With instant photography making a comeback, there’s never been a better time to snap up one of these top-rated cameras.
Our articles are dedicated to helping you find the right product at the right price. We may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and when you make a purchase. Learn more
From fashion to photography, the old saying is true: everything old eventually becomes new again.
While most of us are happy to take photos of life’s most important moments on our increasingly efficient smartphones, there’s something about vintage photography that still holds sway.
And whether you’re teaching your kids how to use a camera for the first time, creating a unique photo scrapbook or looking for a fun way to get guests to take photos at your wedding, instant cameras are officially back in fashion.
Offering the ability to snap, print and develop a photo within minutes, instant cameras are a great gift or personal investment, with plenty of options now available to choose from.
Which is best for you will largely depend on your budget and photography preferences. To help you find your ideal model, we’ve rounded up the best instant cameras below, as rated by real customers.
- Best budget
- Best for photography enthusiasts
- Best for creatives
- Best Bluetooth
- Best for taking selfies
- Best for kids
- Best square
- Best compact
- Best wide
- Instant camera accessories
- How to choose the best instant camera
BEST BUDGET INSTANT CAMERA
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 is one of the most popular instant cameras to date thanks to its easy-to-use nature and fun array of colour options. While it does lack the more advanced settings of pricier models, its simplicity is part of its charm as it caters to all age groups and experience levels.
The camera’s basic point-and-shoot functionality, paired with its auto-exposure system, makes it virtually foolproof to use and therefore a great choice for weddings and parties, along with everyday fun.
The camera includes a built-in selfie mirror, pop-out lens barrel for close-up shots and an easy-to-grip plastic housing which makes it ideal for kids of all ages. Film for the camera is also reasonably priced and available in a range of options including standard, black and white and special edition versions complete with fun borders and designs, making it easy to create creative imagery.
The camera currently holds a 4.6 star rating from more than 3,000 customer reviews left on Google Reviews, with one happy customer calling it ‘surprisingly kid-friendly’ and ‘a good first camera for anyone interested in the fun of instant film.’
BEST INSTANT CAMERA FOR PHOTOGRAPHY ENTHUSIASTS
Those looking for a camera with more flexibility should look instead to the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. The compact model is arguably the best instant camera by the brand and offers better photo quality than many others on the market, according to customers.
While the Instax Mini 90 can be used by beginners, it’s designed to appeal to those who have a strong appreciation of the medium thanks to its retro styling and variety of shooting modes. Just a few of the options you can choose from include double exposure, macro, landscape and a bulb exposure mode which allows for better night photos and creative light streaks.
The camera also includes a rechargeable battery, dual shutter buttons, high performance flash, tripod socket, selfie mirror and an LCD display strip which features your chosen settings.
The Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic holds a 4.6 star rating from more than 800 customers on Google Reviews, with customers describing it as a more ‘grown up’ and ‘sophisticated’ instant camera choice.
BEST INSTANT CAMERA FOR CREATIVES
While you will have to contend with its rather chunky nature, the Polaroid Now+ is a great instant camera model for those looking to get creative. The camera combines the aesthetic and dual-lens autofocus of the Polaroid Now with the Bluetooth capabilities found on the Polaroid OneStep+, resulting in fun, full-size instant photos that deliver that highly-sought after ‘vintage’ feel.
Arriving with a range of physical lens filters, the Polaroid Now+ allows you to create images with various effects such as a red vignette, a starburst effect and yellow, orange and blue colouring. Creative shooting modes such as double exposure, manual exposure and light painting are also available, though some are only able to be used when the camera is connected to the accompanying smartphone app.
One downside to the Polaroid Now+ is that its film is a little pricier than its rivals. While you will need to factor this into your budget, the camera is still worth the spend if you want a true vintage Polaroid feel or are looking to immerse yourself in the world of creative photography.
BEST BLUETOOTH INSTANT CAMERA
A modern day twist on the rainbow OneStep from the 1970s, the Polaroid OneStep+ captures the vintage photo look while offering a range of handy features through the accompanying smartphone app.
The Bluetooth capabilities of the camera allow you to activate the shutter remotely or with a timer and create double exposures and “light painting” with long exposure shots. It also comes with built-in flash and a USB-rechargeable battery and holds a current consumer score of 4.3 out of 5 from more than 130 customers on Google Reviews.
According to one happy customer, “The app connectivity works great, and adds a ton of features that are super usable. The film is a little more expensive but I think it’s worth every red cent.”
If you do want some additional shooting flexibility, you may want to opt instead for the Polaroid Now+. While the OneStep+ can often be found at a cheaper price than the upgraded version, the Now+ offers two new shooting modes and physical lens filters for creative photos, making it worth comparing the two before committing to a purchase.
BEST INSTANT CAMERA FOR TAKING SELFIES
If you like the idea of instant photos, but don’t want to waste precious film on pictures that didn’t quite turn out right, the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay is a great pick. The tiny hybrid camera offers the immediate gratification of an instant camera, while allowing you to see your photos before you print thanks to its 2.7-inch display.
The LiPlay includes a selfie mirror and a remote shooting option which allows you to take photos away from your camera using your smartphone as a remote; making it ideal for taking both group photos and solo snaps.
There’s also a unique function that allows you to record a sound through a QR code embedded in the Instax Mini print. You can then gift the photo and get your recipient to scan the QR code to hear the message. While a little gimmicky, the function is likely to appeal to kids and teens looking to share pictures with their friends.
Though the LiPlay doesn’t completely avoid all of the downsides of an instant camera, such as issues with focus, it does offer an appealing blend of instant and digital photography. The camera has been rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by more than 400 customers on Google Reviews.
One commented, “I’ve wasted so much film (and money) on blurry or poorly lit photos. This camera takes great pictures, but you can decide if you want to print or not. AND you can print multiples to give to friends and family.”
BEST INSTANT CAMERA FOR KIDS
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly camera, the Polaroid Go is a top choice. The palm-sized model is currently the world’s smallest analog instant camera, making it ideal for little hands to carry around and use with ease.
The Go camera is essentially a smaller version of the Polaroid Now, and includes several of the same features like the self-timer and double-exposure mode. Despite the option to use these more advanced settings, the camera still operates as a standard point-and-shoot which is simple enough for kids to operate.
The camera can also be recharged via USB cable, saving parents the mad scramble for AA batteries come the morning of a birthday or Christmas.
Given its tiny nature, the rather expensive price per print ratio is definitely something to consider, especially given that the lack of autofocus is likely to result in some blurred photos. If you’re looking for an instant camera you can take anywhere though, it’s likely going to be worth the cost.
If you are looking for an alternative, we also love the previously mentioned Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 for kids of all ages thanks to its budget-friendly and easy-to-use nature.
BEST SQUARE INSTANT CAMERA
One downside to instant photos is that they can be a little on the small side, especially when you’re looking to display them in a photo album or scrapbook. While wide instant cameras are available, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 offers a perfect in-between size; spitting out a larger square film format that’s perfect for displaying.
While the Square SQ1’s lack of manual controls will be disappointing for some, those who want a purposely simple instant camera will love it. The square nature of the snaps takes away the decision making process when it comes to landscape versus portrait shots, making it a true point-and-shoot operator that’s suitable for kids and amateur photographers alike.
A built-in selfie mirror and adjustable lens barrel meanwhile prove handy for solo photos and close up shots, and an automatic flash helps newcomers to navigate both indoor and low-light settings.
The Instax Square SQ1 is popular with customers, holding a 4.2 out of 5 star customer rating on Google Reviews, with many reviewers quick to comment on great photo size.
BEST COMPACT INSTANT CAMERA
While instant cameras are usually fairly compact by nature, our favourite little model is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40. With its silver detailing and classic accents, the Instax Mini 40 looks the part of a truly sophisticated camera and is one of the top-rated instant cameras on the market.
Despite its design-centric appearance though, the camera still uses Instax Mini film packs, which is among the more affordable film types on the instant photography market.
The automatic exposure and simple selfie mode are likely to appeal to new photographers, while features such as variable shutter speed and an adjustable lens barrel will keep things interesting for those more experienced in the field.
One five star reviewer said, “This is such a fun little camera! The stylish retro design looks really cool and great in photo flat lays on social media. The selfie mode is brilliant and you can take some amazingly clear photos that go perfectly in a scrapbook.”
BEST WIDE INSTANT CAMERA
If standard or square sized photos just won’t cut it, Fujifilm’s Instax Wide 300 is sure to do the trick. The model is the biggest option from the Instax line and utilises Instax Wide film, which is the largest available by instant film standards (with prints measuring 4.3-inches by 3.4-inches).
Powered by four AA batteries, the Instax Wide 300 is on the cumbersome side, though its lightweight nature makes it relatively easy to hold and use. Its chunky design does make it less than ideal for selfie taking though, and more suited instead to landscapes or event photography.
Features include a tripod socket, “Low-Light Shooting” and “Exposure Compensation” shooting modes and a built-in flash more powerful than any other Instax camera on the market. Customers are also impressed with the model, with more than 600 reviewers scoring it a 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews.
One commented, “I have a few instant film cameras, but this one is my favourite. I like the large format of the Instax wide film, and the camera is very simple to operate.”
Despite its large size, the Instax Wide 300 is one of the more affordable instant camera models on the market, retailing for just $169. You will have to factor in the additional cost of the extra large film, but overall it’s worth the spend if you’re looking to get creative with larger prints.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: INSTANT CAMERA ACCESSORIES
The Instax Mini 11 may be a popular instant camera choice, but it can be difficult to carry around with you. Available in a fun array of colours to match your camera, these Instax carry bags are the ideal solution. Featuring an adjustable carry strap and a hardy exterior, the case will protect your camera from scratches and dirt whenever you’re out and about.
If you’re looking to protect your Instax Mini 40, this sleek case is worth the buy. With its vintage, leather look aesthetic and adjustable strap, the case offers a stylish and convenient way of protecting your camera from dirt and other damage.
Once you’ve started taking happy snaps, it’s a good idea to find somewhere safe to keep them. This large photo album can hold up to 160 standard Polaroid pictures, giving you plenty of room to showcase your work. Simply ensure your Polaroid photo has developed for 10 to 15 minutes before storing it in the album (and, contrary to advice by OutKast, do not shake your Polaroid picture).
If you’re planning on using your Instax Mini camera regularly, buying a multi-pack of film is a smart investment and often more cost-efficient than purchasing a pack at a time. This 60-pack of plain film looks great in a photo album and will keep you going for quite some time.
Instax’s square film can be slightly more difficult to hunt down than standard film, making it worth stocking up on. Offering 40 instant film sheets, this bundle is a great investment and makes for a great stocking stuffer at Christmas time too.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST INSTANT CAMERA
With plenty of instant camera models now on the market, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you. While instant cameras are, by nature, fairly straightforward devices, here are some things you may want to consider before choosing a model:
- Budget. Instant cameras can range in price, making it worth deciding ahead of time how much you’re willing to spend. While you can find models at around the $100 mark, you can expect to pay upwards of $300 for advanced models with more creative settings.
- Film type. Given that most instant cameras print your photos without giving you the option to view them first, you can expect to go through film at a fairly rapid rate. Film for instant cameras doesn’t come cheap either, which is why it’s also worth comparing film types and looking for a camera model that takes film to suit your budget.
- Age and experience level. If you’re looking to gift an instant camera, you should take age and photography capabilities into consideration. For instance, if you’re gifting a camera to a child, you’ll likely want to look for a smaller model with hardy plastic casing and basic point-and-shoot functionalities. Similarly, if you’re gifting to an amateur photographer, you’ll want a model that is easy to operate, with manual settings kept to a minimum.
- Battery life. While some cameras on this list can be recharged via USB cable, most run on batteries. Instant cameras often last between 100 to 300 shots so, if you intend on using your camera often, it’s worth checking to see how long you can expect each model to last.
- Flash. One downside to instant cameras is that the quality of the photos can sometimes be lacking, and this is often due to under or overexposure. Nearly all instant cameras come with in-built flash, but you may want to look for a model that lets you choose whether to turn the flash on or off over a model with automatic flash if you want additional control over your photography.
Looking to discover more great devices? Head to our Best Of electronics section to see all the latest product guides and reviews. You can also sign up to our Best Of shopping newsletter to be kept in the loop about popular products and upcoming sales.
If you’re looking for a tech bargain, you can meanwhile head to our news.com.au Coupons page to see a list of current deals and offers.
Lauren is news.com.au’s Best Of consumer technology writer. She previously worked at comparison site Finder as the senior shopping writer where she reported on everything from tech gadgets to the latest home products. Prior to cutting her teeth as a journalist, she completed a Bachelor of journalism at the University of South Australia and worked as a media advisor for JB Hi-Fi where she sold the very products she now writes about.