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Instant cameras are having a renaissance, and why shouldn't they? In a digital world, the allure of an immediate, physical photograph is more appealing and novel than ever. If you've been thinking about buying one, you're in luck because there's really only one you should buy and it's the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1.
Go big or go home
Not all instant photos are created equal. The popular postage-stamp prints of the (more affordable) Instax Mini 9 are adorable, sure. But the 1.8 inch by 2.4 inch prints are so small that they fade into obscurity at any distance of greater than about a foot.
The Instax Square SQ1, on the other hand, shoots 2.5-inch square photos that offer way more in terms of lasting appeal as an actual photograph, and an aspect ratio that's second nature to any Instagrammer.
The Square SQ1 (and its film) are a bit more expensive than the Mini, but it's worth it for pictures that are more "photo" than "gimmick."
Fuji film for the win
The Square SQ1's biggest competition is the Polaroid Now, which actually boasts larger 3.1-inch square photos, but despite that camera's iconic design and larger prints, Fujifilm's film has the edge.
Check out some sample photos if you are so inclined, but the essential detail is that Fuji's film is the better crowd-pleaser with its bright and consistent colors versus Polaroid's more washed out and artsy aesthetic. That's especially important since, odds are, you'll be giving a lot of these prints away to friends and family.
You're gonna be paying an arm and a leg for film either way though. There's no getting around that.
Analog is essential
Some of the other instant-print cameras in Fujifilm's line, like the SQ10 and SQ20, give the result of an analog camera, but have digital guts crammed inside. While that will give you some creature comforts like pre-print editing and photo review, the whole point of this exercise is to free yourself from that tyranny of tinkering.
If you must have more options, the older (less stylish) Instax SQ6 offers some feature like a landscape mode and double exposures, but unless you're specifically looking for those, the simplicity of the SQ1 is all but certain to treat you better.
The completely analog SQ1 won't always give you the perfect shot, no -- but that's what your phone's camera is for.