If traditional photography was a revolution, imagine when the instant camera arrived. The magic of being able to see and touch the photo instantly in a matter of seconds. Brands of instant cameras like the famous Polaroid, Fujifilm or Kodak were made with a market that today goes back to overcome thanks to that nostalgia for touching the photos, enjoy the development process and a little vintage fashion.
How does an instant camera work?
Although at first, you might think that the camera does the development, in reality, the instant film is the protagonist in this process. Each film is sensitive to light like the reels of analog cameras and is therefore capable of capturing the image when the shutter is opened.
To be able to fix the image to the film, each one contains some “bubbles” with chemical substances like those that we would find in a photographic laboratory, when the instant film leaves the camera, goes through rollers that crush the “bubbles” with these substances, distributing them throughout the film and revealing the photo.
There is another type of cartridge for instant cameras that work with heat. Through the temperature they make react to crystals embedded in the film coated with the polymer, coloring them with pigments.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is currently the most sold model of instant camera, with a decent price-quality ratio for those who want to enter the world of instant photography. It is great as a camera to give to children as well as adults. It is available in various colors and kits with Instax Mini sheets included.
It has details such as a mirror for selfies placed right next to the lens, macro lens that allows you to approach objects up to 35cm (improving the lens of the previous model, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8) or a wheel to adjust the brightness.
As a curiosity, the Instax Mini 9 has help capture by a led placed next to the exposure dial that tells you which mode is best for each scene, although you can do it manually if you want. The ways that are available are interior with opening f / 12.7, cloudy with f / 16, sunny f / 22, very bright f / 32. To improve indoor exposure, it has a flash that although not very powerful, Fujifilm has equipped this camera with a High Key mode that enhances the shots in dark or interior places.
Photographic film Fujifilm Instax Mini brightness
Paper compatible with Instax Mini cameras, and those that use 54 x 86mm paper. It has a maximum development time of 5 minutes, and it is recommended to place the leaf near the body to transmit heat and make the colors more vivid.
You can find it in several packs of 1, 2, 4 or 10 packs of 10 sheets each. Prices vary from $11.25 to $92.84 for the box of 10 packages.
Perhaps one of the most interesting instant camera models in the market. It uses Instax Wide film, a format that is twice as large as the Instax mini, with a sheet size of 86 x 108mm and a photo of 62 x 99 mm. The worst is that it works with batteries, so it is highly recommended to use rechargeable batteries so that the expense between film and batteries is not higher.
Its strong point is undoubtedly the size of the film used, the large photos are beautiful, and the result is much more professional than the Mini 9. When using such a large format, it is normal that its size is considerable (16,8 x 9.5 x 12.1 cm) and weigh about 612 grams. The price of each photo concerning the Mini models is 14 cents difference.
Photographic film for Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
The size of these sheets is 86 x 108mm, and ten sheets are included in each package. They have a panoramic format, ISO 800 and little grain. It takes about 5 minutes to reveal itself and can be found in packs of 1, 2, 5 or 10 packs of 10 sheets each, its price ranges from $14.51 for ten sheets to 93, 30 euros for the 100-sheet pack.
There is also a black-white instant film version, the Instax Wide Monochrome for $14.79, with a maximum development time of 1 minute and compatible with the same cameras.
It’s compatible with:
Fujifilm Instax Wide 210
Fujifilm Instax Wide 200
Fujifilm Instax Wide 100
Fujifilm Instax Wide 500AF
3. Leica Sofort
The thing begins to get serious, Leica entered 2016 by surprise in the instant photography game with the Sofort model (which means “on the spot” for $340.25.
Its objective is an Automatik-Hektor of 60mm with an opening f / 12.7, equivalent to a 34mm in Full frame, and we have a sensitivity of 800 ISO. In focus it allows us to choose between macro from 0.3 to 0.6m, portrait mode from 0.6 to 3m or infinity. The film format used is 62 x 46 mm, so yes, it is compatible with Fujifilm’s Instax Mini photo film.
It weighs about 305 grams, so it is perfect for carrying anywhere and its dimensions being 124 x 94 x 58 mm.
Film for the Leica Sofort instant camera
There are sheets for the Leica camera with the name Sofort Film but if you want to save some money go directly to the spare parts of the Fujifilm Instax Mini. The price of each photograph is about 79 cents.
4. Polaroid 600
A classic of instant photography, many people, know these cameras as those Polaroid cameras that print the photos themselves and this model Polaroid 600 of the 80s is perhaps one of the most desired.
To get it you can go to Amazon if by chance they were selling one at a decent price or go directly to old or eBay pages.
The price does not usually exceed 40 or 50 euros in the secondhand market so it should not be difficult to get one.
Sheets for Polaroid 600
To get a film for this model, you will have to look for cartridges manufactured by The Impossible Project, which was the company that was in charge of keeping this and other models alive. The price of the round of 8 pictures is about 29 to 20 euros, so each movie comes out for an average of 3 euros.
You can buy them on Amazon, although without a doubt, your best price will be found on eBay.
Within all the models that we have seen, perhaps the Polaroid Snap is the most looks of this century. This instant camera is the closest thing to carrying a digital compact camera. Interesting, right?
They have connectivity with smartphones to edit your photos with your favourite app. It is perfect for those who do not want to give up the essential features of today’s cameras and a more modern design in a Polaroid instant camera.
Among its features include:
Inside there is an integrated ZINK printer
This model has no screen or WIFI
The size of the photos is 5 x 7.6 cm
It has a 10-megapixel sensor and micro SD card slot
Their compatible cartridges have the adhesive backing.
Its objective is equivalent to 28mm f / 2.8
The battery is not removable
Its price ranges from 99 euros to 149 depending on the colour you choose, if this is not a problem for you, you are going to save some good money for the cartridges.
As for the sheets, use the Polaroid Premium Zin Paper cartridge, they are packages of 20 photos up to 200, the price for the 20 photos is $17.52. Each photograph comes out for $1.47buying the pack of 20 sheets.
There is a more current model with a 3.5-inch touch screen, the Polaroid Snap Touch. The design does not change anything but having a display to preview the photos is a significant improvement over its predecessor, yes, the screen is paid, this camera goes up to 180-195 euros.
Other novelties are:
Possibility to record video and save them to the microSD card.
The possibility of dividing a photograph into 4 or 9 parts to print them in several photos and to join them to have a larger one.
Sheets for Polaroid Snap and Touch
The two models use the same spare part, the Polaroid Premium Zink Paper, the minimum package is 20 sheets. These cartridges are compatible with Polaroid Snap Z2300 cameras and SocialMatic and instant zip printing.
It may interest you::
Are they worth the instant cameras?
It all depends on personal taste if you have never lived the experience of having the photo on paper instantly; it may be a good idea to get one and enjoy it. I also see them as a good way of introducing children to photography, accustomed to seeing the photos on the phone hallucinate when they see how they come out in a few seconds.
You should think about the cost per photo of each camera, the Instax Mini have affordable spare parts, and Amazon usually puts packs of offers, so you can buy a large box and have sheets to bore you.
If you want something more professional buy the Wide, the quality is much higher than the Mini, and it does not look like a toy. The choice is yours!