If you’re a reader of a certain age, you may remember the fun and convenience of using an instant camera. The ability to take a photo and print it out a minute later is what really spurred our need for instant gratification. The rise of digital photography caused the popularity of instant cameras to wane, but now, both older and younger generations are contributing to the resurgence of instant cameras. As such, you might find yourself wanting to get in on the trend.
However, there are a lot of factors to consider before choosing the right one. Some instant cameras produce square photos, some provide wide photos and some can do both. Also, some instant cameras have a selfie mirror to ensure you look just right in your photos. There are even apps available with some models to help you edit the photos, while others have microSD card slots, so you can both print and digitally save your photos.
But which features are important to you? For example, if you’re just taking basic photos, you may not care about various types of borders and picture modes. But for other people, those features make instant cameras fun.
Cost is another factor to consider. A higher-end, more expensive camera will (presumably) last longer, but if you’re buying it for a kid or unsure of how often you’ll use the camera, you may not want to spend a lot of money on it. The actual film is yet another aspect to think about. Film for instant cameras can get expensive if you’re taking a lot of photos, so weigh that factor as well. (We’ve included links to the film used in each camera to help you factor in this cost.)
In addition, if you’re in the habit of taking a lot of photos, you’re going to go through a lot of film. A camera with a microSD card may cost more, but it will allow you to look at the photos and determine which ones are worthy of printing out — which can save you money in the long run. A card also allows you to keep a digital record of your photos, so they can be printed out or transferred as well.
We’ve had hands-on experience with the majority of cameras on this list. We’ve also consulted with a few professional photographers and researched credible reviews to help you find the best instant camera for your needs.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 ($69; amazon.com)
Kids will love the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, and it won’t put a dent in your budget. The camera is colorful (available in Sky Blue, Lilac Purple, Blush Pink, Charcoal Gray and Ice White), and the simple design makes it easy for kids — and adults — to use. It features automatic exposure and has a built-in flash to ensure the right amount of light regardless of the level of lighting in the environment. There’s also a one-touch selfie mode, complete with a selfie mirror so you can see how you look before snapping the photo. In addition, there’s a customizable shutter button, and you can choose between using a jewel-tone button or a glow-in-the-dark button.
The camera uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film, which is about the size of a credit card and available in packs of 20, 60 and 120. The film is available in white backgrounds as well as black, Blue Marble, Monochrome, Pink Lemonade, Macaron, Rainbow and Confetti backgrounds.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 (starting at $169; amazon.com)
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is one of the most popular Fujifilm models, due in no small part to the camera’s classic look and feel. There’s a bulb mode, which allows the shutter to remain open for 10 seconds when the shutter button is pressed and results in unique nighttime photos. The double exposure mode lets you superimpose two images in one frame. In addition, the camera has a macro mode for close-up shots, landscape mode for distant subjects, kids mode for subjects that move quickly and party mode to highlight the background. Plus, the brightness control and high-performance flash help you to take photos like a pro.
The camera uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Film (the size of a credit card) which is available in packs of 20, 60 and 120. The various film backgrounds include white, black, Blue Marble, Monochrome, Pink Lemonade, Macaron, Rainbow and Confetti backgrounds.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera ($149.90; bhphotovideo.com)
The Lomo’Instant Wide Camera by Lomography is one of the most expensive instant cameras on our list. But let’s be honest— it also looks like the most expensive one, and it’s jam-packed with features. In addition to the 90mm built-in lens, it also has a close-up lens attachment, an ultra-wide-angle lens attachment and a glass splitzer for merging two photos together. The camera features both automatic and creative shooting modes and has a fully programmatic shutter for those times when you don’t want to use the flash, as well as exposure compensation. The remote-control lens cap makes it easy to take group photos while staying in the shot. The camera also includes four color flash gels to add color and artistic effects to your photos.
The Lomo’Instant Wide Camera and Lenses uses Fujifilm Instax Wide Instant Film (4.17 inches by 3.3 inches), available with either a white or a black background in either 10-sheet or 20-sheet packs.
Kodak Step Instant Camera ($69.99; amazon.com)
The Kodak Step Instant Camera is packed with features. It is compatible with microSD cards up to 128GB (and includes a microUSB charging cable), so you can not only print photos, but also save them. In addition, the camera has six picture modes: sepia, black and white, vibrant colors, bordered sepia, bordered black and bordered vibrant colors. There’s also a magnetic lens cap to protect the lens from scratches. The camera powers on and off by raising or lowering the optical viewfinder. It also has a 10-second self-timer and automatically adjusts in low light.
The Kodak Step is available in black or white. It uses Kodak 2-Inch by 3-Inch Premium Zink Photo Paper, available in packs of 20, 50 or 100.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 (starting at $116.90; amazon.com)
Another one of the most popular Fujifilm instant cameras, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 looks like a modern professional camera. It’s large and uses wide film (twice the size of Fujifilm Instax Mini). The focal zoom dial makes it easy to take close-up shots, but is also ideal for taking shots from far away. The camera is quite easy to use, especially since the LCD display is mounted on the back of the camera along with the flash and brightness controls. In addition to the automatic flash to use in low-light settings, the fill-in flash feature enables backlighting and the exposure compensation control can either lighten or darken the photo.
The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is available in black or white. It uses Fujifilm Instax Wide Instant Film (4.17 inches by 3.3 inches), available with either a white or a black background in either 10-sheet or 20-sheet packs.
Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera (starting at $119.99; amazon.com)
Honestly, whenever you say “instant camera,” the first image your mind probably conjures is the classic Polaroid model. And the Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera is probably as close to the original as you can get. It may look like a collector’s item that you set on a shelf, but the camera has been redesigned to include a dual lens with autofocus, a digital photo counter and even a new flash system.
The Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera is available in a dozen colors, including black and white, yellow and white, pink and white, and red and white. It uses Impossible/Polaroid Color Instant Film (3.4 inches by 4.25 inches), which has eight exposures per roll. The photos develop in 10 to 15 minutes.
Canon Ivy Cliq+ Instant Camera ($129; amazon.com)
The Canon Ivy Cliq+ Instant Camera has a unique feature that you won’t find on most instant cameras: an eight-LED ring light, which can help to minimize shadows and reduce imperfections. That’s in addition to a large 2-inch selfie mirror and autoflash — all designed to produce professional-looking selfies. The camera has a wide-angle glass lens, but you can shoot in landscape, selfie or portrait mode. In addition to autoflash, the camera also automatically adjusts the shutter speed and aperture. (The lens cap is also the remote-control shutter release.) Plus, the built-in Bluetooth can connect with the Canon Mini Print app to add frames, text, emojis and stickers.
The Canon Ivy Cliq+ Instant Camera is available in Sapphire Blue, Pearl White and Ruby Red. It uses 2-inch-by-3-inch Canon Zink Photo Paper, available in 20-sheet and 50-sheet packs. The paper also has a sticky back, so the photos can adhere to any surface after you peel off the backing.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 (starting at $89.99; amazon.com)
If you prefer to take photos in landscape mode, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 Instant Camera uses square film (3.5 by 1.5 by 3.75 inches), which is designed to provide more real estate in each photo. It uses automatic exposure, so the built-in sensors can determine the level of brightness needed based on your environment. The camera has a textured grip to make it easy to hold. It’s also easy to use. In addition, there’s a one-touch selfie mode and a selfie mirror.
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 Instant Camera comes in three colors: Terracotta Orange, Glacier Blue and Chalk White. Fujifilm Instax Square Film is available in packs of 10 sheets or as twin packs, and background color options include white, black, Illumination Monochrome, White Marble, Rainbow, Monochrome + Rainbow and Rainbow + Black.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass Magellan Camera ($179; shopmoment.com)
The Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass Magellan Camera is the first instant camera with a wide-angle glass lens (38mm). The multi-coated lens is designed to minimize reflections and capture more in each photo. It also has an f/4.5 aperture (the largest among instant cameras) for taking photos in low-light environments. In addition to adjusting the aperture, you can also adjust the shutter speed and flash output. The camera includes a close-up lens attachment and also a glass splitzer for merging two photos together. The lens cap is also the remote-control shutter release for taking photos. There are also several color gel flash filters to make your photos look even more creative.
The Lomo’Instant uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film (the size of a credit card), and is available in packs of 20, 60 and 120. The film is available in white, black, Blue Marble, Monochrome, Pink Lemonade, Macaron, Rainbow and Confetti backgrounds.
Kodak Step Touch ($129.99, originally $159.99; walmart.com)
The Kodak Step Touch is significantly more expensive than Kodak’s Step Instant digital camera. But it also does so much more. The Step Touch also includes a video camera. It records in 1080/720p and it records audio as well. The camera has a 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen display that allows you to easily view what you’re doing and make changes if necessary. In addition, it has a 10-second self-timer and a Photobooth mode, and it also supports microSD cards up to 256GB. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled camera, so you can connect to other smart devices within range to send and print your photos. Plus, using the Kodak Step Prints app, you can add borders, stickers, emojis and filters to your photos. You can also use the app to effortlessly print photos and share them on social media.
The camera is available in black or white, and it uses Kodak Zink Photo Paper (2 by 3 inches), which is available in packs of 20, 50 and 100.