Leica Sofort ($265)
Leica is most known for its impressive lineup of 35-millimeter rangefinder cameras, but last year the company rattled the photography world when it announced the Leica Sofort, a $300 instant camera that uses Instax Mini Instant Film.
One of the defining features of any Leica camera is its impressive set of lenses. The Sofort isn’t any different with its Automatik-Hector 60-millimeter, f/12.7 lens — arguably the best lens you’ll find in an instant camera. The device also features a built-in flash and mechanical shutter, which works alongside a slew of automatic shooting modes to capture 100 photos on a single charge.
It’s not cheap for an instant camera, but it’s hands-down the most affordable Leica you’ll ever get your hands on.
Instax Wide 300 ($90)
The Instax Wide 300 is the first of two cameras in our list that uses the larger of the two Instax formats. Unlike the standard Instax format, which measure in at 86 x 54 millimeters, the wide format measures in at 86 x 108 millimeters, which is exactly double the width. In doing so, you end up with an instant photo that’s more reminiscent of the original Polaroid instant film.
On the rear of the Instax Wide 300, there’s an integrated LCD that displays your remaining photos and controls for both flash and brightness. The camera also features a zoom lens, a unique feature among instant cameras. For those times when you want to take a hands-off approach, there’s a standard tripod socket — which, considering the size of the camera, may come in handy. The Instax Wide 300 uses a single set of AA batteries, which lets you burn through about 10 packs of film before you run dry.
Lomo’Instant Wide ($200+)
Deemed “the world’s most creative instant wide camera and lens system” by its creators, the Lomo’Instant Wide is one of the most capable cameras on the market for shooting Instax film.
Taking a vintage approach to its aesthetic, the Lomo’Instant Wide is anything but antique in its features. At the core of the camera is its 35-millimeter, f/8 lens, which has a lens cap that doubles as a wireless remote for the camera. It’s “Fully Programmatic Shutter” will nail the perfect exposure every time, and the Lomo’Instant Wide includes a long exposure mode, a multiple exposure mode, and a dedicated syncing port for additional creative control. The camera starts at $200, but there’s $250 option that includes additional lens attachments and color gel flash filters.
Fujifilm Instax SQ10 ($200)
This Fujifilm is arguably the most advanced instant camera to ever hit the market. Unlike the other cameras on our list, the SQ10 is actually a digital camera with a built-in analog printer. Additionally, it is the first Instax camera to use the new Instax Square format, which closely resembles original Polaroid film (albeit, a touch smaller).
The SQ10 captures 1,920 x 1,920-pixel JPEGs and can save 50 images to its internal memory. Files can be transferred to a computer via Micro USB and memory can also be expanded with a Micro SD card. If one photo in particular looks good, you can also immediately print one (or many) out onto the 1:1 ratio Instax film. The lens is a 28.5-millimeter equivalent with a fast f/2.4 aperture.
The technology behind how the Instax film is exposed is a bit of a secret, but it’s safe to say Fujifilm uses the same technology behind its SP-2 instant film printer. Being a digital system, the SQ10 also features autofocus with facial recognition, automatic exposure, multiple shooting modes, and a host of creative effects.