We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Quickly Print Your Pictures With The Best Instant Cameras in 2022

  1. INKPOT 1080p Video Kids Digital 12MP Selfie Instant Camera
  2. PROGRACE Kids Camcorder Digital Video Instant Camera
  3. Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Black (9010) Bluetooth Connected Instant Camera
  4. KODAK Printomatic Zink Digital Instant Camera
  5. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Cobalt Blue Instant Camera
  6. Buyer's Guide

Photos and videos have become incredibly easy to share over the past few decades. We came from having to print our photos individually to being able to send ultra high resolution photos to others on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds. So, why are there so many instant cameras still available today? The answer is a little more complicated than you think.

You see, even given how high-definition digital photos are, they aren’t actually 'there'. Sure, they’re right in front of you on your screen, but you can’t access them as an actual photo, requiring you to open a virtual gallery on a piece of software.

In comparison, there’s something more personal and charming with actual printed photos - it’s a real picture, one that you can put in your wallet, hang on a picture frame, or place by your desk. These sorts of photos are great if you want to preserve the memory of the photo anywhere you go without having to rely on your smartphone to see them.

If you like the nostalgic and almost romantic appeal of instant cameras, then we’ve got a treat for you. We’ve picked out our five top instant cameras in 2022 and have reviewed each one. Check them out to see which one is right for you!

Our Five Favorite Instant Cameras

INKPOT 1080p Video Kids Digital 12MP Selfie Instant Camera - Best Overall

Many kids begin to figure out their career choice early on, and if you want to support your kid that’s into taking photos with your phone, then this can serve as a great birthday present. It’s a zero-ink instant print camera that’s safe for children aged 7 and up. The camera has some bright colors and a whimsical design which can appeal to kids, and it even comes with a pack of markers so they can make adjustments to any photo that they take. The device itself is actually fairly impressive - the camera captures 12 megapixel stills and supports 1080p video capture. The camera module can rotate 180 degrees, meaning your kids can even take selfies with the camera if they know how to operate the controls. Be sure to give your kids a rundown on all the functions of the camera before you give it to them so that they don’t accidentally break it or get stuck not knowing how to operate it.

  • Great for kids aspiring to be photographers
  • Surprising amount of features for price
  • Not really ideal for adults to use (for obvious reasons)

PROGRACE Kids Camcorder Digital Video Instant Camera - Runner Up

This camera is our second instant camera for kids on this list, and while it’s a lot smaller, this can actually work to your advantage. Smaller cameras are less likely to be dropped by your kids, as they’re lighter and easier to hold. Aside from this, there’s even a pair of holes that you can loop a lanyard around to make sure your kid never loses the camera while they’re using it. The camera comes with printing paper and a few other accessories, such as a set of colored pencils, a lanyard, and even a micro SD card and USB flash drive. We recommend that you pre-install the micro SD card and keep the USB flash drive for yourself until you’re confident in your kid's ability to use the drive properly. There are a couple of color options to choose from, with blue and pink varieties, so you can pick a color that your kid likes better.

  • Comes with a handful of accessories
  • Two color options
  • Limited camera quality

KODAK Printomatic Zink Digital Instant Camera - Contender

KODAK’s a pretty old name, and you probably remember it being around for decades. It was well-known during the age of film, and even now, their film products are still available for niche audiences. They have, however, adapted to modern standards too, and their digital instant print camera is a testament to this. At just under $50, you can get your hands on a good instant print camera, which is very affordable considering how expensive these sorts of cameras used to be. The Printomatic can print 2x3” photos in a matter of seconds. The device uses Kodak’s own Zink photo paper, a special type of paper that requires no ink cartridges to print on. The paper itself is durable and will last a long, long time. There are a few color options available, too, so if you find a particular color you’d like, you can get it. They have blue, black, green, grey, pink, and orange, and you can buy the camera by itself or as a bundle with paper.

  • Affordable
  • Many color options
  • Ink-free printing
  • Not very powerful

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Cobalt Blue Instant Camera - Also Consider

There’s a good chance that you’ve seen one of these cameras out in public before. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is one of the most popular instant cameras in recent years, for several reasons. For one, the camera itself looks great - it’s got a unique and charming shape with many colors for you to choose from, ranging from purple and pink to black and blue. The camera also has a powerful flash built-in, so you can take good photos even during nighttime. The camera runs on two AA batteries, so you’ll need to either have rechargeable AAs or buy a bunch of extra batteries if you’re going on a trip. The camera also has what they call automatic exposure adjustment, essentially making the photo turn out well more reliably. The Instax Mini 9 series is a solid choice for casuals photographers, professionals looking for a lighter touch, and anyone in-between.

  • Automatic exposure adjustment
  • Cute design
  • Solid bang for buck
  • Runs on AA batteries

Buyer's Guide

The best instant cameras will print out photos in perfect quality no matter the lighting condition. Here’s what you should know about instant cameras.

What Is an Instant Camera?

An instant camera is a type of camera that’s designed to instantly print out a photo right after it’s taken, hence the name. Modern instant cameras use a special type of photo paper that requires no ink cartridges, making the cameras easier to use, more accessible, and less wasteful.

Why Should You Use Instant Cameras?

You can take instant photos

Some may call it a mere novelty, but you can’t deny how cool it is to be able to print a photo right after you take it. You feel a sense of power when wielding an instant camera in a way, as you’re able to capture anything you see and instantly frame it on a physical photograph.

Poetry aside, being able to take physical photos instantly can be useful in certain situations. For example, if you somehow don’t own a phone, you can keep your photos saved and easily access them without having to open up your camera to view them.

You can share physical photos

This is the other big reason why instant cameras are so popular these days. In fact, many popular things today have some form of social aspect, and cameras are no different. Being able to literally hand photos to someone after taking a photo of them is a great way to connect with others.

You can take photos of you and your friends and share the photo with them to remember each other by. Alternatively, you could take photos of strangers (with their consent, of course) and make their day by handing them a free physical photo. There are plenty of possibilities, and these cameras open up new doors for connecting with others, ironic as it may sound due to their relatively low-tech nature.

Things to Consider When Buying an Instant Camera

If you want good-looking photos, then you’ll need to pay attention to a few details when picking your instant camera.

Printing Resolution

In many instant camera models, the main factor that limits the final output of the photo isn’t the camera but often the printing mechanism itself. Many instant cameras have support for up to 1080p recording and photos, but with a limited printer, that HD picture will look old and poor in quality when you hand it to someone else or frame it for yourself.

The somewhat blurry quality of instant camera photos may appear charming in a certain way, but if you care about the actual quality of your photos, you’ll need to find a camera that can print well. Don’t be fooled by the camera resolution and always check reviews that mention the quality of the printed photos.

Battery life

Instant cameras use a bit more power than a typical camera because of their printing mechanism. It has an actual mini-printer mounted within the device, which can drain quite a bit of power every time it’s used. As such, you’ll also want to consider how your camera is powered and pick a solution that you find most convenient.

There are currently two ways instant cameras are powered - either by internal rechargeable batteries or external batteries. Internal batteries make instant cameras function like smartphones in the sense that you have to leave them to charge when not in use. External battery models have the advantage of being able to replace batteries instantly, but you’ll need to buy plenty of batteries to be able to use the device regularly.

Instant Camera Price Range

For what they’re able to do, you’d be surprised by how cheap instant cameras can get. The cheapest instant cameras cost around $50, and the more expensive models will usually cost no more than $100. There aren’t many instant cameras above the $100 price point, and if you’re sticking to a budget, this is probably a good thing.

Some Buyers Also Ask

Q: Do I need an instant camera?

A: If you like being able to store physical photos or share them with others, instant cameras are a great option.

Q: Can you record video on an instant camera?

A: Depending on the model, yes. Some cameras can support recording at up to 1080p resolution. Don't expect to be able to print videos, though - we don't have access to that kind of technology yet.

Q: Do I need ink to print with instant cameras?

A: For the most part, no. Modern instant cameras use a special type of photo paper that requires no ink to print out a photo.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Go to top