Instant cameras have seen a massive resurgence over the past couple of years thanks to their retro charm. Sceptics might dismiss it as a fad, but there’s much more to the instant camera comeback than simple looks.

What Are Instant Cameras For?

In an age where our lives have become saturated with digital photographs and videos, the time and care that goes into taking a physical photograph preserves the memories that really matter - and who doesn’t love peppering their fridge door with snaps?

Their simplicity and quick development make instant cameras a brilliant choice as introductory cameras for children, too. Giving them an instant camera lets your little one take pictures of their friends without granting them access to all the features of a smartphone they may not be ready for yet.

But what’s the best kind of instant camera? In this product guide we’ll do a deep dive into the world of instant cameras to explain everything you need to know about these retro beauties.

Analogue Vs Digital Instant Cameras

We’ll be discussing two types of instant cameras in this buying guide: analogue instant cameras and digital cameras with an instant printing option. 

What’s the difference between analogue and digital cameras, we hear you ask? Well, they both have advantages and disadvantages, so it depends on what you want to use your instant camera for.

Analogue Instant Cameras

Analogue instant cameras take pictures by exposing film to a snapshot of light through its aperture. Analogue instant cameras produce warm, slightly washed out photos, with a noticeable grain. If you’re really into that retro aesthetic, an analogue camera is for you. 

However, one issue with analogue instant cameras is that every time you press the trigger, you’ve used up one photo’s worth of film, even if you’re not happy with the result. If you like to take dozens of photos and pick the best one, an analogue camera is going to be very expensive.

Digital Instant Cameras

Digital instant cameras take pictures using an electronic sensor and save them to an electronic memory. They work just like the camera on your smartphone but have a built-in printer that lets you run off your favourite photos then and there. 

Without any editing or filters, a digital instant camera takes colour neutral photos that are low on distortion. You can select only your best photos for printing, so you won’t be wasting any film, and some models allow you to print any photos stored on your phone as well. The downside is pixilation: if your digital instant camera skimps on megapixels, then the photos you print will look blurry and discoloured.

It’s also important to be aware of what kind of film your instant camera uses, as not every kind of film is compatible with all cameras. To help you out, we’ve noted which film variety that each of the cameras use. 

Now, let’s get to the list!



Most Nostalgic Instant Camera: Polaroid Originals OneStep+

polaroid-one-step-plus

Key Features: Bluetooth LE connectivity, custom step motor shutter portrait to landscape lens switch

Optical system: Fixed polycarbonate lens, focal length: 103 mm

Compatible film: Polaroid I-type, Polaroid 600

You’ll literally shake it like a polaroid picture with the Polaroid Originals OneStep+! The Polaroid Original OneStep+ is based on the classic Polaroid One Step Land Camera from the 1970s. It’s a beautiful looking camera, and with Polaroid’s distinctive rainbow stripe running down the middle, you’ll struggle to find something more attractive. 

Though the Polaroid Originals OneStep+ would fit in among disco balls and flared jeans, this instant camera is thoroughly modern. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth for extra functionality like self-timed shots, noise triggers and other features you’d expect from a 21st Century camera. 

This instant camera uses Polaroid’s own I-Type and 600 film packs, which produce fantastic monochrome shots for a brilliantly bohemian look. The square dimensions produced by this camera are ideal for scanning and uploading to Instagram, too.

Best Budget Instant Camera: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

intax-mini-9

Key features: Brightness adjustment dial, close-up lens attachment, selfie mirror

Optical system: 2 element lens, focal length: 60mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini film

If you want to dip your toes into the waters of instant film cameras, your best option has to be the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. Its low price point and simple point-and-shoot operation is great for beginners. 

The Instax Mini 9 is small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket, and at under 300 grams it won’t weigh you down - perfect for taking shots on the move! 

Children will especially love the Instax Mini 9 for its wide colour range. Look out as well for special edition instant cameras that tie in with popular movies like Frozen 2 and Star Wars.

Best Digital Instant Camera: KODAK Mini Shot Instant Camera

kodak-mini-polaroid

Key Features: Sharp printed images, mobile device pairing, Kodak editing app

Optical system: CMOS sensor, 3872 x 2592 pixels

Compatible film: Kodak All-In-One Mini Cartridge

The Kodak Mini Shot Instant Camera is a first-rate digital instant camera. Its compact design is fun, fresh and available in a range of funky colours. Its built-in printer uses a four-pass system to produce sharp images with plenty of saturation, making colours look more lifelike than some of its competitors.

You can also connect the Kodak Mini Shot to your phone via Bluetooth and print off images from your phone’s internal memory. Before you print you can adjust the brightness and contrast settings, crop the picture and apply filters using the Kodak app.

If you’ve got a picture on the Kodak Mini Shot that you’d like to keep but isn’t worth printing off that’s no problem! You can transfer photos taken with this instant camera to any connected device for you to publish them on social media.

Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay

instax-mini-li-play

Key features: Compact body, QR code sound recording, MicroSD card memory

Optical system: CMOS image sensor, 2560 x 1920 pixels

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini film

This digital instant camera is a great choice for anyone who wants to have the fun of using an instant camera without the hassle. The Instax Mini LiPlay lives up to its name: the lack of analogue apparatus means that this instant camera is absolutely tiny. 

It saves its digital images to a MicroSD card, letting you print on demand and import pictures from your phone and other digital cameras as well. Once you’ve picked your favourites, you can print them off quickly onto Instax Mini film. 

Finally, the Fujifilm Instax Mini Liplay has one last trick up its sleeve: this nifty camera not only captures images, but sound too! When you record sound with the Instax Mini Liplay, it prints a QR code onto your photograph. Simply scan the code with your smartphone to play the recording - wow!

Best Instant Camera for Professionals: Mint SLR670-S

slr-670-s

Key features: Manual shutter and focus adjustment, high ISO sensitivity, superior photograph quality

Optical system: Four element glass lens, focal length: 116mm

Compatible film: Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid 600

The Mint SLR670-S is the best instant camera money can buy, and your wallet will notice! The Mint SLR670-S has a hefty price tag, but for this expense you’ll get the best image quality of any of the instant cameras in our buying guide. 

You can use two types of Polaroid film in this Mint camera: SX-70 and 600. Photos taken with this instant camera are sharp and finely detailed even in low lighting, with little of the washed-out nature that’s common to instant film cameras. 

The Mint SLR670-S also gives you tremendous control over how you take a picture. With the included Time Machine Dongle, you can set the shutter speed and focus manually. It’s a brilliant piece of equipment, and if you’re a professional photographer or die-hard enthusiast, this is the instant camera for you.

Best Creative Instant Camera: Lomography Diana Instant Square

lomo-diana-instant-square

Key features: Strong colour saturation, heavy vignette, adjustable aperture

Optical system: Kit lens, focal length: 75mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Square

The Diana Instant Square Camera is a quirky instant analogue camera with a pedigree past. The original Diana camera was a novelty toy camera and regularly given away at fairs and raffles. This simple camera became prized by artists and photography enthusiasts because of its heavy vignette, soft focus and odd colour aberrations. 

The Diana Instant Square replicates this dreamy aesthetic with modern features and Instax Mini Film compatibility. Adjustable apertures, interchangeable lenses and manual zone focusing give you tight control, while unlimited multiple exposures let you unleash your creativity for truly out-there instant photography. For true experimentation, you can’t go wrong with the Diana Instant Square!

Best Instant Camera for Social Media: Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20

Key features: Prints on square film, filter options, motion control

Optical system: CMOS image sensor, 1920 x 1920 pixels

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Square

If you're all about curating an aesthetic Instagram grid, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ20 is the ideal camera for you. It prints out its shots on patented Fujifilm Instax Square film. At 6cm square, this instant camera produces photos in the perfect dimensions for the ‘gram. 

The Instax Square SQ20 is a bit of a cheater when it comes to instant cameras: it can take a single image, but it will also record 15 seconds of video with the motion capture mode for you to ‘frame-grab’ and save as a photo.

Is your friend jumping into the pool? Flip through the footage on your Instax Square and pick the perfect moment.Or use the timeshift collage feature to print four pictures on one photograph to create a sense of motion.

The SQ20 also supports double exposure and bulb exposure modes, which allow you to experiment with artistic effects without worrying about wasting film.

You can crop and add filters to both the motion capture and still photograph before printing, including a monochrome option for black-and-white shots.

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

intax-wide-300

Key features: Wide film print, manual focusing ring, exposure control settings

Optical system: Retractable length, focal length: 95mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Wide

If you’re interested in squeezing the biggest photographs you can out of your instant camera, then the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the obvious choice. 

The Instax Wide 300 uses the Fujifilm Instax Wide film, which is twice as wide as standard sized film - perfect for group shots of friends and family. 

The extra-large prints aren’t the only advantage this camera has. It’s got a manual focusing ring that allows you to set the camera lens in different positions for far away shots, or you can peer in closely with the optional close-up lens.

You can also set the exposure with the “lighten-darken” control. Are you photos too washed out or dark? Try a different exposure with the push of a button!

Polaroid Snap Touch

polaroid-snap-touch

Key features: In-camera editing tools, turns your photos into stickers, automatic focus

Optical system: CMOS sensor, 4368 x 2917 pixels

Compatible film: Polaroid Zink Paper

The Polaroid Snap Touch is a brilliant choice for anyone looking to have a great time while they take photographs. Once you’ve snapped an image, you can mess around with it in the Polaroid Snap Touch’s image studio. 

Add stickers, overlays and filters to mix up any instant photo. This fun digital instant camera doesn’t print out its photos on regular film, but special ‘Zink paper’. Zink paper doesn’t have borders or require ink to work, and you can peel the back of your new photo off to turn it into an adhesive sticker. Nice!

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

fujifilm-instax-mini-90

Features: Programmable flash, macro mode, brightness control

Optical system: Adjustable lens, focal length: 60mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but we think that the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is the classiest instant camera on the market, thanks to its eye-catching 1960s-inspired design. 

Good looks aren’t this camera’s only advantage. Experienced users have the opportunity to tweak the exposure settings to compensate for less-than-ideal lighting and take great pictures on the Instax Mini film. 

Unlike other instant cameras on this list, the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic has a programmable flash with multiple settings, including one to reduce red-eye - your friends won’t look possessed when you use this camera! It’s also got a brilliant macro mode for capturing little details in close-up shots.

Leica Sofort

lecia-sofort

Key features: Motor-driven focus positions, multiple automatic focus modes, specially made for Leica film.

Optical system: Automatik-Hekto lens, focal length: 60mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini, Leica Sofort Film

Leica should ring a bell for any keen photographers - the German company have won photographers' hearts around the world since the 1920s. Leica brings their renowned attention to detail to their first instant camera, the Leica Sofort. 

The 60mm lens has a great all-round focal length, which can be quickly adjusted with thes motor-driven focus positions.Enthusiasts will get a real kick out of the options this instant camera offers.

Amateurs, on the other hand, can take it easy. The Leica has a variety of automatic modes that will do everything for you. If you’re trying to snap a friend’s football goal or capture the life of a party, the Leica Sofort has a mode for you

The Leica Sofort produces wonderful looking instant photographs on Instax Mini film. However, this camera is at its best using Leica’s own in-house instant film. Leica have engineered the shutter speed, lens and flash specially for this film, and the results are impressive: colour photographs have a rich creamy quality while monochrome photographs are sharp with a lovely range of shades.

Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass

lomo-instant-glass

Key features: Wide angle glass lens, low light f/4.5 aperture, selfie mirror

Optical system: Wide angle lens, focal length: 38mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini

The big selling point of the Lomography Lomo’Instant Automat Glass is its glass lens. This 38mm f/4.5 lens gives a wide field of view unmatched by the other cameras that use Instax Mini film, making it excellent for capturing landscape photographs.

The Lomo’Instant Automat Glass is crisp too, with better looking results than many other cameras in our guide. Although it’s built for landscape photography, the Lomo’Instant Automat Glass will take great portraits, and the included selfie mirror will help you position the camera for that all-important new profile picture. 

This camera loves taking pictures in the dark. It automatically adjusts the aperture, shutter speed and flash to give you better exposure in low-light conditions - no more throwing away pitch black photos!

Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide

lomo-instant-wide-polaroid

Key features: Multiple lens attachments, colour gels, multiple exposure modes

Optical system: Kit lens, focal length: 90mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Wide

Lomography have taken their delightfully creative spirit and blended it with Fujifilm’s Instax Wide film to bring you the Lomo’Instant Wide camera.

Built for experimentation, the Lomo’Instant Wide gives you different lens attachments to take photos with: A 21mm wide angle lens lets you take full advantage of this camera’s bigger film, and the close-up lens snaps (you’ve guessed it!) pictures at a nearer distance.

You’ll also find four colour gels in the box that let you change the lighting of the scene entirely. Simply stick one of the gels over the Lomo’Instant Wide’s built-in flash to create photos drenched in rich coloured tones.

The Lomo’Instant Wide has a few more tricks up its sleeve. More experienced photographers can take advantage of the buttons that disable the flash and change the exposure levels to fine-tune the lighting of their compositions. Everyone can take advantage of the handy remote control built into the camera’s lens cap.

Polaroid Pop 2

polaroid-pop-instant-camera

Key features: Very large , records HD video, in-camera editing tools

Optical system: CMOS sensor, 4,472 x 4,472 pixels

Compatible film: Polaroid Zink paper

With its sleek, rounded-edge design, you might think that the Polaroid Pop is a mini tablet rather than an instant camera - but push the big red button and it'll print out your memories on smudge-proof Zink paper! 

The Polaroid Pop 2 is the biggest camera in our buying guide, and it prints the biggest pictures too: they measure 88.9 x 107.95mm, wide enough to fit the biggest parties inside.

The Polaroid Pop 2 lets you snap pictures and customise them with filters, borders, stickers and even captions on the Polaroid Pop’s big touch screen. It’s design is simple enough that even your little ones can play around with it. 

Finally, the Polaroid Pop 2 is unique among this line-up because of its ability to create animated GIFS and record 1080p video!

Fujifilm Instax Mini 70

Fujifilm Instax Mini 70

Key features: Hi-key mode, landscape and portrait modes, self-timer mode

Optical system: retractable lens, focal length: 60mm

Compatible film: Fujifilm Instax Mini

For the instant camera that can do everything, choose the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70. The Mini 70 is Fujifilm’s middle-weight entry for their Instax Mini film camera range. It offers more features than the entry-level Mini 9 but without the complex controls of the Instax 90 Neo Classic. 

You can set the Instax Mini 70 to landscape and selfie modes depending on what you wish to snap. There’s also a self-timer that can be set between 2 and 10 second settings. Combine that with the tripod socket that allows for easy mounting and you’ll never have to miss out on a group photograph again.

Finally, the Mini 70 comes with a special ‘Hi-key’ mode that boosts the contrast on your shots, letting you capture fine details of your friends’ faces - even in a dark room!