A Guide to Selecting a Polaroid Instant Camera
Nowadays, the majority of people try to save their photos in digital format, instead of keeping an album of physical photographs. There are also many types of photo scanners that can help you salvage old photographs by converting them to digital form. Digitizing photos allows you to correct any physical imperfections as well. But, surprisingly, Polaroid instant cameras are regaining popularity recently, among people who want that vintage, nostalgic look to their photos. And some function as photo printers as well.
The original Polaroid instant cameras started to appear on the market in 1976, with the characteristic innovative technology that can produce a picture for you that develops in minutes. But now, besides the Polaroid brand, other camera companies such as Fujifilm and Kodak also market instant cameras. And some of them incorporate interesting perks and features, such as a selfie mirror, the ability to hook up to a smartphone, or to take double-exposure pictures!
We’ll examine some of the offerings available nowadays among instant cameras. You’ll see that you can get the ‘70s gratification of an instant photo, together with the improvements in modern technology!
How do I take a picture with an instant camera?
The manufacturers of these instant cameras recommend the following steps, to get a successful picture:
Stand around 23 inches/60 cm distant from the subject you wish to photograph. That’s approximately arm's length.
Take the picture.
Wait 5 seconds after the film ejects.
Flip the light shield back.
Pull out the exposure.
Place the exposure picture-side down for 15 minutes, while it develops. Some customers suggest keeping a developing exposure in a warm place, like your pocket, so that the colors develop more quickly.
Types of Polaroid Instant Cameras
You’ll notice a variety of instant cameras on the market, which offer more than just a “point-and-shoot” method of receiving a hard copy of a picture. The Polaroid company presently has three instant cameras:
Polaroid Now: This is like the traditional Polaroid instant camera, with autofocus and a double-exposure option as well. It doesn’t have a memory card or any digital or Bluetooth capabilities.
Polaroid Now+: This is like the Polaroid Now, but it also has a Bluetooth-connected app to let you control exposure time, shutter speed, and more. There are also filters that come with it for specialty shots.
Polaroid Go: This is a small, compact camera that is half the size of the other Polaroid models. It also has a self-timer and mirror to help you take selfies.
Hybrid instant cameras: There are instant cameras that function as a printer as well. That is, besides capturing a photo and printing it out, they will allow you to print a photo from your smartphone as well. An example is the instax Mini Liplay 2-in-1 Hybrid Instant Photo Camera and Printer.
instax Mini Liplay 2-in-1 Hybrid Instant Photo Camera and Printer
What reviewers say
We went over some customers’ impressions of the Polaroid camera that they bought:
Keep film in the refrigerator: You should buy film in advance since you have to have film on hand to take any shots. The Polaroid Now+ provides around 120 exposures in 15 film packs. Experts recommend keeping the unused film in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. That will ensure that the colors on the film will remain vivid.
Best for outdoor shots: Customers who bought the Polaroid Now+ said that the indoor pictures came out dark, even if the room is well lit, and you use a flash! However, it proved to be adequate for outdoor shots.
Have a print ready immediately: One customer said that their Fujifilm instax camera doesn’t allow you to digitize the picture, but, at least you can print out a picture in real-time!
Here are some features that are worth looking for when selecting a Polaroid camera:
Autoselect shutter speed: Some Fujifilm instax cameras are able to select the optimal shutter speed, depending on the background and the light intensity. Also, the Polaroid cameras allow you to use their Smartphone app to adjust the shutter speed yourself. This is very useful in low-light situations.
Adjustable settings: Besides shutter speed, the Polaroid app also offers you a “light meter” feature, to detect how much light there is in a particular scene. You can also enter the aperture speed and the power of the flash, and whether you want to make a multiple-exposure shot.
Purchasing the camera with film: You can purchase film for your instant camera either separately, or along with the camera. Fujifilm offers a wide range of different borders for its instant film. You can choose between a black border, a pink border, a rainbow-colored border, or a decorated border.
An example of Fujifilm’s “Shiny Star” border for their instant film
Also, Polaroid offers a variety of film types: i-Type, Go, 600, SX-70, and 8x10 film. Which one is right for you will depend on your Polaroid model.
Double exposure feature: This allows you to superimpose two images on 1 film sheet. You do this by pressing the shutter twice, capturing both images on the film. On select Polaroid models, you can do this via their smartphone app as well. This feature also allows you to photograph a background the way you want it, and then get into the picture yourself!
Selfie mirror: The Polaroid Go Instant Mini Camera has a reflective mirror, to allow you to see how you look before you snap a selfie. It also has a timer that lets you select your pose before it takes a picture.
Accessories: There are a number of accessories that you can purchase along with your instant camera. Besides the instant print film that’s good for your specific model, Polaroid Now+ also offers a set of lens filters, such as Starburst, Red Vignette, Orange, Yellow, Blue, and more.
Polaroid lens filters
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Bundle
We studied some of the aspects of the latest generation of Polaroid instant cameras available nowadays. They have their drawbacks, in that the film is an extra expense, and you’ll only want to take a picture if you’re absolutely sure that it’ll come out just right. But, once you get over the learning curve and master how to use it, a Polaroid instant camera will give you pictures in minutes, instead of having to wait to get them developed in a photo-developing store! A definite advantage!