Finding the best digital camera is on the front lines these days, but many still prefer using film. The best film cameras fit comfortably in hand and with your budget. Film photography requires you to step back, thinking about a shot, and frame it just right. After all, there's no delete button on a film camera. If you're one of the retro-cool photography buffs that still has a special place in their heart for film, check out this list of our favorite instant film cameras.
Perfect for all ages
The easy to operate Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is just plain fun. Perfect for any age or skill level, the Mini 9 has a viewfinder, a zoomable macro lens, a selfie mirror, and a built-in flash. This instant camera runs on two AA batteries and prints out photos that are small enough to fit in your wallet. The Mini 9 comes 13 colors, is comfortable to handle, and is lightweight enough to take anywhere.
Keep it classic
The Polaroid Originals OneStep+ is an update on a classic. It looks like the instant film camera your grandparents grew up with but also has a Bluetooth-connected app that lets you control the camera remotely. It's the best of both worlds. This camera gives you full manual control, the ability to switch between standard and portrait lenses, and works with any i-type and 600 films. The OneStep+ uses a built-in rechargeable battery.
For budding pros
Leica cameras are renowned for high-quality workmanship, attention to detail, and their expense. The Sofort is the most affordable Leica you can get today, and it's an instant camera. The body is compact and flat, so it tucks in a pocket or bag. On the back, you'll get a menu that rivals many digital cameras. This Leica has a three-zone manual focus system, an optical viewfinder, and it takes Instax Mini film.
Built-in editing software
The new Kodak Smile has a smart slide-to-open design that prevents the lens from getting scratched while you move from place to place. The slim profile Smile prints out HD quality pics on sticky-backed Zink paper. There's a backside LCD viewfinder to help you frame shots, and editing software is included in-camera for touching up images before printing. This Kodak model has a flash, microSD port, and its rechargeable battery is strong enough to print out 40 pictures on a single charge. There's a lot to smile about here.
A basic point and shoot
When you want a simple point and shoot camera that takes pics worth sharing, you want the Polaroid Originals OneStep 2. Look through the viewfinder, frame your photo, and snap it. It's really that easy! A fixed lens takes clear shots from as close as two feet away, and there's a built-in flash system for capturing indoor and low-light photos. The OneStep 2 accepts both i-Type and 600 films and is a good choice for all age groups.
An advanced instant camera
Fujifilm's Instax Mini 90 detects brightness, automatically adjusting the flash and shutter speed of the camera to give you perfect prints every time. It comes with a handful of mode settings, so you get clear images in any situation. The kids' mode, for example, lets you capture fast-moving subjects with faster shutter speed. Smart! The Instax Mini 90 is available in brown or black and comes with batteries and a neck strap.
Print photos or share digitally
The Polaroid Snap gives you the best of both worlds. You can print your photographs out and save them to SD card to share on social media or to edit on your computer. A 10MP sensor takes crisp, bright images. Pictures print out on eco-friendly Zink paper on the spot or are also saveable to a memory card. There's a built-in selfie mirror, a flash, and a charmingly retro design. What more could you want?
Crafted of heavy-duty cardboard, Jollylook's Mini is a vintage-looking instant camera with advanced settings not found in other models. You'll get a 110mm lens, a viewfinder, auto and manual shutter, and the ability to use seven aperture values. It's best for those who know a thing or two about camera settings, but also a good tool to learn photography. The Jollylook mini folds down to the size of a small box and uses Fujifilm Instax Mini cartridges.
A perfect point-and-shoot
Available in six bold colors, Kodak's Printomatic is a 10MP point-and-shoot that works for any age group. The wide-angle lens is just right for group photos and landscapes, and there's a built-in flash that turns itself on in low-light settings. Photos print out on Zink paper and are also saved to a microSD card so you can share them on social media or edit pictures on your computer. The Printomatic is a pocketable easy to use an instant camera that the whole family will adore.
When groups gather, you need a wide format camera in your bag, and the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 delivers. The unique combination of a close-up lens that zooms and ultrawide prints make this a solid choice for photographing groups or landscapes. The Instax Wide 300 has a rear-mounted LCD, flash, focal zoom dial, and a tripod mount. It's a whole lot of camera in a small package.
Develop your skills, have some fun
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Digital cameras are the right tool for landscape and portrait photography, but instant film cameras win our hearts for spur of the moment photos. The best film cameras offer instant gratification in a tiny, fun package. They also help new photographers develop their skills faster. Because film costs money and images can't simply be deleted from memory, you learn how to compose pictures right the first time. My top choice these days is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. It's comfortable to hold and comes equipped with a macro lens, selfie mirror, and a built-in flash.
When you want a throwback camera with a little extra tech, reach for the Polaroid Snap. Pictures print out on Zink paper and can also be saved on an SD card to share on social media.
If you're a perfectionist, you will love the feature-heavy Kodak Smile. Editing software is built into the camera, so you can touchup photos before printing or sharing to social media.
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Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau