Best Vintage Polaroid Cameras: 2023 Buying Guide
Shooting with a vintage Polaroid camera brings the best of two worlds together; shooting with film and the instant gratification we’ve grown to love with digital. Being able to review your photos instantly.
After years of shooting with vintage film cameras, the most frustrating part of the experience has been the wait. I would shoot incredible photos and get the film scanned weeks later. By the time I would get my scans I lost all the excitement over that shoot.
Wanting to continue shooting with film, but also having the instant gratification of reviewing the photos I decided to explore old Polaroid cameras. After trying countless different old vintage Polaroid cameras, I put together a buying guide. I hope this helps anyone looking to buy their first Polaroid camera!
Before we get into what vintage Polaroid cameras are best, let’s cover some common questions you might have about these old instant cameras.
Types of vintage Polaroid cameras
There are thirteen different types of instant cameras developed by Polaroid between 1948 and the present day. The different types of instant cameras are defined by the type of Polaroid camera film format they use. Of these thirteen types of cameras, only five types are still supported. Three of these five would be considered vintage by today’s standards.
These types of vintage Polaroid cameras that are still supported are cameras that use SX-70, 600, and 8×10 Integral Film. Modern films are the Go Film and i-Type films.
For the sake of this article, we will primarily focus on the integral SX-70 film and 600 film type of vintage Polaroid cameras. These two types of old Polaroid camera models use the most advanced vintage film that produces quality photos that are long-lasting. They are also some of the most accessible with readily available film.
How do vintage Polaroid cameras work?
When a picture is taken, the film is rolled in front of the lens. A roller will apply pressure to a pouch in the film that contains a chemical that will travel across the image layer, timing layer, acid layer and regent to develop the film.
In this instance, the image layer consists of three emulsion layers with three primary colors, red, green and blue. Beneath these layers, are three more layers of complementary colors, cyan, magenta and yellow.
Do vintage Polaroid cameras need batteries?
Vintage Polaroid cameras do not need additional batteries for the cameras to function. Instead, the battery is found in the film pack, and it has enough power to operate the camera for ten shots. There is a good chance that if your camera is not working after inserting a film pack, it is because the battery is dead.
Can old Polaroid cameras use new film?
Older Polaroid instant cameras cannot use new film due to the absence of a battery in the film pack. So newer i-Type films are only usable in newer instant cameras that support the i-Type film packs. However, the newer cameras can use the older 600 film packs.
Can you use expired instant film in your vintage Polaroid camera?
Instant Polaroid film has a shelf life of 12 months after its production dates. The film should be used in that time frame to capture the best results. You can find the production date stamped at the bottom of each film package.
How long do old Polaroids take to develop?
Typically it takes between 10 to 15 minutes for the vintage instant film to fully develop. You should allow them to further develop and settle for 30 days before storing Polaroid photos. Keep them laid flat and out of the direct sun or UV light.
Does shaking a Polaroid do anything?
You should in fact not shake a Polaroid picture. Polaroid film is a complex mixture of chemicals and dyes that are layered together to produce the image. Shaking the polaroid can cause unwanted effects on the final image such as bubbling and other marks.
The practice of shaking a Polaroid picture comes from much older Polaroid cameras that used a peel-apart film. Many people shook this film as it helped speed up the drying of the chemicals that produced those pictures. This is not required for the Integral Film which is used by 600 film or SX-70 film vintage Polaroid cameras.
How to use a vintage Polaroid camera?
Using a vintage Polaroid camera can be fairly simple and straightforward once you get the hang of it. First and foremost you must make sure to get the right type of film for the camera you have. Depending on the type of camera you buy – as covered in the above section, you will need to match it with the correct film.
So f you are shooting with a 600-style camera, you will need Polaroid 600 film.
Once you have the right type of film, it’s time to get started:
- Load your film pack through the film door, darkslide facing up
- Charge your camera flash if it does not automatically charge by pressing the trigger halfway down
- Adjust your exposure if needed (usually, it’s not needed)
- Look through the viewfinder and adjust your framing and composition
- Press the trigger button and voila!
- Shield the new instant photo from any light for a few minutes
Where to buy vintage Polaroid cameras
You can buy vintage Polaroid cameras in many locations, both online and offline. They can be found anywhere where you would buy vintage lenses or vintage cameras.
Places to buy vintage Polaroid cameras would include:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Speciality camera stores
- Online camera retailers (ie. B&H, Keh, Adorama)
- Thrift stores
- Garage sales
Additionally, you can also purchase refurbished vintage Polaroid cameras directly from the Polaroid website. This could possibly be the best place to buy your vintage Polaroid 600 and Polaroid SX-70 cameras. These certified cameras are sold at a premium but are guaranteed to be functional.
Best vintage Polaroid camera for beginners
Polaroid Sun 660 Autofocus Instant Camera
The Polaroid Sun 660 Autofocus Instant Camera is one of the friendliest cameras for beginners. With a reasonable price of around $50 – $60 USD on eBay, this camera requires minimal investment.
The camera comes with beginner-friendly features such as an automatic flash with override and the Sonar Autofocus system. This autofocus feature sends out high-frequency sound waves that help it establish the distance to the subject and adjust focus. This results in sharper images.
Cheapest vintage Polaroid cameras
Polaroid 600 Square Instant Camera
The Polaroid 600 Square Instant Camera is one of the cheapest vintage Polaroid cameras on the market today. It is also the cheapest one that you can buy refurbished directly from Polaroid for $119.99. Alternatively, you can spin the camera roulette on eBay for the same camera at around $10 – $20 before shipping.
This old Polaroid instant film camera was developed in the 80s and is simple to use as a film point-and-shoot camera. Unlike the close-up variant of this camera, this has a focus range of 4ft to infinity and an effective flash range between 2 – 10ft. The camera can only use the 600 film packs made for Polaroid cameras, and the film is sold separately.
Best Polaroid 600 vintage camera
Polaroid Supercolor 670 AF vintage camera
The vintage Polarpod 600 cameras offered a more versatile shooting experience by offering a higher ISO film of 600 – versus 100 or 160. This propelled their popularity even further than their previous generations.
Using this more flexible vintage 600 Polaroid film, the Polaroid Supercolor AF vintage camera is one of the best Polaroid 600 cameras produced. Resembling the Polaroid Supercolor 635 the 670 AF improved upon those models with its ultrasonic focusing module that allows for focusing from 60cm to infinity.
The closer focusing distance of 60cm (vs 120cm on most cameras) makes the camera more suitable for close vintage portrait photography.
This camera also features the same Lightmixer system that is found in the 635. This system mixes ambient light and light from the on-camera flash for better exposure.
Best Polaroid SX-70 vintage camera
Polaroid SX-70 SLR Land camera Sonar Autofocus
The SX-70 cameras became incredibly popular with photographers such as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Helmut Newton, and Walker Evans praising and using the SX-70.
The Polaroid SX-70 SLR camera with Sonar Autofocus is probably one of the best vintage Polaroid cameras of all time. Using a single-lens reflex system this camera allowed for accurate composition.
Unlike most vintage Polaroid cameras which use autofocus, the SX-70 lens has a manual focusing capability. This helps with creative freedom. The lens also has a maximum aperture of f/8 allowing for a shallower depth of field and great bokeh. This is significantly higher than the 600 film cameras with their f/14 maximum aperture.
Best vintage Polaroid camera
Polaroid 600 SLR 690 Folding Instant Film Camera
This legendary vintage Polaroid camera is regarded as one of the best if not the best vintage Polaroid camera ever created. Sporting a price between $1,000 – $1,500, depending on where you buy it from, this can be a significant investment for any photographer.
The Polaroid 690 benefits from some of the best characteristics of many different cameras. This set it apart from other models across the SX-70 and 600 film camera lineups.
The outstanding features of the 690 are:
- Sonar autofocus
- Camera controls
- Lens sharpness
These features rival its best-in-class competitors.
For example, the Polaroid 600 OneStep Close Up is known to be one of the sharpest cameras in the lineup. The 690 outperforms this model by having the sharpest vintage lens found on a old Polaroid camera. This further propels the camera’s feature set to make the 690 stand out from the rest as the best vintage Polaroid camera.
Similarly, its autofocus rivals the performance of the Polaroid 600 Impulse Autofocus, which is known to be one of the best-performing cameras when it comes to autofocus systems
Most importantly unlike the box-style Polaroid cameras, the Polaroid 690 takes advantage of its SLR build allowing you to see through the lens and accurately compose your images.
Coolest vintage Polaroid camera
SX-70 One-Step (Rainbow Stripe)
Let’s be honest. One of the great reasons to own an old Polaroid vintage camera is for the cool retro vibes. In my mind, when I think of Polaroid cameras, I think of the iconic rainbow stripe on a white body. The One-Step is a non-folding version of the SX-70 camera. Due to how expensive the folding SX-70 was, this version was created to offer a lower-cost alternative.
Vintage Polaroid Film
Regardless of what camera you end up buying, you will need to get yourself some Polaroid film to match your camera. Buying actual old vintage Polaroid film is very expensive and rare to find, not to mention expired.
Luckily Polaroid has resumed the manufacturing of its vintage Polaroid film packs and sell the 600 and SX-70 Polaroid film to this day.Purchasing these films can be as easy as ordering on Amazon, with one-day free delivery or directly from the Polaroid website.
Best instant cameras for 2022
Even with the ability to take excellent photos with our phones and instantly share them across the world, there’s something magical about the old-school instant camera. With just a click of a button, you can capture a moment in a photo that you can see and touch almost immediately. Images captured by an instant camera aren’t as pristine or perfect as modern digital cameras, but their soft images and imperfections are often a big part of the allure.
Yet not all instant cameras are the same, and some of them are better suited for different needs and budgets. That’s why we tested some of the most popular instant cameras on the market from brands like Fujifilm, Polaroid, and Kodak.
All of the models featured in our best instant camera guide here are enjoyable to use, but each offers a different set of features at a different price point. As a result, some are more appropriate for a child or the budding photographer, while others are more advanced and provide added creative control (for a price). When it comes down to it, though, we consider print quality, ease of use, and affordability to be the hallmarks of a quality shooter. That’s why we picked Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 as the best instant camera for most people, as it ticks all three boxes wonderfully.
If you’re looking for more creative control or features like filters, however, the Instax Mini Evo is our choice, one that boasts great image quality and allows you to choose which photos you’d like to print. Other instant cameras, like Polaroid’s Now Plus and Kodak’s Mini Retro 3, also offer a variety of advanced creative modes for those who desire more.
Check out the full list of best instant camera picks below to find the best fit for you.
PS: Black Friday is here, which means we’re seeing great discounts on instant cameras. Be sure to check out our main early Black Friday deals post where we’ll keep you updated.
A note about instant camera film
Each instant camera requires a different kind of film, which means that the actual sticker price of the camera isn’t the true price. This is something you should take into account before making a purchase, as the cost of film can quickly add up. Depending on the brand, you may have to pay anywhere between $0. 50-$2 per shot.
Most instant camera brands also sell films of varying quality in a range of styles. Some are decorated with colorful frames and patterns, while others are black and white. They also vary in shape and size, from small rectangular prints you can stick in your wallet to square-shaped ones. You can also buy wider prints, however, and some brands even sell film with an adhesive backing that allows you to use the resulting images as stickers.
The Instax Mini 11 is as simple to use as it looks.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11
The best instant camera for most people
If all you’re looking to do is just click a button and get a decent print for a reasonable price, we recommend Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11. It’s a basic instant camera that’s easy to set up and use, which makes this a good choice for kids or those new to photography. It took us less than five minutes to insert the included AA batteries and film (not included), quickly read the instructions, take a photo, and print. The image took about 20 seconds to begin showing up and less than a minute to fully appear.
The Instax Mini 11 uses credit card-sized Instax Mini film that typically costs around $0.99 a sheet and comes in packs, some of which offer up to 20 prints for around $19.99, although you can currently buy it for $13.98 from Walmart. You can easily purchase the Instax Mini film at most major retailers, unlike some other films, such as the film needed for Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Square Retro.
The intense flash made the cat frown and her eyes look yellow, but the dog didn’t care, and the photo quality was still pretty good. Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
For an instant camera, image quality is better than most of the other cameras I tested, producing relatively true-to-life photos. Most of the cameras I tested struggled to capture low-light conditions well, and this one is no exception, but the camera’s built-in flash does help. On the flip side, however, the flash — which you can’t disable — can be overpowering in some instances, resulting in a few overexposed images.
True to its name, the Mini 11 is one of the smallest instant cameras I tested and very light at around 10 ounces, which made it easy to carry it around and maintain a steady grip while taking pictures. It uses a plastic build like many others and comes in a variety of fun colors ranging from pink to blue to white. The included selfie feature — which is really just a small mirror mounted on the front of the camera — is simple but effective, even if the flash was still overpowering and didn’t capture my features or skin color particularly well.
The front of the Instax Mini comes with a small mirror you can use to take selfies.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
On the back of the Instax Mini 11, there’s a small counter that displays the remaining number of shots.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
The Mini 11 has a number of other niceties as well. I appreciated the larger-than-average viewfinder and the fact the camera comes with a small counter that displays the remaining number of shots, which is a feature many of the other instant cameras I tested lacked. It’s easy to lose track of how many photos you’ve taken, especially while out for drinks with friends or sightseeing during a vacation. Yet, given each print costs about $1, it’s important to be mindful of how many shots you’ve got left.
All in all, the Instax Mini 11 is a basic camera that caters to all ages and experience levels and gets the job done — and done relatively well. It doesn’t feature Bluetooth or pair with a companion app that allows you to edit photos, nor does it offer advanced features like filters, lens options, or portrait modes. But if you’re looking for an instant camera that offers a great, traditional analog experience, this is it.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 is the best instant camera for most people. While it lacks more advanced features, the simple instant camera takes good-quality shots quickly and easily and offers a built-in selfie mode.
$70 at Amazon$70 at Best Buy$70 at Target
If money was no object, the stylish Instax Mini Evo would be the best instant camera to buy. Becca Farsace / The Verge
Instax Mini Evo
The best premium instant camera
Fujifilm’s newest instant camera, the Instax Mini Evo, is my colleague Becca Farcase’s favorite — and it’s mine as well. A hybrid camera that bears a resemblance to Fujifilm’s more expensive Fujifilm X100 line of cameras, it looks good and boasts vintage dials and buttons so stylish that they even caught the attention of passersby as I walked around Los Angeles taking photos.
It’s easy to balk at its $199 price tag, but this camera offers a level of flexibility that could save you money in the long run if you plan on using it a lot. That’s because the Instax Mini Evo includes a full-color LCD screen that lets you see and select which images you want to print before doing so, which can help you avoid wasting film on unwanted shots. The added flexibility gave me more room for creative experimentation, too, as I wasn’t worried about running out of film. I also loved using the Instax Mini Evo app to print photos from my smartphone. Plus, unlike the Instax Mini 11, it’s not battery-powered. While it’s a shame the Evo uses a Micro USB port for charging, the fact it’s rechargeable means you don’t need to keep wasting money on buying new batteries.
The Instax Mini Evo comes with a large LCD screen that doubles as a viewfinder and allows you to choose which photos to print.Becca Farsace / The Verge
Like Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11, the camera took less than five minutes to set up and uses Instax Mini film. However, you can actually turn off the flash on the Mini Evo, which helped me take far better photos, as did the large three-inch LCD screen you can use as a viewfinder. You can also use the menu to adjust how bright you want the film to look when it’s printed out. That was helpful given neither the Evo nor the Mini 11 is particularly great at capturing dark environments, though it didn’t solve the problem completely either.
Additionally, you can use the dials to apply various lens options and filters, ranging from retro to monochrome shades, as well as a mirror lens, vignette, soft focus, and more. You can take app-based remote shots, too, which adds an extra element of photographic control that can help you take better selfie shots than the selfie mirror in the front.
Being able to adjust the brightness of the prints helped me capture night photos and a low-light immersive exhibit a little more clearly and realistically, which is a feature the Instax Mini 11 doesn’t offer.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Of course, it’s not a perfect device, and there are some downsides to consider outside the price. For instance, although you can add some filters and make a few edits using Fujifilm’s companion app, it just isn’t as feature-rich as some of the apps available for the other digital and hybrid instant cameras I tested. The Evo’s extensive menu system also wasn’t particularly easy to navigate, and it took me some time to figure out how to turn the flash on and off. Plus, if you rely on internal storage solely, you can only take 45 images before the device is full. Still, all of these are minor issues, and I was very happy overall with how portable the stylish camera is, as well as how easy it is to take good photos quickly.
The Instax Mini Evo, like the Instax Mini 11, shines the best when capturing photos taken in well-lit environments.Becca Farsace / The Verge
Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo
Fujifilm’s stylish Instax Mini Evo is the best premium instant camera. With it, you can choose which photos to print, while also boasting good image quality.
$190 at Target$200 at Best Buy
With its feature-rich app, Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro is more modern than retro. It’s also a ton of fun.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro
The best instant camera for social occasions
Whereas the Instax Mini Evo’s companion app is more functional, Kodak’s hybrid Mini Shot 3 Retro is all about fun. The camera’s accompanying mobile app allows you to apply frames, stickers, filters, and a plethora of customization options to photos, making the camera great for scrapbooking. There’s even a beauty feature within the app to conceal blemishes, as well as a set of Snapchat-like filters you can use to add, say, dog ears, making this a fun instant camera to use as a mini photo booth of sorts at parties.
Like the Instax Mini Evo, Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro comes with an LCD screen (albeit a much smaller one) you can use to decide whether or not you want to print a shot. It also supports Bluetooth, and you can use the Kodak Photo Printer app to upload photos to social media or to print decent, relatively crisp photos from your smartphone. Unlike the Mini Evo, however, Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro retails for around $150 and includes a pack of a film (it’s also often on sale for a lot less). It also uses cheaper film; you can pick up a 60-sheet cartridge for about $19.99 at the moment, which equates to roughly $0. 33 a shot. The fact the film is cheaper arguably encourages play and creative experimentation.
The LCD screen on Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 Retro is much smaller than the one on the Instax Mini Evo.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
However, there are notable drawbacks to the Kodak Mini Shot 3. For one, the camera prints larger, 3 x 3-inch square photos on Kodak’s film — which feels lower-quality and more flimsy than Fujifilm’s and Polaroid’s. Also, although you can add colorful borders within the app, they’re modern-looking as opposed to retro, which might be a turnoff for some.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the Kodak Mini Shot 3, however, was that it doesn’t print photos taken with the camera itself anywhere as crisp nor as clearly as it does pictures shot with a smartphone. Photo quality wasn’t consistently as good as the Mini Evo’s or Mini 11’s nor, for the most part, as clear and sharp. The photos also sometimes had an excessive pink tint that interfered with quality. It doesn’t store images the way the Mini Evo does, either, which means you can’t decide whether or not you’d like to print them later.
Photos taken with the Kodak Mini Shot 3 aren’t particularly sharp and can have an excessive pink tint.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Design-wise, the Mini Shot 3 is noticeably heavier and not as stylish as the Mini Evo. Having said that, there is the option to buy a white and black model that, at least on paper, looks nicer. Also, while I eventually got the hang of the camera and found it easy to use, it took a little longer for me to set up out of the box, as there were more instructions to follow than with Fujifilm’s cameras. The instant camera doesn’t run on disposable batteries and wasn’t fully charged when it arrived, which means I was also only able to use it for a few minutes before charging. Yet after recharging it with the included Micro-USB cable, it lasted most of the day afterward.
Nonetheless, if you don’t mind compromising on photo quality and want a relatively affordable hybrid camera that comes with a bunch of fun app features, the Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro is a good choice.
Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro
Kodak’s hybrid Mini Shot 3 Retro instant camera comes with a fun companion app you can use to add frames, stickers, filters, conceal blemishes, and more. As long as you don’t mind the so-so image quality, this is a good digital instant camera for parties.
$126 at Amazon$140 at Kodak
The Polaroid Now Plus is a good combination of old school and modern but was way too big for me to hold with just one hand.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Polaroid Now Plus
The best instant camera for retro fans
If you’re looking for an instant camera that offers the most old-fashioned, instant-film experience, the Polaroid Now Plus is the camera for you. Compared to the other instant cameras on this list, the Polaroid Now Plus most closely resembles vintage instant cameras like the Polaroid 600 with its classic, retro-inspired design. Meanwhile, its square I-Type film prints and iconic Polaroid-style frame give photos a more authentically vintage look.
Yet, at the same time, the Polaroid Now Plus also comes with the convenience and usefulness of more modern features, like the ability to recharge with the included a Micro USB charging cable. It also offers Bluetooth support and a companion app boasting several creative modes that allow for greater photographic control. These include a remote shutter, a self-timer, and a “Polaroid Lab” where you can adjust the exposure and various color settings. The app also features a handful of shooting modes — including a manual option and one for capturing multiple exposures — while the camera includes a set of five colored lenses you can snap onto the front. These were enjoyable to play with and allow for more artistic expression.
The Polaroid Now Plus comes with a set of color lenses you can snap onto the camera.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
If there’s one thing the Polaroid Now Plus isn’t known for, it’s portability. Given how heavy, large, and awkwardly sized it is, it’s not the kind of instant camera you can easily slip into your purse or carry around. Plus, it takes up to 15 minutes for prints to develop, and you have to make sure it’s not exposed to light while developing. That’s quite an inconvenience if you’re out with friends, say, at the beach on a sunny day.
The Polaroid Now Plus is too big and awkwardly sized to easily fit into a bag, but I did like that it has a small counter on the back underneath the power button.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
If you’re looking for an instant camera that can easily print a good, clear photo without much effort on your part, this is not the camera for you. Of all the cameras on this list, the Polaroid Now Plus struggles with low-light environments the most, making it extremely difficult to capture a good shot in darker conditions. Images are not as clear in comparison to Instax film, and both contrast and color saturation levels tend to be quite low. While this gave my pictures more of a vintage, dreamy look that felt artistic — and you can use the Polaroid Lab to slightly adjust saturation and exposure settings — that could prove to be a lot of work and frustrating for some.
I could only take clear shots in the morning, and even then, they’re not that true to life. They do, however, give off an old-school vibe that I did find charming.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
For the most part, I barely could see images I took indoors, and I found I was only able to get the clearest shots when the light was directly behind me during the day — more specifically, in the morning. Given the Polaroid Now Plus lacks an LCD screen for selecting photos, it’s easy to waste film, which can prove expensive. After all, you only get eight I-Type sheets for $16.99, and that’s in addition to forking out $149.99 for the camera. Luckily, the Polaroid Now Plus has a small counter on the back so you can keep track of your shots.
Truth be told, however, you could argue that many of these shortcomings are typical of a retro, Polaroid-inspired instant camera and thus part of the experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, and you don’t mind the price, the Polaroid Now Plus is the perfect camera for you.
Polaroid Now Plus
For retro fans, Polaroid Now Plus is a great instant camera that prints vintage-style photos. It also offers a variety of creative modes, making this a solid choice for artistic photography as well.
$130 at Amazon$130 at Best Buy
Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
The best instant camera for portability
Whereas the Polaroid Now Plus is huge, the Polaroid Go is tiny. When I first held it, I couldn’t help but find it adorable. It easily fits into the palm of my hand — which is saying a lot given I’m petite and a little over five feet tall. In fact, it’s so small there were times I forgot I was even carrying it in my purse, making this easily the most portable instant camera on our list. It even produces the tiniest prints of all the instant cameras I tested, which could be nice if you’re trying to save some space and want something even smaller than Instax Mini prints.
Weighing just over a pound, the Polaroid Go is also the lightest instant camera I’ve ever held, and you can easily use it with one hand. That’s actually pretty convenient, given I sometimes struggled to take pictures with the heavier Polaroid Now Plus and, to a lesser extent, some of the other instant cameras I tested. In fact, if the images produced looked more true-to-life and didn’t require you to hide them from light for about 15 minutes while developing, I’d be tempted to call this the best instant camera for travel or small children.
The front of the small Polaroid Go.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
The front of the small Polaroid Go.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
The Polaroid Go is one of the most affordable Polaroid cameras currently on the market, with film that costs just a little more than Fujifilm’s Instax Mini shots (or about $19. 99 for a 16-sheet double pack). Thankfully, the low price doesn’t come at the expense of image quality. While the Go struggles with capturing low-light environments like the bulk of the cameras on our list, it’s not to the same extent as the Polaroid Now Plus. Surprisingly, it was easier to capture clearer photos indoors, which meant I didn’t waste as much film. Contrast and color saturation levels are still low, but in a way that still exudes the vintage, almost dreamy look of the photos the Now Plus prints.
The Polaroid Go produced tiny, slightly clearer photos than the Polaroid Now Plus, although still struggled to capture low-light environments.Photo by Sheena Vasani / The Verge
Unlike the Polaroid Now Plus, however, it lacks creative modes and more advanced features, although double-pressing the flash button does give you double-exposure shots. There’s also no Bluetooth support and thus no fancy app that will allow you to add extra effects – although, thankfully, it is rechargeable and includes a Micro USB charging cable. In addition, as mentioned, the prints are even smaller than the Instax Mini, which could be a drawback for those who prefer larger, more traditional Polaroid photos. While it produces similar vintage-style shots, design-wise, it doesn’t look anything like old-school Polaroid cameras either, which could also take away from the retro experience some desire.
That said, none of the older Polaroid cameras came with an app either. All in all, the Go’s simplicity makes it a suitable candidate for those seeking a camera that provides a more traditional instant film experience – one they can take advantage of just about anywhere.
The Polaroid Go is the smallest and most affordable Polaroid instant camera on the market.
$80 at Amazon$80 at Polaroid
The history of Polaroid (article plus video) / Sudo Null IT News
Any smartphone can now take an instant photo. A couple of touches and somewhere in another city, mom knows what you ate. But, despite this, hands are drawn to the good old Polaroids, which with a pleasant rattle give out a real analog photograph.
Interest in retro touched all areas. This is largely due to the fact that people who were born in the eighties and nineties have now reached the age “the grass used to be greener” and they want to return to things that once left memories for a lifetime. These people are solvent today, and marketing sharks cannot miss such a chance. Well, as for those born in the 2000s and nostalgic for the times in which they never lived … Well, psychologists say that this is normal.
But there is something else. Many of the changes imposed by technology companies have unfairly supplanted their forefathers. Just as the candy bar killed the folding phones, so the digital replaced the analog photo into the fetish caste. But there are prerequisites for the return of fashion for instant photography, especially in the general flow of retro fashion.
On such a favorable wave, the revival of the Polaroid Originals company, which stopped its activities in 2008, was announced. Entrepreneurs who have believed in the possibility of returning Polaroid to some of its former glory say that in today’s digital world there is an increasing demand for real things that exist beyond the narrow confines of a smartphone. Austin Kleon, in his book Steal Like an Artist, described ten lessons in creativity, one of which concerned precisely the opposition of analog and digital.
Austin says, “work with your hands.”
It is important for the human brain to get the result of its work. When an artist creates in an intangible space, the creative charge can quickly dry up. This problem has yet to be solved by virtual and augmented reality evangelists.
Polaroid was founded in 1937 by Edwin Land, the grandson of Russian emigrants and a Harvard graduate. Basically, the company produced products with a polarized coating: sunglasses, table lamps and others. During World War II, the company produced a range of items for the US Army, including infrared night vision goggles, gun sights, and vectorgraphs. But cameras for instant photos began to be produced only 11 years later at 1948th.
One day in 1943, while on vacation in Santa Fe, Land’s three-year-old daughter Jennifer asked why the photograph could not be viewed immediately after the photo was taken. It was this naive childish question that became the starting point in Land’s work on a new type of film. Land later recalled that he laid out in his head all the conditions and components necessary for the implementation of the technology within an hour. It was then that he decided to take up the development of instant photography. Obtaining a patent and implementing the idea took five years.
From 1943 to 1946, the development of the Polaroid instant camera was a closely guarded secret. One of the main problems was the strength of the cassette: to get to the end customer, she had to make her way from the conveyor, through warehouses, trucks, shops, bags and numerous crooked hands, while not cracking or spoiling from impact or pressure. Not to mention temperature fluctuations and other factors.
But a solution was found and on February 21, 1947 the first instant camera was introduced. And already in the 48th year, the first commercial model “Model 95″, which was only capable of taking grayscale shots and had an important limitation: it had to wait exactly 60 seconds before peeling off the negative layer from the photograph. Despite the fact that the quality of the camera did not exceed the existing systems, and required extreme care from the photographer, the buyers were satisfied. The first batch was sold out in minutes.
True high contrast black and white (rather than gray and gray) Polaroid film came out two years later at 1950th year. The transition to black and white required additional manual soaking of the developed image using a polymer coating to prevent darkening of the photograph. And already in 1957, the New York Times called instant photography equal in quality to the best works that came out of ordinary darkrooms.
Despite the huge popularity of the instant camera, Land did not believe in marketing. He said that marketing is needed for obviously bad products. His approach was this: you need to show people something new and unnecessary up to this point so that by the end of the demonstration they irresistibly want to get this product. So he turned the annual meetings at Polaroid into a show of sorts. Land went up to the stage, showed a new camera, talked about its capabilities. And by the end of the meeting, the audience simply dreamed of getting such a camera.
You may have noticed some similarities here with Apple’s product presentations. Steve Jobs followed the development of Polaroid in his youth, and once even confirmed that Apple was based on the same business model. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he made several visits to Polaroid headquarters to chat with Land.
Production of Polaroid in the USSR
Polaroid cameras were assembled in the USSR, and then in Russia. In the 80s, during one of his business trips to the United States, the Soviet nuclear physicist, Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, at one of the meetings, met the then President of the Polaroid company Macalister Boof, and he suggested that he establish joint production in the USSR.
So, in 1989, at the initiative of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the joint venture Svetozor was organized, which over the next ten years produced the Supercolor 635CL and 636 Closeup models. These models did not differ functionally and had differences only in the shape of the hull. Production began with just a dozen pieces and two master assemblers, the equipment was put on the conveyor, but at first there was no one to work. The two people alternated between assembly and testing operations.
Initially planned to produce 350,000 cameras within six years, but five years later, the company reported that production volumes had reached two hundred thousand cameras per year. But even this was not enough, because sales of Polaroids assembled in the West in the territory of the former USSR reached one million pieces a year, not counting the batches produced by Svetozor.
By the way, not all components for assembly were delivered from abroad. For example, the electronic flash control unit was produced at the Signal plant in Obninsk, which was the only one besides factories in Malaysia and Scotland where Polaroid electronics were produced.
Today, Impossible Project
Polaroid filed for bankruptcy twice in 2001 and was resold three times. The Polaroid era seemed to be over. But still there were enthusiasts who showed interest in outdated photographs. And in 2009, the last factory for the production of Polaroids was bought by three entrepreneurs and received the name Impossible Project (The Impossible Project). It can still be called experimental, but the project already has many supporters and admirers. And here it is worth remembering another phrase of Edwin Land: “You don’t need to do what everyone can do. ”
Thanks to the Impossible Project, in 2017, for the first time in a long time, a new camera with the well-known Polaroid inscription was released. It’s called OneStep 2. The camera takes instant photos, it has a timer, a flash, and a USB charging port. OneStep 2 is not yet on sale, but is available for pre-order. The camera uses i-type film, which was originally created for the original Impossible Project I-1 camera.
Since 2008, various companies have been able to obtain a license to use the Polaroid technology patent. But in 2017, parent company Impossible Project bought out all of Polaroid’s patents, as well as all intellectual property rights. What does all of this mean? This means that it will soon be possible to buy a new Polaroid camera for only 99$.
The desire of Land’s daughter required not only the creation of a new type of film, but also a camera with a different mechanism for producing photographs. The main element of the system was a film cassette containing both the negative and the receiving layer of the positive, connected by a reservoir with reagents (including sodium hydroxide) for development. This reservoir was called a cocoon. When leaving the chamber, a pair of rollers at the base of the chamber compressed the film, destroying the tank wall, after which the reagent spread over the image area. As the reagents spread, the chemicals removed the unexposed silver halide from the negative, brought it out onto the positive layer in a smaller amount, creating the final image. And to this day, the process has not changed significantly.
The outside of the picture is protected by a transparent film.
Below is the fixer.
Even lower is the buffer layer. It delays the penetration of the fixer substances while the reaction with the reagent takes place below.
The next is the receiving layer of paper, where the final positive image is formed from the dyes from the lower layers.
Under it is a reagent.
The next six layers are alternating emulsion layers and developing ink layers.
The three emulsion layers are sensitive to red, green and blue. They work like negatives for cyan, magenta, and yellow (or, in more familiar terms, cyan, magenta, and yellow) layers, rendering them unable to transfer onto paper. For example, a photograph of a blue sky will affect the blue emulsion, which will block out all the yellow paint underneath, allowing the magenta and cyan layers to pass to the surface of the positive, forming blue.
In the format of an article, I prepared this Polaroid story for Giktimes, but initially we made a video, which I left below. It features voice-over with historical and technical illustrations, as well as a slightly more extended script.
Top 5 Best Polaroid Cameras
With all the convenience of digital and mobile technology that makes capturing, editing and sharing high-quality images easy, who needs a Polaroid camera? You will be surprised that many people still do this.
Despite the advanced capabilities of digital cameras that have eclipsed the need for instant cameras (also known as Polaroid cameras), there’s no denying that this product satisfies your nostalgia for that vintage feel. This camera is built with an internal developing mechanism and film that creates an image within seconds of the image being taken.
Of course, this may seem like an impractical option, especially since you will have to replenish your stock of films in order to continue working. This camera, however, is not about practicality. It’s more about fun and speed. This makes travel exciting. It captures important and special moments and instantly prints or develops them. In addition to being nostalgic, this camera satisfies our desire to get a snapshot a few seconds after the shot.
However, you must make sure that the camera you buy will give you not only instant pleasure, but also longer-term satisfaction. However, join us as we review the top 5 Polaroid cameras on the market with our camera expert Evangeline Summers! Enjoy her valuable information and some quick facts about each camera we have listed. To get a better look at them, just click on their Amazon buttons below and enjoy their best deals! 9
Polaroid cameras 0094
1. Polaroid Originals OneStep + Instant Camera
and wallet-friendly i-Type films
Polaroid Originals app via Bluetooth connection
optical polycarbonate coated lens
built-in selfie mirror
close-up range 30 to 50 cm
3. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 Instant Film Camera
- 0002 auto exposure control
Galilean 0. 4X inverted viewfinder
4. Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera
lenses made of optical polycarbonate and acrylic
2-lens autofocus system
5. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro Camera and Photo Printer
KODAK 4Pass Method Technology
images with borders and borderless
cartridge method film replacement
Polaroid Originals OneStep + Instant Film Camera
Dimensions: 9000 3
5.9 x 3.8 x 4.37 inches
107 mm x 88 mm
easy to use
value for money
- Designed with optical coated polycarbonate lens.
- Allows you to switch from automatic to manual control via the Polaroid Originals app via Bluetooth connection (available for both Android and iOS).
- Allows you to switch between portrait and landscape lenses.
- Uses precise flash to make your subjects look the way they should.
- Uses batteryless and wallet-friendly i-Type films.
- Designed with polycarbonate and ABS outer shells.
- The battery is charged using the USB charging cable.
- Long battery life up to 60 days depending on usage.
- Designed with a tripod mount on the base.
- Because this camera does not have an image preview, you need to be careful with your shots to use film effectively.
This is the camera best suited if you want a vintage feel that gives you the freedom to experiment and have more control over the images you shoot. By accessing Polaroid originals via Bluetooth, you can easily get better control over your shots while fiddling with double exposure, light painting, and more.
“These features for better control are good enough reasons to choose OneStep+ over others Polaroid models, especially for those who are tired of letting their cameras make most of the shooting decisions,” said Summers.
Indeed, compared with Polaroid Now and OneStep2, this product has the advantages of Bluetooth connection, backlight, manual mode, noise trigger and remote trigger. OneStep2 also overlooked the product’s flexibility of having both portrait and landscape lenses. This is a solid Polaroid camera that has an interesting mix of vintage and digital art.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
8.3 x 6.5 x 5.9 inches
2.05 lbs. 4
5. 4 8.6 cm x cm
ease of use
value for money
Pros 9 0094 :
- Automatic easy adjustment in the blink of an eye.
- Adjusts the shutter speed according to the brightness of the environment, so you can get bright images without any special adjustments.
- Comes with built-in selfie mirror.
- Selfie mode for a better and easier way to take your own photos.
- Macro range 30 to 50 cm in selfie mode.
- Offers macro mode.
- Built with 0.37x real image finder.
- Film development in about 90 seconds (depending on ambient temperature).
- Designed to automatically turn off after 5 minutes to conserve battery power.
- Provides credit card sized photos (5.4 x 8.6 cm).
- Very easy to use and intuitive.
- There are some discrepancies between the viewfinder and the real image when shooting close-ups. Therefore, you may need to aim slightly to the right.
If you want an instant camera that will take bright pictures without having to fiddle with settings, the Instax Mini 11 is the best value for your money. It is designed to do many calculations and adjustments for you so you can just focus on your subject.
“Instax cameras are truly among the most popular and best-selling cameras today. But what’s in this new model that you don’t get with the Instax Mini 9? While the two have a lot of design in common in terms of lenses and instant films, the Mini 11 has the ability to deliver better images in simpler ways by replacing the Mini 9’s manual exposure setting with an automatic system,” stated Summers.
In addition, the Mini 11 also has an electronic shutter that automatically adjusts for the best exposure. These developments have made this model the best choice if you need higher quality images without having to fiddle with settings.
3. Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 instant film camera.
6.1 x 6.1 x 4.1 inches
0. 5 lb
86 72 mm X
ease of use
value for money
- Built-in auto exposure control to brighten not only the subject but also the background for dark scenes.
- A square photo format (86 X 72 mm) gives more room for shooting a scene.
- Built with an inverted 0.4X Galileo viewfinder.
- Has a 3 range motorized focus switch.
- Designed with a selfie mirror so you can check the area to be photographed.
- Offers a selfie mode that adjusts the focal length and brightness for the best selfie shots.
- Offers a macro mode that allows you to shoot subjects as close as 30 to 50 cm.
- Double exposure allows you to capture two images in one photo.
- Offers photo brightness control.
- Includes three color filters including orange, purple and green.
- Film develops in approximately 90 seconds (depending on environment). temperature).
- Has an electronically controlled 10 second delay or self-timer.
- If you’re used to using portrait and landscape frames, filling in Instax Square may take some getting used to.
Instax Square is an instant camera that makes it easy to capture your best moments. You could just point, shoot and wait for your picture in the squares.
“What’s great about this camera is that it has built-in modes that are very handy. Therefore, as long as you use the correct mode for the shot, your shots can turn out well,” Summers said.
You will also appreciate how this camera combines lightness with some freedom of control. You’ll love the camera’s automatic exposure control, which adjusts the shutter speed based on the brightness of the environment for bright, clear shots. At the same time, it also lets you fiddle around with mode selections like remote focus and brightness adjustment. These features allow you to create impressive images that you can appreciate.
4. Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera
900 93 Brand
4. 4 x 3.7 x 5.9 inches
Weight 1.3 pounds
107 mm x 88 mm
ease of use
value for money
- Uses optical grade polycarbonate and acrylic lenses.
- Comes with a dual-lens autofocus system where the camera selects the best lens for your shot.
- Offers double exposure so you can capture two frames in one photo.
- Uses batteryless and more wallet-friendly i-Type films.
- Comes with a self-timer so you can create your best smile.
- Accurate flash to make everything look just right
- Offers 7 colors (plus black and white) for more fun.
- Supplied with PC and ABS outer shell.
- Battery life can be up to 60 days (depending on usage).
- Pure analog camera with no digital capabilities.
If you want a Polaroid camera that will satisfy that nostalgia feeling, this analog Polaroid camera is a great option to consider.
“The Polaroid Now I-Type takes the classic style and ease of use of the original Polaroid OneStep and adds some elements to make it more creative and fun with features like dual exposure and more Panasonic spectrum colors,” said Summers.
Besides the vintage style, another attraction of this camera is its simplicity. You simply point, shoot and wait for your memories to be saved in 4.2 x 3.5 inches. This camera will not give you trouble.
While the Polaroid OneStep+, which is priced slightly higher than this model, has some interesting extras, one of the reasons you’d buy The Now is autofocus, which isn’t available in the former. This model has two fixed focus areas at a distance of 0.55-1.3 m and 0.6 m to infinity. The result is images that could be perfectly matched with old photographs of your best memories.
5. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro Instant Camera and Photo Printer
6. 73 x 6.46 x 5.87 inches
76.2 x 76.2 mm
ease of use
value for money
Pros of :
- 2-in-1 printer and camera with 1.77″ LCD display.
- Equipped with a selfie mirror.
- Produces good quality images using KODAK Technology’s 4Pass Method.
- Produces 3×3 inch photos that are waterproof and finger-proof.
- Allows you to check photos for printing.
- Freedom to choose between images with borders and images without borders.
- Replacement of films by cartridge method.
- Offers an app for fun effects and convenience (compatible with Android and iOS).
- Has a higher paper cost.
- Fast print in about 50 seconds.
- Allows you to print photos from your phone.
- Possibility of shortage of film replacement cartridge.
This is an instant camera that offers versatile functionality. In addition, it supports more economical long-term use. Mini Shot 3 uses cartridges to replace less expensive film and paper.
“In addition to the instant camera + printer design that enhances its versatility, the Mini Shot 3 Retro is also economical as it lets you view photos through the 1.77” LCD viewfinder so you don’t have to spend any money wasted. films about frames that you will regret later. Not many instant cameras allow this,” Summers explained.
In addition, this camera is easy to use. You don’t need to read the instruction manual to understand this. It also creates good quality images and prints quickly. That it allows you to print images in your phone’s gallery is another nice bonus.
The Best Polaroid Cameras – Buying Guide
If you’re shopping for a Polaroid camera, it would be best to check how the camera is capable of producing quality images that you would like to treasure for a long time. Therefore, cameras that offer the ability to appropriately adjust (automatic or manual) brightness, exposure, and focus, among other things, are worth considering.
Polaroid cameras offer printed images in a variety of sizes from rectangular (landscape or portrait) to square. If you have specific preferences or specific planned applications, it would be ideal to consider these image sizes when purchasing.
easy to use
It’s better to look for a Polaroid camera that is easier to use. This way you could focus more on your subjects. Instant cameras with precise auto-adjustment features and preset modes to choose from would be ideal.
creative controls and features
While we value ease of use, it would also be nice if your instant camera allows you to tinker with controls and creative features when automatic settings aren’t enough for your planned applications.
speed of development or printing of images
One of the main reasons you will buy a Polaroid camera is the fast delivery of your photo for printing. Hence, you’ll probably want to test or test how great this “instantaneous” performance is.
Best Polaroid Cameras – Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need an instant camera?
An Instant or Polaroid camera can be used for jobs that require quick copies of your captured images. However, for many people now, the Polaroid camera is a fun device to capture life’s special moments in instant photos in a way that caters to nostalgia for that classic or retro feel.
How long does the instant camera take to take a picture?
Instant cameras or Polaroid cameras can take your physical photo in seconds (eg 90 seconds). However, this may vary depending on the ambient temperature.
What is the best instant camera?
The best instant camera is one that produces good quality images quickly through superior automation of settings or options.