Instant camera print: Polaroid & Instant Cameras : Target

The Best Instant Cameras for 2023

Instant film has made a big comeback in recent years. Fujifilm’s Instax business, for instance, has enjoyed mainstream success. And you can still buy film for many old Polaroid cameras despite various ownership and branding changes over the year. Don’t forget about the newer Panasonic models that use modern I-Type film packs either.

There are lots of reasons to reach for an instant camera. First and foremost, nothing in the digital realm beats the feeling of handing off a physical photo to someone right after you’ve snapped it. That’s why instant film is a big hit at weddings and parties; it can be a great way to capture moments for posterity in a way that’s very different than just another smartphone image. Younger millennials and Gen Z photographers might also look to it as a step away from the digital doldrums, and a way to keep any truly private images away from hackable cloud data services. And you can’t discount artists, who are always looking to make their work stand out in a crowded landscape.

Read on for the top instant cameras we’ve tested, followed by everything you need to know to find the right one for you.


Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

Best Affordable Instax Mini Camera

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the easiest, most affordable way to try out instant photography. The all-plastic camera offers easy one-button operation, bettering older models that require you to adjust the lens for different types of light. Instax Mini film is conveniently available online and in brick-and-mortar stores, while color and black-and-white options open up lots of artistic possibilities.

Who It’s For

The Instax Mini 11 is the camera to get if you want an instant camera just to have one. Teens and college-age kids should enjoy it for capturing memories without the risk of leaving a digital trail. And it’s sure to be a hit for family photographers who want to fill up physical photo albums or decorate their fridge.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • True automatic exposure
  • Mirror and close focus for selfies
  • Available in many fun colors
  • Uses color or black-and-white Instax Mini film
  • AA battery power

CONS

  • Can overexpose in bright light and when focused close
  • No tripod socket

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Review

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

Best for Instax Square Prints

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Older millennials and Gen X members grew up with square instant prints—Polaroid 600 cameras were everywhere in the ’80s and ’90s. Fuji’s Instax Square format rekindles the square nostalgia, and the SQ1 is the most accessible way to use it. This model offers one-button operation and can take color or black-and-white film, all at a lower cost per picture than modern Polaroid entries.

Who It’s For

Photographers who like the square format should find the SQ1 easy to appreciate. It’s a point-and-shoot with a plastic lens that produces quality photos. That said, it’s not the most versatile option. Pick the Lomo’Instant Square or the Nons SL660 if you’re after an Instax Square camera with more manual control.

PROS

  • Fun, square instant prints
  • Very easy to use
  • Close focus and mirror for selfies
  • Color and black-and-white film available

CONS

  • No self timer, tripod socket, or double exposure support
  • Smaller photos than Polaroid cameras
  • CR2 batteries aren’t always easy to find

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Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 Review

Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass

Best Glass Lens Instax Mini for Shutterbugs

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

We love the sharp wide-angle lens of the Lomo’Instant Glass, which takes the same film as cameras like the Fuji Instax Mini 11, but captures a broader view with sharper details. It’s a good pick for shutterbugs who like to take photos of larger groups or who want to try out the artsy multi-exposure technique.

Who It’s For

The Lomo’Instant Glass costs around $100 more than the basic Instax Mini 11, so it’s not as much of an impulse purchase. It’s worth spending more if you like the look of a wide-angle lens (its view is similar to a 21mm full-frame lens) and crave sharper prints than you can get with plastic-lens alternatives.

PROS

  • Compact.
  • Sharp, ultra-wide lens.
  • Automatic exposure.
  • Built-in flash.
  • Selfie mirror.
  • Multiple exposure support.
  • Includes close-up filter and split frame mask.
  • Color and monochrome film options.

CONS

  • Uses CR2 batteries.
  • Instax Mini format is a little small.

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Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass Review

Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide

Best for Instax Wide Prints

4. 0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Out of Fuji’s three instant film formats, Instax Wide makes the biggest prints. The Lomo’Instant Wide is the camera to get if you’re interested in taking instant and impactful snaps with that format. It offers more artist-friendly features than you get with the Fuji Instax Wide 300, including multiple exposures and a split-image attachment for the lens.

Who It’s For

Photographers with an artistic eye are the typical target market for Lomography cameras. The Lomo’Instnat Wide requires some know-how to use, so you feel comfortable setting manual focus by distance and experimenting with the creative attachments before you purchase it. The big prints you get in the end are worth the effort.

PROS

  • Uses large Instax Wide film.
  • Exposure compensation control.
  • Built-in flash.
  • Multiple exposure capability.
  • Manual focus lens.
  • Sync socket for external flash.
  • Wide-angle and macro conversion lenses available.
  • Selfie mirror.

CONS

  • Bulky.
  • Can be expensive for high-volume shooters.

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Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Review

Lomography Lomo’Instant Square

Best for Fans of Folding Cameras

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Lomo’Instant Square is one of the quirkier instant cameras on sale today, but sometimes quirky is good. This instant folder uses a glass lens and works with Fuji Instax Square film to produce sharp, attractive prints. Support for multiple exposures comes in handy for artsy shots, and the included wireless remote gives you more freedom to set up selfies and group photos.

Who It’s For

The Lomo’Instant Square is an instant camera for camera nerds. The folding design is a throwback to 1970s Polaroids and allows you to toss the camera into your coat pocket for jaunts outside the house. It is a manual focus camera, so you need to estimate subject distance and set the lens manually before taking a photo, at least if you want in-focus results.

PROS

  • Purely analog instant camera.
  • Glass lens.
  • Folding design.
  • Automatic exposure.
  • Multiple exposure support.
  • Built-in flash.
  • Includes wireless remote.

CONS

  • Tricky viewfinder parallax.
  • Some trial and error.
  • Instax Square film costs more than other formats.
  • CR2 batteries aren’t as common as AA.

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Lomography Lomo’Instant Square Review

Nons SL660

Best Instant Camera With Interchangeable Lenses

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

If you crave the creative flexibility of interchangeable lenses, but still like the idea of Instax Square film, the Nons SL660 is worth a look. It works with Canon EF glass and creates better photos than basic instant cameras with fixed, plastic lenses.

Who It’s For

Photographers after ultimate creative control should consider the Nons SL660. The ability to change lenses opens up macro, wide-angle, telephoto, and blurred-background photo opportunities that simply aren’t an option with most instant cameras. The SL660 costs more than others on this list, but we think the results are worth the premium.

PROS

  • Uses Instax Square film
  • Supports Canon EF SLR lenses
  • Ample battery with USB-C charging
  • Multiple exposure support
  • Hot shoe for external flash

CONS

  • Viewfinder doesn’t show full frame
  • ND filters needed for bright light
  • Audible mirror thunk

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Nons SL660 Review

Polaroid Now+

Best for Classic Polaroid Square Prints

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Although most of the instant cameras we recommend use Fuji Instax materials, Polaroid remains an option if you can make peace with the $2-per-picture pricing. For the money, you get prints that match up with the square format of SX70 and 600 series film from yesteryear. The Polaroid Now+ is the best camera you can get that works with the company’s modern I-Type film. As for features, this model supports long and multiple exposures, as well as remote control over Bluetooth. The package also includes a set of lens filters; you can use those to add a color gel or get more dramatic skies from black-and-white film, for instance.

Who It’s For

Photographers with an artistic eye or serious nostalgia for classic square-format Polaroid should enjoy the Now+ most. Today’s Polaroid film is a little trickier to handle and use than Fuji Instax materials, but the 3.1-inch square format is roomier than Instax Square (2.4 inches) and offers a healthy dose of artistic options, including short-run materials like Black and Green Duochrome. The Now+ has some features you don’t get with the basic Now camera, but it’s still a point-and-shoot with a plastic lens. Photographers who want to relive their Polaroid days with a semi-pro camera should look into a restored SX-70 from Retrospekt instead.

PROS

  • Big, square instant photos
  • Color, black-and-white, and limited-run films
  • Easy one-button operation
  • Smartphone app for creative control
  • Tripod socket
  • Convenient USB charging

CONS

  • Color film delivers inconsistent results
  • No selfie mirror
  • Film is expensive

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Polaroid Now+ Review

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

Best Digital Art Filters for On-Demand Prints

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

The Fuji Instax Mini Evo is a digital-instant hybrid camera with a chic retro style and a plastic-fantastic build. The digital design means that the camera works in dimmer light and focuses closer than analog models that take the same Instax Mini film, while on-demand printing ensures that you don’t waste film on missed photo ops.

Who It’s For

The Instax Mini Evo is a good camera for anyone who wants to make instant prints, but just not for every photo. It includes a bunch of in-camera filters for creatives and is easy enough for anyone to pick up and use. Pros and photo hobbyists likely won’t like the editing and file transfer limitations Fuji built into the system, but the rest of us can enjoy the charming photochemical prints it produces.

PROS

  • Slick retro styling
  • Fun digital filter effects
  • Lets you print only what you want
  • Digital capture with chemical film prints
  • Bluetooth connection and smartphone app

CONS

  • Poor LCD quality
  • Inelegant controls
  • No in-camera editing tools
  • Can only send printed images to smartphone
  • 5MP sensor isn’t anything special

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Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo Review

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

Best One-Button Wide Format Instax

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

If you’re a fan of the extra-big Fujifilm Instax Wide picture format, but prefer one-button, focus-free operations to the more manual Lomo’Instant Wide, the Fuji Instax 300 is the camera to get. Just note that it leaves out the multiple and long exposure options you get with the Lomo’Instant Wide though.

Who It’s For

You should get the Instax Wide 300 if you want to use Wide format film without the hassle of manual controls. It’s also a good camera to take along to a party or a wedding because the large film size creates more impactful keepsakes than what you get with the Mini format.

PROS

  • Uses large Instax Wide instant film.
  • Includes close focus adapter.
  • Creates charming physical prints.

CONS

  • Limited exposure control.
  • Big.
  • Can be expensive for high-volume shooters.

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Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Review

Buying Guide: The Best Instant Cameras for 2023


What Are the Different Instant Film Formats?

Getting your head around the various instant film formats is an important first step before you make a purchase decision. Let’s start with the most popular option, Fujifilm’s Instax Mini. This film is about the size of a credit card when you take its border into account, and the image area measures 2.4 by 1.8 inches (HW).

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 (Credit: Jim Fisher)

Film is available in color or monochrome, and is compatible with tons of cameras from Fujifilm, Leica, Lomography, and Mint. Our favorite entry-level model, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, sells for about $70 and is available in many colors. If you’re a more serious shutterbug, consider the Lomo’Instant Automat Glass, which has a wider-angle lens (better for selfies) and supports multiple exposure images.

Color Instax Mini film is pretty affordable. Prices vary a bit across retailers, but you should expect to spend between $0.50 and $0.60 per photo. Black-and-white film is a little pricier, at around $0.80 per image. And if you want film with colorful borders or other special finishes, the costs can double from there. Buying in bulk is one way to save money in the long run.

The Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide uses Instax Wide film (Credit: Paul Maljak)

If you prefer a bigger image, you can opt for the Instax Wide format, which is also available in color or black-and-white. The image size is about double that of Mini—basically two mini shots side-by-side (2.4 by 3.9 inches). Thankfully, this film doesn’t cost double that of Mini—expect to spend around $0.75 per color photo and $1.30 for each black-and-white image.

For some photographers, instant film is film, which means a square format is a must. In that case, you want Fujifilm’s Instax Square film. It has long been available in color, with a per-shot cost of about $1.00. Fujifilm has recently added Instax Square Monochrome to its catalog for black-and-white shots, but it’s slightly pricier at close to $1.50 per frame.

Lomography Lomo’Instant Square (Credit: Zlata Ivleva)


Can You Still Use Polaroid Cameras?

But what if you’ve got an honest-to-goodness Polaroid camera? The company has been reborn in the 21st century—it’s gone through some name changes over the years, from the Impossible Project to Polaroid Originals, but today it’s just called Polaroid. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

You can still get color or black-and-white film for an SX-70 or 600 series camera. It’s expensive, though, at around $20 for a pack of eight shots. If you don’t already have a vintage instant camera and like the idea of repurposing old tech, you can look to a shop like Mint Camera(Opens in a new window), Retrospekt(Opens in a new window), or Polaroid(Opens in a new window) itself to get a refurbished SX-70, 600 SLR, or another classic. We recently took a Retrospekt-restored SX-70 for a test drive—check out our story if you’re thinking about going the true vintage route.

Polaroid film is bigger than Instax, but the quality of its color stock just isn’t as good. Colors shift in cold temperatures, overall saturation isn’t as deep, and you must take care to shield it from light as it develops. The black-and-white film is a lot better though. Both have a larger image area than Instax Square, so the more impactful image might make it worth the hassle.

The Polaroid Now+ is the lastest I-Type camera from the iconic brand (Credit: Jim Fisher)

Polaroid makes new cameras too; the Now+ is the latest. It works with I-Type film ($17 per pack of eight shots) and supports Bluetooth connectivity for app-based remote control. It’s a solid option for artistic photographers and includes a set of color balance filters for gel looks and better black-and-white photos.

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You can go smaller, too. The tiny Polaroid Go uses similarly tiny film, available in color only. It’s cute, but we think it’s worth it to use classic Polaroid or Fujifilm Instax Square film because of their bigger image size.


How to Convert Digital Pictures to Instant Prints

If you’ve got an itch to shoot film again and don’t want to have to find a local lab to develop your shots, instant film can scratch is a good alternative. It deliver results that almost match digital in their immediacy.

If you have a favorite image that you shot with a digital camera and want to preserve it on instant film, you’re in luck. You can print any photo from your smartphone onto Instax Mini film using the Instax Mini Link, onto Instax Wide with the Link Wide, or onto the square format with the Instax Share SP-3 or Polaroid Lab.

On the flip side, you can also digitize your instant prints. Check out our guide to preserving your photos for tips.

Polaroid Now+ review | Digital Camera World

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Polaroid Now+ is our new favorite member of the Polaroid family. For full-size instant photographs, with enviable sharpness and unique vintage character, it can’t be beaten – and, with creative tools including lens filters and full manual control, it’s far more than just a point-and-shoot camera. Some features rely on you controlling things with your smartphone, which makes the process a little less instant, but the results are more than worth the small additional effort. This is the instant camera you’ll want at your next party.

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The Polaroid Now+ is the latest member of the Polaroid family, and promises the manufacturer’s best ever analog performance combined with some first-ever creative tricks – some revolving around new physical features, others requiring the newly designed smartphone app. 

As you’d expect, the Polaroid Now+ is an evolution of the existing  Polaroid Now – which already stands as one of the best instant cameras on the market. Taking everything that was great about that camera, but adding new functionality, it opens up creative possibilities such as light painting, aperture priority, portrait mode and even lens filters. 

  • Prime Day 2023: see our pick of the best camera deals in Amazon’s sale

Is it enough to make the Now+ a better choice than the Now, though? And does the reliance on smartphone connectivity get in the way of the “instant” part of instant photography? 

  • Polaroid Now at Amazon for $68. 60

Image 1 of 5

(Image credit: James Artaius)(Image credit: James Artaius)(Image credit: James Artaius)(Image credit: James Artaius)The Polaroid Now+ comes with five lens filters: starburst, red vignette, and blue, yellow and orange (Image credit: James Artaius)

Polaroid Now+: Specifications

Film type: Polaroid i-Type, Polaroid 600
Lens: Standard Lens 102.35mm (40mm full-frame equivalent), Close-up Lens 94.96mm (35mm equivalent)
Shutter speed: 1/200-1sec (camera only), 1/200-30 sec and Bulb mode (via app)
Flash: Automatic (with override)
Power: USB-rechargeable lithium-ion 750mAh battery
Dimensions: 150.16 x 112.2 x 95.48mm
Weight: 457g (without film pack)

The Polaroid Now+ comes with five filters, including Yellow (L) and Red Vignette (R) for in-camera creative expression (Image credit: James Artaius)

Polaroid Now+: Key features

The Polaroid Now+ carries across all the base features of the regular Polaroid Now. That means a two-lens autofocus system, double exposures, self-timer and an improved flash for better exposures.

On top of that, it brings to the party the Bluetooth connectivity found in the Polaroid OneStep+ – and used in tandem with the newly designed Polaroid app for your smartphone, this unlocks a wealth of creative tools. 

Light painting, double exposures, self-timer, portrait mode and manual control – along with, for the first time on the Now product line, aperture priority mode and tripod mode. 

The latter is made possible by the addition of a standard tripod mount (absent on the base Polaroid Now), which is one of a slew of new physical features that don’t rely on the smartphone app. This includes five lens filters – starburst, red vignette, and blue, yellow and orange colors for in-camera effects – along with a lens cap! 

In many ways the feature set of the Now+ makes it more comparable to the OneStep+ than the regular now. However, the Now+ has superior image quality thanks to the improved autofocus and flash systems, and it has a number of app functions that the OneStep+ lacks (the only thing it doesn’t have is the noise trigger mode, which isn’t something we really miss).  

The Polaroid Now+ produces impressive sharpness and contrast, and retains Polaroid’s magenta bias in the whites (Image credit: James Artaius)

Polaroid Now+: Build & handling

As always, Polaroid film (both i-Type and 600) loves saturated colors  (Image credit: James Artaius)

The Now+ is ever so slightly larger than the regular Now, at 150.16 x 112.2 x 95.48mm instead of 150.2 x 112.2 x 94mm, and just a smidge heavier at 457g versus 434g. In essence, though, the two cameras basically feel indistinguishable in the hand – and if you’ve got a bag that perfectly fits the original, you’ve no need to worry.

It’s a very solid and well built camera, constructed of polycarbonate and ABS plastics, and obviously has the heft and chunkiness of old school instant cameras. If you’re looking for something that will slip into a handbag or jacket pocket, you’ll be better served checking out the diminutive Polaroid Go. 

As with all analog instant cameras, the viewfinder is both optical and approximate; you’re not getting a true view of what the lens sees, since the finder is offset to the left, so you will need to fire a few frames to get used to accurately composing your shots (the finder tends to give a wider view than the lens, so you can safely get a tad closer to your subjects than it appears).  

As noted, 

The controls are simple and instinctive, with a big red shutter release on the front along with a “+” button and LED indicator to select creative modes (self-timer, double exposure or a custom function) without needing to connect to the app. On the rear of the camera is the power button, flash override and an LED indicator to show how many shots are remaining in your pack of film (both i-Type and 600 are accepted). 

And while we’ve had packs of film as well as single frames jam on both the Now and the Go, we haven’t yet had a single problem with the Now+. 

Polaroid Now+: Performance

The in-camera creativity includes features like double exposures, but requires the Polaroid app (Image credit: James Artaius)

Opinions on the character of instant photographs are very subjective, but what we can say without question is that the sharpness and contrast of the images on the Polaroid Now+ are the best we’ve yet seen on a Polaroid camera. 

If you’re comparing image quality against frames taken by Fujfilm cameras like the Instax Mini 11, Polaroid film has an inherent bias towards magentas when rendering white tones using flash, which produces a more distinctively “vintage” look, while Instax film produces truer whites that sometimes make Caucasian skin tones a little ghostly – and it also tends to crush the blacks, producing a more contrasty look but with a loss of detail in the shadows.  

Neither look is necessarily better than the other, but they are distinctively different flavors and it’s down to personal taste which you prefer. 

As with all instant cameras, the Now+ can be inconsistent when used outdoors where the flash is overpowered by ambient light; images don’t have the same bite or saturation as those where the flash is the key light, but this again produces a uniquely analog image character that may be to your liking. When shooting indoors, the improved flash system delivers very pleasing results with more evenly exposed images.

The redesigned Polaroid app has a very Apple-esque interface, connects quickly and reliably, and is a joy to use

The app-based functions work brilliantly, from the seamless pairing to the turn-on-and-go nature of using the app in tandem with the camera. While there’s no awkward waiting for the camera to handshake with your phone, there is inherently an extra layer of operation involved when using modes like aperture priority or double exposures, as you will be using a shutter button on your phone rather than the one on the camera.  

That said, the process really is simple and reliable. The refreshed Polaroid app is a joy to use, with instinctive Apple-like controls and instructions available at the tap of an icon to explain how the different functions work. While there is no live view facility, the portrait function gives feedback – “Too close” / “Ok” / “Too Far” – to indicate whether the mode will work.

At first glance, the physical filters might look and feel like a bit of a gimmick. They do, however, add genuine creative flair to your images – the color filters further exaggerate the already unique look of instant photographs, while the red vignette (as shown in the topmost sample image of the cathedral) and starburst filters produce pleasing in-camera effects. 

The returning tripod thread, and corresponding shooting option, is also most welcome. It’s unlikely that mainstream consumers will care about using a tripod, but for photographers wanting to shoot projects, portraits or long exposures, it’s great to be able to do so.

Polaroid Now+: Verdict

If you’re looking for full-size instant photographs with great image quality and that elusive ‘vintage look’, the Polaroid Now+ is far and away the best option on the market right now.

While the Polaroid Now offers the same base shooting options and image quality, and the OneStep+ offers some of the same Bluetooth connectivity and creativity, the Now+ combines the best features of both products.

Instant photography remains expensive when you work out the cost per exposure, but if you accept that as the price of admission then you will have more fun using this than any other instant camera – and you’ll get results that can only be achieved on this one.

There is less bite in images shot outdoors, where daylight produces more muted exposures (Image credit: James Artaius)

Read more:

Best Polaroid cameras
Polaroid Now review
Polaroid Go review
Instax Mini 11 review

Polaroid Now: Price Comparison

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L’Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera Magazine, PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, Digital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.

How using instant cameras can improve your photography

There is something magical about instant cameras. You press the shutter button and an image slowly appears before your eyes. Such cameras have practical and artistic uses. How the use of instant cameras can improve photography in general – in this article, professional photographer Megan Kennedy will tell (Megan Kennedy). What are they? About everything in order.

About Instant Cameras

Typically, the term “instant camera” refers to a camera that uses self-developing material to capture an image within minutes/seconds after pressing the shutter button.

When you take an image, a small amount of chemicals are opened to start the process, or specialized rollers pull the image out of the camera while developing chemicals are added. These cameras are popular due to their immediacy and unique, somewhat classic effect of a ready-made picture.

Instax Mini and Barbie Polaroid instant cameras. f/4, 1/50, ISO 500

A bit of history

The first commercially viable system of such cameras was introduced in 1947 by Polaroid founder Edwin Land.

A year later, his Land 95 camera and related film went on sale in a department store in Boston. The cameras dramatically changed the accessibility and creative possibilities of photography, and eventually sold out in just a matter of minutes.

Land and Polaroid continued to develop instant camera systems. Initially created in sepia tones, instant film moved to black and white and then to color in 1963.

However, up until 1972, the use of such cameras was much easier than the modern process. The exposed Polaroid film required the photographer to peel back the negative material after 60 seconds to reveal the image. From this, chemical residues often remained on the hands.

Some earlier processes also required that, when using a camera, the developed film be coated with a mixture of stabilizing chemicals.

f/4, 1/40, ISO 300

The introduction of the Polaroid SX-70 in 1972 marked a turning point in instant camera technology. The removed SX-70 film, free of negative material or chemical residue, forms the trajectory of these camera models and realizes Land’s dream of a camera system that produces fully instantaneous images. It is a single lens reflex camera and as such it offers much higher quality and control.

Instant cameras today may have been largely replaced by digital technology. However, the distinctive aesthetic and physicality of the process of photographing in this way has been resurrected in recent years. Companies such as Polaroid, Fuji and Leica offer modern incarnations of instant cameras and related photographic materials.

A new approach

There are many ways in which instant cameras can improve the shooting experience. Perhaps the most obvious impact of modern photography through them is practical knowledge.

Since their invention, instant cameras have provided an interesting alternative to standard photographic practice.

Andy Warhol made extensive use of such cameras, as did Luigi Ghirri, the pioneer of color photography. Using both familiar and unique photographic techniques, these photographers (and many others) pushed the boundaries of what was considered the accepted approach to taking pictures.

Much of today’s photography is created and distributed digitally. But stepping back from the norm to understand what’s in and out of working with instant cameras opens up new perspectives and challenges. And this is about expanding artistic experience and opening up creative possibilities.

The benefits of a new photographic experience are not exclusive to these cameras. However, the process, particular associations, and distinctive aesthetic of photographing with such a camera can contribute significantly to the many layers of visual language that the photographer draws upon in this field.

Process

Film can be expensive. This means getting the most out of every shot. Although the price can be a disadvantage when using these cameras, maximizing the success of each shot contributes to a more effective photographic practice overall.

By measuring exposure with a limited number of exposures, instant cameras slow down the photographic process, prompting the photographer to carefully and consciously consider creative and technical aspects before pressing the shutter button.

Although photography with such a camera often deviates from the technical standards of digital and film photography, the “slow” approach to the process inevitably translates into other aspects of the photographer’s practice, honing visual awareness and technical skills.

Maximum control over the camera itself can have its focus, but you still need to perform other functions correctly. You should be able to hold the camera still while pressing the shutter button.

Pre-rendering

An early proponent of instant camera technology, Ansel Adams, argued that pre-rendering is a critical component for producing quality images. As we said, flash camera film isn’t cheap, but pre-rendering is a valuable way to minimize bad shots.

Pre-rendering involves the mental unraveling of the many components that go into the process of photography before it is taken.

The risk of losing expensive film makes the need for pre-imaging especially significant. The more attention paid to the pre-exposure of the image, the greater the chance of success.

Instant photography was designed for fun, so it’s no surprise that simple, unique cameras help combat creative fatigue.

These cameras generally have fewer built-in settings than their digital counterparts. This simplicity can encourage creativity in composition and choice of main subject.

In addition, the unique aesthetic of instant photography is seen as a marker of a distinctive and whimsical artistic process, so some errors that can ruin a digital image are perfectly acceptable in instant camera photography. This easing of technical constraints means that such cameras can help recharge photographers’ creative batteries.

You can also use the white background around a Polaroid photo to create great negative spaces. And you will find that many polaroid cameras have their own unique characteristics.

Conclusion

With their unique aesthetic and limited film capacity, instant cameras provide an attractive alternative to mainstream photography, and perhaps also a touch of nostalgia or vintage.

However, this is obviously not the type of camera that is suitable for beginner photographers if they are going to practice exclusively with it. It is better to use a digital or conventional film camera at this stage.

How to choose the right instant camera for you

In this article, you’ll learn how to choose an instant camera that produces simple yet incredibly original photos. Reading time – 4 minutes.

Contents

  • For unleashing creativity
  • For photography with sound
  • For capturing warm moments
  • With stylish design
  • New with collage function
  • Photography tips
  • Should I shake my picture?
  • Conclusion

SHOP

Instant cameras bring true photography magic to life: with just one press of the shutter button, you can capture the world around you and see the result in a photo in minutes. Yes, you will not get such bright and clear pictures as with digital cameras, but each of them will become a unique work of art that can not only be posted on Instagram, but also given to someone as a souvenir.

For unleashing creativity

Camera Fujifilm Instax SQ6 Pearl White BUY

Focal length, mm 65.75
Lens aperture 1:12.6
Sensitivity, ISO 800
Exposure Automatic
Frame format, mm 62×62
Auto-timer, sec 10
Weight, g 393

The Instax Square SQ6 is rightfully considered the best high-quality instant photo camera that even a beginner can do – just take it out of the box and turn on the automatic mode. The improved SQ6 lens and extensive settings for exposure and multiple exposure modes allow those who prefer to do more than just focus and press a button to unleash their creativity.

Retro shots in vintage style are especially atmospheric with this camera. Please note that photos will be slightly larger than the Instax Minis. Instax film, which is essential for printing your photos, produces a wider range of tones, which means your photos will be noticeably brighter and brighter in the end. The Fujifilm Instax SQ6 is powered by the included two CR2/DL CR2 lithium batteries, has a wide choice of body colors, as well as selfie, double exposure, macro, auto and landscape modes.

For photos with sound

Camera Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay Blush Gold BUY

Focal length, mm 28
Diaphragm f/2.0
Sensitivity, ISO 100-1600
Exposure compensation, EV -2.0 to +2.0
Frame format, mm 62×46
Auto-timer, sec 2 and 10
Weight, g 255

Mini LiPlay is a great hybrid of digital camera and instant camera. In addition to everything for which we love analog cameras so much, this model has a small modern LCD screen. With it, you can choose which images to print on Instax Mini film, which will significantly reduce the number of “defective” frames.

The dedicated Instax Mini LiPlay app lets you reprint your favorite images directly from your smartphone gallery, customize camera shortcuts, and take portrait and remote landscape shots. The built-in memory can store up to 45 images, and an additional microSD slot allows not only expanding it, but also conveniently transferring files from the camera directly to a computer, and therefore to any social networks. Mini LiPlay stands out for its compact size, which allows you to always carry it with you in your bag or even in your coat pocket.

But the main advantage of this model is the ability to add a sound, frame or filter to a photo using a QR code, which can then be easily scanned and played back.

For capturing warm moments

Camera Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Purple BUY

Focal length, mm 60
Lens aperture 1:12. 7
Exposure Manual shift
Frame format, mm 62×46
Weight, g 307

The Instax Mini 9 is the budget camera choice for simple yet charming shots. The compact body, intuitive controls, but not so extensive built-in settings compared to, for example, Instax Square SQ6, still push this model into the background in terms of functionality. Such a camera is more suitable for creating warm, friendly credit card-sized photos that you can always carry with you in your wallet.

But still, it is not without a number of such advantages as: a selfie mirror, a durable body that can withstand small accidental drops and, of course, a bright, memorable design that everyone loves so much. The Instax Mini 9 is powered by two LR6/AA alkaline batteries that are included.

Stylish design

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant camera Brown BUY NOW

Focal length mm 60
Lens aperture 1:12. 7
Sensitivity, ISO 800
Exposure Automatic
Frame format, mm 62×46
Weight, g 296

The Fujifilm instax mini 90 is the only instant camera from Fujifilm that comes with a rechargeable battery. According to the manufacturer, its capacity is enough for ten packs of film. The retro-style camera supports manual exposure, double exposure, as well as the ability to turn off the built-in flash if the pictures are too bright.

The shutter-release button above the lens doubles as a small selfie mirror. Compared to other, more affordable models of instant cameras, instax mini 90 stands out with the presence of an LCD display on the rear panel and a stylish faux leather finish on the body.

New with collage function

Camera Fujifilm Instax Mini SQ20 Beige BUY

Matrix size, mm 23. 4
Diaphragm f/2.4
Sensitivity, ISO 100-1600
Exposure Multimeter
Frame format, mm 62×62
Optical zoom 4.0x
Weight, g 390

The Fujifilm Instax Mini SQ20 is a new line of Instax Mini cameras that not only allow you to view and edit your photos on the LCD monitor, but also play back videos up to 15 seconds long taken in Motion mode. Frame-by-frame video scrolling allows you to select for printing only the most successful moments of shooting. But a completely new feature that this model brought to us deserves special attention – the creation of original photo collages from four frames at once. Now, not a single fan of instant cameras and atmospheric photos will remain indifferent, dreaming of becoming the happy owner of this novelty.

Photo Tips

  • Keep the main subject close to the center—photos taken with instant cameras differ in image quality from modern ones, so objects placed at the edges of the frame may come out fuzzy or distorted.
  • Use monochrome film and double exposure for awesome black and white photos.
  • Take photos in different places, with different things and people – compensate for the limited number of shots with their maximum diversity.
  • Avoid contrasts – try to shoot in soft light in places where there are not many shadows. Cloudy days are especially good for this.
  • And most importantly, don’t photograph subjects that are too small, as they are blurry, and be careful not to expose your own finger to the lens.

Do I need to shake the picture?

Vigorous shaking can destroy the chemicals in the film that form the imprint of the image. Instant cameras are designed for the picture to develop on its own, so there is no need to even lightly wave the picture.

Conclusion

No matter which instant camera you choose, you’re guaranteed to enjoy the process of capturing your own photographs, as well as deepen your knowledge of framing, exposure and image editing in your favorite editors.