Skip to main content

The best instant cameras in 2022 – from the best Instax to best Polaroid cameras

Best instant cameras – from best instax to best Polaroid cameras
(Image credit: James Artaius/Digital Camera World)

Old's cool, new school – that's why the best instant cameras are still relevant, even in today's digital age of millions of megapixels and artificially intelligent autofocus. 

The technology at the heart of the best instant cameras has been around since the 1940s and, since you have to buy packs of film, you spend money every single time you press the shutter button. So why are the likes of Instax and Polaroid cameras still so popular today (to the point that Instax is largely responsible for Fujifilm staying in the black)?

It's this very simplicity, though, that makes this kind of photography so appealing. After all, they're so straightforward that they make some of the best cameras for kids and best cameras for beginners

And the results are utterly unique; the best instant cameras produce a unique kind of photograph that people spend ages trying to recreate using Instagram filters and Lightroom presets. Yet there's nothing that matches the real deal! 

Cameras from Polaroid, Instax and Lomography use a traditional photochemical exposure process that creates striking lo-fi shots with crushed contrast, saturated colors and ethereal exposures that are unique to instant film.

The other great thing about the best instant cameras is their ease of use; there are no settings to adjust, no focus points to fiddle with – you simply point the camera at your subject(s), frame your shot and press the shutter button! For this reason, instant cameras are ideal for families, parties, weddings, and even enabling kids to get creative.

There is also a new breed of digital instant film cameras, that combine the thrill of instant photography with the convenience of modern-day technology. Canon, Fujifilm and Kodak have all ventured into the world of digital instant cameras – and the result is a much smaller, digital camera with an image sensor that captured every sensor and a built-in digital printer.

We've divided our guide to the best instant cameras up into sections for film and digital. If you pick the former, don’t forget to pick up the right kind of instant film to have plenty of ammunition for your shooting!

The best instant cameras in 2022

Instant film cameras

Image 1 of 5

Polaroid Now+

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Image 2 of 5

Polaroid Now+ Plus

(Image credit: Polaroid)
Image 3 of 5

Polaroid Now+ Plus

(Image credit: Polaroid)
Image 4 of 5

Polaroid Now+ Plus

(Image credit: Polaroid)
Image 5 of 5

Polaroid Now+ Plus

(Image credit: Polaroid)
If you're after large prints with that vintage look the Polaroid Now+ is the best you can get

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Polaroid 600 & Polaroid i-Type
Image size: 108x88mm
Lens: 102.35mm (40mm full-frame equivalent) / 94.96mm (35mm equivalent)
Focus modes: Automatic
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Full-size prints
+
Excellent image quality
+
Brilliant app and creative functions

Reasons to avoid

-
Prints work out expensive
-
No selfie mirror
-
Some features are app-only

If you're after full-size instant photos that are great quality and possess that elusive 'vintage look', the Polaroid Now+ is without the best instant film camera available. It combines the same image quality and base shooting of the Polaroid Now and the modern-day features of the OneStep+ so that the user can have the best of both worlds. It has several creative modes you can use such as light painting, aperture priority, double exposure, portrait mode and many more which are available by the app. There are also several physical lens filters that create a starburst effect, a red vignette and blue, yellow and orange colors for in-camera effects. The biggest downside to instant photography is how expensive the film is but we can promise you, you'll have more fun using this than any other kind of film camera. You might end up spending a fair amount on film, but the memories you capture with it will be priceless. 

Image 1 of 4

(Image credit: Polaroid Originals)
Image 2 of 4

(Image credit: Polaroid Originals)
Image 3 of 4

(Image credit: Polaroid Originals)
Image 4 of 4

(Image credit: Polaroid Originals)

2. Polaroid OneStep+

An upgrade from the One Step 2 now with Bluetooth controls

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Polaroid 600 & Polaroid i-Type
Image size: 108x88mm
Lens: 103mm/89mm
Minimum shooting distance: 60cm
Focus modes: Macro, Normal and Landscape
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Large, excellent prints
+
Bluetooth-enabled shooting modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive per shot
-
Built-in battery only

If it wasn't for The Impossible Project stepping in to keep Polaroid going,  we would never have had the Polaroid OneStep+ - a modern, retro-look camera nodding towards the golden era of instant film photography. The OneStep+ is the second camera to be released under the new name Polaroid Originals and follows on from the OneStep 2 (confusing, we know). While the camera isn't massively different, it benefits from the addition of an 89mm portraits lens and the integration of Bluetooth connectivity which allows the user to operate it using a remote shutter on your smartphone. It also features several creative shooting modes such as double exposure and light painting and has a noise-sensitive trigger that will fire if you clap. This is definitely one of the most exciting and best instant cameras around. It looks great, is fun to use and is a no-brainer for any instant-photography fanatic.

Image 1 of 5

Polaroid OneStep+

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
Image 2 of 5

instax mini 11

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 3 of 5

best camera for kids

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 4 of 5

best camera under $100 - instax mini 11

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 5 of 5

instax mini 11

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
The hardest thing about this camera is choosing which color to get it in

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Fujifilm Instax Mini
Image size: 6.2x4.6cm
Lens: 60mm f/12.7
Minimum shooting distance: 30cm
Flash: Built-in (cannot be deactivated)
Self-timer: No
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Range of color options

Reasons to avoid

-
Easy to obscure viewfinder
-
Flash can't be deactivated

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a chunky, plastic camera that comes in a variety of refreshing pastel colors. It may not hot have the same vintage feel as the Polaroids but it does have its own charm. Whether you're going on holiday, attending a wedding or escaping to the countryside for the weekend, the Instax Mini 11 is small enough to keep in your bag at all times. You can also buy rather trendy, cross-body cases to keep them in so it's even more accessible. It's powered by two AA batteries that need to be replaced fairly frequently. If the camera ever appears to not be working, chances are the batteries just need to be replaced - do not fear. Fujifilm has done away with the exposure control dial and instead opted for automatic exposure so you have one less thing to worry about and are less likely to waste shots. Film works out at roughly $1.30/£1 per image though you can often save a little bit by bulk buying in packs of five. They make great gifts for adults or kids you want an easy-to-use instant film camera. 

Image 1 of 5

Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 review

(Image credit: Jon Stapley/Future)
Image 2 of 5

Best instant cameras

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 3 of 5

Best instant cameras

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 4 of 5

Best instant cameras

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
Image 5 of 5

Best instant cameras

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
A stylish instant camera that uses Fujifilm Instax mini film

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Fujifilm Instax Mini
Image size: 6.2x4.6cm
Lens: 60mm f/12.7
Minimum shooting distance: 30cm
Exposure modes: Automatic
Flash: Built-in (cannot be deactivated)
Self-timer: No
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Textured black finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly selfie mode
-
Flash can't be deactivated

Instax cameras are knockabout fun with a side of lo-fi cool, and none exemplify this more than the beautiful Instax Mini 40. With its stylish black-and-silver trim, the Mini 40 looks the part, and it's incredibly simple to operate. There are no exposure controls, or really controls of any kind; you just point, and shoot. This might be a bit too simple for some users, but if you're the kind of person who just wants to produce instant images without having to worry about it, this is a fantastic buy. The simplicity also makes it a good option for kids, who will be able to easily get the hang of operating it. 

Instax prints are smaller than Polaroids, but still look pretty great, and will develop with unbelievable speed. Plus, let's not forget, the film is cheaper to buy, and these costs will add up over time if you're a frequent shooter. The Instax Mini 40 is an excellent instant camera for families and parties alike. 

Note: The Instax Mini 11 is pretty much the exact same camera as this, albeit without the textured finish. It's probably available for a cheaper price if you're looking to save some cash.

Cheap Instax film deals

Image 1 of 7

On a mobile device? Swipe left

On a mobile device? Swipe left
Image 2 of 7

Image 3 of 7

Image 4 of 7

Image 5 of 7

Image 6 of 7

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images
Image 7 of 7

5. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90

A more grown up version of the Instax Mini 11 complete with LCD display

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Fujifilm Instax Mini
Image size: 6.2x4.6cm
Lens: 60mm f/12.7
Minimum shooting distance: 30cm
Shooting modes: Party, Kids, Landscape, Macro, Double Exposure, Bulb
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Rechargeable battery
+
LCD display

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of handgrip
-
Tiny viewfinder 

Available in brown or black, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is Fujifilm’s only instant camera to handily come with a rechargeable battery, which the company claims will last as long as 10 (credit card-sized) film packs. With retro styling, it feels like it's pitched at the photo enthusiast, with some manual control over exposure and even the option to disable the built-in flash if you feel pictures are too bright. A double exposure mode extends creativity options for the curious (although results can be a bit hit and miss here) as does a shutter-release button above its lens, which doubles up as a selfie mirror (another shutter-release button is in the usual top-plate location). The advantage here over a cheaper instant-print camera is an LCD display strip at the back revealing your chosen settings. As usual, the viewfinder is tiny but adequate for purpose, while the faux leather finish to the bodywork adds a splash of style. 

• The best Instax photo albums

Image 1 of 3

On a mobile device? Swipe left

On a mobile device? Swipe left
Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images

6. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

This chunky Instax delivers much larger prints using Instax Wide film

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Fujifilm instax WIDE film
Image size: 99x62mm
Lens: 95mm f/14
Minimum shooting distance: 40cm
Exposure modes: Dark, Normal, Light
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: No
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Larger prints than we’d expect

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky design 
-
Tiny viewfinder

The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the big daddy of the Instax family. It's powered by four AA batteries rather than the usual two but this chunky camera isn't far off the size of a medium format system. It's able to deliver much larger prints using the Instax Wide film packs which makes it much better for group shots. However, if you're looking for a camera to take selfies with, the chunky design of the Instax Wide 300 makes it really hard so one of the smaller cameras on this list might be better. Despite its size, it is still relatively lightweight thanks to its plastic build and it benefits from a lens that can extend up to 95mm. The built-in flash is much more powerful than on other Instax cameras and is great for using as a fill although the viewfinder is still really small. It doesn't have any creative modes and can't be used with an app but if you just want larger prints, then this is the best option for you.

Image 1 of 4

Polaroid Go

(Image credit: Emma-Jayne Simmonds)
Image 2 of 4

Polaroid Go

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Image 3 of 4

Polaroid Go

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Image 4 of 4

Polaroid Go

(Image credit: James Artaius)
It's cute, it's compact and it takes tiny little photos for you to treasure

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Polaroid Go instant film
Image size: 4.7x 4.6cm
Lens: 34mm
Shooting modes: Automatic, double exposure
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Ridiculously cute and covetable
+
Truly pocket-sized

Reasons to avoid

-
Struggles with bright sunlight
-
Film is pricier than Instax Mini

The Polaroid Go is a palm-sized camera that everyone will fall in love with faster than it takes a photo to develop. Bigger instant cameras balance exposures better, and rival Instax Mini cameras deliver slightly better image quality indoors – but neither are as fun to use, or will make you as many friends, as the Go… which still produces pleasing pics. A consideration is that Instax Mini film works out cheaper than Polaroid Go film, but then you'll also need to replace those AA batteries on the Mini whereas the Go just needs USB to top up the power. And the Go boasts double exposures, which you won't get unless you opt for pricier options like the Instax Mini 90. A fun and funky little camera, the Polaroid Go will be the star of your next party and will deposit an endless amount of memories in your pocket or wallet. And if you've got kids, this could be the ideal camera for little hands to get started with. Don't forget to pick up a pack of the new Polaroid Go instant film. 

Image 1 of 4

Instax Square SQ6

(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)
Image 2 of 4

Image 3 of 4

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images
Image 4 of 4

8. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6

Square-eyed Instagramers will love this camera's square prints

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Fujifilm instax SQUARE film
Image size: 6.2x6.2cm
Lens: 65.75mm f/12.6
Minimum shooting distance: 30cm
Shooting modes: Automatic, Macro, Normal, Landscape, Double Exposure, Lighten, Darken
Flash: Built-in (with flash suppression mode)
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Square-format prints

Reasons to avoid

-
Tiny viewfinder
-
Lacks a proper handgrip

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is powered by two small CR2 lithium batteries (included) that the makers claim will last a whopping 30 film packs, of 10 shots each. Looking to tempt Instagrammers away from their smartphones, this camera apes the style of the 'gram logo and offers 1:1 square-format imagery, while retaining its analogue workings. Again, we get a selection of body colors and a selfie mode, plus three color filters that attach to the flash, along with double exposure, macro and landscape modes. Unsurprisingly, the camera uses special Fujifilm Square film, which provides a central image size of 6.2x6.2cm. As with most film-based instant cameras, results appear a little bleached compared with a digital shot, but if you’re trying to tear your teenager away from their phone to engage with the real world, you could do worse than offer up the SQ6. A newer Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 has recently been launched - but the older SQ6 is better value, and has more features - so this is the one you should go for.

(Image credit: Future)
A new Polaroid camera for a new decade, designed for the now

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Polaroid 600 & Polaroid i-Type
Image size: 108x88mm
Lens: Lens 1: 94.96mm / Lens 2: 102.35
Minimum shooting distance: 60cm
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: Optical
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Dual-lens autofocus system
+
Great image quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive per shot
-
Inconsistent outdoors

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 Instax Mini 11 does have it beaten on price, we definitely prefer the full-size square prints that Polaroid delivers. And much as we love the Instax line, when you're shooting old school instant film there's nothing quite like the tactility of holding a big, boxy Polaroid. If you don't need the extra bells and whistles of the OneStep+, the Polaroid Now is sure to wow.

Digital instant cameras

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
This 2-in-1 camera and printer can be used to print photos from your phone

Specifications

Type: Digital instant camera + instant printer
Sensor size: 4.9MP
Film type: instax Mini
Image size: 1.8 x 2.4 inches
Lens: 28mm f/2
Minimum shooting distance: 10cm
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: LCD screen

Reasons to buy

+
Record and play back sound clips with QR
+
Remote shooting
+
45-image internal storage

Reasons to avoid

-
Clunky app 
-
App doesn't edit photos

Not only can you take photos using the Instax Hybrid Mini LiPlay but it can also print photos from your phone. It's small enough to fit in your pocket which makes it perfect for having on you at all times and there is space for a Micro SD card so can images can be stored as well as printed. Its gorgeous design makes it stand out from the other digital instant film cameras and it comes in a range of colors including Blush Gold (our favorite), Stone White and Elegant Black.

The camera itself features an LCD screen, a selfie mirror, a 4.9MP sensor (which although small is plenty big enough for 1.8 x 2.8 - inch Instax Mini prints) and built-in memory to store 45 images. In terms of size, it measures just 82.5 x 122.9 x 36.7mm and weighs 255g. Photos can also be edited in the LiPlay app where you can add filters, borders and other effects before printing and the internal memory means you can take multiple photos before deciding which is the best one to print. 

Image 1 of 8

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images

On a mobile device? Swipe left for more images (Image credit: Kodak)
Image 2 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 3 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 4 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 5 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 6 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 7 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)
Image 8 of 8

(Image credit: Kodak)

11. Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera

A hybrid camera that's small enough to fit in your pocket

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: Zero Ink (ZINK)
Image size: 2x3in
Lens: 32mm f/2.8
Minimum shooting distance: Not given
Shooting modes: Colour, B&W
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Viewfinder: LCD screen
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Slim, sleek design
+
microSD slot (3-shot internal storage)

Reasons to avoid

-
ZINK prints aren't quite as good 
-
Limited battery life

The Kodak Smile Instant Print is one of the best digital instant cameras – 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. Ultimately the pictures it produces look more like printer images than they do instant photographs – not necessarily a bad thing, but they don't possess quite the same magic as instant film. The ability to add up to 256GB of microSD memory means that you can snap to your heart's content, then cherry pick the images that you want to print. The integrated battery keeps the camera nice and svelte, though you only get around 40 prints per charge – a far cry from the 120-160 shots you get from Polaroids. The LCD screen is definitely on the basic side, too, so don't go expecting the same kind of fidelity as in your traditional DSLR or mirrorless screen. 

Best instant cameras: Kodak Mini Shot 3

(Image credit: Kodak)

12. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

An instant printer/digital camera combo, with retro charm

Specifications

Type: Instant camera
Film type: 4PASS All-in-One Cartridge
Image size: 3x3in
Lens: Not specified
Minimum shooting distance: Not given
Shooting modes: Filters, exposure control, bordered, borderless
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: No
Viewfinder: 1.7 inch LCD
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap and cheerful
+
Very portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not as good as film
-
No internal storage

Kodak's Mini Shot 3 is a tidy little instant print camera that's great for anyone who doesn't want anything too complicate. It doesn't use Zink like the Kodak Smile above, but houses a proper little printer that uses Kodak's 4PASS all-in-one cartridges to spit out little square prints, 3 inches by 3 inches. The colors pop a good deal better than Zink, and they are also rated to be longer lasting. The camera overall is pretty cheap, and running it isn't too expensive either, making it a good option if you want to shoot instant on a budget. It also produces 10MP digital photos that you can save via Bluetooth on the app (and you do have to do it this way; there's no internal storage). A cheap option that's good fun for anyone, especially those who aren't too confident with using a camera. 

More buying guides

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-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.