Cameras which give instant photos have become increasingly popular. In fact, the latest Polaroids and Instax cameras are arguably more popular now than in the heyday of instant cameras, when the technology was brand new!
There's simply nothing like having a camera which gives instant photos. Firstly, there's the quality of the photograph itself; the photochemical exposure process used by the best instant cameras (opens in new tab) results in uniquely retro looking images – colors are saturated, contrasts are crushed, whites and greys are overexposed… it's like having an Instagram filter on every shot!
Still, if you're looking for the top camera which gives instant photos, here are the top three I would recommend…
Polaroid makes some fantastic instant cameras. I'm a huge fan of the pocket-sized Polaroid Go (opens in new tab), for example, as well as the standard Polaroid Now (opens in new tab) (not to mention the Star Wars-inspired The Mandalorian Polaroid Now (opens in new tab) version!).
Still, for my money, this is the one you want to go for. "The Polaroid Now+ is our new favorite member of the Polaroid family," I said in my Polaroid Now+ review (opens in new tab). "For full-size instant photographs, with enviable sharpness and unique vintage character, it can't be beaten – and, with creative tools including lens filters and full manual control, it's far more than just a point-and-shoot camera.
"Some features rely on you controlling things with your smartphone, which makes the process a little less instant, but the results are more than worth the small additional effort. This is the instant camera you'll want at your next party."
Instax Mini LiPlay (opens in new tab)
Like Polaroid, Fujifilm makes a load of brilliant instant cameras. You can't go wrong with the likes of the Instax Mini 11 (opens in new tab), the Instax Mini 40 (opens in new tab) or the new flagship Instax Mini Evo (opens in new tab).
However, the Instax Mini LiPlay does things differently: it's an Instax camera, with the magical photochemical exposure process, but it also doubles as a portable printer – which prints your phone photos onto actual Instax photographs!
This little box of tricks is a camera with built-in printer, or the other way around if you prefer," we said in our Instax Mini LiPlay review (opens in new tab). "Either way, you can snap a shot and have a finished print in your hand around 10 seconds later.
"Well, it’s not exactly finished, because you need to wait a couple of minutes more for the magic to happen, as the photographic chemistry does its thing, but you get the extra fun of watching your print develop in your hand."
Canon Zoemini S2
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of hybrid digital instant cameras that print digitally, rather than photochemically. There are a number of standouts, such as the Kodak Step (opens in new tab) and Polaroid Pop (opens in new tab), but Canon's latest instant camera has taken my heart.
"The Canon Zoemini S2 (opens in new tab) is a delightful little device, and importantly it's packed with personality. The design of the camera looks straight out of a Pixar film; a sleek slab of color with a big giant selfie mirror on the front… It's even more svelte than the tiny Polaroid Go, which means I can slip it in my pocket 'just in case' I want to use it – a fancy that invariably takes me.
"The fact that the Zoemini doubles as a printer means that I can snap a shot, then print out multiple copies to give to everyone at the table. And if the 8MP camera doesn't quite match the quality of my iPhone 13 Mini (opens in new tab), no problem – I can just print out the shot from my phone instead."