When I was a kid, my grandpa had a Polaroid camera. My siblings and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever invented. There was nothing we liked more than to “borrow” Grandpa’s camera and take pictures of each other, our pets, the neighbor’s sandbox, and anything else we could find. I remember snapping a photo, waiting for it to print, then shaking it until the image appeared. It was like magic.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised when Polaroid cameras made a comeback. I wondered how they could possibly compete with the digital cameras of today. However, as I have used and enjoyed these new instant cameras, I’ve come to remember my excitement from childhood. These cameras far surpass my expectations.
Can an instant camera replace your current camera or smartphone camera? No. The quality of a photo from an instant camera is not nearly as good as one from a digital camera or even a from a cheap phone, but it is a fun option especially for an event such as a wedding, shower, or birthday party. Some cameras even have both the functions of an instant and a digital camera.
How Does an Instant Camera (Instant Film Camera) Work?
Rather than requiring regular film or ink cartridges, an instant camera requires instant film (also called instant photo paper). This film, which comes in packs of 10, is loaded in the camera before use. When you click the shutter button to take your photo, the photo is projected onto the film. The film (which contains chemicals) is drawn across rollers and comes out of the camera. The chemicals react to the light, and after a minute or two your photo is finished developing.
Looking for the right children’s polaroid camera or even one for yourself? Here’s a look at 11 options from $50 to $200 that I feel give you the best overall value.
Best Polaroid Cameras for Kids Around $50
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a great choice for an instant camera. It’s relatively inexpensive and comes in five fun camera colors: flamingo pink, cobalt blue, ice blue, lime green, and smokey white. With all of these colors options, this Fujifilm instant camera is perfect for boys or girls.
The Instax Mini 9 is very user-friendly. What you see in the viewfinder is what will print after you push the shutter button. New upgrades include a selfie mirror to get your best looking photos and a macro lens adapter for close-ups. The camera uses an LED to tell you which aperture setting to use to get each picture to turn out best. A high-key mode softens the look of bright photos.
Photos print instantly and measure 2”x3”. This camera uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film, but be aware that the camera does not come with any film. You can purchase this film in either black and white or in color. Fujifilm Instax also offers a variety of colors and patterns on the film to border your photos. The Instax Mini 9 requires 2 AA batteries (which come with the camera). This camera comes with a one year warranty on parts.
At approximately 1/3 the price of the Polaroid Snap Touch and with better instant photos, the Fujifilm Instax Mini9 is a great option. I’d highly recommend buying a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 kit including instant film and a carrying case.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
If you are looking for an inexpensive polaroid camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 is the one I would recommend. It’s got some great features for the price, including an LCD screen, delay timer, and tripod mount. The selfie mode ensures you will get the perfect selfie. With 10 different colors to choose from, there is sure to be a fun option for your tween or teen.
This camera includes 2 CR2 batteries. These batteries last quite a bit longer than AA batteries, but they do cost more to replace. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 comes in black, blue, gold, green, orange, purple, red, white, yellow, and mint colors.
Instax Mini Film (photo paper) is required for the Instax Mini 70. The photos print out at 2″ x 3″ including the border (roughly 1.8″ x 2.4″ of actual photo). The camera doesn’t come with photo paper. Your best bang for the buck is to buy a bundle for the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70, which includes photo paper for 60 prints. A definite step up from the Mini 9, the Mini 70 is definitely my favorite polaroid camera for kids.
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 70||Fujifilm Instax Mini 9|
Kid’s Instant and Digital Camera Combos Under $100
Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Instant Print Camera
The Printomatic camera allows you to print a 2″x3″ photo immediately and the photo to your micro SD card (up to 32 GB). This 10-megapixel point and shoot camera is easy to use and so compact it could fit in your pocket. It has dual-color modes, giving you the option of printing in color or in black and white. For printing, you will need Kodak Zink paper, which is sticky backed photo paper. The Printomatic comes in five different colors and has a rechargeable battery.
The instructions that come with this camera are very poorly written and there is no photo paper included with the purchase of the camera. Also, the camera itself is quite motion sensitive. If you are moving at all when you take the picture, your photo will come out blurry. The photos often come out darker than most other instant camera photos.
Although the Kodak Printomatic boasts the ability to take both digital and instant photos, it doesn’t do either one exceptionally well. If you want a good kids polaroid camera, one of the others on this list is probably a better option.
Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
The Polaroid Snap is a decent moderately priced digital and instant camera. The small size allows you to fit this camera in a purse or even a shirt pocket. It prints 2″x3″ photos and allows you to share photos or save them to a computer. Features include a selfie mirror and a timer. A microSD card slot (holding up to 32 GB) allows for additional storage.
This camera uses Polaroid ZINK Zero Photo Paper, which is adhesive backed. It comes with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. With 7 colors to choose from, you are sure to find one you like.
There are some drawbacks to this camera. Like other instant cameras, you cannot choose which photos you print–the camera prints every photo you take. Also, you have to hold down the shutter button for up to 20 seconds before the picture takes. That means you will likely end up with some bad photos printed. Once you get the hang of it, though, this camera can be good.
|Polaroid Snap||Kodak Printomatic|
Children’s Polaroid Cameras from $100-$140
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
If you are willing to spend a bit more, consider the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6. This square shaped camera prints square photos (2.4″ square with border totalling 3.4″ x 2.8″) and has some fun features. It comes with three flash color filters that can be attached to the flash. Kids love using these filters to add even more fun and personality to their photos.
The auto exposure control automatically adjusts the shutter speed depending on brightness, so the color comes out just right. That is a huge improvement over the less expensive cameras on this list.
Since teens and tweens love take selfies, this camera has a selfie mirror to help the photographer see the photo area before snapping a selfie.
No film is included with this camera. It uses Instax Mini film. Consider purchasing the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 camera with a film pack (containing film for 60 photos), as it is less expensive than buying them separately.
This fun shaped camera comes in 6 cool colors to fit your child’s taste. The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is our favorite instant camera for kids in this price category.
Lomography Lomo Instant Camera
The Lomo is a decent choice for a moderately priced instant camera. This camera allows you to add color filters to dramatically change the look of your photo. You can choose to take a traditional picture or to add light streaks. There are several options for automatic or manual functions with the flash. Although the Lomo boasts the capability of taking great photos in any amount of light, the photos often end up either too dark or too light. It uses Fujifilm Instax Mini film.
White or black are the options in color for the Lomo. In addition to the basic Lomo, you can purchase three additional lenses (fisheye, portrait, and close up) to produce even better photos.
This camera is average. I would recommend going with one of the Fujifilm cameras over this one.
|Fuji Instax Square SQ6||Lomography Lomo|
Polaroid Originals 9008 OneStep 2 VF Instant Film Camera
If you want a retro looking instant camera, the Polaroid Originals 9008 OneStep 2 VF Instant Film Camera is a good option. It looks just like the camera from my childhood. This point and shoot camera is easy to use. With a built-in flash and custom shutter system as well as a fixed-focus lens, this camera will give you quality photos. The photos from this camera a slightly larger than those of most other instant cameras. The image area is 3.1″ x 3.1″, but the border around the photo makes the total size 3.4″ x 4.25″. These photos actually look like the vintage polaroid photos we all remember.
A self-timer function makes it easier to take photos. The lithium ion battery has a 60-day battery life, which is a great feature so you don’t run out of power at just the wrong moment.
Included with the camera are a USB charging cable, a neck strap, and a user manual. This camera does not come with any film. It can use either i-Type or 600 film, but the 600 seems to work better. The biggest downside to this camera is that the film is expensive, and there are 8 photos with each film pack.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
If the look of the camera itself is important to you, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is what you are looking for. This option has the look of a classic vintage camera. Not only does it look great, but it produces nice photos as well. New features help ensure you get the best photo every time. The flash senses and adjusts to the brightness of the location. The party mode has a brightening function to improve the look of the photo. The kid mode allows you to photograph fast moving people and objects and still get a great quality end result. The macro mode allows you to take close up photos, which most instant cameras cannot do well.
To create an interesting effect, you can press down the shutter button twice. This will double expose that photo, laying one photo on top of the other. You also have the capability of leaving a light trail on your photo by holding down on the shutter button to keep the shutter open. The Mini 90 Neo Classic allows you to turn off the flash. Be aware that the Mini 90 Neo Classic takes the best pictures when it is light, but not too bright. This is a great choice when compared with others on this list.
|Polaroid Originals 9008||Fujifilm Instax Mini 90|
Instant and Digital Camera Combos from $125-$200
Kodak Mini Shot Wireless Instant Digital Camera
The Kodak Mini Shot Wireless Instant Digital Camera is an easy to use point and shoot camera. Take a photo and either print it right away or use the Bluetooth feature to send it to your iOS or Android phone. Then you can edit, crop, or add features with the Kodak app before printing from a regular printer. Pictures can be shared via text or social media.
Photos are printed on 2″ x 3″ paper and are good quality prints. They print in just seconds.
This 10 MP camera has a 1.7″ LCD viewfinder and autofocus. It is a good choice for any kind of photo–selfies, portraits, and landscapes.
One of the best things about this kids polaroid camera is its small size. It is compact enough to put in a backpack, purse, or even in a pocket. Take it anywhere!
The Kodak Mini Shot does not have a memory card slot. That means your photos will be lost when you turn off the camera. You have to either print your photos right away or transfer them to your phone if you don’t want to lose them.
The print cartridges for this camera are quite expensive. With the purchase of the camera, you get 20 free photos.
The Kodak Mini Shot Wireless Instant Digital Camera is a good polaroid camera for kids, and it has some exciting features. If you are willing to either print your photos immediately or send them to your phone, this could be the camera for you. It is expensive to keep printing photos, though.
Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera w/ LCD Display
The Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Print Digital Camera brings together instant photos and digital imaging. This means you can print your photo immediately and save a digital copy for later. This camera is one of very few instant cameras that offer both. This 13-megapixel camera has an SD slot with the capacity of up to 128 GB. The capability of this camera to shoot HD videos is another bonus. It is Bluetooth enabled, and you can edit photos before printing them (which is unusual for this type of camera).
The instantly printed photos from the Snap Touch measure 2”x3” and print in under one minute. The internal ZINK (zero ink) printer requires no ink, ribbons, or cartridges. This camera does require specific ZINK photo paper, but it comes with one 10-pack of paper.
There are some drawbacks to the Snap Touch. You have to hold down the shutter button for up to 20 seconds before the autofocus works. Also, it’s hard to know exactly what you are photographing until your photo prints; often what you see in the viewfinder isn’t what ends up printing. The photos can come out off-center or cut off or occasionally come out with streaks or smudges. There is no physical manual with the Snap Touch; you have to download it from their website.
Overall, the concept of this camera is appealing. The quality of this camera and the photos it produces, however, make it hard to justify the price. It is significantly more expensive than the other cameras on this list. If you are looking for a basic instant camera, this probably isn’t the one for you. However, if you’re wanting a combination instant camera and digital camera that allows you to add effects, this is a decent option.
|Kodak Mini Shot||Polaroid Snap Touch LCD|
Best Wide Instax Mini Camera
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
Record some fantastic instant memories with this fun camera. The Fujifilm Instax 300 uses Instax Wide Film and prints pictures that are twice as wide as a standard Polaroid camera. This camera is definitely more advanced than some of the other instant cameras. This kid’s instant camera is 6.6 X 3.7 X 4.7 inches and weighs a modest 1.3 pounds.
The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 requires four AA 1.5V batteries. One of the most unique options on this instant camera that kids are going to love is the close up lens so you can take some great selfies. This camera requires Fujifilm Instax wide film. It produces pictures of 2.44 X 3.9 inches
For more advanced children, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 can use light and dark control on shots. This top instant camera can be mounted to a tri-pod and has zoom control with two focus zones. This camera is definitely a bit too complicated for young kids, but your teen or tween would love it. The Instax 300 also has a great rear LCD screen to help make sure your child takes the best picture possible.
What Are the Advantages of A Polaroid Camera?
- Immediate photos
- Less expensive than most digital cameras
- Great for making collages or photo hangings
What Are the Disadvantages of An Instant Camera?
- Lower light quality
- Can’t edit photos
- Film can be expensive
Instant Camera Hacks, Tricks, and Fails for Children
Here are a few tips to keep instant cameras fun,and to maximize what they have to offer for kids. I’m sure some of these seem extreme for an instant camera, but you can get some good pictures if you buy a few extras and follow some simple photography strategy.
- Buy a kit starting out. The kits can oftentimes be a much better deal than buying the camera, film, SD card, and add on separately.
- Use a tripod. These are simple cameras, but a steady hand is always helpful
- Buy Polaroid film in bulk. It can be cheaper than buying one package at a time
- Use an instant printer with a standard digital camera. This isn’t always practical but can allow for good pictures fast.
- Use a specialty lens for special filtering.
- Use a color filter on a flash. Or if you are really in for a deal, try using a colored candy wrapper.
- Cover your lens with a plastic back to add some soft effects to your pictures. This may take some trial and error but can be fun as your child takes more advanced pictures.
- Don’t be afraid to waste instant camera film. If you don’t take pictures, you are going to miss out on some great shots.
- Make sure to buy film with an instant camera. You can have the best Polaroid camera in the world for kids, but if you haven’t bought film, your child will be disappointed if he can’t use the camera on his birthday.
- Be careful when buying the instant film for these cameras. Don’t buy the wide film for the standard camera. An easy way to avoid this is to buy the film with the camera kit.
What’s New with Instant Cameras in 2019
Polaroid and instant camera manufacturers continue taking these cameras to the next level. In 2018, instant cameras became more professional looking and had features to match. We expect this trend to continue in 2019 and into the future. Expect better photo modes, lighting, and enhanced feature options on instant cameras in 2019.
Instant Cameras Help Young Kids Get Excited about Photography
An instant camera puts the fun back into taking photos. With the photo printing immediately, you can enjoy the photos right away and turn them into a fun project. For the best quality and photo taking experience, I would recommend either of the Fujifilm options on this list. Surprise someone in your life with the gift of an instant camera and watch the memories being made! For more tips on how to get started with instant photography visit WikiHow or get general digital photography tips from National Geographic.
Our Recommendations for Top Instant Camera for Kids
I recommend the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 for toddlers and younger kids. Ultimately, it is just the best value of all of these instant cameras for kids. With all of the fun color options, it is bound to make a great first camera for boys and girls alike. For older kids I recommend going with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90. Your older child will appreciate the features that come with the camera, and it looks and feels like a higher quality camera. If your teen or tween is looking for a digital camera or a starter DSLR read our review on Cameras for Teens and Tweens.