Instant cameras embody the spirit of summer: They are more about the pursuit of fun, memories and joy than technical precision. With instant cameras, you capture a moment, press the button, and presto! Proof of the fun. The best instant cameras will produce a great shot, but the quality will never rival DSLRs, which, if we’re honest, is part of their lo-fi charm. Little ones in your life—and your own inner child—will also appreciate the instant gratification and immediacy of the product.
What to Look for/What to Consider
Instant cameras range from retro throwbacks oozing with nostalgia to cameras that walk the line between analogue and digital. Some cameras will shoot out shots from the camera itself, while others have attachable printers. Many also offer the option to save the digital copies for sharing on social media or backup on the cloud. Keep in mind that the more retro the camera, the easier it is to use, but the less flexible its uses. And don’t forget: You may need to grab a few rolls of instant film too.
How We Selected
We spent hours reviewing the instant camera options, researching expert opinion and when possible, testing them ourselves. We sought out a wide range of styles and price points, and looked for cameras that would suit those looking for a low-tech retro cam, and those who want some post-millennial bells and whistles. All of the cameras we include are rated highly by customers for ease of use, quality and customer service.
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Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Instant Camera
This retro camera is back to the future in the best way. Polaroid Originals are designed to capture the best of the past and the present. Users get the large, high-quality prints, with various focus modes (macro, normal, landscape), a built-in flash and self-timer, but they also get Bluetooth-enabled shooting modes which allow for remote shutter control and light painting.
The camera is super easy to use, making it good for beginners and the tech-averse. Reviewers raved out its “super reliability” and “futuristic” but “classic” feel.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
$120.53 (33% off)
This is a camera for those who like the spirit, but not the look, of the instant camera. This Fujifilm comes in brown or black, with a faux leather finish and bodywork that makes it look like a “real” camera. The camera also comes with a rechargeable battery that is designed to last as long as the 10 film packs. There is manual control for exposure and an option to disable the built-in flash.
A shutter-release button above the lens doubles as a selfie-mirror. Parents of children and furry things will love the “kids mode,” ideal for photographing fast-moving people and animals.
Polaroid Pop Instant Camera
This instant camera is really a miniature handheld photo and video studio. It functions as a point, click, and print camera, and also allows you to record 1080 HD video or gifs.
You’ll be able to print and edit 3.5 x 4.25-inch photos with the beloved Polaroid border, with the additional option of adding notes or captions with your finger or emojis on screen before printing. It also works as a great gift and a portable travel camera. This camera is definitely better suited for those fluent in tech.
Kodak PRINTOMATIC Instant Digital Camera
This sleek Kodak offers smudgeproof, water- and tear-resistant high-quality photos at a value price. The camera has a built-in flash and lithium battery, a MicroSD card slot and two picture modes (vibrant color and black and white). The camera speed allows you to continue shooting while the photo is printing.
Younger users will love the adhesive-backed shots because the photos double as stickers; their parents will love that the camera comes with a neck strap, making it harder to lose.
Best for Instagram
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 Instant Camera
This camera was designed with Instagram-fanatics in mind. The Fujifilm’s hip-to-be-square design offers 1:1 square-format imagery, in retro lo-fi glory. The lithium-battery powered camera was designed to last to 30 film packs with 10 shots each. It offers selfie-mode, three color filters that can attach to the flash, double exposure, macro and landscape options.
It should be noted that you have to buy special Fujifilm designed for the camera, and film developing time takes about 90 seconds. Also, there is no memory card option.
For the Kids
Instant Print Kids Camera
This camera was designed for younger children, and they will love the simple press, capture and print mode. Kids are able to take pictures for 3-5 hours after a full charge, and the black-and-white prints emerge in just one second. The camera is also equipped with 1080p HD video recording functionality, and the ability to store 2,500 pictures.
There are nine different kinds of built-in frames, with the option to add effects. The camera will appeal most to kids ages 3-11. The camera comes with a charging cable, photo roll for printing, SD card and neck strap.
Best for Creatives
Fujifilm INSTAX Hybrid Mini LIPLAY
This innovative instant camera offers a lot more than a few quick snaps. The Hybrid model marries analog and digital worlds, allowing you to send messages, share memories and record audio with the sound button. You can also compose imagery with the LCD screen, preview and edit images, then print credit-card-sized shots via Bluetooth. The camera comes with 20 sheets of Fuijilm Intax Instant Film.
For the Snap-Happy
Kodak Smile Instant Print Digital Camera
Photo-taking fanatics will be grinning from ear to ear with this digital-instant camera. Design gurus will dig the slide out protective case with durable polyresin concealing an 8 mm lens with auto focus. This camera is user-friendly with simple interfaces that make taking, editing and sharing photos intuitive. The camera also comes with a mini-USB cable, so it can be recharged. Each session allows up to 40 prints, while also viewing and editing photos in memory.
Best for Landscapes
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
For those who want instant convenience in the Great Outdoors, the Instax Wide is a wonderful option. Ideal for both landscape and group shots, the images that emerge are 3.4 x 4.3 inches, with 2.4 by 3.9 inches for the image itself and the rest devoted to classic white borders. The downside is the size and bulk of the camera, and the fact that it requires four AA batteries.
Reviewers love the “nostalgic tint” of the shots, and the “magical” and “speedy” appearance of the prints.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
This is an almost painfully adorable camera—available in all manner of colors, from ice blue to flamingo pink to smokey white—that will work for those seeking a simple model with a few bells and whistles. The Mini features a selfie mirror, and a close-up lens adapter, improving the quality of close-up macro shots. The High-Key mode allows you to take bright pictures with a soft look, ideal for portraits.
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