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Top Instant Cameras: Fujifilm, Kodak, Polaroid, and More

In spite of our smartphones’ exceptional photo capabilities and instant global sharing, there’s a certain enchantment to classic instant cameras. A simple click captures a tangible moment in a photograph, complete with charming imperfections.

Nonetheless, not all instant cameras are identical, and various options cater to diverse needs and budgets. We meticulously evaluated leading instant camera models from Fujifilm, Polaroid, and Kodak.

Top Instant Cameras: Fujifilm, Kodak, Polaroid, and More

While all the models in our ultimate instant camera guide offer delightful experiences, they each present unique features at varying price points. Consequently, some suit children or novice photographers, while others provide advanced creative control at a premium. Nevertheless, print quality, user-friendliness, and affordability stand as the quintessential criteria for an outstanding camera. Hence, we proudly endorse Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 12 as the top choice for most, excelling in all three aspects.

Specifically, our focus includes:

  1. Photo quality
  2. Ease of use
  3. Value
  4. Suitability
  5. Film

For those seeking enhanced creative control or features such as filters, our top pick is the Instax Mini Evo. It excels in image quality and grants you the choice of which photos to print. Additionally, other instant cameras like the second-gen Polaroid Now Plus and Kodak’s Mini Retro 3 provide an array of advanced creative modes for enthusiasts.

Explore our comprehensive list of exceptional instant cameras to discover the perfect match for your needs:

  1. Best instant cameras overall
  2. Best premium instant cameras
  3. Top choice for social occasions
  4. Ideal for retro aficionados
  5. Superb portability options
  6. Additional noteworthy instant cameras (and one to steer clear of)

Best Instant Camera for Most People

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

  • Price: $77
  • Film Type: Fujifilm Instax Mini (sold separately)
  • Film Size: 2 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 306 grams
  • Power Source: AA batteries
  • Companion App: None
  • Additional Features: Built-in selfie mirror, film counter
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

For a straightforward instant camera that delivers quality prints effortlessly, consider the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. Although it lacks advanced features, it’s user-friendly, equipped with a built-in selfie mode, and comes in various appealing colors, making it especially attractive to youngsters.

A Simple, Yet Effective Choice

If your goal is simple: press a button and obtain a reasonably priced print, the Instax Mini 12 is your answer. It’s similar to the Instax Mini 11 but with some improvements, including a more straightforward setup. A twist of the lens to “on” or “off” is all it takes. This simplicity, along with its slim design, makes it ideal for beginners and children.

Impressive Image Quality

In the realm of instant cameras, the Mini 12 stands out with its image quality. It captures relatively true-to-life photos, although low-light conditions can be a challenge. The built-in flash aids in such situations, although it can be overpowering, occasionally resulting in overexposed images. Notably, the selfie feature provides accurate features and skin tone representation.

Enhanced Features

The Instax Mini 12 introduces a more user-friendly lens structure, allowing for easy zooming and the Close-Up Mode with Parallax Correction. While this mode requires some practice, it’s a fun addition. The camera also includes a handy shot counter, a feature absent in many other instant cameras.

Traditional Analog Experience

This camera is for those who appreciate a traditional analog experience. It lacks Bluetooth or an editing app, as well as advanced features like filters or portrait modes. If you seek an instant camera that excels in classic photography, the Instax Mini 12 is a solid choice.

Best Premium Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

  • Price: $200
  • Film Type: Fujifilm Instax Mini (sold separately)
  • Film Size: 2 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 285 grams
  • Charging Method: USB-C (on newer models)
  • Companion App: Yes
  • Additional Features: LCD screen, smartphone printing
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

A Premium Choice

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo, priced at $199, elevates your instant photography experience. Its resemblance to the Fujifilm X100 line catches attention with vintage dials and buttons, creating a stylish, retro aesthetic.

Flexible and Cost-Saving

Despite the price, the Instax Mini Evo offers flexibility, potentially saving you money. A full-color three-inch LCD screen allows you to preview and select images for printing, reducing film wastage. The included app enhances the experience, offering smartphone photo printing and the convenience of a USB-C charging port.

Enhanced Photography Features

Compared to the Instax Mini 12, the Mini Evo brings more to the table. You can disable the flash, use the LCD screen as a viewfinder, and adjust film brightness. Dials allow for various lens options and filters, enhancing creativity. Remote shots and added photographic control are also at your disposal.

Minor Quirks

Despite its merits, the Instax Mini Evo has some minor downsides. The companion app, while functional, is not as feature-rich as some competitors. Navigating the menu system may pose challenges, and the device’s internal storage is limited to 45 images. However, these issues pale in comparison to the camera’s portability and ease of use.

In summary, the Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo offers a premium instant photography experience with style and flexibility.

Best Instant Camera for Social Occasions

Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

  • Price: $120 (Often on sale for less)
  • Film Type: Kodak Instant Print 3 x 3-inch cartridge (included)
  • Film Size: 3 x 3-inch square prints
  • Weight: 467 grams
  • Charging Method: Micro USB
  • Companion App: Yes
  • Additional Features: LCD screen, smartphone printing
Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

Fun and Affordable

Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro blends creativity with affordability. Its companion app allows you to add frames, stickers, filters, and even conceal blemishes. While image quality may not rival smartphones, it’s perfect for social occasions.

Creative Freedom

The mobile app enhances creativity, making it a fantastic choice for scrapbooking and instant photo booths at gatherings. It also supports Bluetooth for easy social media sharing and smartphone photo printing.

Cost-Effective Film

Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro comes with economical film, encouraging experimentation. You can get a 60-sheet cartridge for approximately $17.99, translating to just $0.33 per shot. Though prints are not the highest quality, the affordability promotes playfulness.

Notable Drawbacks

While this camera excels in fun and affordability, it does have some downsides. Photo quality falls short of smartphones, sometimes exhibiting a pink tint. It lacks image storage, and its design isn’t as sleek as competitors.

In conclusion, if you prioritize creative features and don’t mind some compromises in photo quality, the Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro is a great choice for social occasions.

Best Instant Camera for Retro Fans

Polaroid Now Plus (second-gen)

  • Price: $148
  • Film Type: Polaroid i-Type Color Film (sold separately)
  • Film Size: 4.2 x 3.5-inch prints
  • Weight: 451.5 grams
  • Charging Method: USB-C
  • Companion App: Yes
  • Additional Features: Lens filter kit, film counter
Polaroid Now Plus (second-gen)
Polaroid Now Plus (second-gen)
Polaroid Now Plus (second-gen)

Retro Charm with Modern Perks

The second-gen Polaroid Now Plus is a haven for retro enthusiasts. It pays homage to vintage instant cameras, with square I-Type film prints and iconic Polaroid-style frames.

Retro Meets Modern

Despite its retro aesthetics, this camera boasts modern features. USB-C charging and Bluetooth support enhance convenience. Its companion app unlocks creative modes for artistic control, including remote shutter, self-timer, and exposure adjustments.

Artistic Expression

The camera includes a set of five colored lenses for artistic expression, adding a unique touch to your photos.

Notably Inconvenient

However, it’s not the most portable camera due to its size and weight. Print development takes up to 15 minutes, and it’s sensitive to light exposure during the process. This may not suit spontaneous outings.

Low-Light Challenges

In low-light settings, the Polaroid Now Plus struggles, resulting in dreamy, artistic shots. Adjusting settings via the Polaroid Lab is time-consuming. The film can be costly, with only eight I-Type sheets for $16.99, in addition to the camera cost.

A Unique Experience

Despite its quirks, the second-gen Polaroid Now Plus encapsulates the spirit of retro Polaroid-inspired cameras. If this nostalgic charm appeals to you, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Polaroid Now Plus (First-Gen)

  • Price: $106 (29% off)
  • USB-C: No
  • Color Options: Blue, White (discounted price)
Polaroid Now Plus (First-Gen)
Polaroid Now Plus (First-Gen)
Polaroid Now Plus (First-Gen)
Polaroid Now Plus (First-Gen)

Budget-Friendly Retro Option

The original Polaroid Now Plus, while no longer part of the official lineup, remains a budget-friendly choice. It’s nearly identical to the second-gen, lacking USB-C and offering a blue color alternative.

Discounted First-Gen Model

Some retailers, like B&H Photo, still offer the first-gen model at a discounted price of $105.95 ($34 off). The only difference from the new model is the absence of USB-C and the option of a green colorway.

Choosing the Right Version

If the budget outweighs fast charging for you, the first-gen model provides identical performance, making it a viable option.

Best Portable Instant Camera

Polaroid Go

  • Price: $82 (18% off)
  • Film Type: Polaroid i-Type Color Film (sold separately)
  • Film Size: 2.6 x 2.1-inch prints
  • Weight: 242 grams
  • Charging Method: Micro USB
  • Companion App: No
  • Other Features: Selfie mirror, film counter
Polaroid Go
Polaroid Go
Polaroid Go
Polaroid Go

Compact and Affordable

The Polaroid Go stands as the smallest and most budget-friendly Polaroid instant camera available. It fits in your palm and conveniently slips into your purse, offering ultimate portability.

Feather-Light and Travel-Friendly

Weighing just over a pound, it’s remarkably lightweight and one-handed operation making it ideal for travel. While it excels in portability, it struggles less with low-light shots.

Affordability Meets Image Quality

The Polaroid Go comes at a wallet-friendly price and doesn’t compromise on image quality. It’s efficient indoors, maintaining a vintage, dreamy vibe.

Simplicity in a Compact Package

Though lacking advanced features, it allows double-exposure shots and features Micro USB charging. While prints are small, the camera’s simplicity suits those yearning for a traditional instant film experience.

Other Notable Instant Cameras and One to Avoid

Instax Square SQ1

Instax Square SQ1

The Instax Square SQ1, while not our top pick, is worth mentioning. It delivers quality, user-friendliness, and a built-in selfie mirror. However, the higher price, around $119.95, deters inclusion in our top choices.

If you prefer large square prints and true-to-life photos, the SQ1 is worth considering, as it’s cheaper than the Polaroid Now Plus and surpasses the Kodak Mini Shot 3 Square Retro.

Instax Square SQ40

Instax Square SQ40

Fujifilm offers the Instax Square SQ40 with a striking vintage design at $149.95. For similar photo quality, the SQ1 or the more capable Instax Mini Evo, priced just $50 more, are better alternatives.

Avoid the Kodak Printomatic

Avoid the Kodak Printomatic

One to steer clear of is the Kodak Printomatic. Despite being a bestseller on Amazon, its photo quality and performance fall short. It’s often on sale for $49.99 but isn’t a budget-friendly instant camera worth choosing over Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 12. The resulting photos lack clarity, are oversaturated, and often unrecognizable.

The camera is slow to print and sometimes unresponsive, making it a frustrating choice, not justifying the $30 saved over the Instax Mini 12. Your savings might be better spent on extra film due to potential print wastage.

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