Polaroid cameras are back: 6 instant-print cameras that are popular in 2021

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Most instant photo cameras require batteries, which can become expensive to replace. Instead, many users invest in rechargeable batteries to save money in the long run.

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Popular instant-print cameras

It’s not easy to find unique gifts, especially with so many high-tech options saturating the market and topping holiday wish lists. This year, however, a blast from the past is becoming one of the season’s hottest gifts: instant print cameras. 

Instant print cameras, including the iconic Polaroid, have emerged as some of 2021’s most popular retro gifts. While they’re nowhere as advanced as DSLR and smartphone cameras, there’s something nostalgic about the instant gratification of holding a photo minutes after snapping it. And considering instant print cameras are currently in stock, many shoppers have decided to order them now, ahead of the holiday shipping crunch

What you need to know about instant print cameras

Brief history

Instant film cameras were debuted by Polaroid in 1948. According to the company’s pictorial historical blog post, the camera came to be when Polaroid founder Edwin Land’s three-year-old daughter asked why it took so long to develop photos. 

At that time, developing photos was an involved process that took place only in darkroom labs over the course of several hours. Land would go on to invent the first instant photography camera and became one of the 20th century’s most innovative contributors to the world of photography and film. Later in life, Land was involved in technical innovations for defense technology and, at one point, became an advisor to President Richard Nixon. 

How instant film cameras work

Instant film cameras allow users to point, shoot and print their photos within minutes. Although they’re rather small devices, instant cameras house a complex chemical process that develops the film inside them. Once the process is complete, the camera ejects the instant photo, giving the photographer a tangible memory.

Why are instant print cameras popular again?

Instant print cameras are back in fashion for a multitude of reasons. They don’t exactly compete with DSLR or smartphone cameras; instead, they offer something different — and something special — to users.

  • Scrapbookers are big fans of instant film cameras, particularly because the process is quick and easy to snap a photo and add it to albums.
  • Instant film cameras are nostalgic for individuals who had original Polaroid cameras, and today, they’re having fun using the newer iterations.
  • Budding creators, including kids and teens, are reaching for instant cameras to hone their photography skills. 
  • Several users admit that instant cameras encourage them to live in the moment instead of hyperfocusing on staged selfies and overly produced photo-ops. 
  • A few instant print cameras embrace modern technology, such as internal memory storage or selfie modes, which lends them to more dynamic use than their predecessors.

How much you can expect to spend on instant print cameras

Entry-level instant print cameras range from $60-$80, whereas those with more features run closer to $90-$125. Deluxe instant camera sets, which come with instant film, batteries and other accessories, may run as high as $200.

instant film

And of course, there’s the ongoing cost of instant film, which starts at $13-$60 depending on how many sheets come in each package. 

Top instant film cameras of 2021

Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera

Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera

A timeless design now with new features, this Polaroid is equipped with autofocus to capture clearer images in vivid color. It also has a built-in timer so users can take selfies and group shots more easily. 

Sold by Amazon

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is an instant camera for all ages. Despite its budget-friendly price, the camera has premium features like a macro lens adapter for close-up shots and automatic exposure measurement. 

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Kodak Smile Instant Print Digital Camera

Kodak Smile Instant Print Digital Camera

This pocket-friendly Kodak instant camera is compatible with a mini USB cable so users can charge up via power banks or other devices. It prints HD photos within minutes, or it can save images to its memory or microSD card. 

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Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer

Canon IVY CLIQ+ Instant Camera Printer

Canon’s instant camera prints 2-by-3-inch photos on sticky-back film so they can be affixed to any surface, from scrapbooks to locker doors. It’s compatible with the Canon Mini Print app that customizes photos with frames, filters and emojis. 

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera

A throwback design, the classic Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 is perfect for selfies with a one-touch selfie mode and selfie mirror. It’s considered an ideal retro-inspired gift, especially with a textured case and brushed silver accents. 

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Dragon Touch InstantFun Instant Print Camera for Kids

Dragon Touch InstantFun Instant Print Camera for Kids

Kids as young as age four can start flexing their creative photography skills with this beginner instant camera. It has a built-in full-color screen and five simple buttons to help kids navigate shots. 

Sold by Amazon

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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