Smartphones have certainly simplified taking and sharing pictures. With the simple click of a few buttons, a photo can be taken, edited and shared via email, text messaging and social media in seconds. However, while smartphones are undoubtedly a convenient way to take and share photos, getting an actual hard-copy print from these devices take a bit of time.
If you want to have a more tangible photo sharing experience, an instant camera is a far better option than a smartphone. Instant cameras allow you to snap a picture and print it within minutes. With an instant camera, you can take photos of the kids, while you’re at a party, or while you’re out on a nature walk and have a hard copy in your hands, ready to frame, immediately after you snap it.
There are many instant cameras on the market, which can make the process of buying one a bit daunting. To help you in your quest, we have conducted extensive research on instant cameras and put together this handy guide.
Types of Instant Cameras
There are two types of instant cameras: Film and digital. Both types can offer either manual or automatic functions.
Film Instant Cameras
As the name suggests, a film instant camera uses film to capture and generate instant photos. These cameras come in a wide range of prices, and range in film size and quality.
Digital Instant Cameras
A digital instant camera is outfitted with an onboard printer, which doesn’t require any ink. They use zinc film and even allow for minor editing before the pictures are printed. Digital instant cameras also have WiFi capabilities, which means that pictures can be instantly uploaded to social media, completely eliminating the need for a personal computer.
Point and Shoot Instant Cameras
With a point and shoot instant camera, there is no need to adjust settings because they automatically make the adjustments for you. Simply point the camera, shoot the picture and you will have a photo in your hands in no time.
Manual Instant Cameras
If you prefer to adjust the settings on your camera yourself, such as the flash, the zoom, the focus or the setting of the exposure, a manual instant camera will allow you to do just that; and it will also print your pictures in seconds.
Factors to Consider Before Buying an Instant Camera
Just like any product, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when choosing the instant camera. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to successfully find the type of instant camera that will best suit your needs. After conducting our research and checking out the various types of instant cameras on the market, we have concluded that the following factors are worth your while to take into consideration before you make a purchase.
Type and Availability of Film
If you are buying an instant camera that uses film, you are going to want to consider the type of film that it uses and the availability of that film. Different brands and models will require different types of film. Before you purchase a camera, make sure you know what type of film it is compatible with and the availability of the film.
Instant cameras range in size. If you are looking for a camera that you can easily put in your pocket or purse, compact model is the best option for you. If you want a camera that is easier to handle and operate, then you may want to choose a larger model.
Instant cameras can be used with replaceable household batteries or lithium ion batteries. While lithium ion batteries are more expensive to purchase initially, they can be recharged, which makes them cheaper in the long run and makes them more ecologically friendly; however, you will need to be at a power source to charge them. If you want to easily replace your batteries, you don’t want to spend a lot of money upfront, and you don’t want to be get stuck with uncharged batteries, an instant camera that uses replaceable household batteries may be a better option for you.
Ease of Use
If you want to be able to pull your camera out, snap a picture and have a photo in your hands without having to make adjust the settings, a point-and-shoot camera is likely a better option for you.
If you prefer to adjust the settings yourself, such as the exposure, the focus and the shutter speed, a manual instant camera will be a better option for you.
How are you planning on using your instant camera? Will you be using to snap pictures of loved ones at parties or school functions? Are you a professional photographer who will be using your instant camera to take test photos before an actual photo shoot? Or, will you be taking photographs while you are on the go, of you travels, perhaps, so you can instantly scrapbook them? Your intended use for your instant camera is an important factor to take into consideration, as it will allow you to select the type of camera that will best meet your specific needs.
Everyone has a budget, and your budget is another important factor that should be taken into consideration when purchasing an instant camera. These cameras can vary significantly in price, with basic models running somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, and higher end models running upwards of $150 or more. Generally speaking, the more features the instant camera boasts and the higher the quality, the more expensive it will be. Making sure you consider how much you want to spend before you start shopping is important so that you can avoid overextending your budget.
Instant Camera Features
Instant cameras can be outfitted with a wide range of features. These features are intended to make using the camera more enjoyable and to provide you with better and higher quality results. Do note, however, as mentioned above, that the more features an instant camera offers, the more expensive it will be. For that reason, understanding these different features will help you determine whether or not you need them so that you can avoid purchasing a camera that doesn’t offer specific features if you don’t need them.
Automatic Exposure Measurement
The highest quality instant cameras will feature an automatic exposure measurement. This feature allows the camera to signal the recommended aperture setting with a flashing LED light, which allows you to manually adjust the dial to the recommended setting, helping you to capture the best photo every time.
High Key Mode
The best instant cameras will also feature a high key mode. This special mode allows you to take brighter pictures that offer a softer look; an ideal feature to have if you are planning on using your instant camera to take a lot of portraits.
Being able to accurately pinpoint your subject is one of the keys to taking a great photo. The highest quality instant cameras will feature an enhanced viewfinder, which provides more enhanced subject viewing and enables to you to frame a shot with much greater ease, resulting in greater clarity and improved visibility.
Double Exposure Mode
If you want to make the most of your photo paper, or you want to do a collage shoot, an instant camera that features a double exposure mode feature will allow you to do just that. With this feature, you can have two images produced on one film sheet by simply pressing the shutter down two times.
Some instant cameras offer features that allow you to take more artistic photos, such as the bulb mode. An instant camera that offers this feature keeps the shutter open while the shutter button is depressed, allowing you to photograph a light trail, which makes for a pretty awesome picture.
If you plan on using you instant camera to take close up shots, you will want one that features a macro mode. Macro mode makes it possible to take shot distant photographs with subjects that are as close as 30 to 60 cm away – and the subjects will be profoundly clear.
If your subjects are going to be children, pets or anything else that moves quickly, you will love an instant camera that features a kids’ mode. This features increases the speed of the shutter, allowing you to snap pictures of those fast moving kids, pets, racers, cars, or anything else that moves quickly – and you will get a crystal clear image.
If you don’t like the idea of adjusting the settings on your camera yourself, an instant camera that features an auto brightness setting could be very useful for you. This feature automatically detects the brightness of the surrounding area and then adjusts the amount of flash and shutter speed, optimizing the quality of the photos.
Best Instant Camera Brands
When it comes to instant cameras, there are only two brands in the camera industry that produce this type of camera: Fuji and Polaroid. We have to say that both of these manufacturers offer outstanding instant cameras, and offer a wide range of options.
Polaroid revolutionized the instant camera. It was this company that first produced instant cameras, and it is for that reason why so many people refer to all instant photos as ‘Polaroid’s.” This company has kept up with technology, producing instant cameras that offer the latest and most advanced technological trends. We really enjoy how many different options they offer, both as far as features and price ranges go. We were also impressed by the clarity of the photos Polaroid instant cameras took.
The other manufacturer of instant cameras, Fujifilm, has also been around for generations. This company is known for making some of the highest quality cameras and photography-related products on the market. Their instant cameras are nothing short of exceptional. They are outfitted with the most advanced technologies and boast a wealth of handy features. The instant photos that Fujifilm instant cameras produces are extremely clear and have the ability to really capture the true essence of a subject – and, they produce photos in virtually no time.