Instant photography has had something of a resurgence over the past few years. There are companies utilising Polaroid technology to create new and exciting cameras and prints for a new age, as well as those creating new and exciting formats for a generation that wants everything now.
For those that want a physical keepsake of their memories, as well as something to decorate their walls, there is only one answer, and that is instant photography. There are a variety of cameras on the market, which all produce different sized images. Here, we round up our favourite instant cameras to help you decide which is best for you. Plus, we list essential accessories you’ll need in your instant photography kit bag.
Fujifilm Instax SQ10 –
The Fujifilm Instax SQ10 fills a niche in the instant camera market – being able to see your images and apply filters to them before hitting print. If you love the square format and the ability to add filters to your images without having to use an app on your smartphone, then the camera is an ideal tool. It will be great for kids, teens and adults alike who may not want the fuss of connecting a printer to a smartphone and want a portable, all in one package.
Leica SOFORT Instant Camera –
The Leica Sofort instant camera is definitely a head turner with it’s boxy, retro design and famous Leica badge. Various shooting modes are built in and in true Leica style, the camera takes advantage of available light for as long as possible when shooting in auto mode, without triggering the built-in flash – resulting in pictures with a more natural and authentic look. The camera’s really easy to use and as with all cameras of this type, it’s just really fun to use. Yes, it’s not the cheapest instant camera on the market but if you can justify the cost, or have always wanted to own a Leica but they’re normally out of your price range, then the Leica Sofort is well-worth considering.
Lomo’Instant Automat Playa Jardin Edition –
The Lomo’Instant Automat Playa Jardin camera takes Fuji Instax film and creates credit-card sized images. We love its versatility as it also comes with lens adapters to allow you to create wide-angle, fisheye and close-up images.
It has a cool MX mode, allowing you to take as many exposures as you like on the same image. There are coloured flash filters included too, further enhancing your creative options.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic –
Of all the instant cameras that we have reviewed, this one gave the best exposures consistently and was most user-friendly even to novices. It has a retro classic design and prints out credit card-sized instant photos which develop quickly and aren’t fussy about how they are developed (some make you place them face down in the dark to develop, which isn’t always possible when out and about).
There are a variety of modes available for different situations and there is also the ability to set self-timers, and toggle the flash to on/off/auto. We love the fact that this camera is stylish, easy to use and produces vibrant, well-exposed prints. Film cartridges aren’t too expensive either, with a 20 shot pack available for £14.49.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide –
The Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide isn’t the smallest of instant cameras, but it does have more customisable options for shooting if you like to have more control over the images. The camera has the ability to use a bulb mode (keep your finger on the shutter to expose for as long as you like) and +1 / -1 exposure settings.
The camera comes complete with coloured gel filters, wide angle lens attachment and viewfinder, close-up lens attachment, ‘splitzer’ (for double exposures) and a lens cap that can also be used as a remote release.
The photos created are Fujifilm Instax Wide film, ideal for those that prefer taking landscape images or group shots. A pack of 20 shots is available for £17.47.
Instax Share SP-3 –
Not technically an instant camera, but an instant printer, this device will appeal to those who take images on their phones or smart devices and want to print them.
The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 is the third generation of Fujifilm’s Instax printers, which connect wirelessly to your smart devices enabling you to print your phone images as instant photos. This is the first Instax printer to use square format Instax film as opposed to standard, giving you 62x62mm images. It’s available in black with rose gold detailing or white with silver detailing. here, we find out how it performs.
The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 is a great choice if you’re a fan of the square format film and want to be able to create images from your smartphone that feel a little more robust than the small photo paper images created by rival brands.
Impossible I-1 –
The Impossible I-1 camera uses the original polaroid format film, now manufactured by Impossible, and is revolutionary in the instant camera market because it offers a full manual mode via an app.
The camera can be fully controlled via an app as well as used normally, with the trigger button on the side. There’s a pop-up viewfinder and the design is very geometric – to hold it it’s best to use the provided camera strap.
You can half-press the shutter button to focus the image and there are lots of modern features, bringing the format into the 21st century. We love what Impossible is doing here, and the app allows you a lot more control and creativity when taking images. For the serious instant film connoisseur, this camera ticks all the boxes.
Film is available from £15.99 for 8 shots.
Kiipix Manual Smartphone Image Printer –
The Kiipix requires no batteries or Wi-Fi connection to work – it’s a purely manual device that prints Fujifilm Instax Mini images by taking an image of your smartphone’s screen. Again, this isn’t strictly an instant camera, but it does let you produce instant smartphone images.
Great for parties, it’ll allow everyone to easily print photos from their phone. With no automation whatsoever, you even have to crank your images out of the device – it’s a real DIY option.
Print quality isn’t the greatest as this can depend on the brightness of your screen and lighting conditions at the time of capture however it’s a fantastic option for kids and the less tech savvy.
Polaroid Snap Instant –
The Polaroid Snap Instant is a small and compact digital camera that uses 3 x 2 inch Zink paper to print out immediately visible images. There is the option to put a Polaroid-style border around the images.
It’s great if you want to be able to take images digitally as well as print them out – there are options to shoot in black and white, retro and normal colour too. There is a 10-megapixel sensor and the images printed can also be used as stickers, so it would make a great present for older kids.
Zinc paper is fairly reasonable to buy, with a pack of 50 papers costing £24.49.
Other Top Instant Cameras:
As of yet, ePHOTOzine hasn’t reviewed the following instant cameras but as soon as we have, we’ll be able to give them our star-rating.
Fuji Instax Mini 9
The Instax Mini 9 is a compact instant camera with a cute and iconic design. It includes a selfie mirror and close-up lens as well as a high-key mode for brighter photos and an automatic exposure measurement for aperture settings. The Instax mini 9 is super easy to use, and compatible with Instax mini film for instant credit card-sized prints.
Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 i-Type Camera
The Polaroid OneStep2 is a successor to the original Polaroid OneStep, the original Polaroid camera that, 40 years ago, made instant photography easy to partake in. The new camera features a powerful built-in flash, easy USB charging, long lasting battery and self-timer feature.
Instax Hello Kitty Camera
For tweens and teens (and older Hello Kitty fans) that want their images instantly, this Hello Kitty themed Instax camera is the answer. It produces credit card sized images and there are several themes of film available to express your creativity. The camera comes complete with accessories and a Hello Kitty themed film pack. There is a mirror on the front to help when taking selfies and a hi-key mode for a softer effect.
Instant Camera Film:
When buying an instant camera there are a variety of accessories that you shouldn’t be without and they, obviously, include film.
Instax Mini film – When purchasing one of the many Instax Mini cameras on the market you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of film, which is available in a variety of styles.
Impossible Polaroid 600 film – If you’ll be investing in an Impossible I-1 camera then there are a wide variety of films available for you to use.
Instax Wide film – For those purchasing the Lomo’Instant Wide, this film will be necessary for your camera.
Instax Square film – For those purchasing the Fujifilm Instax SQ10, you’ll need the Instax Square Instant Film pack.
Instant Camera Cases
Keep your instant cameras safe and secure inside a case that’s specifically designed for the model you use. They also look rather cool, too.
Leica Case for SOFORT Instant Camera – The Leica Sofort Case provides stylish protection for your camera when not in use. It features cut-outs for the camera strap so you can carry your camera with the case attached.
Case for Instax Mini Neo 90 – Available in a variety of colourful designs, this case will keep your Fuji Instax Neo 90 instant camera safe.
Impossible I-1 Carry Case – Shockproof protection designed especially for the Impossible I-1 camera.
Polaroid Eva Case – For Polaroid Snap camera users, this cute case will keep your camera safe.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Case – This retro style case will keep the SQ10 snug and easily accessible.