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In the era of modern digital photography, it’s easy to forget how much of a novelty Polaroid cameras used to be. Today, you can snap a picture, look at the viewscreen, and know how the image will look instantly. But, a few decades ago, if you wanted instant pictures, you had to purchase a Polaroid camera. With a Polaroid, you snap an image and the picture is instantly ejected from the front of the camera. Then comes a few minutes where you painstakingly wait for the image to appear slowly out of an opaque surface. It’s a lot of fun, and in this article, we’ll examine the best vintage Polaroid camera available today.
Polaroid cameras represent something of outdated technology, but they also have advantages over digital cameras. There’s something special about a Polaroid because there is no negative. The image you have in your hand is the only image that exists in the world. With the constant replication of digital data on the internet, the uniqueness of an image captured on Polaroid is rare in our modern world. Polaroid cameras are great for parties and other social gatherings. A Polaroid image makes a fantastic memento that you can share with family and friends.
Best Vintage Polaroid Camera FAQ
Just as we often use Xerox as a generic term for copiers, we often use Polaroid as a generic term for instant cameras. Polaroid is a company that is most famous for its line of instant cameras. Instant cameras eject a print from the camera body that develops in around ten to fifteen minutes. No matter how old you are, it never gets old to watch or shake a developing Polaroid image and wait for the image to emerge on the face of the print. In order to get an idea of what is the best vintage Polaroid camera for you, here are some terms and concepts you need to know.
What Is the Best Vintage Polaroid Camera?
Choosing the best vintage Polaroid camera depends on your photography objectives. Modern instant cameras often have hybrid capabilities which mean they are combination digital cameras with portable printers. Many Polaroid cameras have LCD screens to preview the image and are even Bluetooth compatible so you can print images from your phone or other devices. Some cameras are very compact but only make a small print. Other instant cameras have nice artistic shooting capabilities.
2. Is Film Expensive?
Instant camera film does not have a developing cost like you get with traditional camera film. However, the cost of instant film is more expensive than traditional film. Polaroid and Fuji are the main manufacturers of instant film and both color and black and white film are available. There are several film sizes and not all modern film is compatible with older cameras.
3. Why Are Instant Cameras So Large?
Instant cameras are large because they eject a complete size print. The film you are shooting with is, therefore, the size of the final print. The best vintage Polaroid cameras have a large storage space that accepts the film cartridge. Some vintage cameras fold down, but most instant cameras are large and bulky.
4. Is It Easy to Load the Film?
Loading film into the best vintage Polaroid cameras requires a delicate touch. You must be careful not to touch the soft areas on the film cartridge and to keep the camera and the cartridge clean during loading. The process is simple, but you should take care the first time you attempt to load in a new film cartridge. Because of the expense of instant film, you don’t want to ruin a film cartridge during reloading.
5. Is Fujifilm Instax Film Compatible with Polaroid Cameras and Vice Versa?
Yes, they are the same; you just purchase the correct film size cartridge for your camera.
How We Reviewed
We reviewed the products in our best vintage Polaroid camera list on a variety of features. We looked at the price both for the camera itself and for the replacement film cartridges. We also looked at the overall design aesthetic of the camera body. Many of the best vintage Polaroid cameras are hybrid digital/instant cameras with LCD displays and memory card slots. Finally, we discussed the overall print quality and print size. For each camera on our list, we included pros and cons, along with warranty information.
Overall Price Range
The price range in our best vintage Polaroid camera list ranged from $90 to $280. The inexpensive cameras were basic point and shoot cameras that are simple to use with few shooting modes. More expensive cameras were digital/instant camera hybrids that feature LCD displays and a variety of lenses and filters.
What We Reviewed
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- Polaroid Snap Touch Portable Instant Print Digital Camera
- Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 VF
- Polaroid One Step Close-Up 600 Instant Camera
- Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Hybrid Instant
- Leica Sofort Instant Camera
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
- Polaroid Originals 4723 Polaroid 600 Camera
- Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
- Polaroid SX 70 Vintage Camera
- Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera
Polaroid Snap Touch Portable Instant Print Digital Camera
The Polaroid Snap Touch Portable is a powerful camera in a compact an attractive package. This camera has a lot of features which make it an ideal choice for anything from parties, to work, to travel. The Snap Touch combines many features from traditional Polaroid cameras with the features of modern digital cameras to create a new and unique photography device. An LCD touchscreen display lets you preview the images you want to print, and you can even add filters and Emojis to the final product.
The Snap Touch has a memory slot, so you can make a digital and a physical copy of every image you take. This camera essentially works as a portable printer, and it’s Bluetooth capable so you can even print images you took with your phone or other devices. The digital camera is 13MP, which is more than adequate for most purposes. The images you print have a sticky back and are also water and tear-resistant. The camera comes in black, blue, pink, blue red and white. This is a really fun camera.
- Bluetooth capable
- Attractive design
- Sticky back, durable images
- 13MP camera with lots of features
- LCD viewscreen
- Images are small
- Images are not vibrant
- Must purchase additional paper
The Polaroid Snap Touch Portable comes with a one-year warranty.
Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 VF
The Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 camera features the larger body shape of a traditional Polaroid camera. This camera does not have an LCD viewing screen to view images prior to printing. The camera charges via an included USB cable and will last up to 60 days or 20 packs of film. There are a variety of features including a self-timer, on/off flash, and a switch to adjust image brightness.
The camera is very easy to use and each film pack takes eight images. There is an LED indicator on the top of the camera body that shows how many images you have left. The pictures take around ten to fifteen minutes to develop and should be kept warm and out of bright light during the development process. The camera is available in coral, white, graphite, stranger things, and summer blue. Refills are approximately $30 per pack of sixteen images.
- Simple to use
- Long battery life
- Multiple color options
- Refills are expensive
- Camera is bulky
- No LCD viewscreen
The Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 comes with a one-year warranty.
Polaroid One Step Close-Up 600 Instant Camera
The Polaroid One Step Close-Up 600 is a very large instant camera. The unit measures 6.3 by 6.1 by 5.08 inches and weighs 1.33 pounds. The final image print is three-by-three inches and is a very good quality print. A slider on the front of the product allows you to choose between subjects two to four feet away and subjects that are at four feet to infinity. The slider is a great option for dynamic close-up shots. Replacement film is around $16 for eight photos.
- Close up option
- Three-by-three inch print
- Good color quality print
- Camera is very large
- No LCD display
- Expensive film refills
The Polaroid One Step Close-Up 600 comes with a one-year warranty.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Hybrid Instant
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 features an innovative square design. The prints are 2.4 by 2.4 inches with very good color and picture quality. There is a three-inch LCD screen that allows you to preview your pictures before printing. The camera also includes ten creative filters to help enhance your image. The camera also comes with an internal memory and Micro SD card slot so you can save the images, although the resolution is only around 4MP. The large prints and digital features make this a nice hybrid camera.
- Instax film refills are less expensive
- Large images
- Superior print quality
- Some digital controls
- Only 4MP digital images
- Square design is a bit awkward
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 has a one-year warranty.
Leica Sofort Instant Camera
The Leica Sofort Instant Camera has a square body shape and comes in black, orange, white, or mint. There is a minimal digital display on the back for shooting adjustments, but no LCD preview. Multiple shooting settings include macro, bulb, automatic, self-timer, party and people, sport and action, double exposure, and selfie. The Leica is best used with a neck strap because it is large like most Polaroid cameras. Film refills are the Instamax mini which measures 2.1 by 3.4 inches. Twenty photos cost around twenty dollars. This camera has a very good overall shot and print quality.
- Some digital control
- Compatible with Instamax film refills
- Multiple color options available
- No LCD display
The Leica Sofort Instant Camera comes with a two-year limited warranty.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Film Camera
The Fujifilm Instamax Mini 90 Neo Classic is a compact instant camera with an attractive, 60s era inspired camera body. The camera comes with several shooting modes including flash, macro, landscape, double exposure, and bulb exposure. The body is a combination of a metallic surface combined with brown or black imitation leather for a good aesthetic and comfortable grip. The camera does not have an LCD display, but it does have some digital controls. It shoots with economical Instax Mini refills that create a vibrant 2.5 by 1.8-inch prints.
- Great looking prints
- Many shooting modes
- Digital controls
- Small prints
- No LCD display
The Fujifilm Instamax Mini 90 Neo Classic comes with a one-year warranty that covers parts and labor.
Polaroid Originals 4723 Polaroid 600 Camera
The Polaroid Originals 4723 Polaroid 600 is a very basic, easy-to-use Polaroid camera. It takes 600 film that produces a large, high-quality print that measures 4.2 by 3.5 inches. The fixed-focus lens makes this an easy point-and-shoot camera, but it has the disadvantage of limiting your shooting options. There is no LCD display and no opportunity for previewing your images. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use camera, this is a perfect choice.
- Large prints
- Fixed focus lens
- No digital controls
- No LCD preview
The Polaroid Originals 4723 Polaroid 600 comes with a one-year warranty.
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 comes in a very compact body for an instant camera. The body design is attractive and comes in aqua blue, blush gold, graphite gray, ruby red, white, and a Taylor Swift limited edition. Auto exposure controls the flash and ensures the best quality picture. There are three color filters, orange, purple and green, that can be fitted over the flash to create artistic images. The camera also includes a 10-second self-timer. It shoots on Instax square format which produces a 2.4 by 2.4-inch image.
- Good auto shooting features
- Small print
- No preview
- Limited shooting settings
The Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 comes with a one-year warranty.
Polaroid SX 70 Vintage Camera
The Polaroid SX 70 Vintage camera is kind of the iconic Polaroid camera. This camera features a chrome-plated plastic body with genuine leather covering. The camera folds down from a bulky triangular shape to a small square about the size of a hardcover book. The camera features single lens reflex viewing and focusing. There are no digital controls. This is a simple, point and shoot camera that folds up for convenient storage and for travel. Shoots on SX-70 film that Polaroid stopped manufacturing in 2006.
- Folds up for easy transport and storage
- Simple point and shoot
- Iconic design
- Polaroid no longer manufacturers the film
- Vintage camera that is difficult to find
- Minimal controls and shooting modes
The Polaroid SX 70 Vintage camera is not currently manufactured by Polaroid. You will probably find this camera in an antique shop or on Ebay, and you are not likely to get a warranty.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera
The Lomography Lomo-Instant wide camera provides a lot of versatility with three interchangeable lenses. Choose from regular, long exposure, or multiple exposure shooting modes. The camera also comes with red, yellow, blue and purple flash filters for more creative shooting. A small, LED display helps you keep track of exposures and the number of frames you have left. Shoots with Fuji Instax wide film that creates a 4.2 by 3.3-inch print.
- Multiple lenses
- Color flash filters
- Wide shooting
- Artistic shooting modes
- Separate lenses require a case
- The white camera body is prone to smudges
The Lomography Lomo-Instant wide camera comes with a limited one-year warranty.
Any of the cameras in our best vintage Polaroid camera list make a great camera for a variety of purposes. Instant cameras are a lot of fun at parties and at social events as they can provide a one of a kind memento that you can carry with you. There’s something about a physical photograph that makes it more treasured than a digital image sent via email. Our choice for the best vintage Polaroid camera was the Polaroid Snap Touch Portable.
The Snap Touch is a compact, attractive, and powerful instant camera. We loved the hybrid LCD display and the fact that you can instantly send photos from any Bluetooth enabled device for printing. Have fun experimenting with your instant camera. The best vintage Polaroid camera brings a whole new twist to photography!