Buying Guide: The best instant cameras
The instant camera market has taken off in recent years and there are a lot of great options ranging from around $60 all the way up to several hundred dollars. Over the course of many fun weekends, we've shot with virtually all all of them, to find out which is the best. Below is a breakdown of the 4 instant formats:
|Instant format||Manufacturer||Image size||Shot per pack|
|Instax Mini||Fujfilm||46 × 62 mm
1.8 × 2.4 "
|Instax Square||Fujfilm||62 x 62 mm
2.4 x 2.4 "
|Instax Wide||Fujfilm||99 x 62 mm
3.9 x 2.4 "
|I-type||Polaroid Originals||79 x 79 mm
3.1 x 3.1 "
Ultimately, this rebirth of the Instant camera market can be attributed to one word: Fun! There’s something about about having a tangible object to share that makes these cameras hugely enjoyable. They also make great gifts. Here are our recommendations:
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.
Also recommended: 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 9
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 25/26
- 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
Instax Square cameras
Instax Wide cameras
Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide
MiNT Instantkon RF70 (just announced)