Polaroid closed its last factory in 2008 and a little bit of everyone’s childhood died. In the past decade, however, a number of camera manufacturers, including Leica and Fujifilm, have designed their own takes on the instant camera; and in 2014, The Impossible Project rode that wave by purchasing Polaroid’s old machinery in order to continue to make the film for old Polaroid cameras. Instagram and Snapchat have their place; Polaroid’s place is in your beach tote.
The Spontaneous Purchase: The Polaroid Snap will run you one third of the price of a Leica Sofort ($299) and does effectively the same exact thing. Like the Polaroid cameras of yesteryear, every photo the Snap takes is printed — it’s a 10MP camera, so don’t expect the photos to blow you away. However, the Snap also saves digital copies of your photos can to a microSD card, so you can back up your photos on your computer or share them on Instagram if your phone has a microSD slot. The 2×3-inch paper costs about $13 for a 20-pack (which ain’t cheap).
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10
The Selective Printer: The new SQ10 is similar in style to Fujifilm’s other Instax cameras, like the Instax Mini ($60+) and the Instax Wide ($300), but it’s the first one to actually function as a digital and an instant camera. This allows you to selectively print the photos you take; you won’t find yourself wasting a roll trying to properly frame a dog. You can even add filters or adjust exposure before you print. The autofocus is surprisingly fast, and the flash is decently bright, but don’t expect the SQ10, with its 3.6MP digital image sensor, to take the most epic Instagram photos. And while you can be selective, remember that a 10-pack of film costs $17, so make absolutely sure you’re happy with your photo before printing.
Mint InstantFlex TL70 2.0
The Outlier: The InstantFlex TL70 2.0 is pretty incredible. Its twin-lens reflex design allows you to manually focus through the viewfinder — no other instant camera offers that functionality; you can set the shutter speed for long exposures, too. It uses the same film as the Fuji Instax Mini — $12 for a 20-pack — and runs on AA batteries. Granted, you’d have to be really into instant cameras, or retro design, to spend nearly $400 on this.
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