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best instant cameras

The Best Instant Cameras in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

The instant camera is a camera with cult status. With an instant camera you can hold your photographs in your hand immediately. This way, your pictures don’t have to gather dust on some hard drive. But what should you consider when choosing an instant camera?

In our instant camera test we present you the best and most current models from the respective categories. We also give you important tips and tricks on the subject of instant photography. Whether analog or digital, you will find the best instant cameras on the market.

  • Instant cameras allow you to hold your photos in your hands without waiting. Also, you see more on the instant pictures than on a small screen and you can judge right away if the photo turned out the way you wanted it to.
  • In addition to analog devices, digital instant cameras are also offered. The instant cameras are available in many different designs and offer different functions.
  • With the analog instant cameras, you get the ultimate nostalgia feeling as your snaps remain unique. Digital instant cameras, on the other hand, also allow you to back up all your snapshots to other devices.

Best Instant Cameras

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 Instant Film Camera
  • Compatible with Fujifilm Instax square film (2.4” x…
  • Hybrid design lets you preview and edit your image before…
  • 2.7” TFT Color LCD monitor with 230K dots resolution
  • 16 different Filters that can be applied to both still…
  • The Sequence filter offers the ability to capture dynamic…

The Square SQ 20 instant camera from instax comes in a compact and handy rectangular format. The camera’s internal memory allows for 50 shots. However, this number can be increased by inserting a memory card thanks to the micro SD / micro SDHC slot. Besides photos, short video clips with a maximum length of 15 seconds are also possible. The Square SQ 20 has a built-in flash with three different functions, as well as an autofocus lens. On the 2.7 inch display, the shots can be viewed directly in high quality.

However, the instant camera is particularly convincing thanks to its wide range of functions: in addition to a self-timer, there is also the option of editing the photos in a variety of ways. For example, filters can be applied, the exposure adjusted or the vignetting optimized. The results can be saved as well as printed at the push of a button. The camera is charged via a micro-USB slot – the corresponding cable is included.

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

 Our Pick
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
  • Automatic extending 95 millimeter f14 lens with two focus…
  • Optical viewfinder. Tri-pod socket. Four size AA 1.5 V…
  • Picture size 62 millimeter × 99 millimeter, close-up lens…
  • Light and dark control to help add high and low-key effects…
  • Works with Fujifilm Instax Wide Film only – ISO800. Film…

The analog instant camera from FUJIFILM “Instax Wide 300” is characterized by its large film format, which has room in its housing. It impresses with new additional features, such as the Fujinon lens, close-up lens and tripod mount on the bottom of the camera.

The “Instax Wide 300” makes it possible to adjust the exposure time to prevailing lighting conditions, as well as the sharpness of an image through its lens, at the touch of a button. It requires 4 AA batteries to become operational.

With the convenient setting options, you can adjust the lighting conditions to bright, dark or normal daylight, depending on your needs.

Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Black

Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Black
  • Original Polaroid Format – easy to use – 60-day battery life…
  • Bluetooth-connected app: full manual control – double…
  • Standard & portrait lenses: you can switch between two…
  • Available for iOS and Android
  • Compatible with I-type and 600 film

Without a lot of technical fuss, you can bring retro photography back to life with the Polaroid Originals One Step 2 instant camera. Of course, you can’t miss the characteristic square pictures with a white border.

The simple handling makes it easy for everyone to use. Integrated is a self-timer and a high-quality lens. In addition, the powerful flash provides the right light.

Fujifilm Instax Mini Liplay Hybrid Instant Camera

 Our Pick
Fujifilm Instax Mini Liplay Hybrid Instant Camera
  • Capture and instantly print photos from the camera or…
  • Choose from a variety of frames and filters for more…
  • Attach A recorded sound to your photo and play back by…
  • Easily capture Group photos by using your smartphone as a…
  • Review and select photos before printing

The Instax Mini LiPlay is a hybrid instant camera with sound function. This allows you to print a QR code on a photo with the audio at the moment of the shot. The integrated selfie mirror also enables perfect results for selfies. In addition, the camera can connect to other end devices via Bluetooth and thus be used as a printer for a smartphone, for example.

The Mini LiPlay is also impressive thanks to its many features: more than 30 design frames and filters can be used to visually spice up the photos. Favorites can be easily accessed using the quick selection buttons on the side. Likewise, corrections can be made to the exposure and printed at the touch of a button. The instant camera is charged via a micro USB slot. The memory can be expanded by inserting a micro SD card.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera

 Our Pick
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
  • Automatically detects the brightness of the surrounding and…
  • Double exposure mode 2 images are produced on 1 film sheet…
  • Bulb mode the shutter remains open while the shutter button…
  • Macro mode short distance photography as close as 30 to 60…
  • Kids mode suitable for photographing kids, pets and other…

The analog “Instax mini 90 NEO CLASSIC” instant camera from FUJIFILM impresses with its many freely selectable motif programs, which make it possible to experiment with instant photography at the highest level.

In addition, an electronically controlled self-timer is built in, which can release a maximum of two prints in succession. The flash function can be switched on and off at will. A rechargeable battery powers the Instant Camera.

Zink Polaroid Snap Touch Portable Instant Print Digital Camera

Zink Polaroid Snap Touch Portable Instant Print Digital Camera
  • Point, Shoot, Print Taking picture Perfect Snapshots is…
  • All in One Camera & Printer : From portraits to selfies,…
  • Stunningly Vibrant Prints: Zink Zero INK Printing technology…
  • Free Polaroid Mobile APP: Take Your photography to the next…
  • Travel Ready Design: The mini, Colorful, and pocket sized…

The Polaroid “Instant Snap” opens new gates for instant photography. It combines classic instant photography with new digital technologies. If you want to print high quality photos instantly and also save them digitally, this is the camera for you.

The Polaroid “Instant Snap” is a digital instant camera that prints your pictures directly after pressing the shutter button using the ZINK instant printer. Through the micro SD card slot, it is also possible to save your pictures digitally and thus make multiple prints of them. You can easily recharge the integrated battery again and again.

Frequently Asked Questions: Instant Cameras

Who should get an instant camera?

Before you buy an instant camera, it is of course important to know whether such a camera is suitable for you. Therefore, we have compiled a small list below for whom instant cameras are the right thing:

  • If you are a casual photographer, i.e. you only take quick photos occasionally.
  • If you are a hobby photographer, because instant cameras do not require intensive basic knowledge of photography
  • If you are nostalgic and like to be reminded of the good old days.
  • If you’re a party or event photographer. Instant cameras are also ideal for weddings
  • For kids and teens over a certain age. Instant cameras are already available in inexpensive and also child-friendly models, which is why they are well suited for children

In addition, especially children and teenagers are fascinated by these cameras, because they do not know them from before like adults do. However, they should already be old enough to understand that the film is expensive and therefore they should not waste it.

What are the special features of an instant camera compared to a digital camera or a smartphone camera?

Nowadays, few people print out their photographs or have them printed/developed to decorate their homes with individual memories or to keep the pictures in photo albums.

In the digital age, photos are mostly stored on technical and mobile devices. However, an instant camera gives you the ability to have your picture in your hands immediately and saves you time and money by not having to go to the photo store or drugstore.

How much do films for instant cameras cost?

Each instant camera model also requires the appropriate films. Depending on which instant camera you choose, the price per photo varies. For the new, inexpensive cameras, the corresponding films cost about one dollar per photo.

The films are usually available in a photo cassette as a pack of ten. So you have the option of shooting a total of ten photos per film. Very often, however, there are also offers where you get, for example, twice ten films in a pack for the price of about US$17.

The films for digital instant cameras are cheaper than the films for analog devices. The print paper costs about 45 cents per photo and is available for US$22.50 (50 shots). At first, this sounds like a lot of money for one photo. However, it is difficult to compare this type of photography with that of a digital camera.

How big are instant cameras and their pictures?

The size of the images largely determines the format as well as the size of the camera body.

All images from analog instant cameras have a paper bordered area around the photo. Therefore, a distinction is also made between film size and image size. For image size, only the actual photo without the paper border is considered.

Film size, on the other hand, measures the photo along with the paper border. This provides a good writing surface on which you can label your pictures or have your friends leave you little messages.

With the newer, analog instant cameras, there are two different formats. The film size, for example, comes in an aligned credit card format (8.6 x 5.4 centimeters) ideal for keeping in a wallet. So you can always carry these photos with you and have them handy in case you want to show them to your family or friends.

Furthermore, there are films that have a slightly larger format (8.6 x 10.8 centimeters). The photos of the old “originals” have the dimensions 10.8 x 8.8 centimeters including the paper border. The writing surface of these photos is somewhat wider and thus suitable for more detailed photo inscriptions.

How long do instant pictures last?

The lifespan of instant images cannot be predicted one hundred percent. The durability of the images depends largely on how they are stored. If the UV exposure is too high, the pictures are more likely to lose their color or develop a red cast.

Only in the rarest of cases will the photos fade completely. Nevertheless, you should not expose your pictures to direct sunlight. If you want to be on the safe side and preserve the color saturation of your photos as much as possible, simply store your pictures in albums specifically designed for this purpose.

How good is the image quality of instant cameras?

Analog instant cameras have a relatively low image resolution. However, this is the attraction of this type of photography for many owners.

The photo quality of newer instant cameras is higher than older models, but still much lower than digital cameras. However, the natural blurriness and slight vignetting at the edges of the images still fascinate nostalgics today.

Does an (digital) instant camera have zoom?

Some models of instant cameras have a digital zoom that lets you photograph the action in front of you up to 6 times closer. However, the image quality suffers under this zoom.

Therefore, it is better to have an optical zoom integrated in addition to the digital zoom. However, instant cameras very rarely have an optical zoom.

Instead, however, some instant cameras have a macro shooting function or a macro lens attachment. Macro is not a zoom, of course, but it does have its advantages when taking pictures.

Just try it yourself and see what happens when you hold your phone camera very close to an object – the picture is blurred.

With the help of a macro shooting function or a macro lens, pictures remain razor-sharp even when you get very close to the object.

So, with macro lenses or a macro shooting function, you can’t stand further away like you can with a zoom and still photograph the subject as if it were right in front of you. You can, however, get good close-ups with them.

What accessories are recommended for an instant camera?

There are a few practical and necessary accessories for instant cameras that we would recommend.

First, of course, you need to buy cartridges with paper and ink (i.e. the film) to be able to take photos at all. There are films with different characteristics:

  • There are films for black and white or for color photos.
  • There are films for different paper sizes
  • The paper can be self-adhesive and/or writable. The advantage of self-adhesive is that you can easily stick the picture into a photo album. If the paper is also writable, you can, for example, note down when and where the photo was taken.
  • There are also films with a special seal against UV rays. However, these are somewhat more expensive

To protect your instant camera, we strongly recommend a carrying case, a strap, a screen protector and a cleaning kit from your local dealer. The bag and a screen protector will protect your instant camera from dirt and water while on the go.

A carrying bag usually also has room for additional accessories. The carrying strap prevents the camera from accidentally falling on the floor and the cleaning kit supports you in the ideal care of your instant camera.

Additionally, a photo holder or a photo album especially for instant pictures as well as a tripod can increase the photo fun.

Are there alternatives to instant cameras?

Besides instant cameras, there are also instant printers in different sizes.

You can connect the instant photo printer to your cell phone to print cell phone photos. You can print photos you have already taken or take new photos. The prerequisite for this is an app.

Depending on the device, the print job is transmitted either by connecting your phone to the instant picture printer or wirelessly via WiFi, Bluetooth or NFC.

The advantage of instant printers is that the images often have a better resolution than the images from instant cameras.

You can see an instant printer that requires you to connect or plug in your phone in the Instagram post below. The only downside is that this instant printer only works with IOS devices.

Why do we automatically associate the term "Polaroid" with an instant camera?

Polaroid cameras are not automatically instant cameras. Polaroid is merely the name of the company that brought the very first instant camera to market back then, and thus left a lasting mark on its name.

To this day, instant cameras are colloquially called Polaroid cameras. Other examples of well-known deonyms include the companies Tesa and UHU.

How long does it take to develop an instant picture?

The development time depends on the film material. For the newer models, the development time of the photos is quite short, whereas older instant camera models take much longer for the photos to be fully developed.

While developing an instant photo, be sure to keep an eye on the temperature and protect the film from sunlight. The image should be kept in the air at about 20 degrees Celsius immediately after output. If you have just taken a picture in low temperatures, it is best to simply put your freshly ejected photo in a jacket pocket that is close to your body.

The newer models take about three to five minutes to fully display the image, whereas old instant cameras can take up to 45 minutes to wait. Also keep in mind that the time it takes to print the photo before it comes out of the camera and the time it takes for the photo to be fully visible on paper can be quite different.

Types of Instant Cameras

Basically, a distinction can be made between two different types of instant cameras:

  • Analog instant cameras
  • Digital instant cameras

To make your decision easier, we have researched the most important facts about these two types. In the following section, you can find out which model is best for you and your intended use.

Analog Instant Camera

Instant photography allows you to snap a photo and have it in your hands within seconds. The image is created immediately after the shutter button is pressed and captures precious moments without ending up in a digital memory. The nostalgic character of the photos also makes the snapshots a very special memory.

Many manufacturers have been producing new, analog instant cameras again for several years. In the meantime, the nostalgic cameras are available in all possible sizes, colors and formats. The image formats also vary depending on the model.

Advantages

  • Nostalgic character
  • Speed of development
  • Affordable price

Disadvantages

  • Quite expensive films
  • Images might fade

Most new models are significantly smaller compared to their predecessors. Old, already used instant cameras can also still be purchased relatively cheaply from private dealers. Most models still work perfectly and only need the right film, which is available in most photo supply stores.

The special thing about analog instant photography is that each photo is unique. Since nothing is stored, it is not possible to make multiple prints from one photo. The camera’s ability to capture fast-moving moments through unique snapshots is what makes it so exceptional.

Digital Instant Camera

With a digital instant camera, both digital and analog photo technology are built into the camera. With a digital instant camera, before you print your photo, you can look at the image again and then decide if you want to print it.

Advantages

  • Screen check
  • Long life of the photos
  • Cheaper films

Disadvantages

  • Expensive device
  • Low battery life

Digital instant cameras have come on the market as part of the revival of the analog instant devices. Unlike the analog camera, the digital camera has a screen where you can view the previously shot image. Modern technology also makes it possible to connect the camera to a computer to save photos digitally using an SD card.

If you travel a lot, are on the road and are an active photographer, an outdoor camera is a good choice in addition to the instant camera, especially if you want to take a lot of moving pictures.

How To Choose The Best Instant Camera

Sometimes it’s too difficult and time-consuming to get detailed information about technical devices and their distinguishing features. Therefore, in the following section we have summarized all possible criteria that will make it easier for you to compare different instant cameras:

  • Instant camera size
  • Size of the instant pictures
  • Development time
  • Design
  • Flash
  • Operation
  • Extra functions
  • Scope of delivery
  • Processing

Size of the Instant Camera

When you look at instant cameras online, it is often difficult to estimate the size. Especially newer, more compact models look very small in pictures.

Generally, you can orientate yourself well on the size of the instant film, since the size of the camera housing also depends on the size of the film cassettes. Old retro cameras in particular take up a lot of space and can reach a size of up to 19 x 15 centimeters, depending on the model.

The film cassettes of newer instant cameras are already more compact than the cassettes of older models. Most are the size of a palm and fit easily into small pockets and backpacks.

Size of the Picture

As mentioned earlier, instant film has a big impact on the size of the camera. Therefore, the size of the instant pictures plays an important role in your purchase decision. You should also think about how you want to store your photos beforehand, so that you can decide on a specific image size.

Square instant photos are very large and popular with many instant camera owners. With the comeback of the instant camera, new film sizes have been introduced to the market in addition to the square format of the photos. Relatively new among them are the popular instant photos in business card format and portrait orientation.

Development Time

The time it takes to develop older models ranges from about five to 45 minutes. However, modern instant cameras are much faster than their predecessors.

The duration of photo development depends on various factors, such as image size, image type, film cassette brand and the manufacturer of the camera.

Design

Old models shape the understanding and visual conception of an instant camera. Nevertheless, modern instant camera models are becoming increasingly popular due to their handiness and the variety of different designs and colors.

Some manufacturers are trying to appeal to a particularly wide audience by using bright pastel colors and lightweight plastic housings. They combine the charm of the cameras with contemporary looks.

Many manufacturers also offer for sale some models in the style of roll-film cameras from the 1970s. These instant cameras are very popular due to their unique vintage style in black and gray colors.

There are also specially designed instant cameras for children: for example, an instant camera that looks like a Minion or like Hello Kitty from the Fujifilm company.

Flash

A flash function is built into just about every instant camera. However, the flash cannot be deactivated on some models. Since the intensity of the flash is very strong in most cases, these instant cameras can be very impractical in many situations.

It’s important not to get too close to objects when taking pictures with the flash activated. There is a risk of overexposure here, which will darken the background a great deal and, in the worst case, make the photo unusable.

Operation

Operating an instant camera is quite simple and can be done without any additional instructions. With a little practice, you will also be able to find the right exposure time for your pictures. The rule here is: practice makes perfect.

Most instant cameras have a built-in sensor that alerts you to the correct exposure and shows you the correct exposure setting with the help of a flashing light. All you have to do is turn the dial to the indicated setting and then press the shutter button.

Extra Functions

Due to the variety of new models, instant cameras now have some modern extra functions that go far beyond the understanding of classic instant photography. Here, too, today’s times are reflected in the individual functions:

  • Selfie mirror
  • Self-timer
  • Tripod Mount
  • Storage option
  • Image preview

We have the details of these extras here, which might influence your decision for or against a certain model of instant camera.

Selfie Mirror
Modern technology combines instant photography with new functions. Selfie mirrors help you to find the right frame so that you don’t have to experience any unpleasant surprises after pressing the shutter button.

The mirror makes it easier for you to position yourself correctly in the picture and ensures that you don’t have to waste the entire film cassette in search of the best selfie.

Self-timer
A self-timer can be a great help in situations where you want to snap an instant picture of a group of friends, for example. Not all instant cameras have this feature, so you should decide whether you need this extra or not before you buy.

Tripod mount
Basically, there are only a few instant cameras with a tripod connection. A conventional tripod thread is present on the bottom of some instant cameras. This makes these cameras compatible with all common camera tripods.

If you’re used to shooting with a tripod, a connection can certainly be an advantage. Especially if you want to shoot in conjunction with the function of a self-timer.

Storage option
For many photographers, the uniqueness of the images from an analog instant camera is a key reason for purchase. However, with the help of modern technology, it is also possible to shoot pictures without using up film cassettes.

Memory cards enable users to save snapshots on digital instant cameras. Thus, there is also the possibility of making several prints of a picture at the same time. In addition, the image is stored digitally and cannot fade.

Image preview
This extra function is also only possible with digital instant cameras. Due to their technical construction, they are basically like ordinary digital cameras with displays on the back. This digital screen allows you to view photos even before printing them.

This means that you can delete the photo you just took before the camera prints it out. This way you don’t waste film paper on photos you don’t like.

Scope of Delivery

We have already explained the possible accessories for instant cameras in the guide. Ideally, you think about which accessories you personally need before you buy and buy a set with the instant camera and the accessories. This is usually cheaper.

Almost always included in the purchase is an instruction manual and a strap.

If you buy an instant camera with a rechargeable battery, this and the corresponding charger are actually always included in the delivery. Batteries, on the other hand, are often not included.

Other common accessories that you can get in a set with the instant camera are a protective bag or a film.

From time to time, there are also offers that include a lens cap, a stand for the camera, a screen protector or a neck strap in addition to the instant camera.

Processing

Your new instant camera should of course be of high quality and robust. But high-quality does not mean expensive, even cheaper models can be well made.

If the workmanship is important to you, it is recommended to go to an electronics store and not to buy the instant camera online. Live you can judge the instant camera better yourself and do not have to rely on customer opinions.

You can also check out the handling in the electronics store: By that, we mean how comfortable it is in the hand, how easy it is to use, and whether the buttons are in the usual places.

Last product update on 2021-04-10 | Source: Amazon Affiliate