Polaroid camera

Polaroid camera (Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash)

Not everyone recalls the days when Polaroid cameras were the thing to have. Granted, the photos weren’t always top-notch, and they faded as years passed, but there was undeniable magic in watching an image develop right before your eyes. Fast forward to 2023, and everyone has a camera in their pocket. While capturing every meal and moment has a certain charm, most photos now reside in the digital realm, often stored in the cloud. Revisiting cherished memories means scrolling endlessly through a digital gallery. Perhaps that’s why the instant camera is back with a modern twist! Iconic brands like Polaroid have incorporated contemporary technology, with features like different shooting modes and Bluetooth connectivity. With so many new options, which are the best instant cameras?

It might be human nature to be obsessed with taking pictures. A study found the average person spends 40 percent of special events taking photos instead of savoring the moment. Seventy percent of respondents say they intended to print the pictures, but researchers found only 19 percent “often” do so. I know my husband is always complaining he never actually “sees” the photos we take because we are among the majority of people who rarely print out our photos.

Taking photos are important for many to document memories. We’ve all heard of the phrase, “phone eats first.” Some people even order food just for the photo-op, according to recent research. A third of social media users do so and don’t even end up eating their meal.

Instant cameras allow you to capture your moment and have a physical photo to hold right away. Which new generation is worth the purchase? We put together a list of the top five best instant cameras according to the experts. Don’t see your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Polaroid camera
Polaroid camera (Photo by Garin Chadwick on Unsplash)

The List: Best Instant Cameras, According to Experts

 

1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

FujiFilm, established in 1934, remains very current, taking three spots our list. The New York Times says, “The compact body feels durable, with minimal controls that make it easy for anyone to learn how to use it. Its 3.4-by-2.1-inch prints cost only about 60¢ apiece, so it won’t break the bank. Its photos aren’t perfectly sharp, but they are pleasingly colorful and creamy, with a classic look that we love.”

Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 with case and accessories

The Verge writes, “If all you’re looking to do is just click a button and get a decent print for a reasonable price, we recommend Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 12. It’s a basic instant camera that’s similar to our former pick, the Instax Mini 11, but with some minor updates. It still takes less than five minutes to start shooting, but the setup process is easier since all you need to do is twist the lens to either ‘on’ or ‘off.’ Such ease of use, combined with the camera’s thinner build, makes it particularly well suited for kids and those new to photography.”

“This colorful camera also has a built-in selfie mirror, automatic exposure, and flash control,” according to Nishka Dhawan at NBC Select. “While I haven’t timed how long each picture took to develop, this camera ejects pictures almost immediately after I’ve snapped them. (Photos should then develop within 90 seconds, according to Fujifilm.) You’ll also get two included AA batteries to get you started.”

2. Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

Looking for a hybrid instant and digital camera with more advanced features? The New York Times says this is the best camera for you. “It offers all the analog charm of an instant camera, but with digital control over which images to print onto Instax Mini film using a small LCD screen. A smartphone app unlocks features that the tech-savvy should have fun fiddling with, including remote shooting and the ability to print images from a smartphone library.”

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

The Verge writes, “It’s easy to balk at the price tag, but this camera offers a level of flexibility that could save you money in the long run if you use it a lot. That’s because the Instax Mini Evo includes a full-color three-inch LCD screen that lets you preview and select which images you want to print, which can help you avoid wasting film on unwanted shots. The added flexibility gave me more room for creative experimentation, too, as I wasn’t worried about running out of film.”

“The Instax Mini Evo from Fujifilm combines all the bells and whistles of a classic digital camera with the novelty of an instant camera,” states Tech Advisor. “But you don’t just have to print snaps taken on the Evo – it can also connect to your phone and print photos, just like a standard portable printer. Combining the digital camera features with analog buttons results in a fun shooting experience, and the fact that it doubles as an instant printer is the icing on the cake.”

3. Polaroid Now +

Polaroid is the name we all know and love when it comes to iconic instant cameras and this updated version is number three on our list. Digital Camera World says, “For full-size instant photos with great quality and that elusive ‘vintage look’, the Now+ is where it’s at. It combines the same image quality as the Polaroid Now with the modern-day features of the OneStep+, giving you the best of both worlds.”

Polaroid Now +
Polaroid Now +

“The Polaroid Now+ best recreates the look and feel of the traditional large-body instant camera,” according to Popular Mechanics. “If you’re chasing this aesthetic, no other camera or filter can match the final result of an actual Polaroid’s 600 or i-Type film color science and large 4 by 3.5-inch square.”

The Verge also agrees with this camera’s retro look and feel. “Polaroid Now Plus is a great instant camera that prints vintage-style photos. It also offers a variety of creative modes, making this a solid choice for artistic photography as well.”

4. Fujifilm Intex Square SQ1

If you’re looking for an instant camera that takes great photos without needing to mess with settings beforehand, GearLab says this is the camera for you. “Along with being straightforward to operate, this camera produces square mid-sized photos, which were among the most accurate with their range of colors in various lighting conditions. The stunning images displayed vivid blues, rich reds, vibrant yellows, and lush greens, with realistic highlights and contrast. The design of the SQ1 is modern and stylish, and its performance was consistent and reliable throughout our testing.”

Fujifilm Intex Square SQ1
Fujifilm Intex Square SQ1

Tech Advisor writes, “The SQ1 takes Instax Square film, which in turn means this is a bigger, chunkier camera than the Instax Minis. It comes in a similar range of attractive pastel colors though, and there’s a definite charm to the camera’s look.” This is another Instax that’s designed to be as simple to use as possible.

“Fujifilm’s Instax Square SQ1 instant camera offers the best balance of performance and speed, plus it costs less than every other model,” according to Popular Mechanics. “It’s a point-and-click analog film camera that has just a single shutter button. This makes it easy enough for anybody to pick it up and start snapping photos.”

5. Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide

GearLab says this camera will give you gorgeous prints, has lots of creative features, and has a simple user interface. “A beautiful machine that produces stunning wide-format images with a vintage appeal.”

Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide

“The Lomo’Instant gives you sharper images, better low-light performance, and a wider field of view than its competitors,” according to Tom’s Guide. “Pictures from the Lomo Instant Glass Magellan were incredibly sharp. Its size made it convenient to carry around, and it performs well in low light; it did not even require a lighten mode to take some night shots in the yellow streetlamp of a park.”

PC Mag believes “instant film lovers will fall for the Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide thanks to its manual control options, multiple exposure capability, and support for off-camera lighting.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.     

About Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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