Instant cameras have that retro charm that makes us miss them. The good news is that now you can have the best of both worlds . Capturing and printing a photo in the moment is great, and it is something that you cannot enjoy with a conventional camera.
The most striking feature of these cameras is the fact that you can capture and print photos on paper . It may seem like a small thing but even if you are an artist with an idea in mind or a lover of photography and retro, you can find one that meets your modern standards.
Our goal is to review instant cameras that have the same degree of technical quality as a conventional camera. The options presented below evaluate fundamental aspects such as focus and film type.
The Best Instant Camera of 2021
Each camera has what separates it from the others, be it in the technical section, the presentation, or the extras that it adds to the complete package. This can end up adding to the final cost and is not always necessary.
This is why we have decided to examine essential aspects of a camera at the same time that we choose devices that have key advantages over others.
Polaroid Originals 9008 One Step 2 VF
After more than four decades, the classic returns and better than ever. Sentimental value isn’t the only reason to rank the One Step 2 at the top of our list, as its technical specifications make it a quality camera. We liked it a lot, especially for more scenic shots than anything else.
It comes in two presentations: graphite and white, or completely black. In both installments the design is the same, a lower unit that works as the printer under the camera.
Aesthetically, the One Step 2 is a faithful reinterpretation of retro , with standout colors and analog buttons.
Unlike most modern cameras, the capture button is on the front of the unit, next to the lens.
Works with Polaroid and Impossible i-Type film packs and type 600 color and black and white film . The lens is well thought out, with a fixed focal length of 0.6m and a field of view of 41 degrees vertical and 40 degrees horizontal, the only problem is that the minimum focusing distance (60 cm) is very bad for taking selfies .
The flash is stroboscopic, that is, it produces illumination through a discharge of gas. This lighting method is much more intense than a conventional LED .
If you need to compensate the exposure for a photo, you can use a dial on the camera , making the shots lighter or darker.
It’s a bit pricey, especially when you consider that the brand took a step back on design issues to make the unit more retro. However, the camera has quality features that allow you to take good photos and print them instantly. We recommend it for those who want the culmination of retro with functional, even if it is an investment.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Fujifilm cameras are characterized by their compact and colorful designs, but the Instax Mini 9 is perhaps the most iconic in this regard. By far you could mistake it for a toy, but the truth is that the specifications are not bad, especially for its price.
You can find the camera in a variety of color finishes, such as cobalt and ice blue, white, lime green, red, and pink.
Unlike the One Step 2, the Instax Mini 9 is compact in the shape of a square. Similarly, the capture button is on the front and its buttons are analog. The unit’s printer is not separate from the camera, photos are printed from a slot on the top of the camera.
The package includes a strap that matches the camera and a gift sticker.
It uses proprietary Instax films, available in packs of 30, 40, 60, 100 and 200 films. A bottom border always results in prints, great for adding notes or names.
The focus lens is perfect for taking selfies thanks to its 35 cm minimum focus distance, it also has a mirror next to the lens for a good framing. The fixed focal length is 0.6m and has a dial to compensate for the brightness of the shots, which is good because the flash can be quite intense.
It’s hard to innovate old tech without raising the cost, but the Instax Mini 9 is affordable, and we think it’s worth it. If you want a fun camera to capture and print photos of your best moments without burning your wallet, this could be a good option.
Kodak Mini Shot
It’s surprising to list a Kodak camera in an instant camera review, but the Mini Shot deserves it by virtue of its compact camera/snapshot hybrid design. We believe that it satisfies the need for a compromise between the two.
It is available in colors such as blue, pink, yellow, black, white, and purple.
We already mentioned that the Mini Shot is a hybrid model, so its design is more similar to that of a compact camera than a classic snapshot. It’s relatively slim, with a smooth, button-free front.
At the back we can find a small viewer that allows us to see and select the photos we have taken and then print them.
The printed photos come out in credit card format (2.1 x 3.4 cm) without borders, although it can be configured to add them. The slot is on the left side of the unit.
Each print cartridge has 20 prints, but you can choose to connect the camera to other devices via bluetooth to transfer the images.
The camera captures moments with a resolution of 10 megapixels, automatically frames and focuses, and allows you to configure exposure, white balance, colors, and much more.
The setup menu on the rear viewfinder allows you to change the flash, add borders, and apply filters. The flash is not as good as in other models, but fortunately it is not as necessary as in fully analog cameras .
With the Kodak application you can make a wide number of modifications to your photos with filters, stickers, borders, templates, cropping, and other things. However, it goes a bit off the topic that snapshots are.
We like versatile solutions. If you don’t have a compact digital camera and don’t have a snapshot either, the Mini Shot could solve both problems with one camera. The price is mid-range and in our opinion, it is worth it.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic
Instant cameras are fun and even nostalgic for some, but modern professional photography relies entirely on digital cameras. However, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic has a variety of functions to make the photographer’s job easier.
It comes in black and silver, with a square-shaped design and a leather cover. The front part is more minimalist than the one found in the Instax Mini 9, since it has only one button: the power button.
On the back is the interface display with buttons to change mode, capture, and configure the shot. There is also the box to insert the batteries. Photos come out of a slot at the top.
The package comes with a matching strap, but unfortunately the bag is not included.
Use Fujifilm Instax Mini color films, available in various packages. There is no way to configure the border.
The heart of this camera is its number of functions for photography , such as double exposure to superimpose images in a frame, light bulb exposure to capture better photos at night or in moving light, macro mode to take short photos distance (great for selfies), “kid” mode for better moving photos, landscape mode for shooting objects in the distance, and party mode for low-light places.
It has various technical arrangements to take better pictures, such as a flash that adjusts to the amount of light in the frame, a dial to control exposure, and a tripod mount.
It’s more expensive than an average snapshot camera, but considering it’s a full-fledged professional camera, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal to us. Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a serious one, the Mini 90 could be a new brush on your canvas.
Polaroid Snap Touch
We close our list with the Snap Touch, Polaroid’s hybrid camera. These cameras seem to be on the rise thanks to their compromise between nostalgia and practicality.
It comes in a minimalist design, available in white, blue, black, purple, red, and pink. The print slot is on the left of the device, and behind it is the touch screen.
At the top is the flash and mirror for framing selfies next to the shutter button.
The camera takes 13-megapixel photos and has a 3.4mm lens, but it can record videos in both 1080p and 720p at 30fps . You can expand the memory of the camera with a microSD card.
Use Zink Zero Ink technology to completely forget about toner or ink . The prints are of good quality, waterproof, and with zero humidity. It does not use conventional film but Polaroid Premium Zink paper
The Polaroid mobile app allows you to send your photos directly to your iOS or Android devices via Bluetooth for editing and printing. There you can put filters, borders, stickers, and much more.
It’s certainly not cheap, but the Snap Touch is no ordinary camera. We can’t recommend it solely for the virtue of its instant camera, but if you want the best of both worlds, this could be a good investment.
Conclusion and Buyer’s Guide
When what you want to capture involves high speeds, depths, or extreme situations, a conventional camera not only gives poor results: it is a risk. Sports cameras (also called action cameras) provide flexibility and easy handling, not to mention that they have almost identical visual quality.
If you’ve been bitten by the retro gnat, a snapshot camera might be just what you’re looking for. They are fun and much more appropriate to share than a digital camera. You could well fill a journal with snapshots of the places you travel or with photos of people, the possibilities are up to you.
Being such a specific product, the market does not provide much information, so you will have to read if you want to find something good for yourself .
We hope we have helped you. Follow these tips to improve your purchase:
Landscapes or Selfies?
Different cameras have different approaches, and this is even more true for these types of cameras. If you want to take pictures of landscapes more than anything, a very high minimum focusing distance will not be a bother, but if you want to take photos of nearby objects and actors, such as a selfie, you need the minimum distance to be as low as possible.
They’re even funnier and more eye-catching, but if you already have a pretty good compact camera, then a hybrid camera won’t be stellar in one way or the other. We suggest hybrid cameras for those who want to replace old compact cameras without missing out on snapshot nostalgia.