London - Despite the increasing digitisation of modern life, there is one vintage trend that isn’t going anywhere fast.
Instant cameras are the antithesis of the smartphone, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching the colours develop into a one-off shot. So whether you’re new to the scene, or are already in a committed relationship with analogue film, there is a camera here to suit every appetite.
All of the cameras, and corresponding film, vary in price and functionality – most of the cameras we've listed here come in bundles with film, but we've listed what type of film to buy separately, too. While cameras are the more traditional ‘point and shoot' type, at the other end of the scale are cameras that require a little more patience to figure out their quirks.
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini, Amazon
With one of the cheapest price tags and small enough to fit most bags, the Mini 8 is great for beginners. It’s extremely easy to use: just load in the film, point, and click the button on the front. With an automatic light sensor, it tells you which of the camera’s four settings to use, so you don’t risk under or overdeveloped shots (the settings are illustrated with pictures of the weather, so they can be chosen without using the sensor). Although lacking the accessories and additional features provided by the pricier options, the Mini 8 is a great starter camera. Uses Fuji Instax mini film.
2. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90, Amazon
More control over a camera’s settings comes at a cost, but the Mini 90 offers more manual adjustments than its Instax counterparts, from double exposure to bulb mode, as well as brightness adjustment. You select the settings yourself, illustrated clearly on the digital panel on the back. This is great for beginners looking to get more experimental with their snaps. It takes Instax Mini film and is available in black or brown. It also comes with a rechargeable battery.
3. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300, Amazon
Pictures taken with the Instax Wide 300 bear more resemblance to the traditional Polaroid photo, printing out in larger sizes. With just two lens settings and a detachable close up lens (with a mirror for self-portraits) this camera sticks with the simplicity that Instax does so well, so it’s great for a beginner looking to take larger photos. Takes Fujifilm Instax wide film.
4. Lomo’ Instant Wide, Lomography
This sits at the top end of the scale, and works best for pre-existing polaroid fans who are looking for an upgrade. There are enough accessories and hidden features packed in to keep even seasoned instant users entertained, from lens splitters and flash filters to the lens cap doubling up as a remote, so you can take self-portraits. It might take a few days to figure this one out, but at this price it is certainly an investment. Larger than many, the camera takes Fujifilm Instax wide film.
5. Polaroid 600 Type, Impossible Project
When Polaroid announced it would stop producing film for Polaroid cameras, the Impossible Project was founded in an attempt to save instant photography. It bought the last remaining factory, days before it closed down, despite the fact the machines had been dismantled and the formulas destroyed. For the past eight years it has been refurbishing classic Polaroid cameras, such as the 600 Type. It is perfect for beginners wanting an original Polaroid camera, as it has only few controls: you can adjust focus length and lighten or darken your shots. The bulky, retro looks will definitely make you stand out from the crowd. It takes 600 Type film.
6. I-1, Impossible Project
The I-1, again from the Impossible Project, is the first new camera in over twenty years that has been designed for the old Polaroid format. The camera has a ring flash to adjust to any environment, works as a stand-alone point-and-shoot, and can also be controlled via your iPhone (Android App coming soon). Once connected to the camera via Bluetooth, you can control everything from aperture to shutter speed, as well as experiment with double exposure and light trails. The priciest of the cameras, the I-1 is an investment for those really committed to instant photography. Takes I Type film, available in colour or black and white.
7. Polaroid Snap
Gone are the minutes you have to wait while your photo fades into view; the Polaroid prints your photo straight onto Zink paper, which develops instantly and is significantly cheaper than Instax film. The camera adjusts itself for each photo, and you can print in full colour, black and white or sepia. Insert a memory card and the snap will save all your photos, ready to upload onto social media.
The I-1 may carry the highest price-tag, but if you’re in this for the long haul then this is the camera for you. It combines instant film and digital technology in a way that is both true to Polaroid’s original design and fit for modern use. However, if you’re looking for a fun camera on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Instax Minis, especially the Mini 8, which although is the cheapest does everything you need it to.