The 5 Best Instant Cameras on Earth Today

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The 5 Best Instant Cameras on Earth Today

Key Points

  • Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Instant Camera is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
  • Modern instant cameras have advanced features such as LED displays, micro-SD slots, and mobile app control.
  • Camera size, size of the film, type of film, and price are some factors to consider when choosing an instant camera.

Undoubtedly, smartphones have changed the way we take and share photos. However, they do not trigger as powerful nostalgia as printed pictures. A physical print makes intangible tangible, providing perfect memories we can cherish forever. Unlike smartphones, instant cameras can create surreal, imaginative photos and print them out in a flash, bringing back the excitement of sharing physical photographs with family and friends.

These cameras allow users to create tangible memories that digital photography cannot replicate. They are fun to use, easy to carry around, and perfect for any photography enthusiast longing for a physical print just moments after snapping a shot. Some of the options on the market today pack digital tech, allowing you to print photos directly from your smartphone.

Not only do these cameras provide immediate gratification, but they also produce better-quality photos than many cameras out there. Unfortunately, the wide range of competing brands makes finding the best model quite challenging for most camera buyers.

Lucky for you, we have evaluated some of the most creative and user-friendly instant cameras. Let’s explore the top picks!

#1 Best Overall: Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

Best Overall Instant Camera
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 Instant Camera
  • 40 photo sheets
  • Cleaning cloth
  • INSTAX app
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Automatic settings
  • Front mirror for selfies
  • 2 AA batteries
  • Blossom Pink
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12/02/2023 06:15 pm GMT

If you are a fan of nostalgic film photography, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 is for you. It offers a good balance between performance, speed, price, and style.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 will capture unique moments in a way that your phone camera cannot, plus it’s downright fun to use. The self-mode lets you capture excellent self-portraits, while the close-up mode takes stunning close-range photos. This camera comes with an optical viewfinder that helps frame distant shots while on the standard mode setting.

It also features an auto-flash control that will detect the levels of surrounding light and only flash when necessary. The marketed time for film development for this camera is 90 seconds. Its wallet-sized pictures measure about 1.8 by 2.4 inches and have accurate color rendition, though the contrast drops slightly for black-and-white shots.

The Mini 12 is ideal for budding photographers who, for budgetary reasons, cannot afford or have more expensive models. It is also a good choice for those new to instant photography but still want quality prints while learning the ropes.

The camera is all plastic, from the body to the lens, and is available in 5 different colors. It takes detailed travel snapshots, portraits, and selfies. However, it is not a good fit for those looking to capture more creative photos. It lacks artsy features like a double exposure. Also, it does not have a tripod socket.

It is affordable.Does not support double-exposure photography
It works with both colored and black and white Instax Mini Film.Lacks tripod socket
Has an impressive close-range focus 
Captures bright photos regardless of where you are 

Check out the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 on Amazon.

Best for Non-Film Prints: Kodak Step Touch

Best for Non-Film Prints
Kodak Step Touch
  • 13mP
  • 3.5 LCD touchscreen display
  • 1080p HD video
  • Editing Suite
  • Bluetooth
  • Zink Zero ink technology
  • White
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12/02/2023 06:15 pm GMT

The Kodak Step Touch is the best instant camera for non-film photo prints, using zero ink (Zink) technology to develop more cost-effective, high-quality photos.

It can print credit card-sized prints that are fully developed and adhesive-backed. These prints can be used as stickers.

The camera comes with a fixed-focus lens, 2×3 inch sticky-backed, waterproof, and smudge-proof photo paper. It also has a recessed paper tray at the back, which can hold up to 10 Kodak Zink photo papers. It offers Bluetooth connectivity and extensive editing options, allowing users to perfect their pics.

Not only does the Kodak Step Touch camera take pictures, but it also captures Full HD videos (1920 x 1080 resolution). It supports memory cards with up to 256GB capacity and lets you print from the camera roll or social media networks. The 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen allows you to edit your shot before printing or sharing it with your friends.

It is equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. When fully charged, the battery can print up to 40 photos.

Prints dry-to-touch photosPrints look like colored photocopies
Has LCD screen for reviewing images before printingThe battery can only print 40 photos per charge.
Photos prints are adhesive-backed and can be used as stickers 
It is compact and lightweight. 
Supports microSD cards 

Check out the Kodak Step Touch on Amazon.

Best for Flexibility: Nons SL660

Best for Flexibility
NONS SL660 Instant Camera
  • Automatic exposure control
  • 1/250 seconds min shutter speed
  • 999 seconds max shutter speed
  • Interchangeable lens
  • EF mount
  • SLR analogue
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12/02/2023 06:15 pm GMT

The Nons SL660 offers great flexibility with its interchangeable lenses, adaptable EF mount, and compatibility with a wide range of pre-mirrorless lens mounts.

It can also use vintage lenses of Nikon F, Micro Four Thirds, CY, Pentax K, and Olympus lenses, among other medium format mounts. However, its flexibility is limited as the enlarging optics only work best for lenses between 28-58mm focal length.

The SL660 is the only Nons camera that uses Fujifilm’s Instax square film. It features an optical viewfinder, a built-in light meter, and an OLED display. It uses aperture and shutter control techniques to control the amount of light passing through the lens.

The multiple exposure feature allows for creativity and experimentation. The wooden handgrip provided with the camera is comfortable. The film won’t eject until you hold down the eject button.

Nons’s SL660 is bulky, heavy, and a little more complicated to use than most instant cameras. Thus, it is suitable for seasoned photographers.

Has a durable metal builtIt is pricey.
Compatible with different mounts and lensesIt requires an ND filter for daylight photography.
It is possible to change lenses without ruining the film.Viewfinder does not capture the whole frame
Uses the readily available Instax Square film 

Check out the Nons SL660 on Amazon.

Best for Lens Filters: Polaroid Now+

Best for Lens Filters
Polaroid Now+ White (9062) Instant Film Camera
  • Bluetooth connected
  • I-Type
  • Bonus lens filter set
  • Manual and automatic exposure control ypes
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12/02/2023 06:15 pm GMT

The Polaroid Now+ brings a Polaroid camera’s classic look and magical photo quality with five custom lens filters: Yellow, Red Vignette, Orange, Blue, and Starburst.

These filters come in handy when you want to add a vintage look to the shots or increase contrast in black-and-white images.

Once set, this camera can connect to your smartphone using the Polaroid mobile app, giving the user access to a range of creative options like a set of aperture priority and double exposure mode. The manual mode lets you adjust the shutter speed, aperture, focus, and flash.

The sleek and compact Polaroid Now+ comes with Polaroid’s I-Type film, both colored and black and white. It also features a 40mm lens, a viewfinder, an easy-to-use Bluetooth connection app, a micro-USB charging port, and a tripod socket at the base.

Enjoys excellent app integration It’s expensive.
Easy to useMost features are app-dependent.
Excellent for vintage photos 
Allows for multiple exposures 

Check out the Polaroid Now+ on Amazon.

Best for Landscape Photos: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

Best for Landscape Photos
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
  • Not water resistant
  • Automatic shooting and exposure control
  • Tripod socket
  • Real image finder
  • Lens ring dial with focus zone setting
  • Automatic flash for low-light shooting
  • Electronic shutter release with speeds from 1/64 to 1/200 seconds
  • Black
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12/02/2023 06:16 pm GMT

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the best for landscape orientation photography.

It is the big brother to the Instax Mini series cameras and produces images twice as wide as those of its smaller siblings, like the Instax Mini Film. 

Designed to work with Fujifilm Instax wide film only, the Wide 300 is what you need for those color-rich wide-print photos. It has an optical viewfinder, a built-in mirror for taking selfies, and an LCD screen for previewing the photo before printing. The camera runs on AA batteries.

Prints quality large photosIt is bulky.
Easy to useThe design is not the most modern-looking.
Provides exposure compensation
Very cost-effective to run 

Check out the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 on Amazon.

viewfinder screen of camera
Instant cameras are an excellent way to take fun photos on-the-go with the physical print to hang onto!

©Marc Calleja/Shutterstock.com

How to Pick the Best Instant Camera: Step-by-Step

Instant cameras can be tricky to buy. With brands like Fujifilm, Polaroids, Kodak, Lomography, and others fighting for this niche market, there are hundreds of models to choose from.

As with most products, the more options you have, the more difficult it is to figure out the camera that suits your photography style and needs. 

Below are the 7 factors that will point you in the right direction when selecting your instant camera. 

  • Size of film
  • Film type
  • Film style
  • Desired photo quality
  • Digital storage
  • Battery life
  • Your budget
  • Additional features

Let’s break down each one in detail.

Size of Film

Instant cameras differ primarily on the size of the film. The most common sizes are the 3.4″ x 2.1″ (mini) and the 3.4″ x 4.2″ (wide) films. Mini-sized films are designed for Instax Mini cameras, while the latter are used in Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 and other large print Fujifilm cameras.

The square (3.4″ x 2.8″) films are found mostly in Instax Square SQ1 and Lomography’s Instant Square Glass cameras. The Polaroid (4.2″ x 3.5″) is a unique film size for portraits and landscape prints. The Polaroid OneStep Plus is one of the cameras that shoots this film. It’s worth noting that the film size you need for your photography will determine your choice of camera brand and vice versa. That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all film for all cameras out there. 

Film Type

Polaroid and Fujifilm are the only companies that make instant films. Unfortunately, you can’t use the two brands’ films interchangeably. Polaroid films won’t work on Instax cameras and vice versa.

However, within the same brand, you can find film types that are compatible with each other, but not all. For instance, Polaroid 600 film works with Polaroid OneStep, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid Now, and Polaroid OneStep2, but it’s not compatible with Polaroid Go and Polaroid SX-70.

Many Fujifilm and Lomography cameras, such as the Instax Mini cameras and Lomo’Instant Automat cameras, accept the Instax Mini film. However, the film won’t work with Instax Wide and Square cameras or the Lomo’Instant Wide and Lomo’Instant Square Glass cameras.

Film Style

Consider cameras that use different film styles. For Fujifilm cameras, you can find films with unique borders such as rainbow designs, photo shapes, and color gradients. Polaroid, on the other hand, has black and round frames and different designs. 

Film styles and formats allow creativity. For instance, you can use black-and-white borders whenever you want the image to pop up. If you want to limit image visibility, you can opt for a color gradient film. However, you can use a rainbow film to add extra colors to your images.  

Desired Photo Quality

Camera settings, shooting distance, and the film ISO will significantly determine the quality of your photos. Photography is about creativity, so you must hone your craft to achieve a crisp image.

The more versatile the camera, the better. However, ensure you understand how to shoot from different angles. Also, familiarize yourself with your camera’s focus capabilities and always aim at nailing the perfect focus of your subject for the best image quality.

To get the best image, you must first learn the basics of photography and understand what your camera is capable of. You can then tweak the settings to achieve the desired quality.

Digital Storage

Physical pictures are great, but you cannot always carry them with you everywhere. In the digital world today, where we share our photos on social media, it is best to have a way of reliably storing them.

That said, consider a camera that allows for microSD storage. You can also opt for one that will enable you to access photos through mobile apps such as the Instax cameras.

Battery Life

Some instant cameras use replaceable lithium batteries, others AA batteries, but some new models have in-built batteries. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution in the long run, an AA battery-powered camera may not be a good choice unless it’s a rechargeable option.

Lithium batteries have high energy density and thus are the most preferred by many photographers. A lithium battery option is your best bet if you plan to use the camera for extended periods.

It’s worth noting that the average instant camera’s battery can take and print up to 100 shots on full charge. Before you purchase your instant camera, check user reviews to know if the specific camera delivers on that promise. Be wary of cameras that drain batteries fast even when off or not in use.

Sticking to Your Budget

Irrespective of your tastes and preferences, your budget has the final say. In this respect, however, you should consider all the costs of owning the camera, not only the price. How much will you spend on the film? Remember, this cost will significantly impact your budget and how much you will fork out in the long run.

Additional Features

If you need a camera you can control using your phone, ensure the app is free and works well. Also, check the available integrations, such as editing capabilities and sharing photos on social media platforms. If you do not need these extra perks, avoid cameras with additional features, as the add-ons will reflect on the price tag.

What to Know Before Buying an Instant Camera

Before buying an instant camera, it is important to know that the cameras do not use the same film, especially if they are of different brands. Even so, not all films from the same brand are compatible. Therefore, before buying an instant camera, ensure you know the types of films that will work with your camera.

Using Instant Cameras: What It’s Like

Instant cameras provide immediate gratification as you watch what you have captured develop into a physical print in real-time. It is a great feeling and a fun experience for shutterbugs. It provides a solution to those who need to convert their intangible memories into tangible ones that they can hold onto for a lifetime.

Nonetheless, these cameras are not instant in the truest sense of the word. You need to wait at least two minutes for the photo to develop, and for some instant cameras, such as Polaroid Now+, it can take up to 15 minutes.

Summary Table

RankCameraBest For
#1Fujifilm Instax Mini 12Best Overall
#2Kodak Step TouchBest for Non-Film Prints
#3Nons SL660Best for Flexibility
#4Polaroid Now+Best for Lens Filters
#5Fujifilm Instax Wide 300Best for Landscape Photos

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best instant camera brand?

For color quality and price, we recommend Instax Mini cameras, but if you need to add a vintage scheme to your photos, Polaroid instant cameras are the best, though pricey.

What is the difference between Fujifilm Instax film and Zink film?

Instax film uses chemicals and light to produce an image. The created image takes time to be dry enough for touch. The Instax film offers better color quality, but you need to be careful not to expose the film to light as it will destroy it. Zink films, on the other hand, use heat to imprint an image on paper.

How can you convert digital pictures to instant images?

There are several ways to print photos from your smartphone. You can use instant picture printers such as Fujifilm Instax Mini Link, Fujifilm Instax Wide Link, and Polaroid Originals Lab. There are several ways to print photos from your smartphone. You can use instant picture printers such as Fujifilm Instax Mini Link, Fujifilm Instax Wide Link, and Polaroid Originals Lab. Alternatively, you can use a photo printer, which is a more affordable option.

What is multiple exposure?

It is when the same frame of a film is exposed to light twice or more times, resulting in two or more images or scenes layered on the same frame.

What is an ND filter?

A neutral density filter is used in cameras to reduce the intensity of colors entering the camera. It is useful when taking pictures in bright light and where the photographer needs specific aperture combinations and shutter speeds.

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