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Our favourite cameras for instant prints

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Our favourite cameras for instant prints

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Instant cameras are a simple and spontaneous way to capture memories. Whether you’re looking to relive the nostalgia of your old Polaroid camera or enjoy the novelty of being able to print your own photos whenever and wherever you are, here are the best instant cameras we’ve tested. 

Polaroid was once synonymous with the instant format and still is to many with its 2023 range. However, Fujifilm’s Instax series leads our best list with its wide array of instant cameras in varying shapes and sizes. 

As with any big purchase, there are plenty of factors to consider before settling on one instant camera or another. These include the size of the camera and the dimensions of the prints as most instant cameras only print in one size, whether that be wide, square, mini or some other format. 

Another important differentiator is whether a camera is analogue or hybrid. 

Analogue instant cameras offer a traditional and often very simple shoot-and-print experience, whereas hybrid models pack in some of the benefits of a digital camera. There’s no set list of features that are required of a hybrid camera, but they often include a display (instead of a viewfinder), support for companion apps and the ability to choose which photos you print, cutting down on wasted film. 

Of course, these aren’t the only qualities we examine when reviewing an instant camera, with design, display quality, battery life, price and performance all considered when testing any camera. 

Scroll down to discover our favourite instant cameras, or check out our other best lists for the best mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, action cams and top cameras overall. You can also find our favourite instant printer over in our best printers list. 

Best instant cameras at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test cameras

We test every camera we review thoroughly. We use set tests to compare features properly and we use it as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

Best hybrid instant camera

Pros

  • It looks fantastic
  • Plenty of effects to add an extra flair to shots
  • Easy to use
  • Digital smarts save on wasted shots

Cons

  • Screen is difficult to see in bright conditions
  • Some odd quirks with the UI and app
  • Slow to charge

The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo is Fujifilm’s best hybrid instant camera and the only one in this list to be awarded 4.5/5 stars. 

The Mini Evo has a vintage aesthetic reminiscent of the Fujifilm X100V compact camera with its black faux leather finish and silver details and the plastic construction keeps it lightweight. There’s a 3-inch LCD screen for previewing photos and controls include a lens that turns to switch on the camera, two shutter buttons, flash, a preset dial and a physical lever to print your snaps. 

The hybrid design means you don’t need to waste paper and ink printing out every shot you take and the camera can hold 45 images (or more with a microSD card), while still delivering on the charm of an instant camera. 

We found the image quality of the Mini Evo to be comparable to other Instax cameras with punchy colours and a decent amount of detail, but skin tones can come out quite pale and the camera struggles with focus in less-than-ideal lighting situations. 

There’s also an array of filters to choose from, including vivid, pale and monochrome, as well as lens effects like vignetting, soft focus and blur. 

Reviewer: Max Parker

Full review: Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo

Fujifilm Instax SQ1

Best looking instant camera

Pros

  • Really nice design and colour options
  • Super easy to use
  • Great pictures that are a good size
  • Well made for selfies

Cons

  • Lack of features might annoy some
  • Doesn’t have a rechargeable battery
  • Large

The Fujifilm Instax SQ1 is a stylish instant camera ideal for printing larger images and capturing selfies. 

The SQ1 has an attractive but rather chunky design in a choice of three vibrant colours and a large lens taking up the majority of the space on the front of the camera. Everything important, such as the textured grip, the shutter button and the small viewfinder, sits on one side of the camera making it a little less ideal for left-handed people. However, we found the camera to be durable and comfortable to shoot with. 

Unlike Fujifilm’s Mini cameras, the SQ1 uses Instax’ 62mm x 62mm Square film and there’s no display to preview your images here, giving it a slightly more spontaneous feel than the hybrid Mini Evo. However, there’s also no USB port, meaning you’ll need to change the CR-2 battery when the camera runs out of charge. We found this to be the case after around 100 shots. 

Shooting with this camera is simple, with no fiddly settings here and only two shooting modes: regular and a selfie mode that uses a small mirror to help you line up your shot. 

As far as image quality goes, the auto-exposure does a good job at getting light from dark scenes, as does the flash. Colours are soft and natural, but photos aren’t the sharpest. We found the fixed-focus lens to be great for portraits but hit and miss for landscapes, blurring objects further in the distance. 

Reviewer: Max Parker 

Full review: Fujifilm Instax SQ1

Instax Mini 12

Best instant camera for beginners

Pros

  • Fun, bubbly design
  • Small, wallet-sized prints
  • Mirror for framing selfies
  • App delivers glare-free scans

Cons

  • Struggles to focus in low-light
  • Chunky size

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 has a cute design and simple controls that make it an easy choice for anyone looking to pick up their first instant camera. 

The Instax Mini 12 has the familiar bright and bubbly design the Mini line is known for, making it as cute of an accessory as it is a camera. 

Fujifilm has done away with the power button found on the Instax Mini 9 and the Mini 11 and instead chosen to wrap the power button into the twisting mechanism already present on the lens. This means you can twist once to power up the camera and twice to enter the Close-Up (or selfie) mode. 

This and the shutter button are the only controls you’ll need to know to get started with the Instax Mini 12 as the exposure and flash are fully automatic and there’s a mirror to help frame selfies. This is fantastic for beginners or anyone gifted the camera and unsure of how to get started. 

The Instax Mini 12 is compatible with Instax Mini film, making it ideal for printing out small, credit card-sized photos that work out at around 75p a shot. That being said, if you’re anxious about wasting film, you might be better off opting for a hybrid camera, like the Instax Mini Evo, or an instant printer, such as the Instax Square Link

We found photos shot with the Instax Mini 12 to be sharp with detail. There’s a good amount of contrast in the images and colours are on the cooler side, delivering the slightly faded look you’d expect from instant film. 

The camera can struggle to focus in low-light situations – especially in the Close-Up mode – and we had difficultly centring shots at times despite the new Parallax Correction feature designed to prevent this. 

However, the Instax Mini 12 is a fantastic instant camera for anyone looking to get into instant photography for the first time. 

Reviewer: Hannah Davies

Full Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini 12

Lomo’Instant Automat

Best instant camera for creativity

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Can create multiple exposures

Cons

  • Small and expensive film
  • Lack of manual control option

The Lomo’Instant Automat is an instant camera with a vintage style for those looking for a non-Instax option great for taking on the go. 

The camera is automated, making it easy to get to grips with for beginners. However, the focus is manual, allowing you to choose between close for portraits, mid-range for group shots and infinity for landscapes. You can also turn the flash on and off and experiment with exposure by adding and removing exposure compensation or turning to the Bulb mode for long exposure images. 

The standard lens have an equivalent focal length of 35mm but you can also invest in converter lenses for added functionality. 

The small viewfinder is used to frame images, though we found it wasn’t always the most accurate and doesn’t adjust when you change lens adapters, meaning you’ll only see a rough approximate of what you’re shooting. There’s also the option to take selfies, with the shutter release button doubling as a mirror. 

We found that images shot on the Automat were mixed but that’s part of the charm of shooting with an instant camera. The camera produces colourful results in bright conditions and surprisingly natural ones with the flash on in darker settings, though we did see the odd light leak or lens flare 

Though this camera is built by Lomography, it uses the Instax format of film, making it readily available when you need to stock up. It’s also powered by two CR2 batteries with no USB charging on board. There’s also no display on the back, meaning you can’t preview your images before they print. 

Reviewer: Amy Davies

Full review: Lomo’Instant Automat

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ40

A different take on the SQ1

Pros

  • Classic black and silver design
  • Easy to operate
  • Bright, stylised shots

Cons

  • Close-ups can be blurry
  • Instax film isn’t cheap

The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ40 is Fujifilm’s latest square format instant camera and a great alternative to the Instax SQ1 for anyone looking for something with a more classic appearance. 

Internally, the SQ40 is largely identical to the SQ1. Both cameras have large but lightweight designs and are incredibly simple to operate, making them ideal for anyone new to instant photography. 

The image quality on the SQ40 is great too. We found the camera picked up a decent amount of detail and contrast during our time reviewing it. Meanwhile, the automatic exposure and flash provide enough light to brighten up the subject regardless of the time of day. 

The results were blurry at times – especially when snapping pics from a shorter distance – but small imperfections like fuzzy text and blown-out lights can also add character to an instant photo so we didn’t find this to be a dealbreaker. 

Because the biggest differences between the SQ40 and the SQ1 lay in the physical design, the SQ40 is less an upgrade and more of an alternative option for anyone who wants a square format camera but prefers the black faux leather finish and silver details already found on the Instax Mini 40 and Instax Mini Evo, as opposed to the brightly coloured design of the SQ1. 

Like the SQ1, the SQ40 accepts Fujifilm’s Instax Square film, which measures 62 x 62mm or 86 x 72mm including the borders. The company sells this film in packs of 20 with 10 shots available from each of the two cartridges in the box. This should work out at around 85p a shot, though anyone hesitant about wasting film may want to check out the Instax Square Link before making a final decision on either of the Square models. 

Reviewer: Hannah Davies

Full Review: Fujifilm Instax Square SQ40

FAQs

Which of the above cameras come with a display?

Of the above, only the Instax Mini Evo has a screen. This makes it a hybrid instant camera, as it combines digital features with the ability to print your cameras on the go

Why do some of the cameras have mirrors on the front?

Some instant camera feature mirrors on the front to help you frame selfies as this can be tricky when you can’t look through the viewfinder.

What type of film should I use?

This depends on the camera you buy. The Instax SQ1 uses large square film, while the Mini Evo, Mini 12 and Lomo’Instant Automat supports smaller rectangular film. We’d recommend always checking your specific camera to make sure you pick up the correct make and size of film.

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IP rating

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Size (Dimensions)

Weight

ASIN

Release Date

Zoom

Autofocus

Burst shooting (electronic shutter)

Viewfinder

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Bluetooth

Number of Memory card slots

USB charging

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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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