Best Instant Film Camera
The instant camera Polaroid pioneered in the 1970’s may be gone, but instant print film cameras are making a resurgence. These gadgets use self developing film which print right from the camera, no additional hardware or printers required. Most of the instant cameras on the markets have a decidedly retro and playful air about them. These are simple and fun to use. it’s easy to get anyone (and everyone) to join in, and even the most camera-shy child or adult will be coming back for more photos. The controls are limited – typically no zoom lenses, viewfinders are usually just a framing opening without an LCD screen for viewing, and special features, filters and effects are few.
The upside is instant gratification with a physical photo in hand to remember the occasion. And with no digital capabilities, these pics aren’t shareable on social media (!). The only major downside is that film can be a little bit pricey (see the end of this article for more info), and may be small for some photographers.
Our three picks below for best instant camera are all from Fujifilm, although there are other manufacturers out there (Polaroid, Leica, Lomography, etc.).
#1 – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera – Lime Green (around $56) Available in Green, Blue, Pink and White
The “Mini 9” is a bundle of fun in bright colors and interesting retro shape that’s easy to hold and carry. The camera is simplicity itself with one-button picture tacking. It has automatic exposure to get just the right light balance, and an LED flash for indoor pictures. A selfie mirror on the front lets you get in the photos. There is a single special effect feature – “High Key Mode” for a bright picture with a soft look. Also, just one attachment – a macro lens adapter for close up pictures of flowers, babies and food.
With 2 replaceable AA batteries, you can take about 100 pictures before needing a swap.
We like this one best due to it’s fun factor, low price and that it can be used by anyone. With no controls and adjustments to make, you still get rich, colorful photos with a press of a button. Children, Tweens, and Teens will enjoy having one of these, and sharing with their friends. For a true retro photo, you can load this with black-and-white film instead of color. Grab this and go – making every outing an adventure to remember.
Buy the Mini 9 with a carry case, and some additional film (about $83) – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera with Instax Groovy Camera Case (Lime Green) & Instax Mini Instant Film Twin Pack , of take advantage of the best value bundle deal (about $120) FujiFilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera + Fuji Instax Film (40 Sheets) + Accessories Bundle – Carrying Case, Color Filters, 2 Photo Albums, Assorted Frames, Selfie Lens + MORE (Ice Blue) .
#2 – Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera (about $115) Available in Black or Brown
The Mini 90 is a little more expensive than the Mini 9, but that buys you considerable more features. There is a retractable 60mm lens, brightness controls for exposures, and six shooting modes. You can select from: Party useful when using flash in low light; Kids, to capture faster-moving-subjects like children pets and actions; Landscape for when shooting from a more than 9 feet; Marco, for very close captures; Bulb, lets you manually hold the shutter open for up to 10 seconds for special effects like light trails; and Double Exposure, 2 images are produced on 1 film sheet by pressing the shutter button twice.
The brightness controls give you 4 levels of light exposure: normal, bright, brighter, and dark. In all modes, the Mini 90 detects the brightness of the surrounding and adjusts the amount of flash and shutter speed to optimize photo quality based on your setting.
The 90 also upgrades from disposable AA batteries to a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You can get about 200 photos on a charge.
Like the Mini 9, the Mini 90 bundle deal is the best way to get started – Fujifilm instax mini 90 Instant Film Camera (Neo Classic) + Fujifilm instax Film 20 Sheets + Extra Accessories Kit (about $155) which includes;
- Mini 90 camera
- Mini 90 Case
- Box of Film (20 Film Sheets)
- Rechargeable Battery & Charger
- Photo frames
- Photo Stickers
- Lens Spray/Brush
- Photo Microfiber Cloth
#3 – New Model Fuji Instax Mini 50s Piano White Fujifilm Instant Camera (about $98) Available in Piano White, Piano Black
Our third pick is solidly in the middle of the first two, in terms of features and price. This is for the serious snapshot taker. You get easy instant pictures, with a few useful effects and controls. Use the “Self Timer Mode” to get two photos with a single button press or the “Flash Mode” to have the Mini 50s automatically set the shutter speed based on the available light (with or without the Flash).
Similar to the other two, you can also take close up pictures of flowers, food and make artistic photos.
The 50s is powered with CR2 batteries instead of a rechargeable, and will last for at least 200 shots.
A little about film for these instant cameras:
Our recommendation is to buy in Value Packs – 60 Images (about $35) of 3 packs of 20 rather than in the minimum single pack of 10 prints. Film from Fujifilm is standard with a plain white border, but they also sell film with more stylized borders. You can get fancy backgrounds, multi-colored backgrounds or a plain black. However, these will cost you a little more, around 3 cents to 10 cents additional per film. There are also varying sized films, but not all cameras will take all formats, so check before you buy. The most typical formats are wallet, or credit card sized, around 1.8 inches to 2.4 inches, or 2.1 by 3.4 inches; But you can also get double wide as well as square.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Film Value Pack – 60 Images (about $35)
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