(Pocket-lint) - We love a good, high-tech camera here at Pocket-lint - the more features, tech and smarts that can be squeezed into a unit, the better. That said, we also have a lot of time for the occasional dose of simplicity.
Instant cameras have been around for decades, and have enjoyed a massive revival over the last decade or so, as people start to value the immediate physical artefacts they spit out, compared to the near-countless photos you can take on a phone or camera in the course of a couple of minutes.
There's now an absolute plethora to pick from, so we've gathered some of the very best available on the market, to narrow down your choices if you're thinking of picking one up.
Our pick of the best instant cameras to buy today
Fujifilm Instax Mini 40
Fujifilm has a huge range of instant cameras, having seen the revival coming a bit earlier than some of its rivals, and it's not an easy task to pick the best of them. We've gone for the Instax Mini 40 because we think it threads the needle in terms of pricing and design. It uses Instax Mini film to print bite-sized photos and has a really sleek and small build.
Unlike some of Fujifilm's other instant cameras, it's got a mature and classic design, too, that's a pleasure to use, and the results are just what you'd hope for. It's a true point and shoot, so there's almost no fiddling to be done, and you'll be able to pick up new film readily since it's so popular.
Polaroid's outdone itself with this microscopic camera - it's genuinely tiny, easy to take out in a pocket and equally simple to use. That's a big part of its charm, but the new shrunken-down film that it uses is also fun.
It's still square, in the classic Polaroid style, but looks great. Sadly it's a little pricier than Instax and less widely available, though. The camera is also as expensive as some other bigger options, but for sheer convenience, this is a real winner.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70
For a slightly lower price tag (based on typical reductions), and with a more modern look, the Instax Mini 70 is also brilliant from Fujifilm, and delivers almost identical photographic results.
If you want a classier look, the Instax Mini 40 is superior, while downgrading to the Mini 11 gets you a great saving for really similar results. When it comes to an easily carried camera that produces memories on tap, reliably and with a fun look, though, the Mini 70 is still great.
Polaroid is probably the biggest name in instant cameras, for a variety of reasons not limited to its long history and popular culture relevance. It's got a great set of cameras to pick from, including the Now+, which is bigger than the Go featured above.
This is an old-school camera with some nice modern touches, and its retro design is really pleasing to the eye. The biggest feature is its ability to connect to your smartphone for added control, a really cool touch. It's got autofocus and a really solid flash on board for easy shooting, and Polaroid's range of film stocks gives you a bunch of different looks to pick from.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
Of course, that randomness can be off-putting for some people - the fact that you don't have fine control over your photo means that a wasted exposure can feel a bit like an expensive mistake. Fujifilm has an answer for that, too, though.
The Instax Square SQ6 is basically a digital-instant hybrid, with the key feature being its ability to let you review your shots on a small screen on the camera's back before you print them. This means you can avoid any truly terrible photos, and concentrate on printing out the good stuff. If you're worried about regret, this is the one for you.
If you're talking about prestige in the world of cameras, it doesn't get much better than Leica, the red dot brand that's synonymous with both extraordinary quality and jaw-dropping expense. Its only instant camera is the Sofort, and it's unsurprisingly massively more expensive than its rivals.
That said, it's gorgeously and professionally designed, and is at last cheaper than most normal Leica cameras. That said, it uses Instax Mini film and the results are really rather similar to Fujifilm's own, much cheaper cameras. For this one, you're paying for the design and that all-important red dot.
Lomography Lomo'Instant Automat
Lomography has been making slightly more DIY instant cameras for years now, as alternatives to the mainstream of Instax and Polaroid film, and its Automat range offer some great choices. The key here is their detachable lenses, which offer up way more control over how you shoot (although you'll have to buy additional lenses to swap to).
That makes it a bit pricey, but this is one for those looking to dig a little deeper into how they shoot on instant film, and the cameras are also beautiful and classy to look at, as a nice bonus.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Originally published on 15 April 2020.