The 8 Best Instant Cameras to Buy in 2018

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

In today’s age where the best camera is always the one you have with you, the general rule of thumb is that smartphones rule. But that might not be entirely true for the professional photographers who rely heavily on their DSLR models or the casual shooters who might want another option. Which is why the instant film camera has made a roaring comeback. So if instant gratification with each shot is an idea you can get behind, then check out our list of the best instant film cameras.

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.

Whereas some instant cameras are built to look like toys, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is built to look like a professional-grade camera complete with rechargeable batteries. Besides its good looks, the Mini 90 is feature-heavy with a front-facing selfie mirror, retractable 60mm lens, automatic exposure and brightness control. It also has a slew of shooting modes, including party, kids and macro for discovering the ideal shot. The macro mode can shoot short distance photography as close as 30 to 60cm. There's also a small LCD screen and an optical viewfinder.

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.

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.

A terrific cross between size and functionality, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 is a standout choice for individuals who want a truly portable instant film camera. Small enough to fit in your pockets, the Mini 70 still prints out 1.8 x 2.4-inch photos that are great. With extras such as a retractable lens, optical viewfinder, selfie-timer with front mirror and a tripod mount, there’s something for everyone. The camera is powered by two CR2 batteries (not AAs) to help keep the size down. It has a landscape mode, hi-key settings for ensuring your subjects are captured with natural skin tones, as well as automatic exposure mode.

While it’s not designed for ultra-portability like some of its Fujifilm Instax counterparts, the Wide 300 instant film camera is a far more sophisticated option. Capable of printing 3 x 5-inch pictures, the Wide 300 resembles Polaroid instant print cameras of the past, but introduces modern day features. Highlights include a tripod socket, a dial for adjusting focus settings, selfie mode, a retractable lens, focus zone ring for zooming and close-up macro shot capability (down to 15.7 inches). Fortunately, even with the bevy of features the Fujifilm Instax is easy to use and has minimal buttons, an optical viewfinder for framing shots and a small monochrome LCD display that shows the number of frames remaining in the print cartridge. The addition of a flash helps make the Wide 300 a hit at parties where dark lighting might otherwise knock your smartphone camera out of action. 

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.

Designed to print larger imagery than the standard instant film camera, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 hybrid is a terrific choice for manual controls. Capable of printing 2.4 x 2.4-inch images, the hybrid design allows you to preview each shot on the SQ10’s three-inch TFT LCD, so you can edit before each print. The edit mode allows you to choose from one of 10 creative filters (vignettes, brightness adjustments and more) to add a little more flair to each image. The inclusion of a microSD card slot alongside internal memory (up to 50 photos) allows each photo to be saved and shared online along with its default printing feature. Brightness control allows easy adjustments to help salvage any photo taken under less than ideal lighting conditions. It weighs one pound.

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