I recently gave my daughter an instant-printing point-and-shoot camera. Seeing how much she loved it, and what a kick she got from making actual photographic prints, reminded me just how much fun I’ve had with instant-printing cameras—especially since the digital era has largely erased the fun of cheap, quick prints from our lives. So in an effort to spread the joy, here’s a roundup of great instant-printing camera options designed to provide immediate photographic gratification.
– Polaroid Z2300, $179
A 10-megapixel digital camera, the Polaroid Z2300 is available in a handful of bright colors. It’s got a 3-inch LCD for viewing images, and you have the option to instantly print a 2×3-inch color print right out of the device in less than a minute. But you don’t have to print if you don’t want to; that makes this camera a little different than most. It also uses SD cards for up to 32GB of storage.
– Polaroid Snap, $99
At just $99, the Polaroid Snap is a great option for those who want digital capture and storage (a Micro SD card can hold up to 32GB of images from the 10-megapixel sensor) as well as the option for instant printing with 2×3-inch ZINK prints. Available in four colors, and with options for filtering to a vintage color version or into black and white, the Snap is like a little brother to the Z2300, simply without the LCD preview screen and optional printing.
– Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer, $129
I’m bending the rules here, because the Polaroid ZIP isn’t a camera—rather, it’s compact printer. But that means you can use it to print straight from the most common camera you’re already carrying, your smartphone. Compatible with iOS and Android phones, the ZIP also can connect to other devices, such as a computer, with a standard USB cable for even more printing options. ZINK printing technology produces the same 2×3-inch color prints as the aforementioned Polaroid cameras.
– Fujifilm Instax Wide 300, $99
Unlike the Polaroid options above, the Fujifilm Instax series of cameras is not digital—they are traditional analog film cameras that make true instant analog prints. They’re quite akin to the old-school Polaroid film cameras so many of us grew up with. The Instax Wide 300 produces a print approximately 3.4×4.2-inches in size. The 95mm lens focuses at two distances: closeup (under 10 feet) and distance (10 feet to infinity). This model is an update on the Fujifilm Instax 210 wide. Both models use ISO 800 Instax Wide film.
– Fujifilm Instax Mini 70, $115
For photographers who still want analog instant film photos, but want smaller prints from a smaller camera, Fujifilm makes the Instax Mini 70. The most recent update to the line of Instax Mini cameras (including the 8, the 7S, the 50S and a Polaroid branded version, the PIC-300), the Mini 70 has a sleeker design and improved user features—such as a selfie mirror adjacent to the lens, better picture quality, and a tripod socket for long exposures. Auto exposure, high-key mode, macro capability and a self-timer round out the features on this fun camera, which is available in blue, white and yellow cases. Image area of the small prints is 1.8×2.4 inches.
– Old Polaroid Cameras with New Impossible Film, $24 and up
If you’re one of the millions of Americans with an old, disused Polaroid instant camera sitting around in a closet somewhere, lamenting the fact that the Polaroid you grew up with went out of business and stopped producing film several years ago, I’ve got good news for you. A group of visionaries going by the name The Impossible Project have been manufacturing their own versions of classic Polaroid films for a few years now. Fit for SX-70 cameras, 600 series cameras and Image/Spectra cameras, there’s an Impossible film for almost every situation—as long as that situation calls for some beautifully funky film. Options include the color and black and white films you’d expect, as well as exotic versions with black borders, colorful frames, silver and gold metallic backgrounds, even deliberately funky color effects and round image areas. Dig up that abandoned Polaroid and invest in some new Impossible film to get it up and running once again.
– Authenpic Smartphone App, $9.50
Okay, what’s a smartphone app doing in an instant printing camera guide? Well, I just think this concept is so fun, and it accomplishes much the same thing as an instant print camera, so I’m including it here. The Authenpic app is technically free. You download the app and then use it to control your smartphone’s camera. After 24 exposures, you’ve used up your “roll” of virtual film, so you send it for developing. That’s when you pay the $9.50 and within a week you’ll have 24 full color 4×6-inch prints in hand via the U.S. Postal Service. You can’t edit or modify the images before printing, so the experience is very similar to the good ol’ days of disposable film cameras, when you never quite knew what you had until the film was processed. Authentic’s tagline is, “because imperfect is fun!” Amen.