Three Things to Consider Before Buying an Instant Camera

Vintage cameras are making a comeback—with modern capabilities.

Polaroid instants photos sitting on table.
One of the great things about instant cameras is you have something to give to your friends right after you take a picture.Cottonbro

Cameras that create prints of photos you just captured give you the best of retro and modern photography. You use a camera and film type that was popular years ago, which turns out classic-looking prints in seconds for instant gratification—you don’t have to use a printer, or download photos to a photo print site, to get hard copies of your images. Some instant cameras even allow you to create digital copies of the same photos. But instant cameras vary in style and lens type, and some have capabilities that others don’t. Here are three main categories of instant print cameras and the best features of each.

Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Black (9010), Bluetooth Connected Instant Film Camera
This model has portrait and landscape lenses, and a smartphone app provides you with a remote shutter button.Polaroid

Some old-style instant cameras have made a comeback. The classic look of the camera housings are nearly identical to those from yesteryear, and operation is pretty much the same, with two simple lens settings—close up and farther away. If you’re looking to buy an instant camera for a nostalgic Baby Boomer, or simply want to have fun with a camera style that was popular in the 1970s, this is the camera to get. Look for one with the ability to connect to a smartphone, so you’ll have a digital copy and the option of creative control after taking a picture.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera with Fuji Instant Film (40 Sheets) & Accessories Bundle Includes Case, Filters, Album, Lens, and More
This device allows you to add tints to your photos and create colorful displays.DEALS NUMBER ONE

Instant cameras are great fun to use with friends and family because you can take staged or candid photos and hand them out on the spot. Some manufacturers take the ability one step farther by supplying accessories like selfie lenses, color filters, miniature frames for the prints, and other after-photo accessories. Want the ability to customize prints? Got a VSCO girl or boy in your life? Look for an instant camera that’s tailored for creativity.

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera (Black)
It provides a larger image size than others, and has a quick shutter release and an automatically extending lens.Fujifilm

One of the criticisms of instant cameras is image quality and size, so some manufacturers have come out with instant cameras that make larger-than-usual prints and have features like a fast shutter speed, an extendable lens, and close-up modes. These features help minimize user error.