Instant cameras are an excellent way to capture memories as photos, and that’s what the Polaroid is for: to instantly immortalize a special occasion. Although Polaroid cameras are pretty dated, they have come back into fashion in recent times. In this article, we detail what a Polaroid camera is and how it continues to capture people’s hearts today. We will also show you some of the best Polaroid instant cameras to buy.
What Is a Polaroid Camera?
For many people, Polaroid cameras are synonymous with instant cameras. This all began 50 years ago when Edwin Land invented the first instant camera and started the Polaroid Corporation. It was thanks to the Polaroid Corporation that the instant camera was popularized.
Although the Polaroid Corporation later went bankrupt and stopped producing instant cameras and film, it was later acquired by PLR IP Holdings, which continued to use Polaroid to brand the cameras it manufactures. Since the acquisition, many Polaroid cameras have been produced by various companies.
Today, modern Polaroid cameras are portable, designed to print photos right after you capture them. While they lack the quality of DSLR and mirrorless cameras, they’re still great for photographing memories and special occasions.
Polaroid cameras are designed with a slot to print the photo right after it is taken. Modern ones are even compatible with smartphones, allowing for both to be connected for file transfers.
What Are Polaroid Cameras Best For?
The appeal of Polaroid cameras is their ability to print photos instantly. The film immediately develops the moment the shutter is pushed, and your photo is printed shortly after.
These cameras are best for situations when you’re attending a special event or occasion but don’t want to go through the hassle of touting a bulky DSLR with you. Weddings are one such event, as are graduation ceremonies, proms, and parties.
If you’re beginner photographer, you’ll also find Polaroids to be a great entry point into the world of photography.
The Return of Polaroid Cameras
After announcing that they would no longer produce instant films or cameras, there were those who held onto their old cameras. Professionals and camera enthusiasts alike preserved their instant cameras.
Along with this, a company called Impossible Project was created for the purpose of producing films for Polaroid cameras. The objective was to preserve instant cameras. However, since then, many companies have continued to invest in instant cameras. The Impossible Project was also renamed Polaroid Originals.
Now, Polaroid cameras use nostalgia to their advantage. And in modern times where digital apps and devices reign supreme, having something analog has become something special. Having pictures on our phones is one thing, but holding the physical pictures that we took is another.
Polaroid Camera Film Types
There are four types of film that Polaroid cameras use, and they are as follows:
New Polaroid cameras come with built-in batteries. These batteries are rechargeable, so you don’t need to replace them. The i-Type film was developed specifically for newer generations of Polaroid cameras.
As replaceable batteries are not used by i-Types, you won’t be able to use them with older Polaroid cameras. Steer clear of the i-Type film if you own a vintage Polaroid camera.
i-Type films come in different forms and colors. There are spectrum editions, which give you full color. There are also black and white variants and special editions as well. On top of that, there’s even a film pack based around the Mandalorian.
If you have a vintage camera, chances are it will be using the 600 film type. For vintage lovers, this is the film type to get. It’s the most common film type for older cameras and works with the 600 series of Polaroid cameras.
If you want to know whether or not your camera is compatible with 600 films, try checking its name. If your camera has a 600 in its name, it’s most likely compatible. Examples in the 600 series are the Sun 660, LM 630, and SLR 680. 600 films are also pretty easy to spot, as they have distinct blue packaging.
Some special 600 films are also compatible with a few newer gen i-Type Polaroid cameras. Some of them even work with the OneStep 2 and OneStep+.
600 films come in two color options: black and white and full color.
SX-70 films are special films designed for a specific folding type of Polaroid camera. These films only have a quarter of the sensitivity of 600 films, meaning that they only work well in well-lit settings.
As such, they are best suited for outdoor shooting because of their excellent photo quality in daylight. However, they are quite weak when it comes to indoor shooting and dark places.
SX-70 films are also quite limited since they only come in black and white and full color. You can use 600 films in your SX-70 camera, but you have to use a Neutral Density Filter. Installing this enables your SX-70 camera to be compatible with all 600 films.
8×10 format is a large sheet format, which only select Polaroid cameras can use. There are various large formats, but among these, 8×10 is the most popular. They are also the film format that Polaroid Originals produces.
This film format will usually produce the highest quality of images available. However, the quality will also depend on the camera you use as well as lighting. Unfortunately, unlike i-Type and 600 films, 8×10 is not compatible with other film formats, which means you have to buy a separate camera to use 8×10.
Additionally, 8×10 only comes in a handful of sheets, and the film can be pretty costly.
Other Film Types
There are other film types that you should be aware of other than the ones that Polaroid makes itself. There are other film formats other than 8×10 such as 4×5 and 11×14. And aside from these, some brands like making their own films instead of relying on Polaroid film.
Fujifilm is one such example. It makes its own in-house Fujifilm Instax film, which comes in different shapes and forms like Instax Mini and Instax Wide.
The Best Polaroid Cameras
Interested in getting yourself a Polaroid camera now? Check out the list we’ve put together for you below:
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is one of the best instant cameras for beginners because it has some of the best and most user-friendly interfaces out there. Priced at approximately $69 on Amazon and utilizing Fujifilm Instax film, it’s one of the cheapest Polaroid cameras available.
This Polaroid camera is popular among adults who wish to share their hobby of photography with their children. It offers a wide variety of color options and has the most simplistic viewfinder you can use.
Perhaps the only drawback to this camera is the fact that the flash can’t be deactivated. That, and the viewfinder is occasionally difficult to see in broad daylight. Aside from this, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 serves as an excellent beginner Polaroid camera for people of all age groups.
2. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is popular among Instagram users for its filters and great shots. The filters it uses are also similar to Instagram filters, so it’s perfect if you want to take good-quality Instagram photos.
This camera takes pictures in a square image format and sports a retro vintage design. Its batteries usually last 30 film packs with 10 shots per pack. It also comes equipped with a selfie mode. Moreover, this camera utilizes its own Fujifilm Instax Square films.
If you want a more modern version of this camera, the SQ1 is a great option. However, the SQ6 offers arguably better value and has better features. Starting at $80 in retail and $60 on Amazon, this camera offers excellent value for its price.
3. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 differs from its other Fujifilm counterparts by shooting landscape photos instead of square ones. It is outfitted with large prints and is easy to use.
If you’re a beginner, you might want to consider purchasing this camera. It’s an instant camera that functions much like how regular DSLR and mirrorless cameras do. While this camera is quite heavy, it does have a lot of features to back it up.
The Wide 300 is a favorite among instant photographers who wish to capture photos with normal camera dimensions. For its price, it’s one of the best instant cameras out there, starting at $82 on Amazon.
4. Polaroid Originals OneStep+
As we’ve mentioned before, Polaroid is the company that popularized the use of instant cameras. And in recent times, they have brought back their classics. The Polaroid Originals OneStep+ is one such camera, and it is truly a jack of all trades.
Although the OneStep+ is part of the Polaroid Originals line of products, it has been modified to fit the modern standard. Able to shoot in both landscape and portrait mode, this camera also comes with a selfie mode. Additionally, the OneStep+ comes with Bluetooth functionality.
The OneStep+ comes with a slew of new features that older Polaroid Originals lack. For example, it has double exposure, light painting, and color options. It also has a noise trigger that lets you take photos simply by snapping your fingers or clapping your hands.
5. Zink Polaroid Snap
The Zink Polaroid Snap is a small, compact camera that only needs paper. It doesn’t need ink to print pictures and has a micro SD slot for saving pictures.
True to its name, you simply insert some paper and then snap a photo. The camera then saves your photo to the micro SD card before prompting you on whether or not you want to print your photo. For its price and features, the Polaroid Snap is one of the best zero ink instant cameras out there.
The Modernization of Polaroid
Polaroid cameras have seen a major comeback in recent times, and it isn’t difficult to see why. A Polaroid camera is really good for certain occasions like weddings. Although instant cameras are based on older technology, many have been modernized to fit the technologically advanced standards of today’s world.