Best Instant Camera: Capturing the moment has always eluded the mankind. It is the best form of time traveling and revisiting those priceless memories. Thus the concept of the cameras came. Before the era of the digital cameras fell upon us, the most popular were the instant cameras. A device which is able to capture the moments and then quickly turns into a memento. With the start of this millennium, the instant cameras start losing their significance as the more advanced digital cameras lured away the photographers. But class never dies. Recently, the instant cameras have started regaining their once-lost fame and that made us to write a piece on the instant cameras and its various aspects.
In this article we have discussed on what is an instant camera, how is it works, what is its significance in the 21st century and most importantly the best instant camera available in the market along with their buying guide. So kindly scroll down the page.
What is an Instant Camera?
So before we dive into the list of the best instant cameras, we should tell you what is an instant camera? The instant camera is a unique type of camera that uses self-developing film to produce a chemically developed print instantly after clicking the snap. The term 'instant' got associated with these types of cameras as you get the developed print shortly after taking the picture. If we want to dig in the history of the inception of the instant cameras, we have to time travel to the year 1923, when Samuel Shlafrock invented the first instant camera or rather a device which came with the camera and portable wet darkroom in a single compartment.
In the year 1947, the first instant film was being unveiled by AFGA in the New York City. A year later, the American inventor Edwin Land first discovered the commercially viable instant cameras and his first commercial instant camera was the model 95 Land Camera. Later Edwin Land also formed the company Polaroid which was the pathfinder of the modern day instant cameras and Polaroid enjoyed a monopoly in this genre. Later Kodak and Fuji both tried their hands in the instant cameras but obviously faced some legal issues.
After few years of the invention, instant cameras became hugely popular due to the sole fact that unlike the other Analog cameras, users do not have to wait for the films to get developed and get the pictures instantly. But with the arrival of the digital cameras during the late '90s and early 2000s, instant cameras lost their fame and popularity. As a result, Polaroid had to stop the production of the instant films and the cameras. But one can not simply ignore the charm, nostalgia and the retro look of the instant cameras. Plus, with time instant cameras also got modernized and adopted some features of the digital cameras. Now, the modern-day instant cameras allow the users to edit before printing, let the users to add some effects, and you can attach the instant cameras with your smartphones too. Brands like Fujifilm, Lecia, Lomo-they are still manufacturing instant cameras, and despite the huge setback, instant cameras are slowly regaining the ground and the popularity they have lost once.
Why and Who Should Use the Instant Cameras?
Now, the question appears in the era of the digital cameras, why would someone use the instant cameras? To get the answer you ask yourself why black and white photography is still so much popular? The instant cameras carry an inimitable retro style with them. The images developed by the instant camera film is completely different from the 35mm cameras or the digital cameras. It has a fuzzy, retro, old-school look and with the white surrounding block, the image itself replicates a photo frame. Moreover, the nostalgia attached to the instant cameras are simply irreplaceable. That unique sound of the developing of the film, the charming smell, and anxiously waiting for the photo development to be completed, no DSLR, how much expensive it is, can present you these thrills and excitement.
The instant cameras also increase privacy. Apart from the image you click, no other evidence remain if you use an instant camera. But the digital cameras always leave behind a copy as well as the film cameras. If you have a knack of scarpbooking, then instant cameras could be proved as your greatest companion. The images processed by the instant cameras are ideal to patch on your scrapbook. For the professional photographers, you can use an instant camera for test shots. Finally, photography with the instant cameras demands talents and a sharp eye. You can not edit the image later with software. So using an instant camera will not only enhance your skills but also will make you stand out from the crowd. So if you use an instant camera you will easily get spotted in a party and maybe you will have the chance to start a conversation with someone who has also interests in instant photography.
Types of Instant Camera
Before we start discussing on various types of instant cameras and the buying we should explain you the working mechanism of the instant cameras. Like all the analog cameras, the most important ingredient of the instant cameras is the instant films. These instant films slightly differ from the traditional camera film roles and usually come in a package, called as the instant film packs.
This film packs consist of a negative to capture the image, all the essential substrates, and chemical developers and the paper needed to print the finished product. So, as soon as you hit the shutter and the camera captured the moment, the development process begins with the help of the chemical substrates, and after a couple of minutes, the white sheet turns into a colored photograph. Generally, all the film packs come in bundles of ten exposures. The countdown window placed in the camera keep a tab of your shots and remind the users how many shots they are left with. When the count reaches to its limit, the users need to change the film pack and have to use a new one.
The classification of the instant cameras depends on the film pack we were talking about. The first generation Polaroid cameras used to come with the instant roll film. The roll film had two rolls and was available in three different sizes. The second gen Polaroid cameras initially used the rectangular shaped 100 series 'pack film', and then later, moved on to the square shaped 80 series 'pack film'. The third generation and by far the most popular Polaroid cameras like SX-70 used a square shaped 'integral film' which contained the negative, developer, fixer. The new age instant cameras replicate this concept with some modernized improvements.
Instant Camera Buying Guide
So before you set your mind on to buy the best instant cameras available in the market, you should check some metrics which these cameras possess or not. Well, the buying guide of an Instant camera is almost similar to the buying guide to a film camera or Analog camera. The modern-day instant cameras come with almost identical attributes, as only a few number of companies manufacture the instant cameras these days. The difference mostly lies in the film format, low light sensitivity, flash, size of the lens, focusing mode, extra features offered and in price. So, before buying the top instant cameras, you should check these metrics thoroughly.
Film Formats: While selecting a digital camera, we look for the resolutions or the megapixel count the camera is offering. The more the megapixel is, the better will be the quality of the picture. But the instant cameras are different. To know which instant camera is best you should check the maximum size of the image the camera is able to develop. As the beauty of the instant cameras lies in the product which is coming out instantly, the size of the image matters the most. Usually, the new-age instant cameras come with 3.4 x 2.1'' file size formats. So check this aspect before buying your desired instant camera.
Low Light Sensitivity: The second most important criteria you should check is the low light sensitivity the camera is offering to the users. In fact, not just for the instant cameras, this is a crucial aspect of every type of cameras. Remember, the more the low light sensitivity is, the better the camera will able to capture the shots. Today, the low light sensitivity in the instant cameras from ISO 100 to ISO 1000. So try to get the best low-light sensitivity in your camera.
Types of Flash: Flash is another significant aspect of the instant cameras or any camera as the matter of fact. We will not suggest you to buy an instant camera which does not feature a flash. Most of the instant cameras come with the built-in flashes, some features automatic flash. Choose the one according to your preferences.
Size of the Lens: It is another important metric you should check before buying an instant camera. Majority of the instant cameras come with a 60mm lens. But if you want to fit more objects in your frame, then go for the wide-angle lenses. Instant cameras like Fujifilm INSTAX Wide 300 or Impossible Project I-1, they come with bigger lenses so that you can include more people in the picture or can snap beautiful landscapes.
Focusing Modes: As you can't control the focus of the instant cameras manually, the focusing modes play a huge role in these types of cameras. Normally a standard instant camera features 2 or 3 focusing modes like Normal, Landscape and Macro. But some expensive instant cameras like Impossible Project I-1, they feature 5 or 6 focusing modes. So the more focusing modes your instant camera offers to you, the more control you will have over your device.
Extra Features: As we have mentioned above, all the instant cameras possess almost similar features. But the extra features of each camera differentiate from one to another. The more functionalities it will offer to the users, the easier it will be to use. So check out whether your instant camera comes with self-timer or not, does it support B&W or Indoor photography, is it compatible with your smartphone, how many shooting modes does the camera offer? These little but important aspects make the difference between an average instant camera with a stand apart one.
Price: This completely depends on you and your budget. Usually, the price of an instant camera varies from $75 to $150. So if you are an amateur photographer and going to buy the instant camera just for your hobby, then we will suggest you not to invest too much money on it. But if you are thinking to take the instant photography as a profession, then go for the more expensive, high-end instant cameras. Again, it entirely depends on you and your need.
The List of the Best Instant Cameras
Well, friends, we have explained what is an instant camera, its types, its usage and things to consider before buying one. Now it is time to review the products. Although instant cameras are not available in huge numbers like the lore popular DSLRs, you will get some good products on Amazon. While reviewing each product we have kept all the metrics we have mentioned above in our mind and then prepared our list of Best instant cameras of 2017. So have a look.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
The first product which has topped our list and awarded the 'best instant camera 2016' is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera. A product of Fujifilm's famous 'Instax' series of instant cameras, it is by far the best camera we have reviewed and one of the fan's favorites on Amazon. This instant camera sports a sophisticated look, and the bright, eye-catching exterior has presented a premium look to the device.
Speaking of the specs, the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic comes with a front-facing selfie mirror, brightness control, a tripod socket, a retractable 60mm lens, Automatic Exposure Control, and a handful of shooting modes like Kids Mode, Party Mode, Double Exposure Mode, Macro Mode Landscape Mode and Bulb Exposure Mode. If you press the shutter twice, it activates the Double Exposure Mode and produces two images in one film sheet. The Kids Mode is used to snap kids, pets and other fast moving objectives with the help of the fast shutter speed. On the other hand, the Bulb Mode can capture light trail as the shutter remains open while the shutter button is depressed. Macro Mode is capable of taking short distance photographs as close as 30-60cm.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic also features a rechargeable battery and a battery charger, so you don't have to purchase the battery over time and time again. Dimension wise this instant camera measures at 113.4 x 91.9 x 57.2mm and weighs only 10.44oz.
Portable, easily slips into your pocket.
Various shooting modes.
Takes sharp and colorful images.
Black and White mode not available.
No zoom lens available.
Produces smaller pictures than average instant cameras.
With various shooting modes, sharp & beautiful pictures and retro design, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is the best product you can get with a moderate budget.
Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera
The second product in our best instant camera list, the Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Camera is a unique instant camera which comes with perfect the blend of the modern facilities and retro performance. As the name suggests, this is a digital instant camera, and that is the best part of this device. Unlike the traditional instant cameras which comes with the ink and toner-based instant films, the Polaroid Snap Touch features a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD for previewing photos. Moreover, this instant camera sports a built-in printer which prints the photographs on an adhesive-backed, premium photo paper.
Not only that, this instant camera has other modern-day features too. It is compatible with your Android and iOS smartphones through Bluetooth and has a microSD card slot so that you can save the pictures on your PC and can share on the social media later on. The 13-megapixel sensor of the camera can take beautiful, sharp pictures and is capable of recording Full HD 1080p video.
The Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Camera also features Burst Mode and Photobooth Mode, and you can edit and add filters to your photos afterward. Moreover, a built-in self-timer and a selfie mirror are also present in the camera. The camera is able to click photos of 2 x 3 inches size and the ZINK paper is resistant to tears, smudges, and water. This camera is available in various different colors and fits easily into your pocket.
13-megapixel sensor, touch screen LCD.
Compatible with smartphones.
Supports microSD card.
Available in different colors.
Not many picture modes available.
If you want to but an instant camera with the features of DSLRs, Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Camera is your best option.
Leica Sofort Instant Film Camera
Our next product, Leica Sofort Instant Film Camera is another high-range instant camera with unparalleled features and premium look. Leica has always been famous for producing top-notch cameras and this instant camera is not an exception too. Like all the products of this famous company, the Sofort instant film camera also sports a sleek and stylish design which gives an aristocrat look to the camera. Although this camera is small in size, it is compact, travel-friendly and most importantly offers a plethora of features.
Speaking of the features, the Leica Sofort Instant Film Camera flaunts Self-timer, Macro, Bulb, Sport & Action, Selfie, Double Exposure, Party & People and various other modes with the top of the fully automatic operation. Users can also turn on and off the flash manually. There is a small direct-vision viewfinder available in the camera. This instant camera supports the regular Fujifilm Instax mini film packs and has its own sets of film packs too. The Leica Sofort Instant Film Camera is available in white, orange and mint colors, comes with a rechargeable battery and a charger. Dimension-wise it measures at 124 x 94 x 58mm and weighs 10.75oz.
Plenty of shooting modes available.
Accepts Instax Mini instant film packs.
If you want to look your instant camera a premium device coupled with multiple shooting modes, this will be your dream product.
Impossible Project I-1
The list of the best instant cameras remains incomplete without mentioning our next product the Impossible Project I-1. If you are seeking for an instant camera which depicts the original design of the Polaroid cameras and offers over the top modern day features then this instant camera is perfect for you.
The unique design of this device will certainly make you nostalgic as it sports the exact same hopped-up box-type design as the early days Polaroid cameras like SX-70 used to flaunt. Another interesting feature of this instant camera is its flash. The Impossible Project I-1 instant camera features a ring flash of LEDs which let the users to take up-close portraits even in the low-lights as well as doubles the battery charge indicator. The rudimentary autofocus system of the camera automatically selects different lenses for different types of shots.
Moreover, you can connect the camera to your smartphone through Bluetooth connectivity and then can control almost everything from shutter speed to aperture via the app installed on your phone. The app also provides the much-needed creative freedom and lets the users to experiment with long exposures and double exposures. This instant camera is backed by a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, measures 5.7 x 4.3 x 4.3’’ and weighs 15.5 oz.
Sports the original Polaroid camera design.
Supports Impossible I-type and Polaroid 600-type instant film.
Takes a long time to get fully charged.
If you want to take the instant photography as a profession and want your camera to flaunt the retro look, then go for the Impossible Project I-1 with your eyes closed.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
Our next entry is another popular choice on the Amazon and another product of the Fujifilm's famous 'Instax' series, the Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera. As the name depicts, this instant camera supports wide film format and the product or the picture you get after processing is wider, larger, and bigger in size than the product of the normal instant cameras. Apart from the pictures, the Instax Wide 300 is also bigger in size than the usual instant cameras and comes with a retractable lens, a lens ring dial for adjusting focus settings, a close-up lens adapter, a mirror for taking self-portraits, and a tripod socket.
There are three exposure modes-normal, light and dark available in this instant camera, along with a viewfinder and an LCD screen. The ISO 800 offers sharp grain, vibrant colors, and extended temperature range. Dimension wise the Instax Wide 300 measures 7.4 x 3.8 x 4.8 ‘’ and weighs 21.6 oz.
Able to capture bigger and wider photos.Ring Flash.
Bulky in size, not easily slips into your pocket.
The viewfinder is not placed in the right area.
If you want larger and wider picture at a low price, the Instax Wide 300 should be your first choice.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8
Moving on to the next product in our list of the best instant film camera, Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 is another premium device which has appealed the shutterbugs with its amazing features. If you compare the price of the camera and the features you are getting against it, this could be proved as one of your best buys. The Instax Mini 8 comes with an attractive exterior design, small and compact size, user-friendly operations and thus it is one of the most popular instant cameras available on Amazon.
On the specifications front, this device has a brilliant automatic exposure management and a great viewfinder. The new High-Key mode included in the camera clicks brighter pictures with a soft look, which is ideal for the portrait photographs. Moreover, the Macro Lens adapter takes close-ups up to 35cm to 50cm. The Instax Mini 8 also features a selfie mirror. Dimension wise this camera measures 116 x 118.3 x 68.2mm and weighs just 10.82oz. The camera is available in different trendy and fashionable colors.
Small in size, easy to carry.
Available in different colors.
Easy to operate.
Does not feature too many shooting modes.
No rechargeable battery.
If you are eyeing for a simple, easy-to-use, point and shoot instant camera then go for the Instax Mini 8.
Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera
Yet again, another Polaroid instant camera. the Polaroid PIC-300, has made cut in our list of the best instant camera 2017. This slim, lightweight yet trendy instant camera is the modernized version of the old Polaroid instant cameras and offers the same unparalleled performances. The PIC-300 comes with four scene settings for different light conditions. And to select one of those scene settings, like 'indoor' or 'fine', you have to press the top dial. Another interesting aspect of this brilliant instant camera is you don't have to worry about the battery backups, as the camera draws all the power from the film cartridge itself.
As soon as you pull out the lens cap and turns on the camera, the shutter button gets activated. The quality of the image captured by this instant camera is amazing and has Polaroid's trademark slightly faded colors and grains. The built-in automatic flash featured in the camera is ideal for low-light photography and the energy-saving mode turns off the camera's lamp after 5 minute's of inactivity to save the battery power. Available in different stylish colors, the PIC-300 measures 4.7 x 4.8 x 2.8 ‘’ and weighs 11.3 oz.
Slim, lightweight, easy to carry.
Four different scene settings
Energy saving mode.
Available in different colors.
The film is expensive.
Polaroid PIC-300 is one of the best instant cameras we have tested and with an affordable price tag, it should be one of your first priorities.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
Fujifilm's Instax series consists of some great instant cameras and our next product Instax Mini 70 is the another prime example of that. So if you are a beginner in instant photography and looking to buy your first instant camera at a cheap price, then Instax Mini 70 would be the perfect choice for you. LIke the Instax Mini 90, Mini 70 also comes with the advanced and modernized features, and top of it, it is slim & compact in size and rated as one of the smallest instant cameras available in the market.
Speaking of the specifications, the Instax Mini 70 comes with a 60mm lens and a selfie mirror. Apart from that, this instant camera also sports various shooting modes including macro & landscape and offers a self-timer. All the other aspects like exposure, focusing and flash-they are all fully automatic. This device also has a direct vision viewfinder for the aid of the users. With the small, portable size and awesome image quality, it has the ability to turn all the eyes towards you in a party.
Small and slim design.
Different shooting modes.
Comes with self-timer and selfie mirror.
Can not control the flash manually.
No double exposure mode.
Like all the Instax series instant cameras, this one is also famous for its features, size and fashionable exterior.
LomoInstant Automat South Beach Instant Camera
Lomography is another famous company renowned for making superlative instant cameras, and among all the products of the company the LomoInstant Automat South Beach edition is our most favorite. It is one of the most stylish and good looking instant cameras we have tested, and apart from the design and the aesthetic, the features and the accessories come with the device has also impressed us.
The Automat South Beach edition is easy to use, the power switch placed around the lens barrel also controls the three-position zone focusing. This instant camera comes with a small viewfinder and automatic exposure. But what has made this instant camera a class apart is the accessories offered with the camera. The accessories include a close-up lens, a fisheye lens, a wide-angle lens, a lens cap which also works as a wireless shutter release and a Splitzer. Most of the people think that LomoInstant Automat South Beach is an interchangeable-lens camera. Not, it is not. You only can add the accessories on the front.
Comes with a bundle of accessories.
Easy to use.
If you want your instant camera to look good and comes with loads of accessories, then LomoInstant Automat South Beach is tailor-made for you.
Impossible Project Polaroid SX-70
Back in the glory days, the Polaroid SX-70 was by far the most popular instant camera available in the market. But with the increasing popularity of the digital cameras, Polaroid has to stop the manufacturing of the instant cameras in the late 20th century. Then Netherlands-based Impossible Project took over the company and refurbished the iconic Polaroid SX-70 model. Thus we decided to pay our tribute to this legendary instant camera and has concluded our list of the best instant camera with this model.
The Impossible Project Polaroid SX-70 instant camera is designed for those who take instant photography seriously and want to make a career in this field. It is an SLR camera with a glass lens which offers incredible depth and control while shooting. The top of the camera gets opened on a set of bellows. The lens viewing and focusing can be made through a pop-up eyepiece placed on the back of the viewfinder and a split-image rangefinder. With the dials or wheels featured in the camera, users can adjust the focus and the exposure. The lens included in the camera is a high-quality 116mm f/8 lens and produces exceptionally clearer photos than most of the contemporary instant cameras. The auto exposure system automatically gets adjusted according to the dark or bright locations.
The photos printed by the Polaroid SX-70 is way larger than the other instant cameras and that is why this camera got so much accolade back in that era. Although this camera takes almost half-an-hour to ready the picture and the film pack is expensive too. Aesthetically, it's a luxurious yet small device which you can fold into a flat piece and can put inside your pocket. High-quality leather and heavy chrome plating protect the camera from the outside.
Iconic look with a vintage feeling.
Easy to use.
Prints high quality large sized photographs.
You can not compare Polaroid SX-70 with other contemporary instant cameras simply because this instant camera belongs to its own league. So if you have a passion for instant photography and if you like vintage collections, this is a pure gem for you.
Instant photography is a unique hobby and good instant cameras are very hard to find these days. The digital cameras had pushed the instant cameras on the verge of getting extinct. And from there, they made an impeccable comeback, literally raised from the ashes. So when we made the list of the best instant camera, we kept few things in our mind- that the product should come with the modern aspects of the digital cameras as well as should hold the charm, beauty and the appeal of the instant cameras.
Each product in our list is unique in its own way and caters the need of all types of users. So check all products, read the reviews, make an in-depth research on the internet and then only make your mind up to buy the one you find best according to your needs and budget. Remeber, an instant camera is not a smartphone that you will buy one and will discard it after two years. It is a treasure, an asset which will live long with you till your last breath and maybe after that, with each generation.