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8 best instant cameras to buy for fun and retro snaps

Tired of soulless smartphone snaps? We’ve got the best instant cameras for nostalgic prints with a modern twist.

By Poppy O'Neill | Last updated Apr 28, 2022

a lilac instax camera surrounded by pastel stationery

Let’s face it, we’ve all got hundreds of photos saved on our phones that’ll never, ever get printed. An instant camera turns this modern habit on its head, producing retro prints a matter of moments after you snap them.

In the past, Polaroid cameras took ages to print and you had to shake the photo to help it develop, Luckily today’s crop of instant cameras come complete with all mod cons - from selfie lenses to digital back ups. 

If you have a hankering for a bit of retro tech that’s an excellent ice breaker at parties, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered together the best instant cameras recommended by parents on the Mumsnet forums. 

Here are the best instant cameras to buy in 2022.

1. Best overall instant camera: Instax Square SQ1

an orange Instax instant camera

Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon

"I love my Instax and it has been a hit with children at family dos. One advantage is I can give pics to my dad (and other older relatives) that he can physically show people, but I could do that with a printer. The cost of the 'film' has come down a lot, you can get 20 photos for £7.00 if you look around" - recommended by Mumsnet user, sashh

Instax is the brand to watch out for when it comes to instant cameras, and its Square SQ1 is the best overall instant camera for 2022. We love the large square prints, long battery life and built-in selfie mode. Available in three muted shades, this is also a great looking camera. Mumsnetters like that you can share pictures instantly with friends and family, making the Square SQ1 perfect for parties. They also recommend shopping around for film as it can be pricey. 

Key specs

  • Film: 72 x 86mm
  • Power source: Battery
  • Dimensions: 60 x 130 x 120mm
  • Weight: 390g

2. Best budget instant camera: Kodak Printomatic

a turquoise and white Kodak printomatic instant camera

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

"We got our 7 year old daughter a Kodak Printomatic. It's an instant camera but we got it because you can also put a memory card in and transfer pics to the computer. If you don't put paper in it, it just saves the picture to the memory card"

At around £50, the Kodak Printomatic is one of the cheapest quality instant cameras you can buy. It’s compact, cute and allows you to keep shooting even as it’s printing. You can save photos to a micro SD card so they’re all backed up if you want to print more, or share them to social media. The prints are great quality and are coated in a protective layer to guard against smudges and water damage - plus they have a sticky back. 

Specs

  • Film: 50 x 76mm
  • Power source: rechargeable battery
  • Dimensions: 25 x 123 x 79mm
  • Weight: 200g

3. Best instant camera for beginners: Instax Mini 11

a lilac instax instant camera

Price: £69 | Buy now from Amazon

"I gave my now 11 yr old one a couple of years ago and she loved/loves it. It is basically a Polaroid so prints instantly. She’s built little photo books from it" - recommended by Mumsnet user, DrizzleandDamp

An instant camera is a brilliant gift for tweens. Ideal for sleepovers, the Instax Mini 11 comes in five pastel colours. The robust, curvy design is great for small hands, and its controls are easy to get the hang of. It prints out high quality, credit card sized pictures with a cool polaroid-style white frame. There’s a built-in selfie lens and mirror, but the flash can’t be turned off, which can be slightly annoying. 

Key specs

  • Film: 54 x 86mm
  • Power source: AA batteries
  • Dimensions: 60 x 110 x 120mm
  • Weight: 436g

4. Best instant camera for kids: Vtech Kiddizoom

a red vtech kiddizoom instant camera

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

"My 7 year old still loves her kiddie zoon camera. I don't usually like vtech but camera has been a massive hit"

The Kiddizoom has been a favourite among Mumsnetters and their kids for years, and now VTech has released an instant model. It comes equipped with three games, photo effects and even a comic strip maker. Kids will have hours of fun with this camera, turning their photos into colouring pages, making videos and taking selfies. It’s on the heavy side, compared to other instant cameras on this list, but it’s a pretty robust camera, designed for ages 5 and up. 

Key specs

  • Film: Not stated
  • Power source: Rechargeable battery
  • Dimensions: 48 x 134 x 92mm
  • Weight: 660g

5. Best polaroid instant camera: Polaroid Go

a white Polaroid Go instant camera

Price: £85 | Buy now from Amazon

"I have a Polaroid. It's really good but the film is expensive"

Polaroid make the coolest instant cameras because they’ve been doing it since 1948. The Polaroid Go has the iconic vintage shape, white frame on photos and easy-to-use controls. This one’s a more compact model than Polaroid’s other offerings, but it still comes complete with a self timer, selfie lens and double exposure settings. 

Key specs

  • Film: 66 x 54mm
  • Power source: Lithium batteries
  • Dimensions: 136 x 116 x 69mm
  • Weight: 330g

6. Best compact instant camera: Instax Mini 40

a black instax instant camera

Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon

"I got an Instax for my birthday, I’d wanted one for ages. I do love it but have found myself limiting the shots I take because the film is so expensive" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Pinkmouse6

With its grainy leather-like finish and sleek silver accents, this is one handsome camera. The controls and features are similar to the Mini 11, but with a more grown-up look. Also like the Mini 40, the flash can’t be turned off, which isn’t ideal. It prints credit card sized photos with a chic white border, and the print time is about 90 seconds. 

Key specs

  • Film: 54 x 86mm
  • Power source: AA batteries
  • Dimensions: 65 x 104 x 121g
  • Weight: 330g

7. Best instant camera for large prints: Polaroid Now+

a black Polaroid instant camera

Price: £140 | Buy now from Amazon

With the largest prints on our list, the Polaroid Now+ is compatible with Polaroid i-Type and 600 film. It comes with colour lens filters and there’s an app to unlock even more creative tools. It can also be mounted on a tripod, making it a great choice for pro photographers. The Now+ is perfect for taking full-sized, classic polaroid pictures that you’ll want to keep forever. 

Key specs

  • Film: 88 x 107mm
  • Power source: Lithium ion batteries
  • Dimensions: 150 x 112 x 95mm
  • Weight: 230g

8. Best instant camera and printer: Canon Zoemini

a teal Canon instant camera

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

"I've just bought myself a Canon ZoeMini which is the same as a Sprocket but wireless and cheaper" - recommended by Mumsnet user, Comeonmommy

The Canon Zoemini is light and compact, but multi talented. It’s bluetooth enabled, so you can edit shots on your phone before printing, or use it to print from your phone’s photos too. With space for an SD card, it saves a digital copy of each of your snaps, and its selfie mode is hard to beat. 

Key specs

  • Film: 50 x 70mm
  • Power source: Lithium battery
  • Dimensions: 121 x 22 x 8mm
  • Weight: 188g

What is an instant camera?

An instant camera is a camera that takes pictures and prints them too. Modern instant cameras use inkless thermal printing technology to produce high quality photos instantly. 

Which instant camera has the most affordable film?

The Kodak Printomatic is our pick for the best budget instant camera, and it also has the most affordable film at around £50 for 100 sheets. Price per sheet increases for smaller packs, and you can get 10 sheets for about £8. 

Are instant cameras worth it?

Instant cameras are a sure fire hit at parties. They look great and can be loads of fun, but the fact that we all have a pretty good digital camera in our pockets at all times means they’re never going to be a necessity. 

What’s the best instant camera to buy?

The best instant camera to buy is the Instant Square SQ1. It combines great looks with quality shots and value for money, so we think it’s a winner.

How we chose our recommendations 

We spent several hours trawling the threads in Mumsnet’s forums for recommendations from our users on which instant cameras they rated most highly. We were also on the lookout for poor reviews of products to avoid.

For our initial longlist, we also consulted recommendations from experts, consumer websites and print media, and made sure we included brands that regularly appeared in top 10 lists.

We then looked at reviews for each of our longlisted instant cameras to check that previous customers were satisfied with their purchases

In doing this, we whittled our longlist down and chose a top list that we think offers something for every style and price point.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.