, this is still a Fujifilm camera, with all of the qualities that imply. Let’s go over some of them now.
This thing isn’t just called a hybrid for marketing reasons, it’s also a core part of its appeal. This is both a high powered HD camera, as well as a picture editing machine. True it isn’t the most advanced thing in the world, but it’s still more than what a lot of other instant cameras on the market are doing right now. With this camera, printing is done at the push of a button, because another button lets you take a look at the photo you’ve taken. You can then make edits to the photograph as needed, which will then be put onto the printed version in seconds.
But of course, maybe you can’t immediately start editing or printing out the picture you take with this camera after you take it and need to come back to it later. With other cameras, this would be a deal breaker, as even a lot of digital cameras lack the ability to retain photos for a long time. Fortunately, this camera doesn’t have this problem. Through the use of an internal memory via an SD card, this camera allows you to hold onto a picture after you take it, for you to mess with at a later date.
Cost and Value
The main problem with this camera is its price. This is easily one of the priciest entries on this list, undoubtedly a professional grade camera. But if that’s exactly what you need, then the price, high as it is, is definitely worth every penny.
7. Leica Sofort Instant Camera
Long charge life
Built-in flash and mechanical shutter
For the 7th place spot, we chose the Leica Sofort Instant Camera. This is easily one of the most compact cameras on the entire photographic market right now, but don’t count it out because of that. You can fit a lot of power into small packages these days, and this is undoubtedly a professional grade camera.
Leica is best known for making high powered rangefinder cameras. And what put them on the top of that food chain were their unparalleled camera lenses. And that trend continues with the Sofort, which sports an Automatik-hector 60-Millimeter, f/12.7 lens. We can say without any reservation that you will not find a better lens on any other camera on this list, or really anywhere on the instant camera market.
Long Charge Life
This is an electronic camera, and like all electronic devices today that aren’t powered by batteries, this one is powered by a chargeable battery pack that you plug into the wall to charge up. You don’t have to worry about running out of batteries in the middle of work, though, as this camera can take up to 100 pictures before it starts running out of steam.
Cost and Value
This is one of the only personal cameras made by Leica, and there is a very good reason. This is one of the most advanced instant cameras on the market and on this list. But it’s also the priciest instant camera on the entire market right now. Most pro cameras don’t even touch it.
8. Polaroid Snap
Different picture modes
Photos have an adhesive coating on the back, which you can post anywhere
Kicking off our final three entries, we have the Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera. Technically still a casual hobbyist camera, this one does enough better than the rest to be considered a cut above. So what exactly does it do? Let’s find out.
The best kinds of instant cameras being made right now are the ones that require no toner, no ink, nothing that gets between you and that perfect photograph. A philosophy that this camera follows step by step. Using integrated Zink printing technology, this camera releases fully colored, smudge proof, 2X3 inch photos in an instant.
Different Picture Modes
But maybe you want to add some variety to the pictures you take with your camera. Well, for this, you go for an instant camera with different picture modes. These are usually filters or some other kind of alteration made to the image after you take it. This camera offers a wide variety of different picture modes.
Cost and Value
While not as expensive as some of the other entries on this list, and definitely nowhere near the price of the previous entry, this one is still rather pricey for what they’re offering.
9. Polaroid Snap Touch
Stunningly vibrant prints
Free Polaroid app
Travel ready design
For our second to final entry, we have the Polaroid Snap Touch Digital Camera. Our second to final Polaroid entry as well, which is only fitting, considering that Polaroid was one of the pioneers of instant camera technology. And even all these years later, they still got it.
Stunningly Vibrant Prints
Physical photos have to prove a lot in order to be seen as preferable to digital cameras and smartphone photos. Which is why most of this camera’s price comes from the tech used to improve the photo quality after you take a picture. And it all paid off in spades, as this camera has some of the most vibrant, colorful, and true to life photographs on this entire list.
Free Polaroid App
A lot of digital cameras will allow for editing software after you take the photo, but the problem with that is the fact that cameras don’t exactly offer the most practical setup to perform detailed photo editing. Which is why this camera can interact with the 100% free Polaroid app. Just transfer over your photos to this app, and now you can use proper editing software to get the pictures you need. Then it’s another push of a button to send them right back to then be printed.
Cost and Value
This is, as you can suspect, a professional level instant camera. And thus, it is priced accordingly. However, in terms of that price specifically, it’s actually rather fair, given the circumstances.
10. Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 VF
Easy to use
Only takes a certain type of film, and it is not cheap
For our final entry of this list, we also have the last Polaroid on the list. This is the Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 VF. This is a type of instant photo that we suspect a lot of you were convinced fell off the map quite some time ago. But nope, this type of instant camera is still alive, and as Polaroid shows us, very well.
Easy to Use
A simple, classic design, and the easy to use a format that comes with it. All you do is point at the object you want to capture, press the big red button on the front, and you’re done. Or if you’re trying to get a timed photo of you and your family done, just press the button for the self timer function and let the camera do the rest.
A camera is only as good as the lens being used at the front of it. And while it isn’t exactly the best one out there, the lens on this camera is still very high quality. An optical grade polycarbonate and acrylic lens that gives you a 41X40 degree field of view that is nothing short of breathtaking if used correctly.
Cost and Value
This camera is a little pricey, but considering that it’s a pro-grade camera, it’s actually a very average price for that set bar.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to advanced features for instant cameras, there are plenty of options available. Of course, all of the options on our top ten list are able to take great photos or else they wouldn't have made it onto the list in the first place, but some of them have more advanced capabilities available. For example, the Polaroid Pic-300 allows users to completely control the exposure if they wish. This is a feature that manual photographers will love. The Instax Square SQ10 is a hybrid design that allows users to edit the photos that they've taken. The Instax Mini 9 has a selfie mirror present so that users can ensure that they're in the photo in just the right place. Some of the options on our list are even Blutetooth-enabled so that you are able to send the photos to your phone to view and share from there as you wish. As you can see, all of the items on our top ten list have unique features associated with them but it's up to you which of these features you appreciate and require the most.
When most people hear the term "instant camera", they think of the old school Polaroid cameras that print instantly without allowing users to adjust anything at all. You simply point, shoot and wait a few minutes to see if you've captured the picture in the way you hoped (sometimes vigorously shaking the photo, sometimes not). But technology has come a long way since the old school Polaroid's and the instant cameras of today have many adjustable propertires that users will love. For example, some of the cameras on our list allow for post-photo editing. Some have different photo modes so that the camera is able to automatically adjust the settings internally to produce the right type of photo. There are options on our list that allow for manual exposure compensation so you are able to fully control the exposure to ensure your photo looks the way you envisioned it to.
Ease of Use
Although when most people think of instant cameras, they think "point-shoot-print" is all that's required of them to produce great, instant photos, that isn't necessarily the case anymore. As we mentioned in the above criteria, some of the cameras on our top ten list allow users to adjust exposure and even edit the photos. This takes a way a bit from the "instantness" of having a camera of this kind, but it does allow for more creativity and, in some cases, even better photos. That said, some people might be looking into purchasing an instant camera because the DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras of today are too complicated for them to operate. That's fair because even the most basic cameras these days come with extra buttons and hundreds of pages of instructions that can be overwhelming for someone who is afraid of technology.
The options on our top ten list, while providing advanced features and plenty of adjustabilities and customizing options for users, are still very easy to use for the most part. Even a technophobe will be able to appreciate the ease at which these devices can be operated. That said, some are easier to use than others and we definitely took that into consideration as we rated these products.
We all want to be able to purchase something and have it be as effective as it's made out to be in the product descriptions or on the box. So, of course, we had to take product effectiveness into consideration as we tested and reviewed all of these instant cameras. In order to get a high rating, the products needed to be able to perform their job of taking photos effectively. No one wants to drop a considerable amount of money on the body of an instant camera (and, subsequently, the film that will need to be purchased afterward) only to find that the photos that come out of it are of poor quality or that the product malfunctions within weeks.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Most instant cameras on the market today produce photos that are credit card sized. In order to get a great shot, one must remember the size of photo that is going to be produced. When the resulting picture is so small, you want to try to avoid being too far away from the object you are photographing. Instant cameras aren't great for taking a group shot of more than just a couple of people. You shouldn't be more than five or so feet away from the subject of your photo in order to ensure you're going to get a great, clear shot.
Just like with manual or DSLR photography, having access to natural light can sometimes be key in producing a great quality photo. Instant cameras tend to want to fire their flash during almost every photo which can lead an unattractive washed out effect. Ensuring you have some natural light in your photo and deactivating the auto flash can help to ensure your photos aren't getting washed out.
Though it was the norm long before his song, we can thank Outkast for spreading the myth that instant camera photos need to be shaken to develop with his hit "Hey Ya." Though shaking the Polaroid photo did actually serve a purpose at one point in time, the photos that come from instant cameras manufactured these days do not need to be shaken in order to develop or dry. In fact, shaking the photo from any recently produced instant camera can cause portions of the film to incorrectly develop or create blobs in the photo. So what DO you do when your photo comes out of your camera if you're not going to dance around shaking it wildly?Polaroid suggests lying the photo on a flat surface, ensuring it is shielded away from any wind and wait patiently for your photo to develop. I guess that "lay it on a flat surface and wait a few minutes like a Polaroid picture" didn't have quite the same ring to it for Outkast.
Other Factors to Consider
Of course one of the most important factors when considering which instant camera to buy is how portable the product is. Since most instant cameras are small by design, this isn't too much of an issue but it's definitely something to take into consideration. Some of the products on this list are smaller than others. In most cases, you'll want something that will easily fit into your backpack or purse without any issues and the products on this list will all satisfy that need without any issues.
Though we didn't touch much on the accessories available for these instant cameras, there are hundreds of listings on Amazon of products that can be purchased separately to help enhance the use of your camera. For example, you can buy photo albums made for the tiny photos, film that has colored edges or polka dotted edges, filters to put over the lens to produce a colored effect and so much more. While these accessories are obviously not necessary to the operation of your device, they're definitely fun as add-ons to help make the experience of instant photography even more fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: The paper keeps jamming inside my camera, what’s causing this?
If you’re experiencing this, congratulations, you’ve come across the most common problem with instant cameras and the one that everyone who uses these devices is likely to experience. In most cases, the culprit is a dying battery inside the camera, and in others, it’s due to incorrectly loaded paper or film. There’s only one way to fix this problem, but thankfully it isn’t that hard. Just open up the film compartment and gently pull the paper free. Pull too hard, and you could damage the machinery, and then you have bigger problems.
q: Why do instant print photos look so poor compared to digital?
With a Polaroid camera or other instant photo cameras, you don’t have as much control over the exposure of the instant print film that you do with a digital camera. Some cameras will give you that control, but it ratchets up the price something fierce. But in most cases, this is an automatic camera that, by its nature, doesn’t offer a lot of manual control over how the photo actually turns out once taken. Luckily, you can game things in your favor. By making sure the area in which you’re taking the photo is adequately lit, and preferably by light bulbs, reducing how much glare from the sun is in your shot, and thus reducing the harsh shadows, you can drastically improve the photo quality.
q: So, are there any kind of changes that I can make to my instant cameras shooting settings?
Well like we said, it all depends on the camera that you’re using. A lot of instant print cameras are 100% automatic and thus don’t offer any kind of adjustability to the camera’s settings. However, there are newer models out there that connect to apps, can transfer photos between editing software like photoshop before printing, or even just having those functions on board on the camera itself. These cameras give you much more control over how the photo turns out. Even going so far as to have filters and other novelties that you can add to the photo before printing. So, if all of that is what you want from an instant camera, then whatever price they end up giving you should be worth it.
q: Why are these things so bulky even today?
While instant cameras have made drastic improvements to their compactness in order to make them easier to carry around with you, there’s still a bulkiness to them that cannot be denied. And the reason for this is simple: they have to leave room for the photo paper. The machinery isn’t the problem, it’s the fact that this camera still needs to print its own photos, so of course, it needs that extra room in order to hold and then dispense each photo after taking it.