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The best instant cameras: Polaroid isn't your only option

The best instant cameras are modern -- with Bluetooth capabilities, multiple shooting modes, and excellent image quality. Here are my favorites that allow you to easily take and print retro photos.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer and  Sean Jackson, Contributor

Even though it's 2023, we still seem nostalgic for the technologies of the past. Despite our modern devices, we keep returning to the classics, like flip phones, retro gaming consoles, and instant cameras. 

The instant camera is a product of the early 1900s that has resurged recently. The ability to snap a photo and hold it in your hands seconds later is much different than taking a picture with your smartphone. These days, though, instant cameras have become modernized with selfie capabilities and apps that add filters and frames to your photos. 

We've compiled the best instant cameras available, so you can relive the past in a new way.

Must read:

Pros & Cons
  • Fun Bluetooth app with unique capabilities
  • Same vintage film from instant cameras from the 80s
  • Lens filters add color
  • Expensive film is additional purchase
  • Color lens filters can be inconsistent
More Details

Polaroid Now+ features: 3 color options | 5 lens filters | Compatible with i-Type and 600 films

The Polaroid Now+ is the quintessential instant camera that combines vintage and modern style. It can be used as a classic point-and-shoot camera or in conjunction with the free Polaroid app for more digital controls. The Bluetooth-connected app lets you try tripod mode, light painting, double exposure, portrait assistant, and manual mode.

The camera has five lens filters to add creative color to your photos. Other specs include an auto-switching hyper-focused optical lens, accurate flash, and an LED indicator that lets you know how many photos are left in your film pack.

The camera also features a manual mode you can use with the free Polaroid Originals app. And with a price right around $150, fun comes in a relatively inexpensive and expressive way. 

Pros & Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Can save your photos to an SD card
  • Photo quality could be better
  • Autofocus is average
More Details

Kodak Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera features: 6 color options | 5MP sensor | Wide angle f/2 lens

As a more budget-friendly option, this instant camera from Kodak has all the basic features of an instant camera. The camera speed allows you to shoot a new photo while printing the previous shot. It also comes equipped with a light sensor that automatically turns on flash mode in low-light settings.

This camera prints 2 x 3-inch photos on sticky-backed paper, so you can stick them anywhere you'd like. You can print up to 25 photos on a single charge. And, to save your images for later, the camera supports a microSD card of up to 256GB.

This easy-to-use camera is also easy on the eyes with its bold color choices and compact design. Plus, it's petite enough to fit in your shirt pocket, so when inspiration strikes, you'll be ready. 

Pros & Cons
  • Super easy to use
  • Selfie mode
  • Automatic exposure brings your photos to life
  • Cannot control the flash
More Details

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera features: 5 color options | 60mm f/12.7 lens | 2 x 3-inch photos

For mini photos, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 camera has become a cult classic of the current generation for its ease of use and fun color options. The camera automatically selects the optimal shutter speed based on your surroundings.

Unlike previous mini camera models, Fujifilm opted out of the exposure control dial and instead has automatic exposure. In addition, the Instax Mini 11 features a selfie mode, so you can easily turn selfies into printed photos.

Its compact design makes it the perfect travel companion, and it's incredibly easy to use, making it a hit for birthday parties, gatherings, and much more. 

Pros & Cons
  • Large prints
  • LCD screen
  • Close-up lens
  • Fairly bulky design
  • Pricey
More Details

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera features: 2 color options | 95mm f/14 lens | 4.3 x 3.5-inch photo size

For photos twice as wide as those produced by the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 camera produces high-quality images instantly with its 95mm f/14 lens. It features a programmed electronic shutter release, automatic flash for low-light shooting, and a focal zoom dial. Plus, the helpful LCD screen displays the number of shots remaining, exposure compensation, and flash mode.

You can use backlighting to enhance your instant photos thanks to the fill flash mode. A close-up lens adapter is also included with the camera so you can focus as close as 15.5 inches from the subject.

It features light and dark control features, so you can capture your subject in the right light. And for your information, it works only with Fujifilm Instax Wide Film. 

Pros & Cons
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Cheap film
  • Large selfie mirror
  • Ink-free instant film stickers
  • Print speed is a bit slow
  • Film doesn't produce black colors as well as other types
More Details

Canon Ivy CLIQ2 Instant Film Camera features: 3 color options | 2 x 3-inch photos | 5MP image sensor

You can bring this Canon Ivy CLIQ2 instant camera anywhere, thanks to its small size (4.8 x 3.2 x 0.9 inches and 9.6 ounces). It produces the same 2 x 3-inch sticky-backed photos as the Kodak camera, but it also has built-in frames and filters you can add for more vivid colors or black and white filters.

This is the best "selfie camera" on this list with its large, 2-inch mirror on the lens. It also lets you save your photos to a microSD card (sold separately) for later use.

Best of all, you don't have to worry about ink! The camera uses ZINK (zero ink) technology to ensure your pictures turn out smudge-free. 

What is the best instant camera?

The best instant camera is the Polaroid Now+ since it combines the vintage design and familiarity of instant cameras with modern lens filters and a Bluetooth app. 

However, I also wanted to a choose a variety of instant cameras based on different purposes and pricing. Below is a look at how the best instant cameras compare on price, photo size, and lens offerings. 

Instant Camera


Photo Size


Polaroid Now+


3.5 x 4.2 inches

Standard Lens: 102.35 mm (40mm/35 equivalent)  
Close-up Lens: 94.96 mm (35mm/35 equivalent)

Kodak Printomatic


2 x 3 inches

Wide angle f/2 lens     

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11


2 x 3 inches

60mm f/12.7 lens     

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300


4.3 x 3.5 inches

95mm f/14 lens     

Canon Ivy Cliq2


2 x 3 inches

f/2.2 lens 

Which instant camera is right for you?

While all of these are great picks, the best instant camera for you depends on how big you want your photos to be, your photography skill level, and the price point you're willing to pay. Here's a look at the unique purpose each of these best instant cameras serves:

Choose this instant camera...

If you want...

Polaroid Now+

A throwback option from the 80s with lens filters for added color and a fun Bluetooth app for unique capabilities.

Kodak Printomatic

A budget-friendly instant camera that also allows you to save pictures to an SD card.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

An instant camera that produces mini photos and automatically selects the optional shutter speed based on your environment.

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

An instant camera that produces wide photos with a close-up lens and LCD screen for previewing.

Canon Ivy CLIQ2 

A portable and lightweight instant camera with a large selfie mirror and inexpensive film.

How did I choose these instant cameras?

I chose these instant cameras through a combination of extensive research and using the products myself. I paid attention to customer reviews and ratings, pricing, renowned brands, and different features. 

I was also mindful of different needs and budgets. That's why I chose portable instant cameras, ones with selfie mirrors, and wide-picture options. 

Also: The best cameras for beginners

How long does an instant photo last?

Instant photos don't necessarily have a reputation for longevity since they are prone to fading and yellowing, but if you take proper care of your photos, they can last years or even decades. Taking care of your instant photos includes keeping them away from light (especially sunlight), heat, and moisture. 

I chose the Canon Ivy CLIQ 2 because it prints pictures without using ink. That means it's water and tear-resistant, and you won't have to worry about smudges.

How do you take a good instant photo?

Taking a good instant photo mostly depends on the camera's overall quality. However, there are some things you can do to ensure your instant photos come out picture-perfect every time.

For one, it's best not to take instant photos outside on a sunny day. Instead, cloudy skies and indoor backgrounds will produce better lighting results. In addition, be sure to take a few steps away from the subject of your photos for sharper images, since not every camera has an autofocus feature (and closer photos can become blurry).

Also, pay attention to where your camera's flash and lens are so you don't obstruct either with your fingers and waste expensive film!

Are there alternative instant camera worth considering?

My five favorite instant cameras offer something for everyone. If you would like to see other instant cameras, here are a few others to consider:



Fujifilm Instax Mini Liplay Hybrid Instant Camera

This instant camera features a variety of frames and filters to give your pictures unique style. 

View at Amazon


Kodak Step Camera Instant Camera

This easy-to-use instant camera has no ink technology and seven picture modes. You can snap and print a picture in under a minute. 

View at Amazon


Lomography Lomo'Instant Instant Film Camera

This instant camera allows you to capture objects as close as 1.3 inches away. The set of colored gels will give your pictures a color pop. 

View at B&H Photo Video
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