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What type of instant film do I need?

What type of instant film do I need?

If you're asking, "What type of instant film do I need?" then you're not alone! There are so many kinds of instant cameras, and so many kinds of films for them, that making sure you get the right one isn't as easy as it might seem. 

And it's not just the instant cameras that use film; some of the best portable printers, such as the Polaroid Lab and Instax Mini Link, also employ the same photochemical process as instant cameras – so choosing the right instant film is, in effect, like choosing the right kind of printer paper.

• Read more: Best instant cameras

The important thing to remember is that not all instant films are the same, so Polaroid film will not work with Instax cameras – and even within the same camera brand, not all film is compatible. Classic Polaroid 600 film will work with a modern Polaroid camera, for instance, but Polaroid i-Type film won't work with a vintage Polaroid camera. 

There are different sizes of instant film, too, with Fujifilm producing Mini, Square and Wide film, and Polaroid producing standard and miniature (Go) film. Not all film is color, either, as black-and-white film is also available. 

So then, to help you navigate this potential minefield, here's a look at which instant films are suitable for which instant cameras…

What Polaroid film do I need?

The Polaroid Now+ is the manufacturer's latest camera, and one of the "new Polaroids" (Image credit: James Artaius)

Before working out which kind of Polaroid film you need, you first need to be aware that there are four kinds of Polaroid camera:

• Polaroid 600 cameras
• Polaroid SX-70 cameras
• i-Type Polaroid / Impossible Project cameras
• Polaroid Go camera(s)

Polaroid 600 cameras are the vintage ones that your parents owned, and the ones you find at yard sales and flea markets. They are "old Polaroids", for lack of a better term, made before the company declared bankruptcy in 2001. 

The Polaroid SX-70 is another vintage model, and was the world's first instant SLR camera. Like Polaroid 600s, they are no longer manufactured – though they are still hugely popular on the second-hand market, and Polaroid itself even sells refurbished bodies (as do other refurb specialists).

The i-Type Polaroids comprise the cameras released post-bankruptcy, including those released under the Impossible Project moniker, and the current line of Polaroid cameras that are on the market today. These are "modern Polaroids". 

The Polaroid Go is the company's pocket-sized rival to the Instax Mini lineup (Image credit: Emma-Jayne Simmonds)

Then, finally, there is the new line called Polaroid Go. Launched in 2021, currently there is only one such model – and it is a pocket-sized camera designed to rival Fujfilm's Instax Mini offerings. 

On top of these, Polaroid makes an instant photo printer called the Polaroid Lab, which is technically an i-Type product. 

Polaroid actually makes five formats of instant film, so here's a look at what they are and which cameras they are suitable for: 

POLAROID 600 FILM

Size: 4.233 x 3.483 inches
Suitable for:
Vintage Polaroid 600 cameras, Modern i-Type Polaroid cameras (Polaroid Now, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid OneStep2, Polaroid OneStep+), Polaroid Lab
Not suitable for: Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid Go
Colors: Color, monochrome, duochrome

This classic Polaroid film is designed for vintage cameras, which do not have batteries, and as such each film pack contains a battery. This is vital for 600 cameras, but while i-Type cameras run on batteries they can still use 600 film. It comes in color, monochrome and duochrome, and is also offered with standard, colored or circular frames.

The Polaroid Lab takes both classic 600 and i-Type film (Image credit: James Artaius)

POLAROID i-TYPE FILM

Size: 4.233 x 3.483 inches
Suitable for: Modern i-Type Polaroid cameras (Polaroid Now, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid OneStep2, Polaroid OneStep+), Polaroid Lab
Not suitable for: Vintage Polaroid 600 cameras, Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid Go
Colors: Color, monochrome

Because i-Type film is designed for battery powered modern i-Type cameras, it does each pack does not contain a battery. Accordingly, while it will physically fit in a Polaroid 600 camera, it will not work. It comes in color and monochrome, and is available with standard, colored, metallic and limited edition (with themes such as Star Wars) frames. 

POLAROID SX-70 FILM

Size: 4.233 x 3.483 inches
Suitable for: Polaroid SX-70
Not suitable for: Vintage Polaroid 600 cameras, Modern i-Type Polaroid cameras (Polaroid Now, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid OneStep2, Polaroid OneStep+), Polaroid Go, Polaroid Lab
Colors: Color, monochrome

This film only works on SX-70 Polaroid cameras, and is incompatible with all others. Since SX-70s are uncommon, you won't see this for sale in most shops or online retailers – making it difficult to pick it up by mistake. It comes in color and monochrome options.

POLAROID GO FILM

Size: 2.623 x 2.122 inches
Suitable for: Polaroid Go
Not suitable for: Vintage Polaroid 600 cameras, Polaroid SX-70, Modern i-Type Polaroid cameras (Polaroid Now, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid OneStep2, Polaroid OneStep+), Polaroid Lab
Colors: Color only

Polaroid's latest instant film, designed exclusively for the pint-sized Polaroid Go camera. It is currently only available as a colored stock, and as it's so much tinier than standard Polaroid film it can develop up to five minutes faster. 

POLAROID 8x10 FILM

Size: 2.623 x 2.122 inches
Suitable for: Large format cameras
Not suitable for: Vintage Polaroid 600 cameras, Polaroid SX-70, Modern i-Type Polaroid cameras (Polaroid Now, Polaroid Now+, Polaroid OneStep2, Polaroid OneStep+), Polaroid Lab, Polaroid Go
Colors: Color, monochrome

Polaroid still produces a small quantity of 8x10 film for large format cameras, only available from the manufacturer directly. It is different from the original peel-apart Polaroid 8x10 film, but still requires a large format camera with an appropriate back to make use of it.

What Instax film do I need?

As with the multiple generations of Polaroid cameras, there are numerous kinds of Fujifilm Instax cameras as well. On top of that, the instant cameras made by Lomography also accept Instax film:

• Fujifilm Instax Mini
• Fujifilm Instax Square
• Fujifilm Instax Wide
• Lomo'Instant
• Diana Instant

The Mini line includes cameras like the Instax Mini 11, Instax Mini 40 and Instax Mini 90 – and they all have 'Mini' in the product name, to make things easier. The Square series features cameras like the Instax Square SQ1 and Instax Square SQ6 – and again, all models are named 'Square'. Currently Fujifilm only makes one Wide camera, the Instax Wide 300.  

Things get slightly more complicated with the Lomography cameras, which do not have their own proprietary format but instead take Instax film. These comprise the Diana Instant Square, Lomo'Instant, Lomo'Instant Automat, Lomo'Instant Wide and Lomo'Instant Square Glass.

For artier instant images, choose monochrome

Thankfully, there are only two formats of Fujifilm Instax film at present, which makes matters much less complicated:

INSTAX MINI FILM

Size: 2.13 x 3.4 inches
Suitable for: Instax Mini cameras, Lomo'Instant & Lomo'Instant Automat cameras
Not suitable for: Instax Square cameras, Instax Wide cameras, Diana Instant Square, Lomo'Instant Wide and Lomo'Instant Square Glass
Colors: Color, monochrome

The most popular and widely available Instax film, accepted by the widest number of cameras from both Fujifilm and Lomography. It is available in both color and black and white, with frames being offered in multiple colors and print designs. 

INSTAX SQUARE FILM

Size: 2.83 x 3.39 inches
Suitable for: Instax Square cameras, Diana Instant Square, Lomo'Instant Square Glass
Not suitable for: Instax Mini cameras, Lomo'Instant & Lomo'Instant Automat cameras, Instax Wide cameras, Lomo'Instant Wide and  
Colors: Color, monochrome

The newest instant format from Fujifilm, introduced in 2018, Instax Square film is larger than Mini and carries a 1:1 aspect ratio more like the classic shape of Polaroid film. It is available in color and monochrome, with a selection of colored and patterned frame options.

INSTAX WIDE FILM

Size: 4.3 x 3.4 inches
Suitable for: Instax Wide cameras, Lomo'Instant Wide
Not suitable for: Instax Mini cameras, Lomo'Instant & Lomo'Instant Automat cameras, Instax Square cameras, Diana Instant Square, Lomo'Instant Square Glass
Colors: Color, monochrome

Curiously, Fujifilm doesn't shout much about its Instax Wide format – made even more baffling by the fact that it's the one format Polaroid doesn't offer. Still, this film features a more cinematic aspect ratio and is available in both color and black and white – though there are no fancy frames on offer.

Read more: 

Polaroid Now review
Polaroid Now + review
Polaroid Go review
Polaroid Lab review
Instax Mini 11 review
Instax Mini Link review

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-PhotoDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus (Micro Four Thirds) and Canon (full frame) shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a particular fondness for vintage lenses and film cameras.