What is it we love so much about instant cameras? Is it the nostalgia-factor? Or the sensation of being able to hold/share a physical print? Maybe it’s the excitement that comes from watching an image slowly appear before your eyes. Surely for some, the lo-fi image quality is refreshing in an increasingly high-resolution, digital world.
Whatever the reason, instant cameras are a ton of fun. And for $50+, you can get in on that fun. These cameras come in a variety of formats (see our chart) and a wide range of designs. And after extensive testing of each model we’ve picked our favorites below.
|Instant format||Manufacturer||Image size||Shot per pack||Average cost of twin pack|
|Instax Mini||Fujifilm||46 × 62 mm
1.8 × 2.4 “
|10||$12.50 / 20 exposures|
|Instax Square||Fujifilm||62 x 62 mm
2.4 x 2.4 “
|10||$18.50 / 20 exposures|
|Instax Wide||Fujifilm||99 x 62 mm
3.9 x 2.4 “
|10||$15 / 20 exposures|
|I-type||Polaroid Originals||79 x 79 mm
3.1 x 3.1 “
$30 / 16 exposures
Our pick: Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 strikes the perfect balance of price to features to make it our top overall pick – plus it makes use of the most affordable instant format. Available in six colors, the Mini 70 is among the most compact and lightweight instant cameras on the market, and also among the prettiest (in our opinion). The CR2 batteries it uses can be a little annoying to find, but battery life overall is great. And unlike rechargeable instants, the Mini 70 should still have some juice in it even if left on a shelf for several months.
But most importantly, it’s really easy to use. Users simply select their shooting mode – normal, macro, selfie, landscape, self timer or high key – and the camera does the rest. And unlike some of its competitors, focus is motor-driven (three positions) and set by the camera when your mode is selected. Exposure is fully automatic, though there is a +2/3rd EV option (that’s the high key mode). Overall, the Mini 70 does a good job balancing flash with ambient light thanks to a variable shutter.
Of course, for a little more cash, you can drive away in the Instax Mini 90, which adds negative exposure compensation, the ability to disengage the flash in normal mode and a bunch of creative modes. However, its higher price and its more complex operation has us feeling you’d be better off spending that extra money on more film for your Mini 70.
Larger format option: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
We prefer the quality and tonality of Instax film to I-type and if you are going to shoot Instax, why not shoot the largest format possible? If you follow that logic, than the Wide 300 is the instant camera for you.
The most affordable Instax Wide camera available, we’re big fans of its comfortable grip, automatic operation (with positive and negative exposure compensation modes), motor-driven focus (2 positions) and straightforward operation. Yes, it is enormous, but that’s par for the course with this format.
Instax Mini cameras
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 26
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
- Leica Sofort
- Lomography Lomo’Instant
- Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat
- Lomography Lomo’Automat Glass
- MiNT InstantFlex TL70 2.0
- Polaroid Pic-300