A film camera is fun and all, but who wants to wait for film to get developed? *YAWN*
While most of us have a smartphone glued to our hands for random shots on the go, more and more people are returning to a style of photography our parents and grandparents grew up with: instant cameras.
We are the instant gratification generation, after all.
Yes, instant cameras are totally making a resurgence and if you don’t believe us, just stop by your local Urban Outfitters and we guarantee you’ll see a boatload of ’em.
Some are just as classic looking as the ones from yesteryear, but many have totally modern twists. You can find an instant camera in practically any color, with an onboard mirror for taking selfies, and numerous photo filters to enhance the vibe of the print. Plus we are here to tell you: the instant camera market is about more than just Polaroid cameras. Although those are still a major player in the game.
And here’s a quick tip: Don’t forget to stock up on film! Instead of just printing on plain old, white shiny rectangles you can print on rainbow colored film or even emoji plastered film.
We’ve rounded up some of the best instant cameras you can buy based on what internet shoppers have to say about them.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is an Amazon’s Choice and PC Mag Editor’s Choice product, and based on customer reviews, practically everyone else’s choice too.
The Instax Mini 9 comes in Cobalt Blue, Flamenco Pink, Ice Blue, Lime Green, and Smokey White. For the perfect mirror selfie, you can check your framing with the mirror next to the lens. The Instax Mini 9 determines the best brightness setting for you and lets you know by lighting the corresponding lamp. All you have to do is turn the brightness adjustment dial to whatever position the camera lights up, press the shutter, and the flash will always fire.
Amazon reviewer Mariana writes:
This camera was a hit at my sister’s engagement party. Instead of a photo booth with silly props, I brought back the 90s with this FujiFilm and bought these clothes pin string lights that Amazon also sells. People took pictures and hung/clipped them to the lighted string which made for a great social activity at an event where you have all sorts of people from your life who don’t know each other gather in one place 🙂 just wish this had a memory card, but I won’t take a star away for something it never said it had.
When you think of instant cameras, you think of Polaroid. The Cambridge-based company is basically synonymous with the instant photo trend. Though they declared bankruptcy in 2001 and again in 2008, after a 2017 acquisition and a boost from the Impossible Project, this heritage brand is back on solid ground.
This instant camera by Polaroid comes in four color options and produces business card-sized photos. The film will count down like a disposable camera, so you know how many shots you have left before you need to change the film. Polaroid PoGo Zink Photo Paper produces full-color glossy prints without using ink. The paper has built-in tiny dye crystals that are activated by heat pulses within the camera. This technology ensures that each photo print is dry to touch and water resistant the moment it slides out. The cool thing is, you can take photos in every light setting so bring it with you to your next wedding, anniversary, birthday, or other big event and you’ll be the life of the party.
Amazon reviewer Mariam writes:
We used this at our engagement and let guests take pictures of themselves and pin it on a board that we had set up. There was even a little space on the bottom of the picture for our guests to write a cute short message before pinning up their picture. This is not the Polaroid from back in the day that cranked out a huge square picture. These pictures are small. Think business card size. But still adorable and great for events and vintage-themed weddings. The guests LOVED it and my cousin took the idea and bought one for her wedding as well.
This camera was inspired by the 1977 version, giving us all sorts of feels and vintage vibes.
The OneStep 2 can actually deliver a photo in just one step. Just press the shutter, and every time you do, internal chemical reactions ignite to give you a completely one-of-a-kind photo. It only has a few buttons so it should be easy enough to operate at any age. This instant camera also has a built-in strobe flash and high-quality lens to help make photos crisp and bright. It has an overall 5-star rating at Bloomingdales and a 4.4 star rating on Best Buy.
Best Buy reviewer JorgeWhite writes:
I picked this camera up the first day it was available and haven’t been able to put it down since! The design is amazing and very reminiscent of the first OneStep camera from the 70s. The pictures are bright, clear and amazing. I’m hooked!
If the bright colors of the Instax Mini 9 aren’t really your steeze, check out this classic style option by Fujifilm. Like the Mini 9, it detects the brightness of the area you want to photograph and automatically adjusts the amount of flash and shutter speed accordingly. The required lithium battery comes included, which is great.
The Neo Classic has double exposure mode, with which two images are produced on a single sheet by pressing the shutter twice. There’s a Bulb mode that keeps the shutter open while the shutter button is held for up to 10 seconds. This mode can give you the cool light trail effect if that’s what you’re in search of. Use the Macro mode for really up-close shots, and you can turn to the Kids mode to capture your little rascals as they refuse to sit still.
One of the best parts of the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic though is how it looks on the outside. This is one sexy camera.
The Mini 90 has 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with customers calling it “fun” and “awesome.”
Amazon reviewer Nicole writes:
Really enjoy using this camera. I’ve had this camera for 4 months now but didn’t use it much during the winter (because of the film’s temperature range – winter too cold!). I recently went on a trip to Seattle and tested out the various modes. The colors come out pretty great and there’s wonderful clarity on landscape mode. I love the somewhat grungy/vintage look that prints without using any of the modes as well. Super fun and great camera!
P.S. When they say don’t point the camera at the sun, really don’t. I caught the sun in one of my photos and it was a beautiful black circle in the sky. Haha.
If you have way too many people in your squad to fit them in one Instax Mini frame, take a ride on the wide side and try this wide angle instant camera by Lomography.
The Lomo’Instant works in a snap if you want it to, or you can manually program the exposure settings based on the photo you want to achieve. If you want wide and bright landscape photos, you can take those. If you want to take an oh-so-close photo of your #MCM or #WCW, there are lens attachments to help you take those too. This wide camera comes with some pretty rad freebies too. Add some artistic flair to your photos with four brightly colored flash filters then store them in the DIY photo album, while supplies last.
PC Mag calls the camera “Excellent” and we’re fans here at Mashable too.
Here’s what Raymond Wong had to say in his review of the Lomo’Instant:
Lomography’s Lomo’Instant isn’t the prettiest instant camera around, but with support for lenses, colored filters and manual settings, it’s one of most fun to shoot with, especially if you’re into taking artsy photos.
The Lomo’Instant isn’t the only instant camera that produces photos large enough for the whole family to fit in. This one by Fuji Film does too, spitting out pictures that measure 62 mm × 99 mm.
It has quite a few functions to enjoy, like automatic flash for low-light shooting, fill-in flash for backlighting, and exposure compensation. Some 96% of customers on Best Buy say they would recommend this product to a friend (190 out of 199), and we think that’s pretty damn trustworthy. The WIDE film doesn’t come included with the camera, but you can buy film here.
Though priced at $129.99, we’ve seen this on sale via Amazon for $91.55.
Best Buy reviewer Potter1 writes:
I love this camera! It’s fun to use and every picture somehow comes out looking nostalgic, like a special memory. I wish the film was less expensive but it’s still worth it. I don’t use this camera for everyday shots only because of the cost of the film. Instead I use it for special shots or special occasions.
An ordinary camera is about the pictures. An extraordinary camera is about the experience, the people, *and* the pictures.
The InstantFlex by Mint is meant to be a timeless camera you can still use years down the line, maybe even pass down to your children.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this camera is that it has two lenses, one to take the photo and the other to show you what you’re looking at through the view finder that sits on top. Shoot indoors with the built-in flash, or you turn the flash off when you head outside. Have some fun with the shallow depth of field and add a magic touch with four different lenses and filters.
The top-down viewfinder features a bright, anti-glare coated glass pane. It may take some practice in terms of how to frame photos, but this only adds to the experience. A gorgeous leather strap makes it easy to carry around and, let’s be honest, show it off. Only three people have reviewed it on Amazon, but all of them have given it a 5-star rating.
Amazon reviewer Will writes:
I love love love this camera! The best thing about this camera is the aperture control and the excellent shallow depth of field, no other instant cameras can do this. This is not a point and shoot camera, it takes a bit of time to learn to use, but it is not difficult to use. Once you are used to it, the result is amazing!
German-based photography company Leica is a heritage brand that’s been helping people take pictures since the early 1900s. But just because they’ve been around for 100 years doesn’t mean they’re not hip and with it. Just the opposite, in fact.
The Leica Sofort Instant Film Camera is a snazzy, compact camera that will easily become your creative companion. It has a program for almost any occasion. There’s Macro mode for shooting up-close, Party and People mode for all your celebrations, and Selfie mode to capture you at your finest. There’s even a Sport and Action mode for some stellar action shots.
The camera looks like a perfect square, with a large, attractive lens. It’s available in orange, mint, and white color options.
Amazon reviewer ZD writes:
This is a Fujifilm Neo 90, from a feature-set/capability aspect. That being said, it looks SO much nicer than that camera. And it’s a “Leica”. I say it like that because, it’s the most affordable Leica you can buy… it doesn’t have Leica optics, or anything that makes a classic (or modern) Leica a LEICA. Regardless, if you’re a fan of aesthetics, and instax exposures, this might work out for you. But it is really, seriously, internally identical to the Fujifilm Neo 90. Works with mini instax film, Fuji or Leica made.
This tiny, ultra portable Polaroid camera now in its second generation has a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD viewfinder and a selfie mirror. The Polaroid Snap is a hybrid of sorts, storing photos and video on a micro SD card, while also allowing you to print pics onto the adhesive-backed photo paper that’s stored inside.
The camera is available in a variety of fun colors, including blue, pink, and red, and includes a rechargeable battery. There are three different color options built into the camera — black and white, color, and vintage sepia — but the camera is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing you to edit photos and add your own filters in the app.
Amazon reviewer K. Groh writes:
Last year’s Polaroid Snap was fun— a camera with a built-in printer. But Polaroid has stepped it up big time with a new model. I have the original Polaroid Snap and it is great. It’s fun with instant gratification and about right for the price. But Polaroid has taken everything missing in the lower price point version and added it AND MORE to this new model.
This camera is also squarish in shape, but what makes it unique is that it prints out retro looking square photos. Since it’s a hybrid, you get the best of both worlds. You get the control and composition of a regular digital camera with the enjoyability of instant photo prints.
PC Mag rated it “Good” saying that the lens covers a field of view similar to an iPhone camera, but just a tad bit tighter due to the square format.
One Amazon reviewer who bought it said, “If you love instant film you will seriously enjoy using this camera.” But one who didn’t think so highly of it said, “Cell phones take better photos, but nice square format!.” Overall, The Instax Square SQ10 is a something we haven’t seen before because of the shape of the photo output. Customers are pretty split giving it 3.6 out of 5 stars.
An unnamed Amazon reviewer writes:
I love this camera! I love the fact that the photos don’t come out washed out looking, which is the one thing that bothers me about instant photos. Since there are many options to adjust/balance a photo, you’re least likely to waste film. I also like the fact that you have the option to print instantaneously or print at a later time. I will say that the camera is a little heavy, but it feels slightly lighter than the Wide 300 camera. Lastly, the charging cord could be a little longer, but it’s not a deal breaker.
Okay so here’s the thing: You don’t have to have an instant camera to have an instant camera. Stick with us on this one. The Prynt Case connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth, allowing you to print photos directly from your smartphone via the case. (A version for Android is also on the way.)
A successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015 helped make this case a reality, when the founders raised more than $1 million. It’s now in production and we’re pretty pumped about it. The other thing that makes the Prynt Case so cool is that you can record a secret video that becomes embedded in the photo. Use the app and hover over the photo to unlock it and watch your pic essentially “move” via augmented reality. That’s some Harry Potter shit right there. No wonder we named it a Mashable Choice product.
Amazon reviewer R. Valle writes:
I love my new prynt case. I have taken 5 pictures so far, one with video. It is super easy to get going. Even I could put it together in a snap. You just have to make sure you download the prynt app on the phone or it will not work. You actually take the photos/videos out of the app. I don’t see why some people complain about the print quality. Mine look very nice and sharp, so does the video. I am looking forward to using this printer a lot in my classroom. Very happy with this product.