You probably refer to the instant camera as “Polaroid,” just like many of us refer to the bandage as a “Band-Aid.” We all know what you really mean, yet the name is really that of an actual product that a specific company makes!
With that being said, your “Polaroid” search has brought you here. You want one of those “old” cameras that prints the picture right after you take it.
The good news is that you can still find them and the even better news is that there are plenty of modern versions to choose from!
Below, we’ll show you the ten best Polaroid cameras (a.k.a. instant cameras) so that you can make a physical copy of your cherished memories right after they happen.
A Few Things to Consider
If you’re looking for a great Polaroid, then there are a few things to think about as you shop.
- In-Camera Printing or Separate Printer. If you don’t necessarily want to buy a new camera but still want the option of printing your pictures as you snap them, then you might want to consider getting a mobile printer. These allow you to print directly from your smartphone or tablet, and we will include a couple of options in our list below.
- Film. You’ll have to find the right kind of film for your camera, and newer instant camera models have different paper size requirements than older ones.
This film is more expensive than regular camera film. A pack of 50 sheets, for example, can run you around 35-40 dollars.
Polaroid vs. Fuji
Polaroid has some stiff competition when it comes to instant cameras: Fuji.
Fuji has a variety of Instax cameras (which is their term for “instant” camera) while Polaroid remains the founder of the instant camera concept which was born in the 1940’s.
Whatever your preference, there are plenty of great products that will allow you to print your memories one by one, as they are occurring.
Why Get an Instant Camera?
History often repeats itself, and this is true when it comes to Polaroids. Instant camera photos were wildly successful in past decades, but then they faded out.
Today they are back in-demand.
Instagram allows you to take thousands of photos, but sometimes fewer photos that are done well (and are printed) can have a lot more meaning. This is why Polaroid and Fuji even bother to continue with these cameras in the first place!
These are great for traveling or capturing everyday adventures: take a picture of someone and leave it with them instead of “sending them an email.”
Think of all of the photos you take on a daily basis and then think about how many of them you actually print (probably not very many).
That’s why it’s great to have an instant camera!
Top 5 Best Polaroid Cameras
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
For anyone who loves the vintage look, the Fujifilm will not only produce vintage-looking photos but the body of the camera itself has a classic, timeless look.
To avoid overexposure, this camera automatically detects the brightness around the subject you are shooting and adjusts the flash and shutter speed accordingly.
It also has a handy double exposure mode that allows you to press the shutter twice and it will print both images on one sheet of film.
Get up close and personal with the awesome macro capabilities at 30-60cm and adjust it to child/pet mode for moving subjects.
Since the film for these cameras is a bit pricey, the settings of this camera allow you to make sure that your photo is worth taking before you snap it. Film that is more expensive means that you should probably think twice before you release the shutter, and this camera allows you to do that!
The best instant camera by far on our list.
- Excellent photo quality
- Creative image modes for versatility
- Classic aesthetics
- Plenty of digital controls
- Good, crisp print quality
- A bit pricey
- Low brightness factor
- Poor stabilization
2. Fujifilm INSTAX 210
Here we are with another Fuji camera, which is great if you need a little more control. The Instax 210 model allows you to turn the flash on and off, you can easily adjust the brightness (the aperture), as well as the focal depth.
When the camera is on and the lens pops out, you can attach a close-up lens to the front, which also has a little mirror on it so that you can see what the camera is capturing when you take a self-portrait (we love those selfies!)
The shutter speed range is from 1/64 – 1/200 sec. and has a high-speed ISO (800) for crisp photos without the grainy look.
A great buy, especially since you get some film with it, too!
- Produces large and good-quality photos
- Easy to use
- Facilitates steady grip and comfort
- Has versatile focus ranges
- Different lens settings
- Can’t turn off electronic flash function
- Average look and design
3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 will also give you image control and it’s a bit slimmer than the previous 7S mini model.
The settings allow you to prepare the camera for bright areas, overcast, indoor, and high-key photos. The high-key mode allows you to take brighter pictures with a softer look, which is great for taking portraits (or selfies).
It automatically measures the exposure and the camera suggests the recommended aperture setting to you on the LED based on the subject that you point it at.
This is an awesome camera. Get it as a gift for someone or gift it to yourself!
A great bargain for an awesome instant camera.
- Fun and creative to use
- Affordable unit and films
- Bright optical viewfinder
- Caters to black-and-white and color film
- Not fully automatic
- Awkward shutter placement
- Lacks tripod socket
4. Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer
As we mentioned earlier in the guide, you also have some great portable printers that you can connect to your smartphone if you would like to instantly print photos, and the Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer is a great way to do so.
Via the Bluetooth or NFC technology, you can access the photos that you would like to print from your phone or tablet and this printer will pop out a 2 x 3-inch image.
Photos are printed in color, are smudge-proof and have a sticky backside if you’d like to adhere the photo to a book or album.
It requires you to download the Polaroid ZIP app, but this will be free of charge if you have already purchased the printer.
A great option for those who don’t need a completely new camera unit!
- Fast and effortless printing from phone
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Has a photo editing application
- Comes with ZINK paper for starters
- Expensive ZINK paper
5. Polaroid PIC-300P
The modern Polaroid looks like this, and it’s just as great as the original.
It has an automatic flash when there is low light, manual exposure compensation; there are four different scene settings that help you to find the right amount of light: indoor/dark, cloudy/shady, fine and clear.
One thing that you might not appreciate about this camera is that the flash goes off every time you take a picture. This makes it unsuitable in museums or places where flash is not permitted.
Having an instant camera is no longer a thing of the past. Use our handy guide above to help you find the best Polaroid camera (or Fuji) to print your memories instantly.
- Easy to carry and lightweight
- Efficient printing time
- Produces high-quality photos with vibrant colors
- Numerous settings for lighting conditions
- Small pictures
- Expensive film
- Fingers can easily get in the way
What is it about instant cameras that many people find so appealing? Perhaps it’s the thrill of witnessing a picture slowly developing in front of their eyes. Whatever it is, there are plenty of reasons to want to have a Polaroid camera.
If you plan to get one for yourself or a loved one, you’ll come across a long list of options in the market. Knowing which factors to consider has a vital role in helping you choose one.
If you are to go on a trip or an event, the type of Polaroid camera you need will differ. For travel, it could be wiser to go for a more cost-effective and user-friendly model. Also, knowing what you will use it for can help you choose the features you need.
2. Physical Appearance
Polaroid cameras are also distinguishable by their appearance. Polaroid cameras exist in a variety of sizes, from the tiniest to the most powerful. The size of your camera will decide how portable it is for times when you need to carry it or pack it up and go.
Consider any parts that would make it more challenging to transport, such as an extending flash. You can also choose among varied shapes and colors. More than anything, you will want to get one that suits your personality.
3. Photo Dimensions
Polaroid camera films come in a range of sizes. Some are small, while others are larger than the standard ones. Obviously, you will want to choose the one that best suits your needs. Because each instant camera can only print one film size, it’ll play a significant role in your buying decision.
4. Socket for Tripod
Although it is an instant camera, there will be times when you’ll want to mount it on a tripod. In doing this, you’d be able to capture selfies as you time them, as well as take perfect scenery shots. If this is an important factor for you, check if the Polaroid camera has a tripod mount before making the final decision.
It is tempting to save cash by buying an instant camera from a less well-known brand. However, it can make it more challenging to acquire a replacement part or have it repaired if something goes wrong. To avoid any unnecessary stress, research and choose a brand with a good reputation for producing high-quality goods.
6. Mirror for Selfies
Some instant cameras do not include a flip-out screen for selfies. However, other models have a small mirror near the lens. When taking a selfie, you can use this to choose your position in the frame. If you want to use your instant camera to take selfies, look for one that includes this feature.
7. In-Camera Editing
Technology has brought a lot of innovative features to Polaroid cameras lately. These days, more advanced instant cameras are now printing digital images. You may use this to apply filters and frames to your pictures. The best part is you can look at them before choosing which ones to print and reprint. It can’t get any sweeter than that.
When buying anything, it would be a good idea to set a budget beforehand. Polaroid cameras differ in their price for several reasons. The price can vary depending on its size, material, capabilities, and functions. The demand and supply behavior in the market can affect it too.
On another note, the brand or manufacturer’s standing can have an impact on the price as well. Having a set budget will narrow down your options and let you choose a good one without wasting time.
Polaroid Camera FAQs
1. Is Polaroid camera worth buying?
Whether you’re a professional photographer or not, you’ll find numerous ways to use Polaroid cameras and improve your pictures. For one, it provides practical knowledge while being a less-than-mainstream photographic medium. This is the most visible impact of modern instant photography.
Polaroid cameras are a fascinating alternative to traditional photography methods. With one, you can take a photo that looks like a postcard. You can also use it when you meet someone you want to remember. Simply snap a photo of them and consider it a souvenir for you or your friend.
These are all made possible by its fast printing. If you want a camera that you can bring while on the go, it is worth buying.
2. Why is Polaroid film so expensive?
To answer this question, let us first try to understand how standard films develop photos. The film works when you expose its light-sensitive substance to light. The appearance of the single layer of material in the black-and-white film depends on the amount of light that strikes it.
The same principle applies to color film and its various layers of material. However, the impact will vary on whether the light is from the magenta, cyan, or yellow spectrums. The finished image won’t be visible until the film develops. It can only appear immediately when the substance and image are struck by light.
In comparison, a Polaroid film completes all of these steps at the same time. It is for this reason that it is more expensive than regular films. Adding to this is the loss of the original Polaroid firm and the following failures of companies that attempted to take over it. Due to the high demand and limited supply, the cost of Polaroid films continues to increase.
3. How long do Polaroid photos last?
Are you curious if you can keep your Polaroid shots for a long time? According to the American National Standards Institute, you can expect Polaroid films not to fade any faster than any other media. Of course, this is assuming that you store them properly. If maintained in a high-quality album, you can expect them to last for more than 100 years.
4. How do you take good pictures with Polaroids?
To take good pictures with Polaroids, you’ll want to keep an eye on the distance. For the most part, instant cameras have a minimum focus distance of 30 or 60 centimeters. This is roughly equivalent to holding the camera at arm’s length when snapping a selfie with it.
It is easy to take stunning Polaroid images both indoors and outdoors. However, you’ll want to ensure that your subject is well-lit and not overexposed, no matter where you are shooting. When feasible, make use of natural light.
Color clashes and intense light should be avoided at all costs. If you want to avoid unwanted distractions, don’t cover your lens or use your flash.
To avoid distortion, keep your subject in the center of the frame. Also, it would be best if you experiment with multiple perspectives on the same subject. Portrait photography usually works with white, blank, or light-colored backgrounds. You may do this to boost contrast and prevent your subject from vanishing into the background.
5. Are Polaroids easy to use?
Polaroid cameras are a favorite for many because it works great for beginners and enthusiasts. It was made to deliver reliability, ease of use, and convenience. Depending on the model, you can find instant cameras with autofocus, built-in flash, and even self-timers. Some have double exposure modes and environment control.
You can also find intuitive point-and-shoot models to start with. These have long-lasting battery life and are made to be portable. You can carry them around while you travel on your adventures. Using Polaroid cameras is definitely a breeze.
A Polaroid camera is always a great buy for anyone who enjoys documenting special moments. The problem is finding the model that suits your every preference and need requires work.
Among the best Polaroid cameras here, we liked the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic the most. This Fujifilm camera takes the top spot because of its fun color, versatility, and package inclusions.
The Fujifilm INSTAX 210 Instant Camera is a great alternative. Like the Mini 40, it has a competitive price, is ergonomic, and has different lens settings for all occasions. The best part? You can use it indoors and outdoors, making it the perfect travel companion.