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 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.
|Instant Camera||Tech Specs/Size/Weight||Pros/Highlights|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 9|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 70|
|Instax Square SQ6|
|Canon IVY CLIQ|
|UNDER $200 INSTANT CAMERAS|
|Polaroid OneStep 2 VF|
|Fujifilm Instax Mini 90|
|WIDE INSTANT CAMERA|
|Fujifilm Wide 300|
|INSTANT & DIGITAL|
|Kodak Mini Shot|
|Kodak PRINTOMATIC |
|INSTANT & DIGITAL|
|KODAK Smile Classic|
|Polaroid SNAP Touch 2.0|
|Polaroid Pop 2.0|
|Instax Mini Liplay|
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 14 options starting at $50 which I feel give you the best overall value.
Best Polaroid Cameras for Kids from $50-$75
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.
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 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.
Top Instant Cameras Under $100
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. 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.
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.
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.
Children’s Polaroid Cameras from $100-$150
Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 VF – Stranger Things Edition
If your child is a Stranger Things fan, check out this camera. It looks just like a vintage camera, but it has the benefits of modern technology. 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.
Maybe Stranger Things isn’t your child’s thing. This camera comes in 6 other color options.
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.
Instax Mini Liplay Hybrid Instant Camera
One of the newest Instax models, the Mini Liplay Hybrid Instant Camera is a fun option for teens. The sleek look is appealing, and it offers some exciting features as well. Take photos, edit them with frames and filters, and then select which photos you want to print.
Besides printing the photos you take with this camera, you can use the Mini Liplay to print photos from your smartphone or your tablet. Don’t be mistaken; the photos won’t be as high quality as those printed from a regular photo printer, but it’s fun to print these Polaroid-type photos. In order to get the photos to print correctly from a smartphone or tablet, they need to be taken vertically.
This cute, compact phone comes in 3 colors: elegant black, stone white, blush gold. It has a timer and a selfie mirror so you can use it for great selfies. You can also use a smartphone as a remote to take photos with this camera.
The Mini Liplay comes with a rechargeable lithium battery, so you don’t have to worry about spending extra money on batteries. However, it doesn’t come with any film. You will have to buy the Instax Mini Film separately.
A unique feature of this camera for tweens is that while taking a photo, you can record sound to attach to the photo. You will get a QR code that you can scan to replay the recorded audio.
Best Wide Instant 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.
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.
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.
Kodak Mini Shot Instant Digital Camera
For a good combo of instant and digital camera, consider the Kodak Mini Shot. This 10 MP camera allows you to share photos or print them immediately. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to share photos via text or social media, and you can also print photos from your smartphone with this camera.
The small size makes it easy to take this camera wherever you go. An included rechargeable lithium battery means you don’t have to carry extra batteries around. You can print up to 20 photos on one charge.
This camera allows you to use the Kodak app to edit your photos and add fun filters and features before printing photos.
To print with this camera, you need the proper ink and paper cartridge. Be aware that there are a few different cartridges from Kodak, and only the Mini 2 All-in-One ink & paper cartridge will work with the Kodak Mini Shot.
To be clear, this is not a regular digital camera nor is it an action camera. You cannot save photo with this camera; you can either share or print and then the photos are deleted. The photo quality is not the good quality you would expect from digital camera; these photos are instant photos.
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 from $125-$200
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.
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.
Polaroid SNAP Touch 2.0
If you are looking for a combo instant camera and digital camera, you should check out the Polaroid Snap Touch 2.0. This option has some fun features that make the camera easy and enjoyable for tweens and teens. With 13 MP, 10x optical zoom, and 1080P/720P HD video capability, the Snap Touch 2.0 allows kids to make document and share their memories .
Photos can be printed immediately from the camera. Bluetooth features allow the user to send photos to a smartphone where photos can be edited through the Polaroid app. Borders, filters, and stickers are available to embellish photos. The photos can then be printed with the camera. Printed photos are 2″ x 3″. Kids love that their photos are printed on sticky back paper which is tear resistant, smudge proof, and water resistant. Peel the backing off the photos and they can be put in journals or albums or made into collages.
The camera comes with 10 sheets of ZINK (zero ink) photo paper, a rechargeable battery, and a USB cable. While there is a slot for a micro SD card to store photos, you will have to purchase the card separately.
Up to 40 photos can be printed on one battery charge. You can choose to purchase either color or black and white photo paper.
Overall, this is a good camera. It is considerably more expensive than many of the other options on this list. The photos from the Snap Touch 2.0 are slightly better than most. Photos are better quality when sent to a smartphone and then printed from the camera.
Polaroid Pop 2.0 Instant and Digital Camera
This unique Polaroid camera for teens takes both instant photos and 1080 HD video. With built-in WiFi, this camera allows you to share photos directly from the camera. It can also record 15 second GIFs, which is an exciting feature for kids. In addition, this Polaroid allows you to print photos from your computer, tablet or phone as well.
As is, this camera will store up to 10 photos. Or you can purchase a Micro SD card up to 128 GB to save more photos and videos. Unlike other options, this one allows you to choose which photos to print. You can print as a classic Polaroid photo or edit the photo with the included filters, borders, and emojis for a custom photo.
No ink is needed for this camera. It uses Uses ZINK Zero Ink Paper for the photos. This paper already contains the ink. The camera heats the ink as it produces the image. Included with the camera are 5 sheets of photo paper. The paper is treated with a protective coating to make the photos last.
One rechargeable lithium battery is included with the camera. However, it doesn’t last long.
This fit-in-your hand camera is cute and fun, but it does have some drawbacks. If the subject moves while the photo is taken or if the user moves, the photo will end up blurry. However, since you can choose which photos you print, you don’t have to waste photo paper on bad images. The video quality on this option isn’t great. While it touts 20 MP, this Polaroid is still an instant camera, so the images aren’t as high quality as those taken with a digital camera.
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 2020
Polaroid and instant camera manufacturers continue taking these cameras to the next level. In 2019, instant cameras became more professional looking and had features to match. We expect this trend to continue in 2020 and into the future. Expect better photo modes, lighting, and enhanced feature options on instant cameras in 2020.
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 9 for 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 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.