【Instant Camera Guide】Top 5 Camera Recommendations for 2022 + Buying Tips

22 March 2023 by
Apryl Zhang

Many people use instant cameras to record important moments and memories. But what are the features of instant camera photos? How to choose an instant camera? What are the things to note when using an instant camera for shooting? How to save instant camera photos? Capture.HK will explain all the relevant information for you!

What is instant camera?

Instant camera, also known as "Polaroid", is a type of camera that allows you to obtain a physical photo immediately after taking a picture. When you press the shutter button on an instant camera, the camera will immediately eject the photo, which can be developed within a few minutes. Instant cameras were once very popular but have since been replaced by digital cameras and smartphones. However, instant cameras still have a certain presence, and many people use them for commemoration and decoration, such as recording important moments in life or designing photos into unique decorations.

instant cameraInstant Camera - from Fujifilm

Instant film camera features

Immediate developing

After taking a photo with an instant film camera, the photo will immediately be ejected from the camera body and begin developing. For example, with Fujifilm instax Mini film, the development time is approximately 90 seconds (actual time may vary depending on ambient temperature). Therefore, using an instant film camera to take photos can save time and steps compared to using other cameras, as there is no need to go to a photo lab for developing.

Unique photo colour and style

Although instant film photos may not have the same clarity and resolution as regular cameras and smartphones, they have a unique and nostalgic colour and style that appears as if the photo was taken years ago, which is in line with current trends and is quite appealing to many people. On the other hand, many people still adjust the colour of their photos taken with regular cameras and smartphones to mimic the instant film style using filters, showing that the colour style is very popular.

Camera design

Instant film cameras come in a wide range of designs, unlike regular cameras. In addition to the typical plain designs, there are many styles such as vintage, cute, and cartoon, allowing users to choose one that matches their style and fashion. For example, the Fujifilm instax mini 11 has five colour options, including pink, blue, black, white, and purple, while the Polaroid Now has ten colour options, including black and white, black, white, pink, red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and mint green.

Film size

Instant film comes in different sizes, such as the Fujifilm instax's photo sizes of 5.4 x 8.6 cm (mini), 10.8 x 8.6 cm (wide), and 8.6 x 7.2 cm (square), and Polaroid's Polaroid 600 size of 10.8 x 8.8 cm. All of these sizes are compact and convenient to carry in a pocket. In addition, instant film also has various special designs on the border, such as different colours, patterns, and cartoon characters, allowing users to select based on the theme of the photo. Common instant film borders include classic pure white, as well as Stripe, Macaron, Rainbow, etc. Cartoon characters include Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, and Gudetama, among others.

How to choose the right instant camera?

Photo size

As most instant cameras can only use specific sizes of film, if you have special requirements or preferences for photo size, you need to use this as a filter to find the right camera model. Common instant photo films include Fujifilm instax mini (5.4 x 8.6 cm), Fujifilm instax Wide (10.8 x 8.6 cm), Fujifilm instax SQUARE (8.6 x 7.2 cm), and Polaroid 600 (10.8 x 8.8 cm).

For example, if you think Fujifilm instax Wide is more suitable for your needs, you can consider purchasing the instax WIDE 300 that uses this film, instead of the instax mini 11 that uses instax mini film.

In addition, Polaroid's photo size is often referred to as the golden ratio because it is suitable for shooting portraits, landscapes, and other subjects, and has been popular with many people. Another brand, Fujifilm, offers larger and wider photo size options, but they have relatively fewer supporters.

Image Quality

The instant image effects may vary depending on the camera brand. For example, the Polaroid Originals series may produce random blue stripes, faded colours, or light leaks. However, although the quality of the finished product may be unstable, this has also become a source of enjoyment for many people, as the variability of the finished product also adds to its artistic appeal.

In contrast, another instant camera brand, Fujifilm, is known for its bright and sharp photo colours, with high consistency, even if the same shot is taken multiple times. If you are looking for stable image quality, Fujifilm may be more suitable for your needs.

instant camera 02Instant Camera - from Fujifilm

Selfie Mode

Many people like to take selfies with their phones because they can check the photo composition through the screen. In fact, some instant cameras also have similar features. For example, with the Fujifilm mini 11, you can simply pull out the lens to adjust the camera to selfie mode, and there is a selfie mirror next to the lens for checking the photo composition. As for newer models of instant cameras like the PolaroidGo, there are even timer functions, allowing for more diverse selfie poses and angles.

instant camera shooting modeInstant camera shooting modes - from Fujifilm

Shooting Features

Many instant cameras now have automatic adjustments for shutter and exposure, making it easier for users with little knowledge of photography. For more professional users with specific needs, they can also consider models that support aperture or shutter adjustment, have telephoto or macro lenses, or come with a flash.


The more accessories a camera has, the more variations it can achieve. For example, some instant cameras can add lenses, filters, or fisheye lenses to make the photos more unique. Additionally, when purchasing an instant camera, you can also consider accessories to protect it, such as straps, cases, and storage bags.

Smartphone Connection

With the continuous advancement of technology, some new instant cameras can now connect to smartphones, allowing users to edit photos or add filters on their phones before downloading and printing the finished product, thus avoiding film wastage.

Popular Instant Cameras Recommendation

1. Fujifilm instax Mini 11

A popular entry-level camera that not only comes at an affordable price but also receives good reviews. The Mini 11 is equipped with an automatic exposure flash and is lightweight and easy to carry. It also has a selfie mirror and a selfie mode, allowing users to focus on a subject just 30cm away without having to change the mirror, making it suitable for novice players.


2. Fujifilm instax SQ1

Another entry-level camera that stands out for its use of square film. The name "SQ" is derived from the word "Square" in English. This camera has automatic exposure and selfie mode, and the lens can be rotated twice to start the camera and then enter selfie mode.

Fujifilm instax SQ1

3. Polaroid Now

A brand new i-Type camera released by Polaroid, with the biggest difference in appearance being its rounded design compared to previous models. Technically, the Polaroid Now has a new autofocus lens system that can automatically switch between portrait and landscape modes, making it easier to take pictures. In addition, its double exposure feature can show two moments in one photo, providing more possibilities.

Polaroid Now

4. Lomography Lomo'Instant

The most popular camera in the Lomo'Instant series is undoubtedly the Automat, which can shoot fully automatically. In addition to the Automat, there is also the Lomo'Instant Square, the world's first camera that can use both Fuji instax Square or Mini films, the Lomo'Instant Wide which supports large-format film, and the Lomo'Instant Automat Glass with a glass lens for sharper photos.

Lomography Lomo'Instant

5. Kodak MINI SHOT

Many people think of Kodak as just a film brand, but they actually produce instant cameras as well. The Kodak MINI SHOT allows users to print photos through their phone and uses their own 4PASS thermal dye sublimation technology, which can print yellow, red, blue, and a protective coating onto the paper to make the final product waterproof and fingerprint-proof, making it easier to preserve. The series has multiple models to choose from, catering to players with different styles, such as retro and playful.


Precautions for using instant cameras

1. Light and shadow

As instant cameras do not have a way to preview the finished photo, many people often find that the photo is overexposed or underexposed after obtaining it. Generally speaking, in well-lit environments such as outdoors on a sunny day, instant cameras do not need to use the flash. Users can turn off the flash to avoid overexposure. Additionally, as black and white film is more sensitive to light than colour film, if the camera allows for adjusting the exposure value, users can set the exposure value to a negative value when using black and white film.

2.   Colour

The colours of instant camera photos tend to be light, which is more noticeable when there is sufficient light. Therefore, when taking photos, users can consider shooting against a colourful background or scenery, or wear bright-coloured clothing to achieve better photo results.

3. Shooting distance

The shooting distance of some cameras may be too far, causing photos to be out of focus when taking selfies. Users can place the camera in a suitable position or mount it on a tripod, then use the self-timer function to take photos, or purchase a camera with a shorter shooting distance that is easier to hold. As for regular photos, the ideal shooting distance is between 1 to 3 meters, and less than 1 meter may also result in photos being out of focus.

4. Composition errors

Unlike regular cameras, the viewfinder and lens of an instant camera are positioned differently, which can cause framing errors. For example, if the viewfinder is located in the upper left corner of the camera, you will need to shift the lens to the left while taking a picture to ensure the framing stays centered. Additionally, because the image seen through the viewfinder is narrower than the actual photo, you can shorten the distance to the subject to make it appear larger in the final photo.

How to preserve instant camera photos?

1.  Avoid direct sunlight

Taking Polaroid photos as an example, they can be preserved for decades as long as they are not directly exposed to sunlight.

2. Keep cool and dry

Older Polaroid films may be corroded by moisture and high temperatures, while newer films may have a longer lifespan due to improved technology. However, it is still best to keep them in a cool and dry place. You should also avoid storing them in a damp-proof box, as the chemicals on the film may deteriorate and damage the photos.

3. Create a photo album

Just like regular physical photos, instant camera photos can also be made into photo albums for safekeeping. Photos stored in photo albums have less exposure to oxygen, which can prevent dampness and moisture to a certain extent, and achieve the effect of extending their lifespan.

Create a personalised instant camera photo album!

If you have a lot of instant camera photos and are worried that they may corrode or get damaged over time, you can consider using Capture.HK's album digitisation service. The memory experts at Capture.HK will digitise your photos and use powerful image enhancement technology to remove glare and correct colours, while ensuring that the original photos are not affected. After digitisation, instant camera photos can not only be permanently preserved, but also conveniently shared with family and friends to cherish precious memories. Click the link below to learn more about the services offered by Capture.HK now!

*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.

Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.

Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.


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  • Instant Camera Buying Guide (including 2020 latest model comparison recommendation) - Yoho
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  • 【A Must-Have for Hipsters】Preserve Memories with Photos! Comparison of 4 Popular Instant Cameras - am730
  • 【Turorial】4 tips for taking great instant photos - unwire
  • How long can Polaroid photos be preserved? - 知乎

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