In the age of advanced technology and digital devices, instant cameras are considered old-fashioned. Surprisingly enough, the retro cameras are making a strong comeback for their ability to develop instant physical prints of the images captures. More notably there’s no reliance on batteries or staring into a pixelated screen. Let’s have a look at the best “polaroid-type” devices on the market today, now known as Instant Cameras.
1. Fujifilm Instaxmini 8
As a type, the Fujifilm Instax mini 8 is a basic point-and-shoot camera which is very similar to the Polaroid we were so used to back in the days. On the outside it looks retro plasticized like a children’s toy.
The camera has 5 color schemes available in blue, pink, yellow, black and white. The kiddie looking Instax mini 8 has a matte plastic finish with huge buttons and chunky looking lens. It weighs a whopping 307 grams making it a difficult carry option but not a bad choice if you have travel around with a backpack. The front button is used for the extension of collapsible lens and around them the dial is used to tweak the exposure levels. On the back of the camera we have a viewfinder and flash sitting right alongside it, accompanied by film compartments. The battery can be accessed on the hand grip which grants a two AA battery slot.
The camera has a simple role in providing you pictures with accurate levels of brightness. We can adjust exposure levels choosing from the following: Cloudy, Shade (F16), Sunny, Night (F12.7, Slightly cloudy (F22), Sunny and extreme bright (F32). The High Key mode is used for shooting in extreme levels of brightness for better development of the pictures.
Unfortunately it lacks autofocus and the shooting range is only 0.6 meters to a maximum of 2.7 meters so it’s a good choice for close-ups only. The shutter speed is 1/60 seconds and cannot be modified.
It uses Fuji Instax film which comes in packs of 10 each and has a size of 62 x 46mm, similar to a credit card. They cost 15 pounds and are very small, besides being expensive.
Probably the worst part is that if you have incorrectly configured exposure levels you’ll waste the film and need to start over. Without an autofocus feature it’s rather difficult to get a good shot in the first try. However, if you do manage to nail it, it will develop good and accurately detailed photos with that retro colored look everyone loves. Getting used to the exposure levels and knowing which one to use is the catch.
2. Polaroid Snap
For many of us that managed to catch the times of old age photography, Polaroid gave us a chance to offer the first experience in simple and classic photography. The Polaroid Snap is a 100$ camera with a 10 megapixel shooter and built-in Zink printer.
The camera is a rectangular shaped box that comes in plenty of colors. The hard plastic body of the camera weighs around 396 ounces but it’s small enough to fit in your hands without any issues. Simplicity is the basic concept of the Polaroid Snap, as such it’s outfitted with very few buttons. Extending the viewfinder turns the camera on and pushing it back down shuts it off. There’s also a shutter button, self-timer and option to add white border to your prints via a circular button that allows choices of colors and different special effects.
The microSD card is placed on the left side of the camera alongside a micro USB port used for transferring images and charging the device. The storage is expandable to 32GB with microSD cards and a tripod mount is outfitted at the bottom of the camera. The internal storage only allows one single 5 MP picture so expanding the storage is a must. A small flash is based on the front.
The built-in printer is the most appealing feature of the camera along with the possibility to save it in digital format. Unfortunately the photos are instantly printed without ability to select which and when, as long as there is paper in the camera.
The photos shot with this device in good light conditions have a good saturation and accurate colors, not washed up like the Instax mini 70. The Polaroid Snap doesn’t have very sharp lens or a high resolution to boast, the lens are quick and don’t provide too much depth of field. We would say that the camera is more accurately built for landscape photos, as close-ups don’t end very focused or detailed enough to make it a satisfying capture.
Pros and Cons: The shutter button is not responsive enough when compared to competitive models and the flash has to be manually configured through the help of a button. The camera is rather cheap, but it has an underperforming flash which develops underexposed photos in low light.
3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Camera.
What is it: The Instax Mini 90 is your typical instant camera. It develops 2×3-inch film at the side of the camera and is a flagship of the Instax line.
Design:The toy-like Mini 90 from Fujifilm has a basic shape typical to the Instax line but much classier than the X-series. It’s entirely made of plastic but outfitted with textured materials that are amazing to the touch and provide a good grip over the device. The leather straps are recommended to use in order to avoid dropping it on hard surfaces. Even if it feels sturdy in your hands, you should avoid possible disasters. The retro style of the Mini 90 is attractive looking and small enough to fit in the pocket of your jacket.
Main features: The exposure modes offered by this camera give it a huge plus with a wide range of selections such as the “party” mode – this increases the duration of the shutter speed to allow more background light, while the “kid” mode shortens the duration, allowing a quick capture of a moment. The bulb exposure mode gives the shutter and flash open for as long as you’d like.
It gives you the possibility of adjusting brightness settings to configure the power of your brightness. A double exposure setting gives your shots an unpredictable and imprecise result, but with an interesting allure that can end up satisfying enough to keep.
Photos: The quality of the images taken by the Mini 90 is similar to the former Instax models, not much of an upgrade to speak of in this direction. The lens have a F/12.7 fixed aperture and the flash has to take care of most of the illumination.
The focusing zones offered are few in number, with “macro”, standard and landscape. The result is sharp after printing the image.
The fact that the viewfinder is offset from the lens makes it increasingly more difficult for close focusing and can easily wreck your end result. The tripod socket has a slightly strange placing which forces you to take only vertical shots when used.
4. Polaroid PIC-300
The PIC-300 is considerably less bulky than previous models but still large enough as a modern camera and with a new sleek design that comes in 4 color schemes: black, blue, purple and red. The design is a classic Polaroid appeal with plenty of features.
The camera is sold by retailers for less than $100 and has the same film use as the Instax Mini. Each 10 shots come at a $10 price and you’ll be forced to buy some in the beginning because the camera doesn’t come with them. The size of the film is your average business card type. The lenses are sharp for good details but have no zoom, the automatic features are clear (for sunny weather), fine (good weather without sun), cloudy and indoor. The camera works on four AA-size batteries and is outfitted with an automatic flash.
For low-light conditions, it isn’t the best option as the photos develop too darkened. Action shots aren’t the best either since it lack of focus give it a blurry view.
The Polaroid 300 does a good job on the end result; however, it lacks focusing and shutter speed. It doesn’t have any adjustment to speak of and the flash is automatic – causing making photos to be over-exposed. Something quite common in older Polaroid models, but not to the liking of every consumer. The printed photos can be customized with differently colored canvases and they measure a 1.8”x.24” while the paper extends to a total measure of 2.1”x.34”. This makes it easier to write notes on it.
5. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
The Instax Wide 300 is a rather big camera that weighs 1.4 pounds with a featured optical viewfinder and prime lens.
On the design side, the Instax Wide 300 offers a two-tone black and silver retro look which is chunky, but really neat to hold. It resembles a modern Polaroid type camera. The overall impression it gives you is that they initially made the camera body and later attached all the components for releasing the product. The plastic exterior might feel strange at first, but it’s easy to get comfortable with in a short amount of time.
The biggest feature in the Instax Wide 300 is its ability to shoot images twice the size of most instant cameras. It’s not a “mini” product and the film measures 3.4 x 4.25 inches for wide instant size. Loading the camera is fairly easy by popping open a backdoor where you place the film in. There’s room for attaching a neck strap and the lens start extending after powering the camera on. That professional analog camera fun is back in style with this camera, simply rotating the ring switches between focusing distances from 2.95 feet to 9.84 and even more. The small optical viewfinder is somewhat of a drawback because it’s more difficult to see through and inside the grip, like with most cameras, we have the battery compartment. It uses four AA batteries that are easy to pull out and put back in the tray. The powerful flash enhances your experience and it’s a feature that captures the attention of the crowds when you’re using the camera to take pictures at a party for example.
The retro developing camera Wide 300 is a perfect example of the nostalgic artifacts from old Polaroids. The randomly designed blurs, effects and grains (let’s call them ‘imperfections’) give it an old fashioned edge which popular apps like Instagram try to imitate through the use of filters nowadays. The price for wide instant films comes at $34 dollars for a pack of 20 sheets. Not quite expensive, but not that cheap either. On average that’s about $1.50 per shot at a retail price, but you can find it cheaper on sites like Amazon.
The flash automatically fires away when in dim light conditions and if you forget to turn it on. The exposure controls balance out the brightness, but some shots can develop with overexposure. The Lomo’Instant gives you power over the aperture to shoot multiple exposures on a single frame, and it’s also important to note that a number of lens attachment are available in case the small Instax Mini lenses just don’t do the job right for you. The plastic arm sitting in front of the optical viewfinder give you an easy overview of where the center of the frame Is when you are focusing on a close-up.
6. Fujifilm Instax Hello Kitty
The camera combines the most popular cat icon within the ever-expandingFujifilm camera products on the instant camera niche. The partnership between the iconic cat and the camera company produced the Hello Kitty edition of the Instax mini 8 with included accessories offered on a limited time frame.
The camera is basically a modified version of its previous model, turned into a classic pink and white fragile look for fans of Hello Kitty. Next to the flash and autofocus there’s a pink ribbon outfitted with the product title on it, below on the right side of the lens we have another trademark inscription which makes it kind of crowded and unnecessary.
The Instax Mini 8 manages to bring surprising features to the table with automatic adjustment dials for configuration. This way you’ll be able to get all you need out of this feature to obtain good quality printed photos in almost any environment. The high-key photo help give photos a soft touch. The clip-on lens can be used for close-ups with ease.
While the shutter has a 1/60 seconds speed, it is fixed and this can derail some of the photography options and end result of your prints. The overall quality is fair depending on the subjects you want to capture. Most of the photos will have a vintage, yet realistic look and you won’t be wasting too much film.
7. Fujifilm Instax Mini 26
The Instax Mini 26 is carefully designed camera which is stylish, yet easy to adjust for instant-printing and quick shots. The compact design and lightweight device has only 275 grams without batteries added in the math.
It comes in for different color schemes such as: cream/white, white/pink, white/blue and the one we will be reviewing much closer which is the all-black model. We chose this one because it looks more discrete and screams “style” while the others are more noticeable. It has a square-shaped ergonomic with both of the sides on the camera being shaped as an hourglass to comfortably fit inside the user’s hands. The plastic material choice allows the camera to remain easy to carry, but fragile upon impact.
It’s equipped with 60mm Fujinon lens to provide excellent focal length at a good distance. The focal length is useful for portrait capture of loved ones and also ensures long-distance capabilities for landscapes, cityscapes or any type of stills. The two shutter buttons have unique features and one of them function as a way to capture vertical images, while the other is used for horizontal ones. The flash and exposure settings manage to compensate for the lack of light in the environment and can be adjust to almost every need as long as you don’t mind fiddling a bit with the options.
The camera manages to capture vibrant colors and by the use of the included close-up lens the subject can be captured at up to 35 centimeters distance from the camera. When shooting outdoor nature the result is impressive: vivid and powerful colors engrained within detailed film.
Taking selfies is a must with the Instax Mini 26 as the design of the 60mm lens mounted on the front of the camera also sport a small mirror besides them to offer a quick preview of the shot before you take it.