The best instant camera 2024: top retro prints from Polaroid, Instax and more

Choosing the best instant camera isn’t necessarily easy. From party point-and-shoots to hybrid models with advance photography modes, the instant camera market is more varied than ever. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to help you find the right option for your needs and budget.

Based on hours of in-depth testing, we think the best instant camera for most people is currently the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12. Thanks to its simple controls, the Mini 12 makes it easy for almost anyone to shoot and share analogue prints. Its film refills are also affordable, which means it’s an accessible choice. That said, we know it won’t be the perfect option for everyone.

Our round-up covers a whole range of instant cameras, each reviewed by our team of experts. We test every instant camera to see how it performs in the real world, checking factors such as build quality, ease of use and battery life, while also paying attention to the quality of images produced. We’ve distilled the results below, together with buying tips to consider when shopping for an instant camera.

Written by
Tim Coleman
Written by
Timothy Coleman

Tim is TechRadar's Cameras Editor, with more than 15 years’ experience in the photo video industry. As a tech journalist and freelance photographer, Tim has developed an expert working knowledge of what makes an excellent camera. He draws on this know-how when testing the latest instant cameras. Tim notes, “analogue nostalgia isn’t going anywhere. We’re seeing more and more hybrid cameras, which combine the retro appeal of instant photography with the convenience of smartphone connectivity. One key factor to keep in mind is the price of refill packs, which can significantly increase the cost of using an instant camera.” 

The quick list

The summary below will give you an instant overview of the best instant cameras available right now. When you find one that catches your eye, you can use the links beneath each entry to jump down to our in-depth assessment.

The best instant camera in 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for all of the best instant cameras in our list. We've tested each option extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations are genuine.

The best instant camera overall

The best instant camera overall

Specifications

Lens: 60mm
Focusing: Normal and macro
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: None
Film type: Fujifilm Instax Mini

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use
+
Accurate viewfinder

Reasons to avoid

-
Overexposes in bright light
-
Handling is a little slippery

Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 sample images

Buy it if:

✅ You’re new to instant photography: Easy to use and affordable to refill, the Instax Mini 12 is an accessible route into analogue shooting.

✅ You want rich vintage prints: Using the Fujifilm’s colorful Instax film, the Mini 12 produces lovely party prints with a rich vintage look.

Don't buy it if:

You shoot in sunlight a lot: The Mini 12 tends to overexpose images in bright sunlight, which isn’t helped by the always-on flash.

❌ You like perfect ergonomics: Its smooth, bubble-like design makes the Mini 12 a tricky, slippery camera to hold, and fiddly for selfies. 

We think the ideal instant camera should be easy to use, comfortable to hold and capable of producing attractive prints at a reasonable price. Picking up where the Instax Mini 11 left off, Fujifilm’s latest effort gets even closer to perfection. It turns on with a twist of the lens, which is more intuitive than previous editions. You still get the useful option of pulling the lens out to engage close-up mode, while the addition of parallax correction improves viewfinder accuracy, so what you see when framing is closer to what’s actually printed.

We found in our review that it still tends to overexpose snaps in bright sunlight, but repositioned exposure and flash sensors mean your fingers are less likely to affect readings, even accounting for the slightly slippery body. While prints can feel small, the Instax Mini 12 makes it easy for newbies to capture vibrant party snaps at a relatively low cost. If you’d prefer similar performance with a retro flavor, we suggest looking at the Fujifilm Instax Mini 40

Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 review

The best instant camera for big prints

The best instant hybrid for big prints

Specifications

Lens: 35-40mm
Focusing: Autofocus
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Film type: Polaroid 600 & Polaroid i-Type

Reasons to buy

+
Perfectly sized prints
+
App versatility via Bluetooth

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier film than rivals
-
A little bulky

Polaroid Now+ sample images

Buy it if:

✅ You want larger prints: The 3.1in square format of Polaroid prints is generous, and larger than the rival Fujifilm Instax format.

✅ You like lots of modes: The option to experiment with lens filters and shooting modes in the partner app adds creative potential.

Don't buy it if:

You have a small budget: When you factor in the cost of film refills, the Polaroid Now Plus is an expensive camera to run.

❌ You want a portable camera: With the classic Polaroid look, the Now Plus is a relatively bulky bit of kit that’s too big for a pocket.

Combining the boxy form factor, dual-lens autofocus and detailed image quality of the Polaroid Now with the Bluetooth connectivity of the OneStep+, we think the revamped Now+ is Polaroid’s most complete instant camera to date. Connecting to the updated smartphone app unlocks a realm of creative shooting modes: in addition to self-timer, double exposure, light painting and manual modes, there’s now an aperture propriety option for experimenting with depth of field, as well as a tripod setting for use with the screw mount underneath. 

While the Now+ remains as easy to use as any point-and-shoot, we found in our review that it’s also a great option for getting creative. What limits this creativity somewhat is the cost of Polaroid I-Type film, which makes you think twice about wasting shots. But when you get it right, we found in testing that results are just as instant photos should be: delicious, vintage-style squares that are large at 4.2x3.4in (with a 3.1in image area).

Read our in-depth Polaroid Now+ review

The best hybrid instant camera

The best hybrid instant camera you can buy

Specifications

Lens: 28mm
Focusing: Autofocus
Flash: Built-in
Self-timer: Yes
Film type: Fujifilm Instax Mini

Reasons to buy

+
Best-looking instant camera
+
Fun image effects
+
Bluetooth printer for phone snaps

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor digital image quality
-
Portrait-only UI

Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo sample images