Polaroid cameras have captured the hearts of photography enthusiasts for decades. These iconic cameras provide instant gratification by developing photos right before your eyes. In this article, we will explore the world of Polaroid cameras, their history, different types available, and key features to consider, and highlight some of the best options in the market today.

Polaroid cameras revolutionized photography by allowing people to capture moments and instantly see printed photos. Unlike traditional cameras that required film processing, Polaroid cameras gave users the ability to hold physical copies of their photographs within minutes. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Polaroid cameras and discover why they continue to be popular even in the digital age.

What is a Polaroid Camera?

A Polaroid camera, also known as an instant camera, is a type of camera that uses self-developing film to produce instant prints. These cameras have a built-in printer that develops the photo shortly after it is taken, eliminating the need for external processing.

History of Polaroid Cameras

The invention of Polaroid Cameras

Polaroid cameras were invented by Edwin H. Land, an American scientist and inventor, in the late 1940s. The first commercially successful Polaroid camera, known as the Model 95, was introduced in 1948. This camera used a roll of film and produced black-and-white photos.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

In the following decades, Polaroid cameras gained immense popularity and became a cultural icon. The ability to see the photo immediately after taking it made Polaroid cameras a hit among casual photographers, artists, and even professionals. The unique square-shaped instant prints became a trademark of Polaroid cameras, creating a nostalgic appeal that resonated with many.

Types of Polaroid Cameras

Polaroid cameras have evolved over the years, offering different options to suit various photography needs. Let’s explore the different types of Polaroid cameras available today.

Instant Film Cameras

Instant film cameras are the classic Polaroid cameras that started it all. These cameras use specially designed film packs that contain both the film and the chemicals required for developing the photo. Instant film cameras capture the image, and the film is exposed to the chemicals inside the camera, resulting in a developed photo.

Vintage Polaroid Cameras

Vintage Polaroid cameras refer to the older models that are no longer in production. These cameras have a unique charm and are often sought after by collectors and photography enthusiasts. While they may lack some modern features, they offer a nostalgic shooting experience and the signature Polaroid look.

Digital Polaroid Cameras

Digital Polaroid cameras combine the convenience of digital photography with the fun and instant prints of Polaroid cameras. These cameras capture the image digitally and allow you to preview the photo before printing it. Once you’re satisfied, the camera prints the photo onto special paper, mimicking the look and feel of traditional Polaroid prints.

Features to Consider

When choosing the best Polaroid camera for your needs, several key features should be taken into consideration. Let’s explore these features in detail.

Film Type and Availability

One crucial aspect to consider is the type of film used by the camera and its availability. Different Polaroid cameras use various film formats, so it’s important to ensure that the film you need is easily accessible.

Image Quality and Resolution

Image quality plays a significant role in capturing memorable photos. Higher-resolution cameras produce sharper and more detailed images. Consider the megapixel count and image sensor quality when evaluating the image quality of a Polaroid camera.

Size and Portability

Polaroid cameras come in different sizes, ranging from compact models that can fit in your pocket to larger, more feature-packed options. Consider your photography style and where you intend to use the camera to determine the ideal size and portability for your needs.

Lens Options

Some Polaroid cameras offer interchangeable lenses, allowing you to experiment with different focal lengths and perspectives. This feature can expand your creative possibilities and enable you to capture a wider range of subjects.

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Autofocus and Manual Controls

Depending on your preference, you may want a Polaroid camera with autofocus capabilities or one that allows manual control over focus and exposure settings. Consider the level of control you desire over your photographs when selecting a camera.

Top Polaroid Cameras

Now, let’s explore some of the best Polaroid cameras available in the market today. These cameras have garnered positive reviews and offer excellent features for both casual and professional photographers.

1. Polaroid Originals OneStep+

When The Impossible Project purchased the Polaroid brand and announced the launch of Polaroid Originals, a new range of instant cameras harkening back to that golden age, the instant photography community was ecstatic. The OneStep+ is the follow-up to the OneStep 2 (yeah, we realize it’s complicated). It’s essentially the same camera as before, with Polaroid Originals making sensible refinements rather than reinventing the wheel, the most notable of which is the addition of an 89mm portrait lens for people shots and the integration of Bluetooth connectivity, which not only allows for remote shutter control via a smartphone but also several new shooting modes. Double exposures, light painting, and even noise trigger, which allows you to trigger the shutter with a brief, quick sound like a handclap, are examples. This is one of the most exciting and greatest instant cameras on the market, now upgraded and made even better, a no-brainer for any instant-photography aficionado looking to tap into that nostalgic atmosphere.

2. Fujifilm Instax Mini 40

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The lovely Instax Mini 40 exemplifies this. Instax cameras are knockabout fun with a touch of lo-fi flair. The Mini 40 looks the part with its elegant black-and-silver accent, and it’s wonderfully easy to use. There are no exposure adjustments or any controls at all; you simply point and shoot. This may be a little too basic for some users, but if you want to create instant graphics without having to worry about it, this is a terrific buy. Its simplicity also makes it a fantastic choice for children, who will quickly learn how to use it.

Instax prints are smaller than Polaroids, yet they still look excellent and develop at an incredible rate. Plus, let’s not forget that the film is less expensive to purchase, and these savings will build up over time if you’re a frequent shooter. The Instax Mini 40 is a great instant camera for both families and parties.

3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

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The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, available in brown or black, is Fujifilm’s sole instant camera with a rechargeable battery that the company claims will last as long as 10 (credit card-sized) film packs. With a retro appearance, it feels like it’s aimed at the photo enthusiast, with manual exposure settings and even the ability to disable the built-in flash if you think your photos are too bright. A double exposure mode expands creative opportunities for the curious (though outcomes can be hit or miss), as does a shutter-release button above the lens, which also serves as a selfie mirror (another shutter-release button is in the usual top-plate location). The advantage of this camera over a cheaper instant-print camera is that it has an LCD display strip on the back that shows your selected settings. As is customary, the viewfinder is small but functional, and the faux leather finish on the bodywork provides a touch of class.
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4. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

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The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the big daddy of the Instax print camera line, powered by four AA batteries rather than the normal two. Its almost medium format camera-like heft allows it to produce larger prints (it utilizes Instax Wide film packs rather than Instax Mini) that more nearly resemble regular print dimensions. Its bulk makes it unsuitable for selfies, but its plastic construction is lighter than you may think. This one is powered by a lever that encircles the shutter-release button on its bridge-camera-style handgrip and expands its 95mm lens, while the built-in flash is similarly massive (and automatic, save for a fill-in option). The only thing little here, weirdly, is the left-of-center viewfinder, which could have been larger, with prints emerging from the slit in the camera’s top plate. Control is limited to setting brightness and flash, but if you want instant copies that are closer to the dimensions of “real” images, this is the best alternative.

5. Polaroid Go

The Polaroid Go is a palm-sized camera that everyone will fall in love with faster than a photograph can be developed. Larger instant cameras balance exposures better, and competitor Instax Mini cameras give somewhat better indoor image quality – but neither is as much fun to use or will earn you as many friends, as the Go… which nevertheless produces pleasing photos. One thing to consider is that Instax Mini film is less expensive than Polaroid Go film, but you’ll also need to replace the Mini’s AA batteries, whereas the Go only requires a USB connection to charge. The Go also has double exposures, which you won’t get until you go for a more expensive alternative like the Instax Mini 90. The Polaroid Go is a fun and quirky tiny camera that will be the star of your next party and will deposit a limitless quantity of memories in your pocket or wallet. And if you have children, this could be the ideal camera for them to begin with. Don’t forget to pick up some new Polaroid Go instant film!

6. Fujifilm Instax SQUARE SQ6

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The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 is powered by two tiny CR2 lithium batteries (included), which the manufacturer claims will last 30 film packs of 10 shots each. To entice Instagrammers away from their smartphones, this camera mimics the look of the ‘gramme logo and provides 1:1 square-format photos while keeping its analog workings. Again, we get a variety of body colors and a selfie feature, as well as three color filters that attach to the flash and double exposure, macro, and landscape modes. Unsurprisingly, the camera employs Fujifilm Square film, which produces a 6.2×6.2cm center image size. As with most film-based instant cameras, the images are a little bleached when compared to a digital shot, but if you’re looking to entice your teen away from their phone and into the real world, you couldn’t do better than the SQ6. A newer Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 has recently been released, however, the older SQ6 is more affordable and has more functions, so this is the one to get.

7. Polaroid Now

The Polaroid Now is a nice addition to the Polaroid product range as well as a worthy addition to the increasingly congested field of instant cameras. It outperforms the OneStep2 in image quality because of its dual-lens autofocus system and enhanced flash, but it lacks the other capabilities (such as Bluetooth connectivity and remote trigger) available in the somewhat more expensive OneStep+. The Polaroid Now, on the other hand, is hard to match for pure point-and-shoot simplicity – and while the Instax Mini 11 beats it on price, we definitely like the full-size square prints that Polaroid offers. And, as much as we adore the Instax range, there’s nothing quite like holding a huge, boxy Polaroid when shooting old-school instant film. If you don’t require the added bells and whistles of the OneStep+, the Polaroid Now will not disappoint.

8. Kodak Smile Instant Print Camera

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The Kodak Smile Instant Print is a digital instant camera that combines the best of analog with the elegance of digital. This camera is as thin as a smartphone and employs Zink (zero ink) technology – it’s effectively a little printer with a lens, creating 2×3-inch sticky-backed prints. The sensor within the camera is a very modest 5MP (up to 10MP via interpolation), but for photographs on this site, you don’t need all the resolution in the world. Ultimately, the images it generates look more like printer images than instant shots – which isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but they lack the enchantment of instant film. With the ability to add up to 256GB of microSD memory, you may take as many photos as you like and then choose which ones to print. The internal battery keeps the camera slim, but you only get about 40 prints on each charge, which is significantly less than the 120-160 photos you get from Polaroids. The LCD screen is also on the basic side, so don’t anticipate the same level of fidelity as you would with a standard DSLR or mirrorless screen.
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9. Kodak Mini Shot 3 Retro

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Kodak’s Mini Shot 3 is a compact instant print camera that’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with anything too complicated. It doesn’t use Zink like the Kodak Smile above, but it does have a decent tiny printer that uses Kodak’s 4PASS all-in-one cartridges to spew out 3*inch by 3-inch square prints. The colors pop much more than Zink, and they are also said to remain longer. The camera itself is reasonably priced and running it isn’t prohibitively expensive, giving it an appealing alternative for anyone who wants to shoot immediately on a tight budget. It also takes 10MP digital images, which you may save to the app through Bluetooth (you must do this because there is no internal storage). A low-cost solution that is enjoyable for everybody, especially those who are not comfortable with using a camera.

10. Kodak Step

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Because instant film cameras may be costly to purchase and considerably more costly to keep loaded and shooting, the Kodak Step is a tempting option. The Step, which runs on inexpensive ZINK paper and has a 2-digit price tag for the camera itself, is unquestionably appealing to the budget-conscious.

It doesn’t have manual settings control or numerous shooting modes, but that’s exactly what will appeal to families and casual users; the Kodak Step is shooting simplicity itself. You point it, hit the big red button, and a minute or so later, you have a print in your hands. Digital copies of photographs are also saved to an SD card by the camera. It feels cheap and plasticky because it is, and if you utilize the white border or multi-shot modes, you’ll quickly find that the print of the photograph crooked. It’s a lot of fun, but don’t expect anything more.


Polaroid cameras have stood the test of time, captivating photography enthusiasts with their unique charm and instant prints. Whether you’re an artist seeking creative inspiration or someone who enjoys capturing candid moments, Polaroid cameras offer a delightful and nostalgic experience. Consider the different types, features, and models available to find the best Polaroid camera that suits your preferences and needs.


1. How long does it take for a Polaroid photo to develop?

The development time varies depending on the specific camera model and film type used. However, most Polaroid photos develop fully within 10-15 minutes.

2. Can I use Polaroid cameras for professional photography?

While Polaroid cameras are primarily known for their fun and casual use, they can also be used for professional photography. Many photographers incorporate Polaroid cameras into their workflow to capture unique and instant moments.

3. Are Polaroid cameras expensive to maintain?

The cost of maintaining a Polaroid camera largely depends on the film and accessories you use. Instant film packs can be an ongoing expense, and certain vintage models may require occasional servicing. However, modern digital Polaroid cameras eliminate the need for film, reducing long-term costs.

4. Can I edit Polaroid photos digitally?

Once a Polaroid photo is developed, it becomes a physical print. While you can digitize the print by scanning or photographing it, the original print itself cannot be edited digitally. However, digital Polaroid cameras allow you to edit the digital version of the photo before printing.

5. Are there alternative films available for Polaroid cameras?

Yes, there are alternative films available for some Polaroid camera models. These films are produced by third-party manufacturers and offer different characteristics and effects compared to the original Polaroid film. It’s important to ensure compatibility with your specific camera model before using alternative films.

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