Sometimes vintage is just better. In this digital age where everything is done electronically, it’s refreshing when things can be done the good old fashioned way. I don’t know about you, but when my family and I take photos, the photos get uploaded, and we rarely print them. It makes me miss the days of having to develop film and being able to put my photos in an album. Well, once again there is a good alternative–the instant camera.
We have had fun taking photos with an instant camera, printing them out immediately, and being able to enjoy our memories by putting them into albums or making them into collages. My kids love taking instant photos with their friends at parties, school events, and just playing around. It’s fun that my kids can enjoy the fun of using a Polaroid camera just like I did when I was a kid.
Don’t get me wrong; an instant camera isn’t a replacement for a regular camera or a smartphone camera. You will discover photos from an instant camera aren’t as good quality as those taken from a phone or digital camera, but it is still a good option for a quick, fun photo. Some people love giving their bridal guests instant cameras to take candid photos at a wedding reception.
17 Best Instant Cameras for Beginners 2023
Looking for the right children’s polaroid camera or even one for yourself? Here’s a look at 17 options starting around $50 which I feel give you the best overall value.
|Instant Camera||Tech Specs/Highlights|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 11|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 9|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 70|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 40|
|Canon IVY CLIQ|
|$100-$150 INSTANT CAMERAS|
|Polaroid Originals Now I-Type|
|Kodak Mini Shot 3|
|Lomography Bora Bora|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 90|
|Instax Mini EVO|
|Instax Square SQ6|
|WIDE INSTANT CAMERA|
|Fujifilm Wide 300|
|INSTANT & DIGITAL|
|Kodak PRINTOMATIC |
|INSTANT & DIGITAL|
|KODAK Smile Classic|
|Kodak Step Touch|
Best Polaroid Cameras for Beginners from $50-$75
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
The Instax Mini 11 is currently our most recommended instant camera for kids. This camera is absolutely a great value and is loaded with fun! It comes in five fun camera colors: blush pink, charcoal grey, ice white, lilac purple, and sky blue. Both preteens and teens alike are likely to find something they like with this simple photo making machine.
The Instax Mini 11 is a step up from our previous favorite, the Instax Mini 9. Because of the auto features, the Mini 11 will keep your teen from wasting film with bad photos, which ultimately saves money.
With a built-in selfie mirror and macro mode, the Mini 11 is much better for selfies and perfect for kids. The best part of this camera is the fact that everything important happens automatically. Just press the button and the camera will auto focus, adjust shutter speed, and flash when necessary.
I’d highly recommend buying a Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 kit including instant film and a carrying case. Even though it is a little more expensive, it is critical that you have film and a case to use with the camera.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Versus 9, Which is Right for Your Child?
Overall we rank the Instax Mini 11 slightly higher for kids due to automatic shutter speed, auto exposure, and auto flash output. The slight cost difference is easily saved in film cost for a new photographer.
Instax Mini 11 Pros
- Built-in selfie mode
- New color options
- Weighs less
- 3 shutter button accessories
- Easier for beginners
Instax Mini 9’s Pros
- Less expensive
- More color options
- More control over picture settings helpful with more experienced photographers
2. 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 Mini 9 is a great option. I’d highly recommend buying a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 kit including instant film and a carrying case.
Top Instant Cameras Under $100
3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
If you are looking for an inexpensive polaroid camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 is 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 beginner.
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.
4. Fujifilm Instax Mini 40
The Instax Mini 40 is one of the most retro looking cameras on the market. You are sure to get comments wherever you take it or even if you leave it sitting out on a table. Even though it looks like you might have found it in an attic, this little camera weighs 11 ounces and is 4″ X 2.55″ X 4.72″ and takes great pictures.
It is a super simple camera to use, easy to turn on and off and easy to load the film. Even the batteries are easy to install. It has auto exposure, auto shutter speed, and auto brightness. The photos come out perfect every time . . . well, unless you get too close to your subject and even then the color is good you just can’t see your whole subject.
It has a selfie mode, which is, of course, easy to use: one touch is all it takes. This camera even has a selfie mirror so you can see yourself and how you are framed in the photo.
The photos themselves are 2″ X 3″ which is perfect size to have fun with. You will need Fuji Instax Mini Instant film to use with this camera. It is very affordable and of course you can get it online.
5. Canon IVY CLIQ Instant Camera
This sleek, easy to transport camera is a good instant camera for a 12-year-old. It is easy to use and fun to have photos printed immediately to make into a collage or give to friends. The selfie mirror and auto flash features make it easier to get the right shot.
Photos from this camera measure 2″ x 3″, which is a good size for adolescents looking to save their memories. The photo paper is ZINK (zero ink) and is backed with a peel and stick backing, so you can use the photos as stickers if you want. This camera holds up to 10 sheets of photo paper at a time.
The Canon IVY CLIQ Instant Camera requires one rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which is included with the camera. It charges through the USB cord that comes with the camera. This battery charges quickly and lasts longer than most other similar batteries.
Like other basic instant print cameras, this one automatically prints every photo taken. You cannot choose which photos to print. However, if you have a favorite photo, you can print it multiple times.
Photos cannot be saved to the camera itself, but you can save photos if you purchase a micro SD card and use the micro SD card slot.
The photo quality for this camera is ok, but it isn’t as good as the basic Fujifilm options. Also, this camera prints slower than most others, often taking up to a minute. Some kids might not mind that, but others could find it frustrating.
Children’s Polaroid Cameras from $100-$150
6. Polaroid Originals Now I-Type
If you had a Polaroid camera as a kid, you’ll appreciate this option! While it definitely has a retro feel, it produces surprisingly clear pictures and comes in all sorts of fun color schemes including blue, black, pink, red, mint, pink and white. You could say it’s an upgrade from the iconic Polaroid we grew up with because it is much lighter and has a USB charger.
Additionally, Polaroid has implemented autofocus which ensures your pictures will be sharp and vivid. Another exciting, new feature is double exposure because it allows you to get in the picture with a self-timer. Best of all, it is compatible with i-Type and 600 film. Just keep in mind that film is not included and must be purchased separately. However, you can find some on Amazon for reasonable prices.
You’ll find this instant camera from Polaroid is easy and fun to use!
7. Kodak Mini Shot 3
The Kodak Mini Shot 3 has a retro look to both the camera and the photos. All you need to do with this camera is point, shoot, and print. It is super simple to use – making it fun for parties or just hanging out. The camera has a mirror on the front allowing for some great selfies. And it has a delayed timer function so you can get the whole group together for a selfie.
The best thing about this camera is the printer. It prints HD 3 X 3 inch photos directly from the camera. The photos are laminated making them not only waterproof but fingerprint proof. Kodak boasts that these photos will last 100 years. If you don’t like the picture you took, you can easily delete and retake.
You can not only print the photo from the camera but you can also save photos to a device (phone, tablet, or computer) through Bluetooth. Choose to print the photo with a border or without one.
The other really nice thing about this camera is the free Kodak app. The app allows you to decorate the photo with stickers, frames, and filters. You can also edit the levels of brightness, contrast and saturation.
This camera even allows you to make a collage with several photos. They are saved right to your photos on whatever device you are using. Another cool thing about this app is that you can take photos with your phone and print them with the app. Some users say this feature is worth the price of the camera.
The camera does need to be charged completely before using it the first time. And you do need to make sure you have extra cartridges on hand, but they are very easy to change. The cartridges are not overly expensive and you get between 8 and 10 photos from each one.
8. Lomography Bora Bora
The Lomography Bora Bora is a great automatic instant camera. It automatically focuses on the subject, the shutter speed is adjusted automatically, and the the flash is also automatic. You literally just need to point and shoot. Unless you want a little flair and then things get exciting. . .
The camera has 4 lenses. First, the built in lens has a focal point of the normal 35 mm. The fisheye lens gives fun, circular shots. A wide angle lens lets you take in a larger horizon, and the close up lens is for those shots you want sharp and close.
You can add a light streak to a shot by using the B setting, which holds the shutter open longer (this is a great effect for night time shots). Or you can add filters over the flash and play with the cool and warm tones of a photo. You can also put a few different shots into one frame for a very artistic photo. So many options to make photos fun and unique.
The Lomography Bora Bora uses Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film.
The photos are the size of a credit card – super unique and cute. This instant camera has a remote control that really helps with selfies. You can make some great memories with this little camera.
9. Instax SQ1
If you love square photos, this is a great camera for you! The photo image is a 1:1 ratio – a true square. The size of the printed photo is 3.5 x 2.5 – it looks just like the old Polaroids. The Instax SQ1 takes great selfies – you just twist the lens and you are in selfie mode. And I love that they are square!
The camera itself is cute. It comes in 3 fun colors–orange, blue, or white. The body of the camera is rounded, which just gives it a fun look and feel.
The Instax SQ1 comes with 2 CR2 batteries, which are not that expensive to replace and I like you don’t have to recharge every time you want to use the camera. But it does not come with any film, which is kind of a bummer. However, the film itself is not that pricey.
If you are looking for a camera that takes those cute square photos and will be doing most of your shooting outside or in brightly lighted places, this is a good camera. Photos taken inside or in a darker setting tend to be a little dark.
Instant Camera under $250
10. 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.
11. Fujifilm Instax Mini EVO
This little beauty has just about everything you could want in an instant camera! Wow! Where to even begin?
Fuji advertises the Instax Mini EVO as “10 Lenses X 10 Films = 100 ways of expression” and they are not kidding. With a twist of a dial you can choose between 10 different lenses: double exposure, blur, fish eye, 1/2 frame, soft focus, light leak, normal, vignette, color shift, and mirror.
Scroll down to see different film options: canvas, retro, blue, yellow, red, pale, normal, vivid, monochrome, and sepia. This camera allows you to be creative and produce some stunning photos. You can also adjust the exposure, alter the white balance, use the macro mode for close ups, and turn on or off the flash – which is not something you see on a lot of instant cameras.
The Instax Mini prints 2″ x 3″ photos using the Fuji Instax Mini Instant film. You will definitely want to download the app for the Fujifilm Instax Mini because it really enhances your experience with the camera. With the app, you can send pictures from your smartphone to the camera and print them as Instax photos. You can also use your phone as a remote control to take pictures and you can save photos taken with the camera to your smartphone. And you can share photos on social media. This little camera really has a lot to offer – well worth the price!
12. 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 adolescents love take selfies, this camera has a selfie mirror to help the photographer see the photo area before snapping a selfie. Whether your child is using his camera to document his latest Nerf war or just capture a cool bug on the sidewalk, this camera is a good choice.
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.
Best Wide Instant Camera
13. 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.
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 child would love it. The Instax 300 also has a great rear LCD screen to help make sure your child takes the best picture possible.
Kids’ Instant and Digital Camera Combos Under $100
For the fun of an instant camera combined with the features of a digital camera, check out these combo cameras. Many of these offer the capability of saving or sharing photos.
14. Kodak Step Digital Instant Camera
The Kodak Step is worth your consideration if you’re in the market for a digital instant camera! Like the other options on our list, this instant camera appeals to kids because they can instantly print your pictures easily. While the quality might not be as crisp as other digital cameras, there is something so fun about this old-school camera. Plus Kodak has developed great film that is tear and water resistant – you can even remove the backs to transform the prints into stickers!
With a flash, timer, and viewfinder, your child will get a great introduction to basic photography with the Kodak Step. They can even play around with the different modes to express their own style. Choose from color, black and white, or sepia. You can put a white border on the prints or use selfie mode if they want to as well.
What I love about the Kodak Step is how easy it is to share photos. When I was a kid I had to connect a cable from my camera to the computer to transfer files – what a pain! But now you can save your pictures in under 60 seconds hassle-free.
Your child will find it easy to take this camera wherever they go because of how compact, lightweight, and portable it is built. It even has a rechargeable battery that allows you to take about 40 prints per charge. I appreciate the status light that tells you how much battery and paper is left.
As you can see, there are so many reasons your child will love the Kodak Step digital instant camera!
15. Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Instant Print Camera
The Printomatic camera allows you to print a 2″x3″ photo immediately and save the photo to your micro SD card (up to 32 GB). To be clear, you have to buy a micro SD card separately. 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.
Instant and Digital Camera Combos under $150
These cameras offer some of the best features of a digital camera with the convenience of an instant camera. You can edit photos, add filters, and then save, print, or share the photos. Printing photos directly from a smartphone is another feature of these cameras.
16. KODAK Smile Classic Digital Instant Camera
If you want a retro-looking camera with digital capabilities, the KODAK Smile is a good choice. Bluetooth allows you to pair this camera with either iOS or Android devices. You can also save images if you don’t want to print them immediately. With a micro SD slot that can accommodate a card up to 256 GB, you can save a lot of photos. Be aware that no SD card is included with this camera.
This is a very user-friendly camera. Simply point and shoot to get the photo you want. An optical viewfinder and a 10 second timer make taking the perfect photo even easier.
The Kodak Classic 2-in-1 app makes it easy to edit your photos as wells as adding filters, stickers, and fun effects. Then print the photos from the camera. You can print photos from your phone using the camera.
This camera takes and prints large photos (3.5” x 4.25”). Most of the other options on this list take photos that are considerably smaller. Although this camera is larger than most instant cameras, it is surprisingly lightweight.
You will need Kodak Smile ZINK photo paper to go with this camera. This sticky-backed paper is fun to use for journaling or making a collage. Or, if you don’t want to use the sticky back, leave it on and use it as a regular photo.
17. Kodak Step Touch
The Kodak Step Touch is an easy to use digital camera with a printer. It is a point and shoot camera that lets you print off photos on the spot. It has a 3.5″ LCD touchscreen. I really like this because it makes it easy to use. From this screen you can adjust the resolution, access the self timer, look at your storage, zoom in, and edit photos among other things.
You can take videos with this camera. The flash is easy to turn on and off – it will pop on when you turn the camera on, but you can just push it back down to turn it off.
One of the things that makes this Kodak different than an Instax or Polaroid camera is the printing. Where Instax and Polaroid print on film, Kodak prints on Zink sheets which is nice if you use the photos for albums or journaling because it has sticky back.
From the touch screen you can choose to print in color, sepia, or black and white. And I like that you can store the photos and videos taken with this camera on a SD card (not included) and move them to a permanent place.
Kodak has a free app that you will want to download to your smartphone. From the app you can edit, print and share photos to other devices or to social media. You can customize photos with filters, borders, and stickers. Be sure to check out the collage feature – it’s super cute!
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 2023
Polaroid and instant camera manufacturers continue taking these cameras to the next level. In 2022, instant cameras became more professional looking and had features to match. We expect this trend to continue in 2023 and into the future. Expect better photo modes, lighting, and enhanced feature options on instant cameras in 2023.
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 Polaroid or get general digital photography tips from National Geographic.
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
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.
What is the best instant camera for kids?
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is the best instant camera for beginners. Ultimately, it is just the best value of all of the instant cameras. 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 or the Kodak Smile.
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 or if they like action cameras we can help you there as well.