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Best Instant Camera: Our favourite cameras for instant prints

If you’re searching for a spontaneous way to capture your memories, instant cameras are a fantastic way to do it. We’ve created this guide to break down some of the best instant cameras we’ve reviewed in recent years. 

You might think that shopping for an instant camera is pretty cut and dry, but there are actually a number of decisions that need to be made before you settle on one model. First, you need to choose whether you want an analogue or a hybrid camera, if you’d prefer a display or a viewfinder and how compact you want the design to be. Then there are additional aspects like print size and companion apps to consider. 

These are all things we look at when reviewing instant cameras, along with the overall design, screen quality, filters and lenses, connectivity, battery life and, of course, image quality. We also take into account the price of film and how each camera performs in different circumstances, from the low light it’ll face at a party to direct sunlight. 

While there are plenty of different designs and feature sets to choose from, choice when it comes to brands is a little less varied. Fujifilm is king in this market with its Instax series taking up the majority of our top spots, though Polaroid remains synonymous with the instant format. 

If you’re looking for a great instant camera, scroll down to discover our favourite models available right now. 
For those not yet settled on an instant model, we have plenty of other best lists worth checking out as you make your decision. These include best cameras, best camera phones, best DSLRs, best mirrorless cameras, best compact cameras, best action cams and best drones.

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
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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
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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

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

Best instant camera for beginners
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Pros

  • By far the cheapest Instax camera
  • Instax Mini film packs some of the least expensive instant film
  • Auto exposure takes a lot of hassle out of composition

Cons

  • Fewer creative modes than rival cameras
  • Tends to overexpose in bright conditions
  • Have to account for lens parallax effect when framing shots

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is one of the most user-friendly instant cameras we’ve tested. The entry-level camera is affordable, easy to operate and isn’t overloaded with features or accessories. 

The Mini 9 has a chunky, toy-like design with a large grip for one-handed shooting. The viewfinder is small, which can make lining up shots tricky, but there are few controls, making it a great choice for beginners when you get used to the camera. 

There’s no display, with prints automatically ejected out of the top of the camera when you press the shutter button, but you can see how many shots are remaining in an indicator on the rear of the camera. The Mini 9 is powered by two AA batteries.  

The image quality is comparable to traditional film, with accurate colours and a good amount of detail when the image is correctly exposed. The focus is generally accurate too, though the close-up attachment that comes in the box can be hit and miss, creating blurry shots for objects too close or far away. 

Like the SQ1, there’s a mirror on the front to help with framing selfies, along with flash. However, there’s no way to disable the flash without covering it with your hand. 

Reviewer: Tom Morgan

Full review: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

Lomo’Instant Automat

Best instant camera for creativity
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Pros

  • By far the cheapest Instax camera
  • Instax Mini film packs some of the least expensive instant film
  • Auto exposure takes a lot of hassle out of composition

Cons

  • Fewer creative modes than rival cameras
  • Tends to overexpose in bright conditions
  • Have to account for lens parallax effect when framing shots

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

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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 9 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.

Comparison specs

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