In 2017 we are so used to reaching for our smartphones when we see something epic. Either that or our DSLRs; with many affordable DSLR’s on the market now, many would think that the old style Polaroid has got too much competition on its hands to be able to compete with the likes of Apple, Android, Canon and Nikon. However, it seems the instant camera is making a comeback. A camera that prints photos instantly certainly can give a feeling of nostalgia to a party and is a great tangible element to photography.
Big instant camera names like Fujifilm and Polaroid immediately springs to mind, but even Leica have recently dabbled in the instant photography world. This new found love of instant print photography has resulted in once pipedrealms such as the Impossible Project become a reality.
We have surveyed and tested some of the most popular instant cameras on the market in order to compile this top 10 list for you. Here’s our roundup of the best instant cameras on the market in 2017 and what you can expect from each of them.
- 1 What Features Should You Look For From An Instant Camera?
- 2 Camera Specifications and Rankings
- 3 Instant Camera Rankings and Reviews
- 4 Alternative to Instant Cameras; Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer
- 5 Instant Camera Film
- 6 The Verdict: What is the best instant camera on the market in 2017?
What Features Should You Look For From An Instant Camera?
When deciding on what you want from your new instant camera purchase, you need to begin by asking yourself some questions about specifically what type of camera you want to buy; do you just want a small fun camera to bring out at parties with a touch of nostalgia? Are you looking for more of a professional instant camera? Is it for the kids? Do you just want something that looks quirky, fun and is a little different to what everyone else has?
Though the underlying basic functionality of all instant cameras is the same, these questions will help you pick the right one for you. The instant camera market is now saturated with hundreds of options to choose from. Many have a plethora of different features and designs as well as different shooting capabilities in order to stand out from the crowd. The likelihood is that your online research to compare instant cameras has left you feeling somewhat overwhelmed and struggling to decide what the best instant camera is.
Here at BICW, I have scoured every data source available and tried and, as a photographer, I have tried and tested 90% of these instant cameras myself in order to provide you with the most accurate and up to date information available on the web. Hey, if this article goes longer than a month or so without being updated, I’m letting you down. I guarantee that by the time you have reached the end of this article you will be 100% sure on which instant camera you want to buy. So pour yourself a large glass of wine and put aside 20 minutes to get through this comprehensive list.
Camera Specifications and Rankings
Each camera I mention in this article has a plethora of different features and specifications. Before I jump into the in-depth reviews, I have created a quick comparison table which shows you the price range, key features of the camera and the overall rating out of 5.
Click on each heading to sort by the ranking factor of your choice.
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 8||64 x 42||1/60||$||★★★½|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 70||64 x 42||1/2 to 1/400||$$||★★★★|
|Fujifilm Instax Wide 300||62 x 99||1/64 to 1/200||$$||★★★½|
|Leica Sofort||62 x 46||1/8 to 1/400 + BULB||$$$$||★★★★★|
|Polaroid 600||79 x 79||1/3 to 1/200||$||★★★|
|Lomo'Instant||64 x 42||1/125 + BULB||$$||★★★★½|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 90||64 x 42||1.8 sec – 1/400 sec + BULB (Max 10sec)||$$||★★★★|
|Polaroid Snap Touch||76 x 51||Data not provided||$$||★★★½|
|Polaroid Z2300 10MP||76 x 51||Data not provided||$$$||★★★★|
|Impossible I-1||79 x 79||30 to 1/250||$$$||★★★★½|
Instant Camera Rankings and Reviews
Listed below are my top 10 favorite instant cameras of 2017 so far. As a photography lover, I have tried and tested each and every one of the instant cameras featured on the website in order to provide you with the most honest, accurate and up to date information on the models.
Dimensions 4.9 x 3.7 x 2.3″
+ Pros Usual Leica quality. Sleek, retro and small design. Higher caliber instant photos
– Cons Expensive in instant photography terms. Expensive film
After spending countless hours researching and testing out some of the markets top choices, it was inevitable that I had to give Leica the top spot here. I was so excited to hear that Leica was making an instant camera and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to test it out. Though it’s pricier than it’s more basic counterparts (namely the Instax Mini 8 and Instax Mini 70) this camera does give you a lot of features for your money and maintains that consistent, high quality feel that you generally tend to experience with a Leica product.
It boasts a three-zone manual focus system with macro shooting capabilities and is currently available in 3 colors; blue, white and orange. Other notable features include: exposure compensation settings, a self-timer (which is perfect for group selfies) and a tripod mount.
I really like that the camera offers a number of different shooting modes too; including Automatic, Self-Portrait, People & Part, Action & Sport, Bulb, Macro, Self-Timer, and Double Exposure. These are settings that are more commonly found on your standard CSC and DSLR’s rather than on an instant camera.
Leica has produced their own film for the Sofort; however, it does also take the Instax Mini film, which, in my opinion, is a great way to save a few bucks when you are purchasing the film (the most expensive part of buying an instant camera).
The Leica Sofort is without a doubt the best quality instant camera I’ve seen on the market this year. Therefore, despite its price point not being in everyone’s budget, I still think this is the best option if you’re wanting to create higher caliber shots from your instant photography endeavors. I went in to more detail on the Sofort’s features, pros’s and cons in my in-depth review here.
Dimensions Varies based on model 3.5 x 4.5 x 2.5″ (Based on Lomo’Instant Automat)
+ Pros An awesome range of designs. Greater level of control. Interchangeable lens attachments.
– Cons Viewfinder is small and tricky to use. There’s sometimes guesswork with the composition of images because of the lens distortion from the attachments.
This instant camera is the very epitome of innovation and creativity and has brought instant photography into the 21st century. The Lomo’Instant was developed by the company ‘Lomography’ and was funded through a very successful kickstarter campaign and were quoted saying that the Automat is the “most advanced automatic instant film camera on the market”.
The designs are pretty epic and ingeniously unique, with many models being named after famous towns and cities (perfect for you travel lovers). The price point is super affordable.
The camera comes with some real neat features including a lens cap that doubles up as a remote shutter release and a selection of 3 lens attachments to choose from. These include; fisheye, wide-angle and close-up/macro. Don’t mistake it for an interchangeable lens camera, though!
The functionality is excellent and the camera gives you a lot more control over your photography than it’s competitors. There are a variety of different shooting modes, aperture adjustment settings and you also have the ability to take multiple exposures which creates pretty cool effects. The Lomo’Instant takes standard Fuji Instax film too.
You’re probably wondering with all these great features why the Lomo’Instant didn’t take the top spot. The truth is, there are a few disadvantages of this camera. My biggest issue was the viewfinder. It drove me a little bit mad; it is a tiny and very inaccurate and will definitely take some getting used to.
I discuss this in more detail in my comprehensive review of the Lomo’Instant; you can find out more about the camera, the good and the not so good here.
Dimensions 5.2″ x 5.3″ x 9″
+ Pros Ring flash perfect for portrait shots. Remote shutter release via app. Good for professionals. Remote shutter release via app. Good for pros
– Cons Expensive Camera, expensive film. Weird/bulky shape/design.
Once again, this option is one of the priciest instant cameras available. However, there is a cool story behind it and if you want to shoot with traditional Polaroid film then this is the camera for you.
Made by the Impossible Project, this camera has great build quality; much better than the cheaper Instax counterparts. However, the odd pyramid-like shape of the camera itself and bulky design may turn you off a little due to a lack of practicality. Personally, as a frequent traveler, this odd shape would affect me, but I do find the design aesthetically pleasing and unique.
Despite the odd design though, when comparing it to the likes of the Polaroid 600 range of cameras, the I-1 weighs in at around 200g lighter than your traditional Polaroid cameras.
I found that the ring flash was an awesome feature which provides great lighting conditions for shooting portraits and gives the camera it’s unique identity. The ring flash is made up of 12 led lights, 8 of which illuminate when the flash is set to on.
There is an app that comes free with the camera and it works as a remote shutter release which is great if you want to jump in group photos or don’t have a very steady hand. It also has very impressive functionality; the aperture and the shutter speed can be adjusted meaning its great for light painting and double exposure shots.
The image quality is much better than the older Polaroid 600’s you see floating about Amazon and eBay. This is due to the camera’s wide-angle lens that has a much sharper focus. The camera performs better in outdoor situations due to the highest aperture being rather low (f7); all my indoor shots required the flash, unfortunately.
Overall, I think this is a good instant camera for a shooting portrait and macro shots in good lighting, but if you’re looking for something fun to whip out at parties then maybe one of the cheaper models for sale would suit you better. However, if you’re after large photos from your instant camera then this is your best bet.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
Dimensions 99.2 × 113.7 ×53.2 mm
Weight 281g (without batteries, strap and film pack)
+ Pros Best fun option for selfies. Sleek, modern, chic design.
– Cons Fragile. Flash is set to auto with no option to change it.
Yet another Fujifilm camera made it in the top 10 and it’s no surprise really.
The Instax Mini 70 has the capability to shoot both macro and landscape mode so you can get creative with your instant photography. Secondly, there’s also a selfie mode.
Can I get a Hell Yes!!
The selfie crowd is 100% the target market of this camera. I am convinced Kim Kardashian has one locked away somewhere. It features a specific selfie mode which provides the correct brightness and shooting distance for portraits and has a cute little mirror built into the side just by the lens to help you frame those types of images better. Like Kim K too, you will find once you whip this out you will become the most popular person at the party/in the office. Nostalgia gets us all hey?! Stock up on your film here!
The color scheme of this range is bright, cheerful and most importantly, fun; which has become typical of Instax products. However, what makes this camera stand out is that the design also has a very sleek and stylish edge to it, it’s not gone overly retro like it’s Instax Mini 90 Counterpart.
The quality of the build is similar to the Instax Mini 8 meaning that, honestly, it’s not going to be the most durable thing in the world if you drop it. I suggest you wear it with the strap. The tripod socket is also a handy feature which can help you to steady the images. It is very lightweight though, which is surprising as I did expect more weight from a camera that possesses all of it’s processing capabilities internally.
The only major thing that frustrated me about this model was that you can’t control the flash and it has been known to wreak havoc if you’re not in lots of natural light. Loading the film can be a little difficult too the first time you do it but after that, you will be a pro. The first image comes out completely black too so be sure to take a test shot before taking actual pictures.
This camera is a great choice in terms of photo quality; it is better than the Mini 8 but not quite on par with the Mini 90. The photos have a cool undertone similar to that of a popular Instagram filter and look quite artistic.
The Instax Mini 70 takes the standard instax film and since we all can get a little excited when taking a few too many selfies, I recommend bulk buying the film for this one to save some extra cash.
Overall, this camera provides a great balance of affordability, style and image quality which is what made it so deserving of our #4 spot!
Instax Mini 90
Dimensions 5.2″ x 5.3″ x 9″
+ Pros Stylish and compact. Good, quality build; sturdier than other cameras in the Instax range.
– Cons Technical glitches reported with the camera.
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90 is a stylish and compact version of the Instax 70 combining a good build with a great price point and some flexibility with features.
The camera fits easily in a jacket pocket and I even managed to get it in my jeans pocket on some of my pants.
This camera, like many other instant cameras has the social pull factor. As soon as I get it out people flock toward me in awe and are dying to grab a snap.
Out of all the Instax cameras I have tried and tested, I found this one to be my personal favorite from the range from a style point of view. It has a vintage flair without the plastic, toy like qualities you get with the Mini 8. It is a great token prop for events, parties and scrap booking; my friend actually had this exact camera at her wedding recently and it was a nice way to put together some fun mementos of the day.
The Instax Mini 90 can take some getting used to, but once you’ve mastered your technique it does offer pretty great quality as far as instant cameras go. I found it worked best with medium and close up shots rather than landscape images. The automatic brightness setting is useful, but if you’re in a situation with a lot of highlights and contrasting shadows the images can become a bit blurry and the highlights are blown out.
Indoors, you do need a lot of natural light to achieve higher quality images; think bright windows, etc. However, if it is late and you’re at a party, you can adjust the brightness a couple of notches and use the flash. I found that sometimes, there can be motion blur with this camera though due to the shutter speed being too slow. If you can prop the camera up nice and steady, late night events are a great opportunity to use the camera’s BULB mode though or even do some creative double exposures.
I have had no technical difficulties using this camera, however, people have reported the film getting jammed as well as some error messages. Fujifilm offers a one year warranty with this camera though so if you do encounter any issues then you can send it back to them for repair or replacement.
Overall, I did like this instant camera. Yes, it isn’t perfect; more like a fun gadget for teens to play around with as an introduction to analogue photography or, like my friend, as a cool wedding or event prop. But you do get what you pay for and you won’t be disappointed in this purchase if you choose to go ahead and buy it. It’s a great middle of the road option, coming in at number 5 on the list.
Dimensions 5.2″ x 5.3″ x 9″
+ Pros Sleek design, choose which images you want to print. Merging the boundary of digital and instant photography.
– Cons Expensive film. Poor internal memory ( though it is expected). No optical zoom.
The Polaroid Z300 made this list simply because this is where instant cameras and analogue photography merges with the digital photography world. It is known as the ‘instant digital camera’ and is simply a modern Polaroid.
The camera has an aesthetically pleasing, sleek design and comes at a mid range 440g weight. It boasts a 2.5″ LCD screen on the back and prints out pretty standard 2″ x 3″ images using Polaroid’s ZINK (Zero Ink) film. Because of the ZINK technology, the prints are smudge-proof, waterproof and ready for sticking to any surface you choose, as they have a peel-away sticky back which I thought was pretty neat for scrap booking and such.
Digitally, it produces decent 10MP images and can shoot videos in 720p HD. An aspect I loved about this camera was the fact that, unlike other, more traditional instant cameras, this one actually allows you to pick and choose which images to print after seeing them on the screen which means less film wasted on crappy shots!
One major bummer with this camera though was the lack of optical zoom, there is only digital zoom available, kind of like a cell phone. So, the farther you are away from your subject the worse your image quality will be. But what can you expect from a camera with so many all-in-one features. I suppose something had to give right?
As always, I found the 2″ x 3″ image size to be a little small to my taste, I am definitely a full sized traditional Polaroid film kind of gal. Nevertheless, given what this type of camera will be used for, it’s not a major issue. Nowadays, it seems that the 2″ x 3″ image size is standard practice in the instant camera game.
One thing that will add to the price of your new toy too is an SD card. The camera does come with a little storage (emphasis on the little). It will hold about 7 shots before you need to delete some images and if you’re anything like me when it comes to taking a picture, you’re going to want a little extra space so you can pick your favorite images to print. You can pick up an SD card relatively cheap from Amazon. The more expensive the card, the better functionality it has in terms of how fast it copies data over and what type of data it can hold (i.e. 1080p 4k, 7k etc.) For this type of camera though, a basic memory card will do just fine. Click here for the latest SD card prices.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8
Dimensions 116 x 118.3 x 68.2 mm
Weight 307g (without batteries, strap and film pack)
+ Pros Cheapest option on the market. Great for kids. Bright and fun design. Easy to use.
– Cons Fragile. Expensive film
Fujifilm’s bright and fun Instax Mini 8 model earned its place here at BICW as the top instant camera for kids. It boasts an impressionable color scheme, is technophobe friendly/super easy to use, and is an easy to carry size and weight.
This camera was the most popular instant camera in 2016 and effortlessly combines a fun look and instant printing capabilities alongside a very competitive price point. It dominated the Amazon Best Sellers List last year and is currently doing so this year too.
As I have already mentioned, this camera is impressively priced; in fact it is currently the cheapest instant camera I have found. The new raspberry and grape editions (see above) have truly made this range pop and you can see why this camera appeals to younger people.
As with the other Fujifilm instant cameras, the mini 8 takes standard Instax film meaning you get the standard 2″x 3″ image size. The photo quality is OK. The camera kind of floundered when taking landscape shots and worked much better with portraits of people. I also found that the shutter speed may also be a little low (1/60 is the lowest setting for handheld photos before it is said to affect photo quality) if you are a little shaky with a camera, however, this will likely not impact the photo too much due to the small surface area on which it is printed on.
As a photographer, one of the personal highlights of this camera for me was the ability to manually adjust the exposure of images using the brightness adjustment dial; a very nifty tool. It gave me pictures with a much softer impression and a somewhat professional edge, which considering how cheap this thing is, was VERY impressive.
The camera sports a lightweight design that can slip easily into your handbag or one of its official carry cases (see them here) . It has auto-focus and auto-flash capabilities claiming that it can create a vibrant image even in low light situations. Perfect for novices.
The build quality of the casing/material however, is not as sturdy as it’s competitors or other cameras in the Instax range which is one thing that kind of lets this camera down.
I have gone into a much more detail about this camera in my in-depth review which you can find on the website here. I fully discuss the pros and cons of this super cheap camera option. If you’re thinking of purchasing the Mini 8, you can find the latest prices of the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 clicking here.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
Dimensions 167.8 x 94.7 x 120.9 mm (not including bulky protrusions)
Weight 612g (without batteries, strap and film pack)
+ Pros Best wide angle instant camera on the market. Double the image width vs. standard Instax
– Cons Bulky, heavy. Quite an ugly looking camera
Mashable’s author Raymond Wong was quoted as saying that this instant camera is “..better than Instagram…” which, considering the fun factor of instant photography and the lo-fi style images you get from this model, it isn’t an unjustified comment.
I love that this instant camera prints photos that are double the width of other Instax cameras; 108mm to be specific. It is very similar to the old Polaroid in terms of image dimensions. However, for me, it certainly prints images much sharper than what the Polaroid does (this is partially down to the quality of focus on the camera). Another bonus is that the Instax film does come in a little cheaper than the Impossible Project’s Polaroid film which is always a bonus.
The functionality of the Instax Wide 300 is great and it has an adjustable focal length/zoom for subjects that are further away.
The viewfinder tends to come up a little small in comparison to the rest of the camera but there’s no need to worry as the camera features a built-in LCD screen which helps you to frame the perfect shot. Hurray!
It loads 10 films at a time and is much easier to get going with than the Mini 70. It has a great battery life and performs best in the bright and natural light.
Like the Instax Mini 70, the Instax Wide 300 also has a tripod socket if you want to get in on a group picture too. nevertheless, It is perfect for a beginner of instant photography who wants to take wider angle shots.
The quality of the build is an upgrade from what we saw on the Instax Mini 8 and 70; which is reflected in the slight increase in price. The camera certainly looks more durable but it is so bulky. Though it has reached the top 10 list due to the aforementioned pros, the style is very lumpy and awkward looking. Maybe even more so than the Impossible I-1. It is certainly not as aesthetically Instax Mini 90 for example, which has a cool retro feel.
Overall, this has to be the best wide angle instant camera on the market, especially when considering its very reasonable price point.
Polaroid Snap Touch
Dimensions 51 x 102 x 91mm
+ Pros Lightweight, stylish camera with the ability to select which images to print.
– Cons Touch screen inaccurate and grainy. Slow shutter release.
The Polaroid snap touch has a 13MP CMOS sensor, records video in 1080p full HD and can fit an SD card that will store upto 128GB of data. The LCD screen is 1″ bigger than the Z2300 and it also boasts that ZINK technology. So I was expecting a real winner of an instant digital camera here.
Unlike the original Polaroid Snap, this version ditches the view finder and you are left to just rely on the LCD touch screen. However, I found that the touch screen left a little to be desired for and it reminded me of days gone by, furiously tapping my useless touchscreen on my old GPS. The menus on the touch screen were also very basic and the LCD was of a grainy quality. I also found that the shutter release had a bit of a delay so this camera probably wouldn’t be the best for shooting sporting events and such.
I did however really like the print quality of the photos with this camera, similar to the Z2300 they had a vintage flair and I thought they were of a higher quality than the Instax film. Images print out at 2″ x 3″ and you can fit one pack of 10 films in the camera at a time.
Another personal highlight for me too was the Bluetooth capability of this camera and the ability to add borders to your images. Also, when the camera is linked up to the phone, you have the option of editing your images before printing them out which is a great digital touch to the analogue world.
On paper, I really thought that this camera would excel for me and that it would rank above the Z2300. However, when I received the Snap Touch, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I was going to be…Nevertheless, it managed to squeeze it’s way in to position 9.
Dimensions Varies based on model 8 x 8 x 5.9″ (Based on Polaroid 600 Sun)
+ Pros An instant camera classic. Can get them cheap if you shop around
– Cons Expensive film from the Impossible Project. Older camera means images are lesser quality
Last but not least is the classic Polaroid 600. I had to include an oldie in this list right?!
This is likely the image that springs to mind (maybe something squarer if you were a user of Polaroids in the early days) when you think of instant photography.
Thanks to the Impossible Project, a company who launched in 2008 in Polaroid’s last factory days before closure, we can now get original format instant film for these vintage cameras.
The company is also responsible for refurbishing old Polaroid instant cameras (view their inventory here).
There are many versions of the Polaroid 600 which were released over the years. This version type is mainly used as a beginners camera for those newer to instant photography. The square 80’s style versions usually weigh just over 453g with the round version coming in fifty percent heavier at 635g.
The Polaroid 600 type cameras typically have point and shoot technology and automatic flash capabilities. Refurbished Polaroid 600 Cameras can be purchased from as little as $50. If you’re lucky you may even be able to get your hands on a brand new one that has been sat in storage for years!
Alternative to Instant Cameras; Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer
If the instant print digital cameras suggested above weren’t for you there is an alternative that may take your fancy.
For those of you who enjoy snapping on your iPhone and Android smartphone; you can buy an instant printer that attaches to your phone via Bluetooth and NFC and prints 2″ x 3″ images from there. It’s called the Polaroid ZIP Mobile printer. You can find more details about the printer and its prices here.
Instant Camera Film
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the Fujifilm Instax film is accepted on a lot of other branded cameras and is usually the go to option for many. Check here for latest prices.
The Impossible Project supplies original Polaroid film and Leica also has their own film available for the Sofort.
Though not overly expensive; the price of the film for instant cameras has to be factored into the cost of purchasing an instant camera. If you are only using it occasionally then it will be fine, however, if its a camera you will be using a lot; the price of the film can certainly add up. At which point, one of the digital options listed above may better suit your needs.
The Verdict: What is the best instant camera on the market in 2017?
I think if you’re a pro, or are looking to shoot more professional instant photography and don’t mind parting with a little extra cash, then the Leica Sofortor the Impossible I-1 is going to be the best option for you to go with. The Leica Sofort is definitely the strongest competitor I have tried and has heaps of options and functionality, however, as always with Leica it does come with the price tag; albeit it’s not in the thousands like some of their product.
If you’re on a budget, you want something compact, small, good for travel and fun get together’s I would recommend going with the Instax Mini 8 or the Lomo’Instant. I think they’re both a fun options and great for younger generations.
If you can’t quite let go of digital photography then hands down the Z2300is going to be the best option for you unless you want just a mobile printer without the camera.
I hope this article helped you make an informed buying decision. If you liked my post feel free to share it with friends who are considering buying an instant camera or give it a quick pin on Pinterest.
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