When I was a kid, my grandpa had a Polaroid camera. My siblings and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever invented. There was nothing we liked more than to “borrow” grandpa’s camera and take pictures of each other. I remember snapping a photo, waiting for it to print, then shaking it until the image appeared. It was like magic.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised when instant cameras made a comeback. I wondered how they could possibly compete with the digital cameras of today. However, as I have used and enjoyed these new instant cameras, I’ve come to remember my excitement from childhood. These cameras far surpass my expectations. Can an instant camera replace your current camera or smartphone camera? No. The quality of a photo from an instant camera is not nearly as good as one from a digital camera, but it is a fun option especially for an event such as a wedding, shower, or birthday party. It is also a fantastic choice for tweens or teens.
How Does an Instant Camera Work?
An instant camera requires instant film. This film, which comes in packs of 10, is loaded in the camera before use. When you click the shutter button to take your photo, the photo is projected onto the film. The film (which contains chemicals) is drawn across rollers and comes out of the camera. The chemicals react to the light, and after a minute or two your photo is finished developing.
What are the Advantages of an Instant Camera?
An instant camera is great because it gives you immediate photos, no matter where you are. Whether you are looking for candid shots at your neighborhood picnic or for a fun activity for guests to do at a wedding, the instant camera is a fun option. An instant camera is considerably less expensive than many digital cameras.
Most instant cameras produce photos the size of a business card. This means you can make unique collages or photo hangings without having to crop your photos. These cameras are also very lightweight, with many weighing in at less than one pound even with film loaded in them.
What are the disadvantages of an instant camera?
Taking a photo with a digital camera will often produce a photo with better light quality than that of an instant camera. Additionally, because instant cameras print photos immediately, it is not possible to edit photos before printing them. With an instant camera, you cannot choose which photos you print; the camera automatically prints any photo you take. Depending on which camera you choose, the film can get pricey.
Here are five good possibilities for an instant camera (scroll right for more):
|Polaroid Snap Touch LCD||Fujifilm Instax Mini 9||Polaroid PIC-300||Fujifilm Instax Mini 90||Lomography Lomo|
A Cool Instant and Digital Camera Combo Under $150
Looking for the right instant camera for your kids or even yourself? Here’s a look at five options from $50 to $150 that I feel give you the best overall value.
Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera w/ LCD Display
Pros: The Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera brings together instant photos and digital imaging. This means you can print your photo immediately and save a digital copy for later. This camera is one of very few instant cameras that offer both. This 13-megapixel camera has an SD slot with the capacity of up to 128 GB. The capability of this camera to shoot HD videos is another bonus. It is Bluetooth enabled, and you can edit photos before printing them (which is unusual for this type of camera).
The instantly printed photos from the Snap Touch measure 2”x3” and print in under one minute. The internal ZINK (zero ink) printer requires no ink, ribbons, or cartridges. This camera does require specific ZINK photo paper, but it comes with one 10-pack of paper.
Cons: There are some drawbacks to the Snap Touch. You have to hold down the shutter button for up to 20 seconds before the auto focus works. Also, it’s hard to know exactly what you are photographing until your photo prints; often what you see in the view finder isn’t what ends up printing. The photos can come out off-center or cut off or occasionally come out with streaks or smudges. There is no physical manual with the Snap Touch; you have to download it from their website.
Vs the Original Snap Touch
It’s about $50 more than the original Snap Touch. So, what are you paying for? First of all, you get the LCD screen on the back. This allows you to see the pictures and modify them or add effects before they are printed. In my opinion, this is well worth it unless you’re truly looking for a snap and print option for your kids.
Overall, the concept of this camera is appealing. The quality of this camera and the photos it produces, however, make it hard to justify the price. It is significantly more expensive than the other cameras on this list. If you are looking for a basic instant camera, this probably isn’t the one for you. However if you’re wanting a combination instant camera and digital camera that allows you to add effects, this is a decent option.
Best Instant Cameras From $50 to Under $75
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a good choice for an instant camera. It’s relatively inexpensive and comes in five fun colors.
The Instax Mini 9 is very user friendly. What you see in the view finder is what will print after you push the shutter button. New upgrades include a selfie mirror to get your best looking photos and a macro lens adapter for close-ups. The camera uses an LED to tell you which aperture setting to use to get each picture to turn out best. A high-key mode softens the look of bright photos.
Photos print instantly and measure 2”x3”. This camera uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film, but be aware that the camera does not come with any film. You can purchase this film in either black and white or in color. Fujifilm also offers a variety of colors and patterns on the film to border your photos. The Instax Mini 9 requires 2 AA batteries (which come with the camera). This camera comes with a one year warranty on parts.
At approximately 1/3 the price of the Polaroid Snap Touch and with better instant photos, the Fujifilm Instax Mini9 is a great option.
Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera
The Polaroid PIC-300 is cheaper than most of the cameras on this list. It comes with an automatic flash and four scene settings to allow you to get the lighting you want. This camera is a decent option, but there are some big drawbacks. The viewfinder on this camera is located beside the lens. That means what you are seeing through the viewfinder is not the photo you will end up with. Also, the low battery light often flashes even when new batteries are installed. This camera does not come with film. Although it is a Polaroid, it can also use Fuji instant camera film.
The relatively low price of this camera does not make it worth purchasing. Compared with the other cameras on this list, the Polaroid PIC-300 pales in comparison.
2 Good Instant Cameras Under or Around $100
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
If the look of the camera itself is important to you, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is what you are looking for. This option has the look of a classic vintage camera. Not only does it look great, but it produces nice photos as well. New features help ensure you get the best photo every time. The flash senses and adjusts to the brightness of the location. The party mode has a brightening function to improve the look of the photo. The kid mode allows you to photograph fast moving people and objects and still get a great quality end result. The macro mode allows you to take close up photos, which most instant cameras cannot do well.
To create an interesting effect, you can press down the shutter button twice. This will double expose that photo, laying one photo on top of the other. You also have the capability of leaving a light trail on your photo by holding down on the shutter button to keep the shutter open. The Mini 90 Neo Classic allows you to turn off the flash. Be aware that the Mini 90 Neo Classic takes the best pictures when it is light, but not too bright. This is a great choice when compared with others on this list.
Lomography Lomo Instant Camera
The Lomo is an ok choice for a moderately priced instant camera. This camera allows you to add color filters to dramatically change the look of your photo. You can choose to take a traditional picture or to add light streaks. There are several options for automatic or manual functions with the flash. Although the Lomo boasts the capability of taking great photos in any amount of light, the photos often end up either too dark or too light. It uses Fujifilm Instax Mini film.
White or black are the options in color for the Lomo. In addition to the basic Lomo, you can purchase three additional lenses (fisheye, portrait, and close up) to produce even better photos.
This camera is average. I would recommend going with either of the Fujifilm cameras over this one.
An instant camera puts the fun back into taking photos. With the photo printing immediately, you can enjoy the photos right away and turn them into a fun project. For the best quality and photo taking experience, I would recommend either of the Fujifilm options on this list. Surprise someone in your life with the gift of an instant camera and watch the memories being made!