The Best Instant Cameras for Retro Photos

Best Instant Cameras Featured Image

Any occasion is best paired with good photos. With the increasing interest in using instant cameras such as Instax and Polaroid because of their retro vibes, there are now many to choose from. These instant cameras vary depending on portability, image, quality, and price. This guide will help you find the best instant cameras suitable for your retro photo needs.

Good to know: do you want to switch up the look of photos taken on your iPhone? These are the best apps to make your iPhone camera photos look like film.

1. Best Overall: Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

Price: $248.50

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo offers a chic, retro-style camera body that can provide high-quality photos. With its credit card-sized prints, it's a good choice if you want to keep your photos in your wallet or compile them in a scrapbook. With the price of just under $250, it comes with an LCD that is best to use when choosing photos you want to print, which helps in conserving instant film. The LCD also allows you to edit your photos using filters.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Mini Evo

Pros

  • Built-in LCD for photo preview and editing
  • Selfie mirror attached to top of lens
  • Highly portable
  • Has Instax Mini Evo app to print photos from your mobile phone
  • Bluetooth connectivity support
  • Rechargeable via micro USB
  • Built-in flash that can be turned on and off

Cons

  • Battery life only lets you snap 100 shots
  • Menu system isn't user friendly
  • Internal storage only holds 45 photos

2. Great for Lens Filters: Polaroid Now+

Price: $149.99

If you're looking for an instant camera with a boxy build and a set of lens filters you can use with your photos, the Polaroid Now+ is your best bet. It uses Polaroid's modern i-Type instant film, which is exclusive to new Polaroid cameras, but still works with 600 Type films. It produces square-format Polaroid photos, has a wide lens that can capture a larger area, and comes out with the vintage photos Polaroid is known for.

Best Instant Cameras Polaroid Now Plus

Pros

  • Full-size prints
  • Can be connected to smartphones with the Polaroid app
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity
  • Rechargeable via micro USB
  • Remote shutter using the phone app
  • Built-in flash that can be turned on and off
  • Five different colored lenses

Cons

  • No selfie mirror
  • No LCD
  • Bulky
  • Takes 15 minutes to print photos
  • Struggles to produce high-quality photos in low-light environment

Also helpful: you can get similar "retro" effects as Polaroids by using portrait mode effects on your iPhone.

3. Most User Friendly: Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

Price: $79.95

With its compact and stylish design, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 has become one of the most popular instant cameras after its predecessor, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11. It offers an automatic exposure feature that's very useful in different lighting conditions, as it automatically senses the level of ambient light when the shutter is pressed. Moreover, it's developed to be user friendly with an improved lens, so you shoot the photo, and the auto exposure feature will do the rest.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Mini 12

Pros

  • Affordable
  • User friendly
  • Twistable power switch
  • Automatic exposure feature
  • High-quality prints
  • Includes selfie mirror
  • Portable

Cons

  • Not rechargeable
  • Flash can’t be disabled
  • No LCD

4. Most Stylish: Fujifilm Instax Mini 40

Price: $98.49

With the same design as Fujifilm Instax Mini 90, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 is wrapped in a faux leather finish, giving it a clean look. You can use this as a simple point-and-shoot since it has the same automatic exposure feature as other Fujifilm instant cameras. Unlike Polaroid instant cameras, Instax’s edge on this one is the five-minute waiting time for the photo to finish printing.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Mini 40

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Great design
  • Affordable film pack
  • Automatic exposure feature
  • Selfie mirror
  • Produces high-quality photos

Cons

  • Flash can’t be disabled
  • No filters
  • No LCD

Tip: if you would rather get instant prints from your smartphone, you can invest in the Liene Pearl K100 Instant Photo Printer.

5. Best for Scrapbooking: Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

Price: $119.99

If you’re into scrapbooking, the Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro is what you’re looking for. This instant camera allows you to use the Kodak Photo Printer mobile app to decorate your photos with frames, stickers, filters, and other customizations, which are great for scrapbooking fans. It comes with Kodak's 4PASS technology, suitable for producing images within seconds.

Best Instant Cameras Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

Pros

  • Affordable film pack
  • Has a built-in LCD
  • Offers different shooting modes
  • Bluetooth connectivity support
  • Has a selfie mirror

Cons

  • No internal storage
  • Image quality has room for improvement

6. Great for Voice Recording: Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay

Price: $149.96

Out of all the instant cameras on this list, the Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay stands out the most. Although it has the same features as the other instant cameras on this list, this one has a dedicated button for voice recording when taking a photo. This works by embedding a QR code when the photo is printed, and you can scan it using the LiPlay mobile app to listen to the recording. However, it only has a five-megapixel camera and slow autofocus, which can be a downside.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Mini Liplay

Pros

  • Credit card-sized prints
  • LCD
  • Remote shooting
  • Dedicated SD card slot

Cons

  • Low-resolution prints
  • No zoom function
  • Pricey
  • Mobile app doesn’t allow photo editing

Good to know: there are several iPhone apps that make photos look like film.

7. Best Wide-Angle Lens: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

Price: $129.95

Powered by four AA batteries, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 captures a wider area than your typical instant camera. It's perfect for group and landscape photos because of its wide format. However, it comes with a tiny viewfinder. It's also chunky, which may make it hard to use for selfie mode. It can withstand different lighting conditions, as it has various exposure modes. At the price of $128.50, this is a good option if you are after a wide-angle lens.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Wide 300

Pros

  • Wide format
  • Different exposure modes
  • Single-button operation
  • Perfect for group shots

Cons

  • Film is expensive
  • Not good for selfies because of its size
  • Has no selfie mirror
  • Small viewfinder

8. Best Zero Ink Option: Kodak SMILE Classic

Price: $199.99

The Kodak SMILE Classic Digital Instant Camera uses ZINK (zero ink) technology that produces excellent prints. It has a design similar to Polaroid cameras in the 1970s, bringing the retro vibe you want. Moreover, it uses a 3.25-inch x 4.5-inch glossy paper with a sticky back, making its prints perfect for scrapbooking or photo albums. This instant camera is also supported by the KODAK SMILE CLASSIC 2-in-1 mobile app that lets you connect it to your phone via Bluetooth to print photos taken using your smartphone camera.

Best Instant Cameras Kodak Smile Classic

Pros

  • Can print photos from your phone via Bluetooth using mobile app
  • Rechargeable via micro USB
  • Autofocus feature
  • Dedicated slot for SD card

Cons

  • No LCD
  • No selfie mirror

Tip: you can change the background of your photos using Picsart.

Price: $149.95

The Fujifilm Instax Link Wide can be your alternative option if you only want an Instax printer and not an instant camera. It uses Bluetooth connectivity to print photos from your phone. This is perfect if you want to print a more extensive photo, something that can't be accomplished with an instant camera. You can also edit your photos before you print them and print up to 100 photos before the printer battery runs out. Consider this if you only want a highly portable photo printer.

Best Instant Cameras Instax Link Wide

Pros

  • Customize photos via the app
  • Rechargeable via micro USB
  • Bluetooth connectivity support

Cons

  • Long charging time
  • Film can be pricey
  • Can't take photos

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in an instant camera?

Instant cameras can have a variety of features. At the bare minimum, though, you should look for a camera that has these items:

  • Selfie mirror
  • Print previews
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Storage
  • Portable design

What are the different types of instant camera film?

There are multiple kinds of film for instant cameras, depending on the model. Fujifilm uses Instax film for their instant cameras. It has various film, such as Instax Mini, Instax Square, and Instax Wide.

Polaroid, which is the most popular instant camera at this time, also has various film, such as Polaroid I-Type (which can’t be used in vintage Polaroid instant cameras), Polaroid Go, Polaroid 600, and Polaroid Zink 2x3. Just make sure that you use a film that is compatible with your instant camera.

Can any of the instant cameras on this list connect to a computer?

None of the instant cameras on this list can connect to a computer to view or manage photos via Bluetooth or USB. The Bluetooth connectivity feature only connects to each of the cameras' supported mobile apps. As for the USB ports, they only support power delivery, not data delivery.

Is an LCD necessary for an instant camera?

No, but an LCD in an instant camera is a great add-on. You can see photos before printing them out, which saves tons of instant film.

Image credit: Pixabay

Natalie dela Vega
Natalie dela Vega

Natalie is a writer specializing in tech how-tos and gaming. When she's not writing, she plays PC games and travels. Here at MakeTechEasier, you will see her write about guides, tips, and solutions for Windows and iOS.

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