Best Polaroid Camera: Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

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Instant cameras are popular for a number of reasons but the process of seeing an image materialize in front of you literally from nothing has to be the most important one. The thrill that comes when you focus the camera knowing that the moment you pull the shutter you’ll have created something special is always intriguing. Besides, the best Polaroid camera brands are usually affordable. Whether you are 9 years old or 90, you will definitely enjoy your experience with them.

There are many instant cameras in the market. Knowing what to go for can sometimes be challenging. But don’t worry. In this article, we will look at some of the best instant camera brands. We will also give you a simple buying guide that will help you find the right device for you.

How to Convert Digital to Instant

Do you have a favorite photo that you captured in a digital camera and you would want to convert it to instant film? Well, you can actually do it very easily. You can print any photo stored on your smartphone onto the Instax Mini film using the Instax Share SP-2 via Wi-Fi. You can also print onto square format with the SP-3.

The instant prints can be digitized. Simply go online and find a few guides that can help you with it. Despite the fact that we are living in the digital age, instant cameras are wildly popular.

Even with the wide array of digital cameras, a good number of people out there just want to feel the magic of an instant flick. Instant cameras have become quite diverse. You can choose from various camera designs and film formats in line with your needs.

How to Choose the Best Polaroid Camera

PLAN - PRICE

Description

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

Offers great versatility with a wide variety of shooting modes


Sleek and attractive design


One of the most affordable instant cameras especially for its advanced features

Polaroid Originals 9003

Comes with a retro design seen in many vintage style instant cameras


Very good for shooting larger prints


Simple design and operation

Polaroid Snap Digital Camera

Very affordable for casual instant photography


Offers additional digital features for extra convenience


Prints on ZINK paper which saves money on films

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10

Digital & instant hybrid that gives you more versatility when you shoot


Allows you to filter out images to desired quality


Impressive levels of detail in every printed photo

Leica Sofort Instant Camera

The quality of printed images is very good


Leica Sofort Instant Camera has a minimalist & sleek design


Offers a number of camera modes for extra versatility

Our list of the best Polaroid camera brands is very comprehensive. It’s based on a lot of research but there were a few factors that we considered when reviewing each product.

Brand

As we have already noted, many instant camera brands exist. Each one of us actually has a favorite that we have used for years. Cameras are meant to capture memories. Some brands that you probably used to capture special moments will always stick with you. Using them brings back some feelings of nostalgia.

In light of this, we went through all the major brands and rated each one of them based on their popularity among users. You will notice obviously that our list features a number of major brands that you already know about.

But we have also thrown in a few lesser known brands in there. Make no mistake though, these are all quality products. If you check them out and their features, you will see what we mean.

Reviews

Most of the instant camera reviews that you see online come from people who have had some experience using these products. Reviews are designed to give you a snapshot of what the camera is about. They help you understand their features and what to expect in case you decide to use a certain brand.

Reviews can be vital in helping you narrow down your options. In addition to this, in cases where two or more products are too similar in terms of features and strengths, reviews can be used to distinguish between them.

After all, instant camera makers are always working hard to outdo one another but it’s very likely to find products that are very similar. How do you move on from that? Well, it turns out you can use Polaroid camera reviews to do so.

Price

Indulging in photography is a passion that will cost you some money at first. You need to invest in the right gear but you can still save a good chunk of cash if you know what you are looking for. In our list, we have tried to give you a big price range. Our goal is to make sure that you can find a camera that meets your budget and your needs.

Whether you are looking for a beginner level budget-friendly instant camera or an advanced one for professional photography, our list has everything you need. The great thing is that you don’t really need a lot to get started. Price should definitely not be an excuse to not indulge in instant photography, a retro hobby that we have all come to love.

Features to Look for When Shopping for Polaroid Cameras

The best Polaroid camera designs have different features. However, if you are looking for a quality product, there are a few things that you should always look out for.

Film Capacity

Before you spend your money on an instant camera, you may want to know its film capacity first. This is basically the total amount of Polaroid camera film that the camera can accept at any one time.

For example, Fujifilm Instant Cameras can fit a cartridge of ten camera papers inside. Other products like the Polaroid Snap can hold up to twenty papers into one cartridge. The rule of thumb is to get cameras that offer a high film capacity.

Nonetheless, with the rise of digital instant cameras, you can actually insert a microSD that allows you to store as many images as possible to process later. The digital cameras also offer some flexibility. You can simply capture as many images as you can and then decide which ones you will print and which ones you will discard.

Battery

In this digital age filled with so many digital devices, battery life is such an important thing. The same also applies to the best Polaroid instant camera brands. A fully charged battery ensures that you can capture all your favorite shots without the risk of missing out on anything.

Instant cameras are available in either standard or rechargeable batteries. While most rechargeable cameras are meant to last as long as possible, if you are going for a long photography expedition, it’s often better to have two or three fully charged batteries or a power bank with you.

Selfie Mirror

You may not be a selfie guy, but let’s face it, a camera without a nice selfie is really not meant for this world. In that case, try to find yourself an instant camera that comes with a selfie mirror. The selfie mirror will help you frame the picture.

It ensures that everyone is captured in every shot. With the selfie mirror, you won’t even need the front facing camera of your smartphone or even a selfie stick to get the perfect self-portrait. The instant camera will deliver exactly what you are looking for.

Exposure

Exposure levels are designed to bring in different levels of light into your photos. Some cameras, however, have a bigger variety of exposure levels. This gives you more versatility in different light situations. Such cameras tend to deliver very high-quality images in almost any kind of environment and are often highly recommended.

Paper Type

The paper type is basically transformed into a Polaroid photograph as soon as the picture is taken. This process happens inside the cartridge and it’s essential in creating a great photography experience. Before you buy any paper type, make sure that it’s fully compatible with your camera.

Some brands like Fujifilm have their own line of paper. The paper is relatively expensive but it can work in all Fujifilm instant cameras and a wide variety of other brands out there. Sadly, other top brands like Polaroid don’t have their own line of paper.

You will need to rely on third-party options and this complicates things. But if you are careful, it should be easy to find papers that work with your specific camera brand.

Extra Accessories

Camera accessories are designed to help you take full advantage or make the most out of your instant camera. They will allow you to explore different camera angles, shooting techniques, and settings. Some of the common accessories in the best instant film camera brands include color gels, fisheye lenses etc.

Different people have different reasons why they buy instant cameras. However, there is nothing wrong with being creative and experimenting with a few things as you take your Polaroid pictures. These accessories will enable you to achieve this. They can also help you discover your ideal shooting technique.

But not everyone needs accessories. As a matter of fact, casual photographers who are doing this as a hobby may not really find any value in these accessories. However, professional photographers, who are interested in exploring various environments and settings in their work, will definitely benefit from these accessories.

Digital Hybrids

Technology in camera design has advanced lately. In that case, you will have to decide whether you want to go for a pure Instant camera or a digital hybrid. A pure instant camera is just what the name suggests. It’s the traditional version that most of us grew up with. Digital hybrids are relatively more modern. They are traditional instant cameras with additional digital features.

Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, a digital hybrid will allow you to export photos from other devices and print them directly. This saves you a lot of expensive film.

But traditional versions of the instant camera have that unique level of intimacy that you won’t find in any other camera type. Besides, the vintage appeal is what really makes the best Polaroid instant camera worth it.

There are so many digital cameras in the market out there. You can literally pick any and you will have almost the same experience. Why would you then soil the vintage appeal of the instant camera with some digital touches?

Besides, when you export pictures from other devices into your instant camera, the quality of the print is often lower compared to the Polaroid shots. Despite this, it’s all about your preferences. Just look at the features or attributes that matter to you most and pick a camera that delivers them.

Film Format

The final consideration to make before you buy an instant camera is the film format. Fujifilm’s Instax brand dominates the market in this category. The Instax brand produces three sizes of film. You can get the Mini (small and portrait), Wide (large and landscape), and Square (midsized and square). Each camera can only take one type of film.

For instance, a camera that is designed for the mini film will not be able to work with the square film format. Before you buy any camera, it is important to know the kind of film format compatible with it. The format type also determines the cost of the camera. For instance, cameras that produce larger prints will, of course, cost you more than those that offer mini or smaller prints.

The additional costs of running or using the camera including film purchase will also be higher on cameras that have large film prints. In that case, even as you decide what film format you want, make sure you also factor in the cost implications involved.

Various instant camera brands use their own film formats. However, some use third-party brands. For example, while the Polaroid OneStep 2 uses its own i-Type format, other brands like Lomography and Leica rely on Instax, a third-party film format from Fujifilm. Either way, what matters is that you are able to decide what type of format you want, and the camera that has the capability to use it.

Besides, there are some good Polaroid camera brands that technically don’t use film at all. The Polaroid Snap, for instance, is literally a digital instant camera that prints photos into Zink – zero ink paper. Such cameras tend to be cheaper but they lack the intimacy and warmth that comes with traditional Polaroid pictures.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

A lot of people still have a few questions about the best Polaroid camera brands, how they work, and the quality of the images they produce. We have compiled a list of some of the most common FAQs in this section for you.

Will Polaroid Pictures Fade?

Yes, printed Polaroid pictures will fade over time. However, this takes years before it happens. Besides, by default, Polaroid pictures tend to look washed out and faded. If you intend to keep them fade free for a long time, you may want to keep or display them in a cool place away from the glare of the sun. Sunlight is actually the biggest cause of fading in Polaroid pictures.

Do You Have to Shake the Polaroid Picture?

Despite popular beliefs out there, Polaroid photos are not supposed to be shaken. There seem to be a lot of people who believe that shaking the photos during processing delivers a better high-quality finish. This is not the case. If anything, shaking actually affects the quality of the pictures negatively.

Sadly, there are probably thousands of people out there who continue to shake their Polaroid pictures immediately after printing. In case you want to ensure better quality for your photos, instead of shaking, just place them on a flat surface away from dust and debris. Give them a few minutes to develop and soon you will have the quality that you are looking for.

Will You Need Ink for Polaroid Photos?

It depends on the type of camera you have. Some cameras may require ink while others won’t. More recent versions of Polaroid cameras have incorporated some digital aspects into the design and this means that you probably won’t need any ink to create your images. Such cameras use a process called “Zink” to produce the final pictures. This presumably stands for Zero Ink.

However, if you love the traditional and soulful Polaroid photos, then you will need some ink to print the final images. But traditional versions of Polaroid are becoming rarer. Companies are now producing fewer cameras and it’s very likely that soon they will be out of the shelves. If you don’t have one, you better buy it as soon as possible.

How Instant Cameras Work?

Instant cameras work just like any other film camera. However, instead of producing negatives which are then processed in a studio somewhere to create images, the photograph is produced right away.

As soon as the shutter button is pressed, a number of processes are triggered and the image is printed almost immediately. The mechanism involved is a bit technical. The most important thing to note is that the camera will deliver instant images on site as long as all the requirements are in place.

Best Polaroid Cameras

In case you are in the market for a new Polaroid camera, there are a few options you can consider. The market right now is full with many brands. But don’t worry if you are having a hard time knowing what to go for. We have prepared a nice list of best Polaroid camera brands in 2019.

1 – Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 – (Best Instant Film Camera)

The Instax Square SQ6 is the first fully analog square format instant camera from Fujifilm. The camera features all the best features of the Instax line to deliver an attractive and capable instant camera at an unbeatable price.

The Fujifilm camera offers you versatility with a wide range of shooting styles. You can go for auto exposure, macro or landscape mode, selfie/portrait mode, double exposure and darken and lighten modes. The camera throws in three additional color filters to enhance overall versatility.

The design is also quite unique. It features the perfect fusion of retro and modern elements. It’s considered one of the best looking Instax cameras since the Mini 90. The camera also comes with a refined flash sensor. This ensures that photos are crisper, brighter, and more balanced in terms of color reproduction.

Pros:

Offers great versatility with a wide variety of shooting modes
Sleek and attractive design
One of the most affordable instant cameras especially for its advanced features

Cons:

There have been some complains that the flash is a little weak

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2 – Polaroid Originals 9003 OneStep 2 Instant Film Camera

The Polaroid OneStep 2 features one of the most nostalgic designs in this list. We all love instant cameras no doubt and they all have that intimate appeal. But this one takes it to another level. The block plastic design is the perfect definition of retro. It weighs 460 grams without the film.

The camera accepts two types of film; the i-Type or the 600. Both of these films are actually produced by Polaroid and can be purchased both on color and black and white. You also get big prints. This is probably the reason why the camera is so huge.

In terms of the additional features, the Polaroid OneStep 2 is simple. You can adjust the flash or set the timer. These are probably the most sophisticated features of this camera.

Pros:

Comes with the traditional retro design seen in many vintage style instant cameras
Very good for shooting larger prints
Simple design and operation

Cons:

The quality of photos is relatively low compared to other cameras

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3 – Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera

The Polaroid Snap is the ideal option for people who are looking for quality at a budget. It’s a likable 10 MP camera that also supports microSD. It can print color photos within minutes.

However, it’s important to note that this is actually a digital camera that prints onto ZINK paper. Analog instant camera designs tend to print on the real film. The ZINK paper uses heat to form images. Despite this, the quality of the image produced is also quite good.

The colors on the Polaroid Snap are darker. In that case, you will need to shoot under very good lighting to get the best results. What we really like about it though is the fact that it’s a budget-friendly option. It can be used for casual shoots for people who want to take up instant photography as a hobby.

Pros:

Very affordable for casual instant photography
Offers additional digital features for extra convenience
Prints on ZINK paper which saves money on films

Cons:

Doesn’t have the appeal of retro instant cameras

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4 – Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Hybrid Instant Camera

The Instax Square SQ10 is the first hybrid in our list. It’s basically a digital camera that has an instant printer built in. The printer can be set to print photos automatically or manually. The camera also has standard flash controls and a timer too. There’s, however, a bulb mode feature that allows you to take long exposure photos.

Images captured by the camera can be digitally altered using a selection of filters and formatting tools available. If you want, you can zoom into a specific part of a given photograph and print it. A collection of photos can also be printed in one collage.

The quality of photos offered by the Instax Square SQ10 is very good. There is an impressive level of detail and colors. But there is also a visible lack of warmth that you get with Polaroid prints. The real selling point though for the Instax Square SQ10 is the ability to fine-tune your photographs before you print them.

Pros:

Digital and instant hybrid that gives you more versatility when you shoot
Allows you to filter out images to desired quality before you print
impressive levels of detail in every printed photo

Cons:

The camera is relatively smaller than traditional Polaroid deigns

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5 – Leica Sofort Instant Camera

The Leica Sofort Instant Camera is actually based on Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90. However, it is a little bit refined but generally the design pairs the tech from Fujifilm with the lens from Leica.

The camera comes with a straight edge design that offers the perfect blend between retro and modern. It’s available in three distinct colors; white, mint, and orange. Its sleek, colorful, and minimalist design will definitely be a huge selling point.

In addition to this, the Leica Sofort Instant Camera comes with a 60 mm f/12.7 lens that accommodates two focal distances. There are also a number of presets including macro, parties, people, and sports/action. The camera features an adjustable timer, adjustable brightness, and a flash. A selfie mirror is also provided on the front to help you better focus the self-portraits.

The quality of photos is very commendable. In fact, it’s actually the best among all the instant cameras that we have looked at. The macro mode, in particular, will offer you a number of great close-ups. Even the standard settings offer great quality when it comes to images. Despite all these features, the Leica Sofort Instant Camera will cost you some money.

Pros:

The quality of printed images is very good
Minimalist and sleek design
Offers a number of camera modes for extra versatility

Cons:

Very expensive, especially when you consider it’s a simple upgrade of the Instax Mini 90 that sells for half the price

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6 – Lomography Lomo’Instant Camera

The Lomo’Instant Square is so far the only instant camera to be compatible with different formats of Instax films. Although you won’t be able to use both film formats right out of the box, you can buy a swappable black plate from Nomography that will let you install different formats. The camera is designed with a folding body making it compact and easy to carry.

You also get a shoot and print auto mode, better control on the flash, and the ability to increase and decrease the exposure the way you see fit. The camera can take multiple exposures on a single film print and offers an extended exposure of up to 30 seconds.

The camera will also give you three set focal distances, a tripod for mounting, color flash filters, and a 10-second timer. In case you want to take photos remotely, there is a simple remote control that will enable you to do so. The camera, however, doesn’t use rechargeable batteries. You will need at least two CR2 batteries.

Pros:

Compatible with two film formats
Features a folding design that is compact and easily portable
Simple to use although it’s designed for experienced photographers

Cons:

Doesn’t use rechargeable batteries

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7 – Diana F+ Instant Camera Classic

The Diana F+ Instant Camera Classic is another cheap option for people who just want a toy for their photography hobby. You can buy a version that comes with a flash and another one that doesn’t.

You may also need to buy fisheye lenses since the camera offers an interchangeable lens feature with multiple exposures. The Diana F+ Instant Camera Classic is simple, affordable, and easy to use.

Pros:

Simple design that’s quite user-friendly
Very affordable
Multiple exposures

Cons:

You may need a number of accessories to fully make the most out of it

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8 – Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

If you are looking for a camera that takes wider shots than any other in this list, then this Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 will be perfect for you. The camera is quite huge and capable of accommodating large prints. There is an enormous lens and a significantly large grip too.

Although the aesthetics aren’t the best, when it comes to functionality and ease of use, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 delivers. However, the camera struggles with quality close-ups and selfies even though it does very well with landscape photos.

Pros:

A large sized camera that can be used for wide shots
Great functionality
Easy and simple controls

Cons:

Doesn’t look that good in terms of design

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9 – Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Instant Print Camera

The Kodak PRINTOMATIC is a flat fronted instant camera. It features acute design available in a wide array of colors including yellow, orange, and white. The camera uses ZINK paper technology to print.

It’s simply a digital camera that can print instantly without any ink. You also get a USB cable to charge the battery and a slot for a microSD. The camera is sleek and compact too, and comes at a good price.

Pros:

Very affordable design
Compact and sleek for easy portability
One stop printing

Cons:

Lacks the appeal of traditional vintage instant cameras

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10 – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is perhaps one of the most affordable and cheerful instant cameras out there. It’s powered by two AA batteries.

The camera doesn’t have any significant level of sophistication. Anyone can use it including kids. The aesthetics are however not that good. It features a large plastic build, big buttons, and too many bright colors.

Pros:

New selfie mirror
Simple and easy to use for anyone
Cheap and quite retro

Cons:

Very limited in terms of sophisticated features

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Conclusion

PLAN - PRICE

Description

Lomography Instant Camera

Compatible with two film formats


Features a folding design that is compact and easily portable


Simple to use although it's designed for experienced photographers

Diana F+ Instant Camera Classic

Diana camera has a simple design that's quite user-friendly


Diana F+ Instant Camera Classic is very affordable


Diana F+ Instant Camera comes with multiple exposures

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Camera

A large sized camera that can be used for wide shots


Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is designed to provide great functionality


Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 camera has easy & simple controls

Kodak PRINTOMATIC Instant Camera

Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Print Camera has a very affordable design


Compact and sleek for easy portability


Kodak PRINTOMATIC offers one stop photo printing

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera comes with a new selfie mirror


Simple and easy to use for anyone


Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera is also cheap & quite retro

Finding the best Polaroid camera can be a bit difficult. After all, there seems to be endless options out there. Our top ten list above, however, features the best products available in the market right now. But there are still a few in there that are better than others.

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is by far our top pick. Despite its low price, it comes with a sleek compact design and a wide range of modes for extra versatility. It can easily be used by anyone even though it’s more popular with professional photographers. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is also good for the budget-friendly buyer.

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