Immediately after taking a picture, you hold an image in your hands with an instant camera. These cameras are still known from the 80s and 90s. At that time, the instant camera was a real trend. The market leader was the company Polaroid, which is still one of the top providers. Later, the instant camera was replaced by the digital cameras and now it is experiencing a rebirth.
The features of a classic instant camera are compared to the digital and SLR camera quite poorly maintained, also dispensed with the classic film and memory cards.
In our comparison of the 9 best instant cameras, we show you the differences and what you have to pay attention to when buying such a model. In the following guide, you will find many helpful tips about instant cameras and tests of various consumer magazines.
Top 10 Instant Cameras
What should you pay attention to before buying an instant camera?
Before you decide on an instant camera, you should think about the demands on the image results and what you want to photograph. First of all, it is important whether it should be an analog or a digital instant camera.
With the analog models, you can no longer edit the images you have taken. However, these models have the classic vintage touch and the charm of a typical instant camera, as it used to be. The cost per picture is slightly higher for a digital instant camera, but it also offers several options.
The images are then qualitatively better and sharper and can also be directly printed and reproduced. In addition, you should consider which size/shape you want the pictures at the end. Some Polaroid cameras offer smaller format the size of a credit card, others have a rectangular frame. After choosing the right model, you should also pay attention to the following points when purchasing:
- Haptic and processing
Some models feel familiar and comfortable in the hand, the position of the trigger or other buttons was solved very meaningful. However, there are also instant camera models that are a bit cumbersome and clumsy, and their entire functionality may seem complicated and very habituation-consuming with some cameras.
Accordingly, it is advisable that you try the camera. If you have only been using digital and compact cameras so far, you may find it difficult to use some instant cameras. However, some models are similar in design to classic cameras, making it easier to handle.
- The film
One of the important technical details is also the film – so always look for the right film for your camera. The films are easy to insert and can be reordered easily. The so-called Polaroid photos cost about two times as much compared to the digital images. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that you are aware of which films are suitable for each instant camera and how much the costs are before buying them. As a rule, movies for instant cameras are very special and incompatible with each other, so you should buy the right movie. With a cartridge, you can usually print around ten photos. When taking pictures with an instant camera, you should always think carefully when you press the shutter button.
- image size
When buying an instant camera, you also opt for a special image format. From manufacturer to manufacturer, there are different image formats. At the moment, the pictures in a business card format (5 x 7 cm) are especially trendy. Such photos fit perfectly in the purse. There are also the photos in the classic white border for touching or for captions. This edge is still iconic and reminiscent of the 70s. Today, however, images offer a rectangular shape. In addition to the classic size, there are also larger formats, for example, 6 x 7 cm. It should be remembered that this is associated with a larger camera body. Compact instant cameras with smaller film cassettes (5 × 7 cm) usually fit easily into the jacket pocket, which is not the case with the larger models.
- power supply
All instant cameras are powered by electricity. The power is supplied either by batteries or a special battery, which is either integrated into the camera or interchangeable. For the battery-powered models, always make sure that the battery is sufficiently charged. Digital cameras in particular often reach their limits here – rarely will you be able to print ten photos in one go with such a camera. Therefore, you should always have spare batteries or extra batteries with you.
- development time
The duration of the development is different and may be between five and even 45 minutes for older models. The modern instant cameras are faster than the old devices. The duration of the photo development depends on various factors, including but not limited to the image size, image type, the brand of the film cassette and the manufacturer of the camera.
Today almost every instant camera has a flash. On some models, however, it is not possible to manually deactivate the flash. The intensity of the flash is quite strong in most cases, so in many cases, these cameras can be very impractical.
Which extras and additional functions are useful?
The digital instant cameras have more extra features than the analog models. If you want to opt for an instant camera, then you should definitely purchase additional accessories. Which accessories are useful?
- The film cassettes
Of course, the instant camera cannot work without suitable cassettes. The films are not uniform and come from numerous manufacturers, of course, they also fit the different models.
The actual film is inside a cassette, which is inserted into the instant camera. The sizes of the cassettes vary depending on the brand and manufacturer. Mostly they contain ten to 20 photos.
- The pocket
A sturdy and sturdy carrying bag offers good protection against external influences such as dirt or water. In the bag there is usually enough space for further accessories. Cases for instant cameras are available in different designs and different price ranges.
A carry bag is something you should definitely buy because it provides optimal protection on the way.
- The photo holder
This accessory is particularly suitable for capturing and capturing snapshots and beautiful memories. Photo holders come in many sizes and designs. After the picture has been taken, you can conveniently place it in the holder and change it at will.
- The paper
Choosing the right type of paper is especially important for the proper use of an instant camera. These are special cartridges that contain not only paper but also ink. Which paper is the right choice depends on many factors?
This applies, for example, to your personal claims. If the images have a special seal against UV rays, you need to choose a slightly expensive paper. If you take your pictures with an old Polaroid camera, the selection of the ink is relevant in addition to the paper.
The most critical aspects of an instant camera cartridge are black and white or color, self-adhesive or writable, glaze and exposure time.
The instant cameras now have many modern and useful extra features. The useful extra features at a glance :
- Selfie Mirror
This feature helps you to find the right image detail for optimum image capture. This optimizes the correct positioning in the image and, in addition, you do not have to waste the entire film cassette in search of the best selfie.
A helpful feature if, for example, you want to shoot an instant picture from a group of friends. Attention: Not all instant cameras are equipped with this function, so you should decide before purchasing if you need this extra or not.
- tripod mount
On the market, there are only a few instant cameras with tripod connection (a tripod thread on the bottom of the camera). If you are used to photographing with a tripod, a connection like this can be of benefit to you. This pays off, for example, when you take pictures in conjunction with the self-timer.
- memory option
With instant cameras, the key reason for buying is to enjoy the uniqueness of the pictures. However, modern technology makes it possible to take pictures without consuming the film.
Using memory cards, you can save your snapshots with digital instant cameras and thus make several copies of an image. The advantage: The image is stored digitally and can not fade.
The extra function is only possible with digital instant cameras – they are equipped with displays on the back. This allows you to view your photos before printing. You will be able to delete the previously shot photo before printing it. That way you will not waste paper for photos that you do not like.
How long do the instant pictures keep their colors?
This question can not be answered unambiguously or predicted one hundred percent. The durability of the pictures depends above all on their later storage. If the UV exposure is too high, the pictures lose their color earlier or get a reddish tint.
Which image sizes are there?
The format and size of the camera body depending on the image size. Here is a short list of the most popular image sizes:
- Credit card size : 8.6 × 5.4 cm (film size with paper edge), 6.2 x 4.6 cm (image size without paper margin)
- Medium size: 8.6 × 10.8 cm (film size with paper edge), 6.2 x 9.9 cm (image size without paper edge)
- Original: 10.8x 8.8cm (film size with a paper edge), 7.8 × 7.6 cm (image size without paper edge)
- Instant digital cameras: 5.08 × 7.62 cm (film size with a paper edge), 5.08 × 7.62 cm (image size without paper edge).
All images taken from analog instant cameras have a white border around the photo, so you have to distinguish between film and image size here. The size of the image only represents the actual photo without the paper edge.
The film size, however, is the photo along with the paper margin. The white border offers a writing surface on which you can label your pictures. The newer analog instant cameras usually have two different formats. The credit card size (8.6 x 5.4 cm) is ideal for storing in a purse.
You can always have such photos handy. In addition, there are still black and white films. The films of the digital instant cameras do not have a paper writing surface. There are also movies in a slightly larger format (8.6 x 10.8 inches).
For whom are instant cameras suitable?
This type of camera is especially interesting for the following groups of people:
- Casual and amateur photographers
- insurance adjuster
- Passport photo booths and instant photo booths
- Party photographer
- Children and adolescents
- for documentation of legal or medical events.
Does the framing of the printed instant picture bring something?
Hobby photographers often see them wandering around with a printed instant photo just to speed things up. Is it worth it at all? No, because it does more harm to the picture than it does. Too much movement can prevent the chemicals on the instant image from mixing together properly.
This can eventually lead to slight aberrations and make the image a little blurred. The photo should just lay flat on a table (with the photo side up) and patiently wait for the development. It may take up to 3 minutes for the new camera models.
What else do you have to look out for in instant photography?
In general, the rules for instant photography are very similar to those for “normal” photography. You should nevertheless note that:
- Avoid direct backlighting
- Make sure the number of light sources is low when taking pictures
- The aberrations are virtually “normal” in an instant camera, which is exactly what makes the certain charm of instant photography
- indoors is best to always use the flash
- Heat and cold: although these cameras are pretty good with heat and cold, extreme temperature fluctuations for the footage can be a problem. This also applies to the batteries, which discharge in freezing temperatures much faster than at mild temperatures. Do not expose your camera to cold and heat for longer than necessary.