The 6 Best Instant Cameras of 2019

Strike a pose, snap the button and print your picture within seconds

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 at Amazon

"Just press the button to turn on the lens, adjust the dial, shoot and print."

Best Compact: Fujifilm Instax mini LiPlay at Amazon

"Compact and portable, the latest Instax fuses camera and printer, printing up to 100 photos on a single charge."

Best Budget: Polaroid Pic-300 at Amazon

"The camera’s energy-saving auto-off function helps conserve battery life."

Best Splurge: Leica Sofort at Amazon

"The Sofort is very comfortable to hold even with its boxy design and it looks as premium as it costs."

Best Features: Polaroid OneStep+ at Amazon

"Those who want to take more control into their own hands can utilize the full manual mode."

Best Aperture: Lomography Lomo Instant Camera at Amazon

"The minimalist design belies gorgeous results with a flash-on auto mode."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

4.8

With a bevy of fun colors available, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the standout choice for instant cameras in today’s market. Powered by two AA batteries, camera operation is a snap (no pun intended). Just press the button to turn on the lens, adjust the dial, shoot and print. For the selfie lover in all of us, there’s a mirror on the front of the camera to let you check your hair, makeup or expression to ensure this is a memory you want to last forever. The included macro lens adapter lets you take close-up shots anywhere between 35 to 50cm distance from the subject. To help ensure the right aperture, the Mini 9 adds both an automatic exposure measurement to set the recommended aperture, as well as a high-key setting for pictures that have a softer look.

Best Compact: Fujifilm Instax mini LiPlay

Capture the moment and print the memory, immediately, with the Fujifilm Instax mini LiPlay. Compact and portable, the latest Instax fuses camera and printer, printing up to 100 photos on a single charge. The device can either take photos itself — focusing as close as 10cm — or receive photos images from smartphones or tablets over Bluetooth. The “Remote Shooting” function lets you use your smartphone as a shutter button to take group photos. Scroll through the display screen to choose and print your favorite shots, which are ready in about 12 seconds on credit card-sized paper. 

With over 30 frames and six filters available to choose from, you can express your creativity and liven up every photo — including by adding audio. You can record and attach up to 10 seconds of sound or voice messages that can be replayed through a QR code. Easy to use, the camera is available in three colors.

Best Budget: Polaroid Pic-300

There’s something just adorably cute about the Polaroid Pic-300 instant camera, and it’s not just the four different colors available. Powered by four AA batteries, the Pic-300 offers four different scene settings (indoor/dark, fine, cloudy, clear) that can be selected via the top dial, which you can adjust based on lighting. The printed image is around 1.8 x 2.4 inches or roughly the size of a business card (but since there isn't an LCD display, you can't preview before printing). The camera’s energy-saving auto-off function helps conserve battery life. There's also a countdown pane that tells you how many images are available to print. The good news is that even without previewing, the Pic-300 is an instant hit at family gatherings, birthday parties and weddings where you can immediately show off your photographic prowess.

Best Splurge: Leica Sofort

Leica’s Sofort instant film camera is a premium-priced camera that's a worthy addition to any photographer’s arsenal. Built within its compact size is a multitude of shooting modes, including automatic, macro, sport and action and selfie (with timer). Fortunately, for the price, the Sofort is very comfortable to hold even with its boxy design and it looks as premium as it costs. With most of the controls on the rear, usability is fairly straightforward, although professional photographers might miss the DSLR dial. Image quality is sharp despite only having a plastic lens even for 1.8 x 2.4-inch images and the results can make a great collage of photos on a wall. At .72 pounds, the Sofort is a great camera to carry around on a night out for memories that go far beyond Instagram.

Best Features: Polaroid OneStep+

The Polaroid OneStep+ fuses the classic Polaroid square film format with a new level of creative control. An upgrade from last year’s OneStep 2, it may look like a cross between a toy and a retro camera, but its new features welcome in a variety of improvements that let you take your photography game to the next level. The OneStep+ allows you to pair with the Polaroid Originals app to take advantage of six different creative tools including a portrait lens for stunning close-up photos, a double exposure option for capturing two scenes in one frame, and light painting. Those who want to take more control into their own hands can utilize the full manual mode, which lets the user customize the aperture and shutter speed.

While the price of the camera is relatively inexpensive, the film can be a significant expense over time. That makes this model worthwhile for a more serious shutterbug, but not necessarily the best entry-level camera for hobbyists and casual selfie-takers. 

Best Aperture: Lomography Lomo Instant Camera

With three types of shooting modes available, the Lomography Lomo Instant camera’s biggest selling point is its long-exposure photography (it's capable of shooting unlimited multiple exposures). The minimalist design belies gorgeous results with a flash-on auto mode that automatically determines the appropriate amount of flash. A flash-on manual mode lets you choose between normal for daytime shooting and B shutter for longer exposures. Additionally, the Lomo offers a flash-off manual mode best utilized for long exposures in the evening. The wide-angle lens supports multiple lens attachments; the included 27mm lens captures landscape photography and can get as close as 0.4 meters to subject in macro mode. The maximum aperture of f/8 makes the Lomo the largest aperture instant camera in the world, but yo can also switch to f/22 for vivid detail in every 1.8 x 2.4-inch image.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought and tested a top-rated instant camera. Our reviewers spent five hours taking pictures with it in all types of lighting. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this instant camera, from its portability to its special features (like selfie mode). We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an Instant Camera

Batteries - Some instant cameras use rechargeable batteries, while others use disposables. Each has its advantages. AAA and AA batteries can be swapped out on the go, which is very convenient but can get expensive. Rechargeable batteries are more economical, but if they run out in the middle of a shooting session, you’ll need to take time to recharge them.

Portability - If you’ll be traveling a lot with your instant camera or will be walking around with it at parties or events, take its portability into consideration. If a camera is too bulky to fit into your bag, it might not work well for you.

Selfie mode - Because instant cameras don’t have front-facing cameras and screens, it can be difficult to take a selfie. Some instant cameras have mirrors attached to help you out, a sort of manual “selfie mode.” If you think you (or whoever will be using the camera) might enjoy taking selfies, think about choosing a model with a mirror attached.

Test Results: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 (Best Overall)

4.8

What We Like

  • Easy to use

  • Takes beautiful pictures

  • Great for parties

What We Don't Like

  • Selfie camera isn’t effective

  • Recommended settings aren’t always best

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Fujifilm Instax
Fujifilm Mini 9
Fujifilm
Fujifilm Mini 9

This camera was a hit with our testers because it was beautiful and easy to use. “It took great-quality photos,” raved one of our testers, “and, overall, it's a real crowd-pleaser — my friends complimented me on it immediately when I took it out to take photos at a party. They were also super happy to have pictures to bring home with them!” The negatives? One reviewer thought that the seflie mirror wasn’t effective at helping to frame selfies and also that the camera’s recommended light settings (in natural light) weren’t always best. “I didn't always agree with its choice,” she said, “but indoors and in low light, the flash works perfectly and the pictures are clear.”