Instant film cameras, once popularized by Polaroid, are now making a comeback. But with the ability to take digital photos using smartphones, why are more people taking an interest in instant cameras? These vintage-style cameras actually make great mementos and souvenirs for parties and events since guests can print and take home their photo instead of waiting for others to upload their images on social media. The old style look of the photos are also charming, making them stand out from your other photos. For arts and crafts hobbyists, these photos are also a must-have as they can be printed immediately and they have the classic white border often used for scrapbooks.
If you’re looking to buy your own instant camera, here’s a guide to help you choose and a list of the most recommended models.
Instant Camera Buying Guide:
There are two top players in this industry: Polaroid and Fujifilm Instax. Polaroid is of course the pioneer of instant film cameras and they are now seeking to reinvent themselves. The Impossible project, another bestselling instant film camera brand, produces cameras in the original Polaroid format. The most recommended currently, however, is Fujifilm Instax. Another brand rising in popularity is Lomography. All of these brands have their own advantages and disadvantages and your choice will depend on the features each camera offers. Some features to consider are the presence of a viewfinder, exposure type, focus settings and kind of batteries.
2. Film types
Aside from brand, the next most important feature is the film type. You will need to take into account whether the film for your specific camera will be easy to find. If you buy a new camera model, you can still find film for your camera but if you purchase a used older model, it may be more difficult to get film. The type of film you buy will also depend on the kind of image you’d like to produce. For smaller 8×10 inch images, choose the 35mm film; for 6×7 inches, get the medium size films and 20×34 inches will need large format films. Fuji, in particular, has two film types for their Instax model. The Instax wide film is for 2.4 x 3.9 inch images and the Instax mini film is for 2.4 x 1.8 inch images.
Several accessories are also offered with the cameras. You can find cases for the camera body, in different styles and colors. There are also bags in various materials and designs for travel and storage. Similar to DSLR cameras, some cameras also provide filters, flash attachments and lenses that can be fixed on the camera. Other useful accessories include kits for cleaning and maintenance, and tripods to prop up the camera and keep it steady.
Top 10 Instant Cameras:
1. Instax Neo Classic 90
The Instax Neo Classic 90, as its name implies, sports an old-fashioned look. This outstanding camera makes use of Instax mini film. It features excellent modes such as kids mode to capture high quality images of anyone or anything moving, and landscape mode for taking photos at a distance. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery and has a socket to allow mounting on a tripod. It produces images quickly and with vibrant color.
2. Impossible I-1
What sets the Impossible I-1 apart is that it can be connected to your Apple device through Bluetooth giving you more flexibility and control. With this app, you have multiple modes to shoot with, all producing superior images. This camera utilizes Polaroid 600 type films and it includes an optical viewfinder that can be detached. Worth noting about this camera is that users are pleased with the precision of the autofocus and with how easy this camera is to handle.
3. Prynt Case
Unique among its peers is the Prynt Case. This device was constructed not as a camera itself but as an attachment to the iPhone which allows printing of images taken realtime as well as from your camera roll and from your social media accounts. This device is very easy to operate and it makes use of a rechargeable battery. The image quality is also quite good and it includes an app for editing photos before printing.
4. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8
Another bestseller from Instax is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. Both fun to look at and fun to use, this camera is travel-friendly and weighs very little. It also features an optical viewfinder, flash and auto exposure. It offers five exposure modes so that you can take high quality images even with too little or too much brightness. Standard Instax film is needed. Easy and highly convenient to use, it only requires AA batteries.
5. Lomography Lomo Instant
One of the latest instant cameras much praised by its users is the Lomography Lomo Instant camera. It has a brilliant and groovy design and comes with other lenses including a wide angle lens that outclasses its rivals. It also has its own flash feature and it uses Instax mini film. Performance-wise, image quality is decent and it has both manual and automatic modes, plus different exposures, for more control and versatility.
6. Fujifilm instax mini 70
Beginners and hobbyists will appreciate how the Fujifilm instax mini 70 is all about fun. It looks sleek and stylish and it’s easy to use. Among its high points is its selfie mirror. It also includes an optical viewfinder and built-in automatic flash. It uses instax mini film for smaller prints the size of a credit card. It’s battery-powered as well but the batteries are CR2.
7. Polaroid Pic 300
For a camera that’s easy to use and perfect for beginners, try the Polaroid Pic 300. This camera has a charming design and gives you more control over the flash feature. It has a viewfinder and offers four scenes or mode options to adapt to different background lighting. It’s not as lightweight as other models but it’s undoubtedly sturdy. It also yields photos quickly. It uses not just two, however, but four AA batteries.
8. Impossible Polaroid SX-70
The Impossible Polaroid SX-70 is an outstanding camera that will appeal to more experienced photographers. It has a vivid, vintage look utilizing a folding SLR system to make it compact and unique. The SLR system ensures top quality photos and the camera body design makes it portable. At the same time, it has automatic focus settings for convenience. It uses the exclusive SX-70 film.
9. Polaroid Snap
Although it’s used mainly for photo prints, the Polaroid Snap has the added benefit of letting you save the images to a 32GB memory card. It captures 10 megapixel shots for terrific images. It’s super-simple to use, it looks casual and fun, plus it’s lightweight. It also has a viewfinder and built-in flash and it’s powered by a rechargeable battery.
10. Instax Wide 300
If you’re looking for a camera for wide angle shots, the Instax Wide 300 will suit you very nicely. It has a simple design that makes it incredibly easy to use as well as comfortable to hold. This camera is also durable and well-built. It includes a viewfinder, automatic flash and settings for adjusting to light or dark backgrounds. Four AA batteries are required.