The Best Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera

Our Top Pick for 2017: Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon: $125.85*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

The instant camera dwindled in popularity as digital photography came on the scene. However, in recent years the convenience and fun of an instant photo have begun to gain popularity. Pass the camera around a party and partygoers have a one of a kind keepsake. There is something to be said for instantly having a tangible photograph in this age of digital media. They appeal to both nostalgia and those looking for a new way of artistic expression with a retro vibe.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera Gold Pick

View it on Amazon: $125.85*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera (Mini 90) has burst on the scene with features similar to those found on digital cameras but with the ability to print a photo on the spot. Fuji has led the way in developing the latest wave of instant cameras. They’ve worked hard to incorporate many of the features users have come to expect from modern photography but with a vintage flare you can’t find anywhere else.

The Mini 90 is a compact camera that is easy to keep in a backpack or purse for candid shots while you travel or a day out with friends and family. Instant cameras have a reputation for being big and clunky but the Mini 90 throws that out the window. It’s small, compact size is many users favorite feature because it makes the camera highly portable. The Mini 90 has just enough retro design with modern sleekness to make it a stylish piece to have with you.

A high-performance flash sets the Mini 90 apart from many other instant cameras. This type of camera has traditionally struggled with dark settings, but the flash of the Mini 90 performs well in most lighting. It automatically adjusts to the distance of the subject from the camera and takes into account ambient brightness.

You can play with the brightness of your photos to get the look that you want. You can adjust low and high key modes with four different adjustments – normal, bright, brighter, dark. Adjusting the brightness allows you to control the mood and feel of your photos giving them an artistic effect.

The Mini 90 has several different modes to help capture your subject. Adjust the modes with the twist of a dial while still looking through the viewfinder. Party mode is used get a bright image of your subject as well as the background. It can work great while sightseeing or when you are at a party that you want to capture the ambiance of the moment as well as your subject. Landscape mode helps you to get all the long shots that you want from a full body photo to a cityscape.

Kid mode is perfect for taking pictures of fast moving subjects like children and animals. It is effective even in low lighting conditions. You can use to take it to take candid shots at a school party to go home with children that day or you can use to create a montage for a school presentation. You can take photos to add to a scrapbook or to send home with friends after a playdate.

Bring your photos closer to home by using the macro mode to get stunning close-ups. The Mini 90 can focus on the petal of a flower or get the stunning still life you’ve been waiting to take.

If you find yourself shooting in dark conditions, a bulb exposure mode leaves the shutter open for up to 10 seconds longer than normal while you hold down the shutter button. You can capture more light, even moving streaks, to brighten night time photos.

Artistically altering your photos while still on the camera is a feature that many have come to expect since the age of digital cameras. The Mini 90 incorporates a double exposure mode that allows you to superimpose two images into the same frame. You do this by double pressing the shutter button.

A tripod socket lets you take steady photos. When using the bulb or double exposure mode you will need the stability provided by a tripod to get clear images. You can set up for landscape photo or capture your family in all their hilarity.

With all of these features, there is still the importance of a crisp, clear photo which the Mini 90 delivers. You’ll waste less film and photos on ‘fuzzy’ shots with this instant camera than many others.

The Mini 90 uses Fujifilm Instant Color Film “Instax mini”, each role can create 10 photos. A rechargeable battery helps to keep costs down and provides good power. It comes in two colors – black/silver, brown.

It also comes with a one-year warranty on parts and manufacturing. Some users have experienced problems but if the camera was returned to Fuji with proof of purchase within the year of the warranty, they were sent a replacement camera.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

View it on Amazon: $84.98*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera (Wide 300) is another Fuji camera that takes quality photos. The Wide 300 is bigger than the Mini 90 and uses a larger film to create bigger photos. In comparison, the Mini 90 produces photos 88×54 mm while the Wide 300 produces photos 88x 108mm, which is a big difference especially if you are doing outdoor or large group photography.

The Wide 300 makes taking photos of groups and landscapes easier as you can fit more into the picture. But the possibilities aren’t limited only to distance shots. It also has a close up lens for shots up to 40 cm away from the subject, the right distance for a great selfie. This also allows you take close ups that grab the texture of your subject.

There are several functions that give you some options when you’re trying to take a photo in less than optimal conditions. The automatic flash for low light shooting calculates the distance of the subject from the camera and improves the luminescence accordingly. A fill-in flash by flash button uses backlighting to enhance your photos.

There are three exposure levels that you can use to adjust the mood – dark, normal, light. While this isn’t very many levels, it is enough to make a quick fix before you print your photo. That’s one of the joys of an instant camera, their ability to capture the moment and give you an immediate memento. With the adjustment features, you’ll still be able to make some of the changes that we’ve all come to expect from years of using digital cameras.

A tripod socket makes it easy to attach to a standard tripod. This lets you keep the camera steady when you are capturing a clear, crisp shot. There is also a focal zoom that you can use when needed.

Mounted on the rear of the camera are the LCD display, flash, and brightness control. This intuitive design easily lets you make adjustments and lets you give a quick glance to know what mode you are in.

Users have used it to create one-of-a-kind photos for a wedding book, at receptions, and parties. It allows you to create that nostalgic look and feel that is hard to come by. The one feature many users would have liked to see was a timer so that the photographer could have joined the photos.

It uses four (4) AA batteries and comes with the same one-year warranty as the Mini 90.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera

Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera

View it on Amazon: See Price*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

The Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera (PIC) is a fun, relatively inexpensive camera that comes in four colors – black, blue, purple, red. As the originator of the first instant cameras, Polaroid still has a model that is worth owning.

The film of the PIC uses tiny dye crystals that are heat activated by the camera to create the photos and produce them instantly. Pictures have a paper backing that can be removed to reveal a sticky back, making them easy to add to a scrapbook or photo album. The photos come out dry to the touch and are water resistant. There are 10 photos per roll of film.

The PIC takes business card sized photos, which is big enough to fit in your wallet, attach to a card, or create a display for a wedding or other event. These pocket-sized pictures are easy to pass around at a party to remember a night of celebrating. If you are looking for an inexpensive instant camera that has a vintage appeal, the PIC is right for you. From the tiny photos to the exposure and frame, it all hearkens back to days that are passed.

There are four basic scene settings to help you adjust to different lighting situations. A small camera, like the PIC, doesn’t have a lot of setting features but it has enough to provide good, crisp pictures that have a vintage look and appeal.

An automatic flash compensates when lighting isn’t ideal. It also has 1/60 shutter speed. There is also a manual exposure option. It runs on four (4) AA batteries and includes a wrist strap.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera

View it on Amazon: $58.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera (Mini 8) is a compact camera with personality. It comes in eight colors – raspberry, grape, white, pink, blue, yellow, black, hello kitty. This eye-catching little camera has the basics you need to take great instant photos at half the cost of other models.

The on button is located next to the dial, reminiscent of how focus adjustments were made on vintage cameras. A brightness adjustment dial lets you set the camera to fit the surrounding lighting. With four basic settings – indoors/night, cloudy/shade, sunny/slightly cloudy, sunny and bright – you’ll be able to make basic changes to get the best pictures possible. You can also set it for high or low key photos. The low number of adjustments keeps the price for this camera low.

The automatic flash and 1/60 shutter speed work well for most conditions.

Simple design and function make this camera easy to use. Its small size allows you to carry it in your purse or bag when traveling. In an instant, you can share your photos with travel companions or those you visit. With its low price and durability, children you can use it. It gives them a chance to take photos and instantly share them with friends.

It comes with a one-year warranty on parts and manufacturing defects.

Pre-purchase considerations

Size

When instant cameras were first sold, they were large and bulky. Most people have come to expect a more sleek design as they are used to using phones and small handheld cameras to take photos. Some modern instant cameras are still bulky, while others opt for a sleek, modern looking design.

Because instant cameras have to hold film and have the components necessary to print their own pictures, they are naturally going to be bigger than most point and shoot cameras. However, there are some designs that are small enough to fit in a purse or backpack without taking up a large amount of space. Usually, if the size of the camera is smaller, so is the picture that is produced. Pictures as small as a business card are common for compact instant cameras.

For those that want to travel with their camera, look for something small but know that the pictures produced will also be small.

If you want larger photos, you are going to have to compromise on camera size. Larger, bulkier cameras will provide you with bigger photos that are easier to see and can capture a larger subject. Group shots, landscapes, and cityscapes are going to look better in a larger photo. If this is the kind of photography you do, look for a larger camera with bigger film.

Lighting Adjustment

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of getting a good photo. While some cameras perform better in dark conditions than others, a camera that comes with several lighting adjustments will give you the greatest flexibility in where you can take pictures and the quality that is produced.

A good basic instant camera should have at least three lighting settings while more expensive cameras will have more. The more lighting settings there are, the more expensive the camera will become.

Flash

An automatic flash is the easiest to manage and doesn’t require you to make adjustments with each photo. Look for flashes that automatically take into account the distance of the subject from the camera. Some cameras will require you to make lighting adjustments in addition to the automatic flash. Be sure you understand how using these two in conjunction will affect your photos. As you come to better understand how they work together, you’ll be able to get improved results.

Tripod Socket

Getting a great photo sometimes requires holding as still as possible. A tripod is the simplest way to get clear photos, especially if you are trying to take group photos. Not all instant cameras have a tripod socket. If you take group photos, landscapes, or photos of quick moving subjects a tripod can help the camera to remain steady while you snap a shot.

Scene Settings

Scene settings can help you get the best photos possible. Pet or kid settings are intended to get tough shots of moving subjects, most often children and pets. It allows you to quickly snap a shot without leaving a blurry photo.

Macro/Close Up settings will help make the most of that selfie you like to take. Some instant cameras come with a separate lens for close ups but if you plan to take a lot of close-ups, look for a camera with a macro setting that is easy to click into when you need it.

Landscape settings work well for everything from full body shots to landscapes. They take in a wider view to allow you to capture more. They are also convenient for parties or while traveling. If you take these kinds of pictures frequently, you may want to look for a camera that produces a larger picture to better view everything in your photo. A business card sized photo would be hard to see everything a landscape setting can capture.

Editing and Altering

We have become so used to being able to digitally enhance our photos that the thought of printing a photo as-is seems a little strange. However, most instant cameras do not have much in the way of photo editing capabilities.

Double exposures and brightness adjustments are two of the most common found in instant cameras. If you like to take artistic photos and make frequent enhancements, you will probably be happier with an instant camera that has some photo editing capabilities. The more of the abilities the camera has the higher the price will be.

Warranty

Cameras of all types are notorious for breaking suddenly without explanation. Instant cameras are no different. Look for an instant camera with a warranty in case you have any problems. Because this type of camera has the ability to print its own pictures it is susceptible to problems that digital cameras are not.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Instant cameras are a fun way to bring a nostalgic look to a wedding, party, or scrapbook. They have a look and feel all their own that you can’t find with digital cameras. Be sure that whatever camera you choose creates photos in a size that you like. You don’t want to be surprised when your instant camera produces a tiny photo when you were expecting something closer to what you remembered from the 1980’s. There are some great instant cameras available that can give your photos the artistic flare and retro feel that sets them apart from photos taken with digital cameras.