The world was stunned by the bankruptcy of Polaroid in 2008. The film and cameras they made were an institution in the photographic world, as the instant film was such a groundbreaking success.
In the time of film photography, Polaroids were a great way to see a scene a few minutes after its capture. Otherwise, you’d have to wait until film was developed and printed to see your photos.
The instant film was a great addition to photographers’ workflows. It allowed them to quickly check the lighting of scenes before exposing onto film. They were very popular for fashion photography, where pre-photographs were used.
Nothing is more iconic than shaking the print until development nor the white border of the image.
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
Currently, the company The Impossible Project picked up where Polaroid left off, stating that the instant film was just too good to lose.
Fujifilm used to create pack film that would work perfectly with these collector cameras. However, they also folded and currently focus all of their instant attention into their Instax range.
Lomography, Leica and now Mint have also joined, picking up the slack.
So, which one is the best? Well, let’s see.
The Fujifilm Instax mini 90 is the best instant camera you can buy today. As you can see, it has a trendy retro design, making it a pleasure to take out and show around.
It is perfect because you can adjust its settings according to the lighting conditions. And it provides you with high-quality prints in seconds.
The mini 90 has a macro mode for those up close shots. It has a slow shutter speed mode, great for capturing light trails and movement. On top of these features, as if they weren’t enough, it even has a double exposure mode, capturing two scenes on one print. Neat!
Not only is it available in brown, it comes in a cool black too. Grab your mini 90 neo classic here.
Lomography, like The Impossible Project, picked up where another company failed. The Lomo Instant Wide is just one of their instant camera possibilities. The Instant Wide uses the larger Instax Wide film, meaning the images are almost 2x bigger than the Instax Mini 90.
It comes in a few different colours, but we found the black one to be a little more fitting and serious.
One of the best points about this camera is that you can change the lenses, and there are accessories galore. It lets you control the Exposure Value, allowing you to set it -1, or +1 above or below the normal. You are given the options for Automatic, Bulb or a 30-second exposure.
It does fall behind in its use of ambient light for correct exposure metering, where using the flash gives you an over-exposed image. But hey, Lomo photographs are supposed to be throw-away and creative. You can sync an off-camera flash if you wish.
You can find the Lomo Instant Wide here.
We know. Every time you see Leica, you wince at the possible price tag. As much as you don’t want to fall in love with this camera, I’m not going to make it easy. This camera is well worth splurging for.
Not only does it have a very strange, yet beautiful yellow-orange colour, it perfectly brings vintage and modern together, in one system.
It has a plethora of shooting modes. Self-portrait, action, macro and double exposure come along with a fully automatic mode. It takes a battery that will last for 100 shots before it needs a charge.
Leica does have its own developed paper, but the camera will work with any Instax mini film. This is the closest to the Instax mini 90 that you can get.
You can find it here.
The InstantFlex from Mint is a fresh look at the instant camera design. It copied the look of an old Twin-Lens Rolleiflex camera, which makes it look trendy and cool.
The apertures run from f/5.6 to f/22, and even has a setting for Bokeh too. The lens is a 61mm beauty, meaning you need to stand back from your subject to get them in your frame. The focusing starts from 48 cm to infinity.
It hosts a built-in flash for shooting inside, and takes 3AA batteries, allowing you to swap and change them, instead of having to recharge it after a few shots (which you will inevitably forget). It utilises the Instax mini film, where colour and black and white are easily accessible.
The best thing about this camera compared to the other instants is the range of accessories. You can grab three neutral density filters (ND2, ND4, ND8) and close-up up lens.
We find this is a perfect camera for street or candid photography. The difference here is that you look down into the camera for framing, allowing the camera to stay away from your face.
You can find it here.
So far we have only considered instant cameras, but there are other ways to get that Polaroid or instant print. Enter the Fujifilm Instax SP-3 Mobile Printer. This is a great way to print images snapped on your cell phone, transferred via WiFi.
It uses the Instax square instant film to bring you high-quality images in seconds. 13 seconds to be exact.
It even comes with an editing app, allowing you to make changes before the printing starts. 160 prints before a recharge is necessary, makes this a great gift, even for yourself.
You can find it here.
Any instant camera is a benefit. They provide you with an image instantly, that you can hold in your hand. Instant film is a genius idea, that allows you to be creative while still being a serious photographer.
Looking at the range of cameras you can get in 2018, there is one clear winner; the Fujifilm Instax 90 Mini Neo classic. If we were talking about Polaroid cameras of all time, then the Polaroid 180 Land Camera would win. But there is the small problem of the lack of film.
The Mini 90 gives you many options that are fun and creative to use. The images are smaller than the Lomo Wide, but a smaller image is easier to store in your wallet or small photo book. Unlike the Lomo, this camera is small enough that you don’t notice the missing space in your bag.
The Mini 90 doesn’t have the close-up lens from the InstantFlex, nor the ND filters, but the intuitive light settings found in the mini are more attractive. Get me one please!
You might want to check our article on must have film cameras too.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
Thank you for reading...
if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera.
It's my training video that will walk you how to use your camera's functions in just 10 minutes - for free!
I also offer video courses and ebooks covering the following subjects:
You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos!
Thanks again for reading our articles!