The Best Instant Cameras

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Old school or old’s cool? Either way, the best instant cameras are more than just nostalgic novelties – they’re very relevant photographic tools. Obviously they can’t best the best DSLRs or best mirror-less cameras for pure image quality, and they aren’t as pocket-sized as the best camera phones. However, for weddings, events and social occasions, instant photography is hard to beat – and people love it!

Instant cameras embody the magic of photography: With the press of a shutter button you can capture the world around you and see tangible results in seconds. After more than 70 hours of research and testing over the past seven years, we think the best instant camera for creating retro-cool prints is the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6. It produces the highest-quality instant photos at a reasonable price, it’s easy to use out of the box, and it offers advanced creative controls if you want to do more than just point and shoot.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
The Instax Square SQ6 feels solid and durable, and it stands apart for its exceptional image quality and ease of use. The cost of its 3.4-by-2.4-inch prints have come down to about 85¢ each, and while their 2.4-by-2.4-inch image area is about half an inch smaller in each dimension than classic Polaroids, the SQ6’s results look just as good, if not better.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
If all you need is a fun toy for taking easy snapshots, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is perfect. Its compact body feels durable, with controls that are intuitive enough for you to pass this camera off to a family member, and its 3.4-by-2.1-inch prints (with a 2.4-by-1.9-inch image area) cost only about 60¢ per print, so it won’t break the bank
Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera
The Kodak Smile Instant Print is a digital instant camera – a modern update of instant photography that combines the best of analog with the beauty of digital. This slim-as-a-smartphone camera that sports a sleek design and uses ZINK (zero ink) technology – it's essentially a miniature printer with a lens, producing 2x3-inch sticky-backed prints. Inside the camera is a relatively humble 5MP sensor (up to 10MP through interpolation), though for images this size you don't need all the resolution in the world
Fujifilm instax WIDE 300
Powered by four AA batteries rather than the usual two, the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 is the big daddy of the instax print camera range. It's practically medium format camera-like heft enables it to deliver larger prints (it uses instax WIDE films packs rather than instax mini) that more closely resemble standard print dimensions. Its chunkiness means it's not really practical for selfies, yet its plastic build is lighter than you’d imagine
Polaroid Now
The Polaroid Now is a welcome arrival to the Polaroid product line, and a worthy addition to the increasingly crowded instant camera world. It boasts superior image quality to the OneStep2, thanks to its dual-lens autofocus system and improved flash, though it lacks the additional features (such as Bluetooth connectivity and remote trigger) found in the slightly pricier OneStep+. For pure point-and-shoot simplicity, though, the Polaroid Now is hard to beat – and while the similarly new instax Mini 11 does have it beaten on price, we definitely prefer the full-size square prints that Polaroid delivers
Leica Sofort
The chief appeal of this attractive, albeit boxy, Leica Sofort instant camera is that famous red dot logo. It’s twice the price of Fujifilm’s otherwise very, very similar instax mini 90, above, with which it shares a rechargeable battery, and it even uses the exact same film, too, although Leica sells its own branded version at £1 dearer. That said, this is the cheapest Leica you could own. The design is efficient too; the only top-plate button is the shutter-release control, while the on/off button is kept out of the way of accidental activation on the backplate. It’s the top control in a vertically stacked row of five, alongside a tall, narrow LCD displaying operational settings via simplistic icons.
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