Instant film cameras may be the most perfect example of how yesterday’s analog technology gets a digital-age update for our nostalgia-obsessed world. Sure, we have high-performing DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and readily accessible pocket cameras via our smartphones, but we still love the immediacy and physical souvenirs we get with the best instant cameras.
There really is nothing that mixes convenience with retro charm quite like a good instant camera, and thanks to their recent revival, instant camera film is now readily available and affordable again. Polaroid is back, baby, along with neo-classics from Fujifilm, Kodak and others. You can even photograph using instant cameras with a wild assortment of different instant camera films, too.
Whether you’ve been inspired by found family portraits from back in the day or you’re simply looking for a brand new way to snap memories in the new year, here are the best of the best instant cameras to help capture your life in 2021.
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
This cutely colored Instax Mini 11 will have you looking like the life of the party. The Mini 11 is the newest version of the Fujifilm Instax and will transform the way you photograph. Though this one is rather bulky, the eye-catching, sky blue hue makes up for it, so none of your subjects will ever want to look away from the lens. You can also get this in a couple of new updated colors like purple and black. Naturally, it even has a selfie mode, because why else would you get a camera in 2021? It’s been one of the most popular instant film cameras in existence for the past couple of years, so it’s best to get your hands on it ASAP.
2. Polaroid Originals Now I-Type Instant Camera
Polaroid is the OG of the instant film game. So, if you’re shopping for the best instant cameras, it’s no surprise that you’ll find Polaroid products everywhere you look. The original Polaroid camera you remember from the golden days has been revamped into the I-Type instant camera, and it’s absolutely a change for the better. The simple one-button design and retro exterior will have you wanting to scream OutKast lyrics as you’re shooting, which is exactly what you know you want. Shake it like a Polaroid picture baby!
3. Zink Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
BEST COLOR SELECTION
We know that Polaroid’s naming strategy is only a crackle shy of being cereal, but these cameras actually pack some substance. The Snap uses an integrated inkless printer to transform a 10 MP digital camera into a cool, party-friendly mix of digital and instant analog. It makes 2 x 3-inch prints using Polaroid’s super fast “Zink” printing process. The best part: the body comes in seven funky colors and even uses autofocus.
4. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
Super easy to use and featuring a vintage Fujifilm design, the Instax Mini 90 is a classic we can’t pass up. Unlike most other instant film cameras, the mini even has cool features like a macro mode and a double exposure mode. Brightness is automatically detected which controls the amount of flash given to the subject, which normally promises a non-washed exposure when the film is fully developed. There’s even a bulb mode that allows the shutter to stay open for as long as 10 seconds if you want to practice any cool movement photographs. With all of these additional features that generally only exist in high-end DSLRs, the price of $150 is more than worth it.
5. Polaroid Instant Digital
This larger-than-life, Tamogachi-esque digital camera and instant printer from Polaroid combines the physicality of an instant camera with some advanced digital features. It lets you record GIFS, 1080p video clips and even lets you edit the photos. While this is all really cool for an instant camera, it definitely does not have that old school feel that most people are seeking when they’re trying to fill that nostalgic void. But, if you’re one who loves combining the old with the new, the Polaroid Instant Digital is a hundred percent for you.
6. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
BEST SQUARE FORMAT
After it’s said, you won’t be able to unsee it. This camera looks identical to Instagram’s original app icon from back in the day. Sorry, it needed to be said. This Instax Square SQ6 uses square-style film and auto-calculates surrounding light in order to perfect the shot’s exposure. Coming with orange, green and purple color filters, feel free to snap some funky shots with this one. Oh, and did we mention that the camera has a range-switching focusing meter for landscapes, portraits and macros? We were shocked, too.
7. Kodak Mini Shot 2 Retro Portable Wireless Instant Camera
The Kodak Mini Shot 2 is a point, shoot and print on the spot that skips the development-to-scan process. We know, we know, that just makes it a more compact instant film camera. But get this: you can shoot while your photo is still printing, so there’s no wasted time in between. All prints come with an adhesive backside, perfect for sticking on your notebook or bedroom walls. All images save to an SD card too, so you don’t even need paper inside to get snapping. Best of all? You can even connect this baby via Bluetooth to see your images on your iOS or Android devices.
8. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
The Instax Wide uses the famous wide format instant film, known as the preferred instant choice for discerning snapshot aficionados. This Instax camera also distinguishes itself from other models with some nice photographer-friendly elements like an f1.4 lens, a flash and a somewhat manual focus. While this is definitely one of our bulkier picks, the unique, unusual print orientation will make up for it.
9. XUDHAH Instant Print Camera for Kids
BEST FOR KIDS
Do we have a tiny photographer on our hands? If so, snag your favorite kiddo this instant print camera made just for them. All film is totally inkless for safety and has a screen to help them create digitally-driven, instant memories. Each photo comes out black and white to stick with a vintage approach, but the camera itself is so bright pink that it’s sure to catch their eye. The best part of all? It can even record videos!