Best Polaroid and Instant Cameras

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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Instant cameras thumbnail

In this post, I’ll look at the best instant cameras for weddings, beginners, and kids.

If you want instant photo prints or you enjoy using retro cameras, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ll show you:

Let’s get right into it.

How to use a polaroid camera?

Here is a quick guide to get started with your polaroid camera:

  1. Turn on your camera

    Locate the power button on your camera, press and hold it to turn it on.

  2. Insert the film cartridge

    Insert a new film cartridge into the film chamber of your camera. The location of the film chamber depends on your camera model. While inserting the new cartridge, make sure that its dark side faces up, and the metal contacts face down. Close the film chamber and press the shutter button to pop the dark slide out before taking the first picture. Sometimes, the dark slide fails to eject as the cartridge might be incompatible or not appropriately inserted in the camera. To identify the problem, try reinstalling or using a new film pack to confirm whether the camera or the film pack is defective. There are different types of films for various cameras. Make sure you select the right one that is compatible with your model.

  3. Select the shooting mode

    Modern polaroid cameras are equipped with a few different shooting modes for several situations. Based on your light conditions, select the appropriate shooting mode before taking a picture. For example, you may choose the partly cloudy mode if you are shooting outdoors on a cloudy day.

  4. Press the shutter button

    Press and release the shutter button after carefully framing your picture, and your Polaroid will pop out of the camera. Be patient while taking pictures because creating polaroids is an irreversible process.

  5. Collect and preserve your photo

    Polaroids are sensitive to light in the development stage. Therefore, you must prevent it from getting exposed to any light. After collecting the photo, place it face down on a clean surface and cover it with the dark slide. It is good to let the photo rest and develop for at least 20 minutes to achieve maximum quality. Make sure to turn off your camera after you are done taking pictures.

How much is a polaroid camera?

An average polaroid camera costs around $100. Many such cameras with reasonable pricing have many useful features like Bluetooth connectivity and automatic functioning. Different types of polaroid cameras come at different prices. However, some vintage cameras in working conditions might cost thousands of dollars as a collectable item.

What is the cheapest polaroid camera?

Holga 120N Lomo Light-Leaking instant camera is currently the cheapest polaroid camera, available for just under $40. It’s a classic medium format toy camera that can hold a 120 roll film. It has two aperture modes: sunny mode (f/11) and cloudy mode (f/8).

A tripod mount provided on the bottom enables you to make smooth long exposures. You can also attach an electronic flash to its hot shoe accessory mount on the top. Popularly nicknamed the Leaky Master, this camera raises bars with its random light leakage feature.

Cheapest polaroid film

Fujifilm Instax Mini film is the cheapest polaroid film. Its credit card equivalent size makes it a great options to use and carry around. On average, a pack of ten films costs about $8, making it slightly cheaper than other films.

In addition, Instax mini films offer decent quality, and if stored properly, they can last for years. Initially, only coloured and monochrome films were sold. However, to elevate the aesthetics, Fujifilm came up with various designs on the white borders of its films like rainbow colours, colourful stripes, confetti, candy pops, and even Disney inspired themes.

Best Polaroid Cameras for Weddings

Instant cameras at weddings are becoming increasingly popular. While instant cameras cannot replace a professional photographer at a wedding, they can be used for fun. And as a little souvenir.

However, if you want an even better solution, I recommend Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 printer. But more on it later.

These are the 3 best polaroid cameras for weddings:

1.   Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

Fujifilm instax SQUARE SQ6
Credit: Fujifilm

Instax Square SQ6 is loaded with features like an in-built flash with automatic exposure control, macro mode, selfie-mode, double exposure mode, and an exposure compensation feature that allows you to lighten or darken your shots. Therefore, Instax Square SQ6 is the perfect camera for weddings.

It automatically selects the best settings for you under its different shooting modes. The package includes three separate coloured flash filters, a camera strap, and two CR2 batteries. It costs just over a hundred dollars. Don’t forget to bring extra CR2 batteries on long photoshoots, as the SQ6 is not rechargeable.

2.   Polaroid Originals OneStep+

Polaroid Originals OneStep+

Polaroid Originals OneStep+ is a modern point-and-shoot instant camera that gives you a hassle-free shooting experience with decent results. The OneStep+ supports both I-Type and 600 type film packs. However, I recommend I- Type film for this polaroid camera as it produces large and good quality photos. Its shape and size are almost identical to vintage polaroid films, making it appealing to anyone into retro looks. The 106mm lens offers a field of view that is ideal for weddings.

Thanks to the Polaroid Originals app, you can connect this camera with your iOS or Android device. This way, you get access to multiple features such as a remote trigger, noise trigger, and manual mode. Polaroid Originals app makes it possible to create double exposures and light painting.

3.   Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 uses a unique lightweight credit card-sized Instax mini film, making it ideal for carrying around in your purse or even a wallet. To add more style to your images, the borders of these films are treated with different colours. With the Mini 11, you won’t have to worry about the exposure settings because it automatically regulates the brightness and shutter speed based on the light conditions. You can activate its One-Touch Selfie Mode by slightly pulling out the lens barrel.

Taking selfies becomes more convenient with its selfie mirror and a built-in macro mode. The camera comes with a camera case, 20 Fuji instant film sheets, and a photo album making it a complete package to give you a pleasant experience at weddings.

Best polaroid camera for beginners

These instant cameras require zero experience with photography. All of them automatically take the best possible photos. All you need to do is point and shoot.

Therefore, these are the perfect polaroid cameras for beginners:

1.   Polaroid Now

Polaroid now

Polaroid Now is an excellent option for beginners as its autofocus lens automatically takes care of any shooting situation. Carrying it around is very convenient due to its lightweight and compact design. Its vintage polaroid design and unique colour combinations give it an elegant appearance, making the Polaroid Now an eye turner on the streets.

Polaroid eliminated the risk of getting washed out images by improving the flash quality on this camera that guarantees the best quality pictures. It supports both the I-Type and 600-Type films. In short, it is quick and straightforward to use, which makes it a perfect polaroid camera for beginners.

2.   Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a fun instant camera to commemorate good times with your friends and family. It is pretty simple to set this camera up and start using it within a matter of minutes. It supports the Instax mini film and runs on two AA batteries. The film exposure counter on the back helps you keep track of the number of shots you have left.

Its 60mm fixed lens is versatile for most shooting situations. The multiple light settings: sunny, cloudy, slightly cloudy, indoors, and high-key mode may allow you to take pictures with softer impressions.

3.   Polaroid Originals OneStep 2

Polaroid Originals Onestep 2

Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 is a timeless piece of technology because its design is based on the vintage Polaroid OneStep from the 70s. This model keeps the same old body shape while adding a few modern features like Bluetooth connectivity, an upgraded shutter system, and a fixed lens. But, it still uses an I-Type film and has a built-in Zero-Ink mechanism.

A plastic frog tongue sticks out from the camera and the film to protect it from light in its initial development stage. In addition, it supports a rechargeable battery which is absent in most instant cameras. Overall, the OneStep 2 is a good option for beginners as it is genuinely affordable and easy to use.

Best Polaroid Cameras for Kids

Are you looking to bring photography closer to your kids?

These instant cameras are excellent choice for any child. They are super-simple to use, come bundled up with various filters and kits, and are quite sturdy.

1.   Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 is available in various attractive colours, making it a delightful option to introduce instant cameras to kids. It features a macro lens, a built-in selfie mirror, and a high-key mode that helps keep children interested, thanks to compelling photos. After loading the film cartridge, using the Mini 8 is effortless. You only have to point and shoot, and the camera automatically handles the rest.

Its compact and lightweight design makes it more user-friendly for kids. Fujifilm’s readily available Instax Films are compatible with this camera. Therefore, you won’t have to struggle to find one in the market. Choosing a combo offer for this camera is a more practical option. It includes 20 Instax mini-films, a protective case, a selfie lens, colourful filters, and a frame decorative design kit.

2.   Polaroid Snap Digital

Polaroid Snap Digital

Polaroid Snap is a digital polaroid camera featuring a Zink (Zero-Ink) technology for printing photos. Instead of a film cartridge, it uses a special 2-by-3-inch photo paper making it even more budget-friendly and convenient to use. Auto shooting modes simplify taking photos and work as simply pointing the cameras and pressing the trigger. You can also use its built-in self-timer to set up perfect selfies.

Its compact body and attractive colour combinations would not fail to catch children’s attention. With the support of a memory card, this camera can print photos and secure digital copies.

3.   Dragon Touch InstantFun Instant Print Camera

Dragon Touch InstantFun

Dragon Touch InstantFun is a dedicated kids-friendly camera designed for the 4-11 years age group. Like the Polaroid Snap, it also does not use films but photo papers complementary to the camera. It features a 2-inch coloured screen with five simple buttons for modes with an anti-drop silicon design that allows kids to carry it without worrying out any drop damage.

With its 8 megapixel sensor, this camera can shoot HD videos, capture photos and selfies using its self-timer. In addition, the package contains several stickers and colour pencils for children to experiment with their creativity.

Best Polaroid Printer

Fujfilm Instax Share SP-2

Fujfilm Instax Share SP 2

Instant cameras have a couple of weaknesses. For one, every polaroid is unique. You cannot replicate and reproduce it.

However, if you use a digital camera and then use a polaroid printer, you can reproduce a photo as many times as you want to.

This handy little printer (244 g /0.54 lbs) prints your digital camera shots and even your smartphone snapshot to Instax film. Thank to its compact design, you can always keep it in your bag. But, if you’re planning an even – it will surely be an amazing attraction.

As a wedding photographer, you can use Fujfilm Instax Share SP-2 to hand out welcome photos right there and then. For example, you can photograph bride with each new guest and give them a polaroid as a souvenir.


Is a polaroid camera worth it?

Instant and film photography are once again gaining popularity. Therefore, purchasing a polaroid camera is a worthy investment if you follow trends. Most instant cameras retail around a hundred dollars and make for a fun way to capture and preserve memories. Therefore, a polaroid camera is worth it for nostalgic and retro photographers.

Is there a timer on a polaroid camera?

There is a timer mode on some cameras like the polaroid Originals OneStep 2, Instax Mini 70, and 90 Neo Classic, which helps you precisely time your photos. Self-timer mode sets a timer, which gives you a couple of seconds to get the shot just right. It’s usually the best for group shots where the photographer also wants to be a part of the picture

Is a polaroid camera a good gift?

A polaroid camera is an excellent gift for anyone who loves capturing memories and getting the photos right away. Its instant photo printing ability never fails to excite any enthusiast. Modern instant cameras are pretty affordable and easy to handle, and you can give them to people of most age groups.

Is there a digital polaroid camera?

There are a few Digital polaroid cameras like Kodak Smile, Polaroid Mint, and Canon Ivy Cliq that have adopted the ‘Zink’ (Zero-Ink) technology from digital printers, which does not require the use of films for printing photos. They instead use a special type of photo paper for printing which is also cheaper than films. You will undoubtedly get high-quality images, but you’ll miss the vintage feel of the typical instant camera.

Is an old polaroid camera worth anything?

An old polaroid camera’s worth can range from zero to thousands of dollars depending upon its history, brand, film format, and condition, making it difficult to calculate an average value. These cameras can work like brand new for decades if the previous owners treat them appropriately. Collectors pay large amounts of money for working vintage polaroid cameras.

What does “S” mean on a polaroid camera?

The ‘S’ on your film exposure counter indicates that the starting slide (the tongue) is still intact in your film cartridge, and it will restrict you from taking count of the number of films left in your camera. You have to remove two such slides to access the actual usable film. Press the shutter button after installing a new cartridge to pop the starting slide out, and you should be able to see the number of films left. If the problem persists, try reinstalling the cartridge or use a new one.

What was the first polaroid camera?

The first polaroid camera is the ‘Land Model 95’ introduced by Polaroid Corporation in 1948. Several models with their compatible films were put on sale in a department store in Boston, only to be sold out in minutes.

How does a polaroid camera work?

A polaroid camera is packed with a film cartridge containing negatives coated with reactive chemicals. After taking a picture, a set of rollers place one of the negative films in front of the camera lens. The film remains in that position while the shutter opens and exposes it to the light from the lens. The substances present on the film react to the light, resulting in an accurate photo print. Once the process is completed, the film pops out of the camera with the assistance of rollers. It initially appears to be dark as it takes a few minutes for the film to develop. Therefore, the film should be protected from any light in the development stage to obtain maximum quality.

Final thoughts

The best instant camera is Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6. It’s available at around $120, for which you get a host of amazing features, which take the technical aspect away and allow you to focus on having fun creating polaroids.

Let me know in the comments which instant camera you chose.


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