The best instant cameras

Tech, as with all things, eventually comes full circle. And so here we are, in 2017, talking about the best instant cameras – tech that reached its peak popularity in the 1970s before dropping off sharply.

Still, instant cameras are back for the Instagram generation, with a few different manufacturers offering their take on the format – you can even buy a modern Polaroid.

Still, it’s a confusing process picking a camera at first, with a mess of different manufacturers, cameras, formats, and films to pick from. We’ve done our best to break it down for you.

Remember that Black Friday 2017 is coming up fast, so take a look at our pick of the best Black Friday camera deals before you spend any money on any of these.

Instant camera buying advice

There are a few factors to consider when you’re trying to buy an instant camera. First up you need to think about how complex you want the camera to be. Some, such as the Polaroid OneStep 2, are simple point-and-shoot devices that don’t give you much control beyond turning the flash off or setting a timer.

Others get more intricate though, adding in functionality like long exposures, multiple exposures, different focus levels, customisable brightness, and more.

Lomography instant cameras even come with a standard lens thread, letting you attach a range of different lenses for even more flexibility.

All of these advanced features are nice to have, but you have to think about whether you’re the sort of photographer who’s really likely to use them. If you want to play around with multiple exposures or shoot photos in varied conditions then they might be worth it, but if you just want to take photos of your mates at parties, a simpler point-and-shoot will probably be plenty.

Digital hybrids

The next consideration is whether you want a full film camera or a digital hybrid like the Instax SQ10.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Digital hybrids let you export photos to other devices, and mean you can get the perfect photo before you hit print – saving you from wasting expensive film. They also often have digital effects and filters built-in.

The downside to that flexibility is that you lose some of the immediacy of a pure film camera. Part of the charm of using film is that you only get one chance – it saves you from fussy posing for the perfect shot. If you’re not going to commit to the old-fashioned appeal, why are you looking at instant cameras at all?

Plus, the quality you can expect from the digital photos you export is pretty low – nothing compared to what you could expect from the camera on a budget smartphone, let alone any of the best phone cameras around.

Film formats

The final major concern is film formats. The market is dominated by Fujifilm’s Instax brand, which currently produces three sizes of film: Mini (small and portrait), Wide (large and landscape), and Square (mid-sized and, well, square).

Each camera can only take one type of film, so make sure you know which size you prefer before you pick your camera. You should consider price too – the larger prints tend to cost more, so your choice will affect the long-term running cost of your camera too.

Some cameras from other manufacturers – such as Lomography and Leica – use Instax film. Leica also manufactures its own film, but Leica cameras can use Instax prints and vice versa.

The Polaroid OneStep 2 uses its own i-Type, which sticks close to the classic Polaroid prints – about the same size as Instax Wide, but square rather than rectangular.

Polaroid OneStep 2


Polaroid OneStep 2

Leica Sofort


Leica Sofort

Instax Wide 300


Instax Wide 300

Instax SQ10


Instax SQ10

Lomography Automat Glass Magellan


Lomography Automat Glass Magellan

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By | November 12th, 2017|Leaflet Printing|Comments Off on The best instant cameras

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