While the world of photography has, for the most part, gone digital, there's still something about a physical print that can make you smile. So, it's no surprise that instant printers are seeing a resurgence. But unlike the big, clunky Polaroids of yesteryear, the latest ones are tiny, pocketable cameras that can spit out cute little photos for sharing and displaying. And among the best is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 (opens in new tab), which comes in a series of fun colors and includes useful features like a selfie mode, automatic exposure, and slow synchro so you can still get good photos, even in low light situations. It's a fun little camera that is even better when purchased in a kit that comes with film and other handy accessories.
Best Overall: *Instax Mini 11 *
Instax Mini 11
Made by Fujifilm, a company with a long history in the photography business, this camera is a cut above the rest for several reasons. First is the compact design: it measures just 107.6 x 121.2 x 67.31 mm and weighs a mere 293 (without its battery, strap, and film, but those items don't add tons to the overall weight anyway), making it a perfect camera to pop into your purse, backpack, or even fanny pack or large pocket. Power by a pair of AA batteries, it is compatible with Instax film packs, which usually come in packs of 10 with plenty of cool options, including the new Mini Blue Marble and Square White Marble patterned ones.
With round, soft edges and pastel colors, it's an ideal camera for teens and tweens. Insert the credit card-sized film (5.4 cm x 8.6 cm), snap your photo, and the image will develop and print in about 90 seconds. The actual photo size, when accounting for the border, is approximately 2.4 x 1.8 inches, and you can print a straight photo or add fun personalized messages. Note that there's a slight shift between the viewfinder and the actual photo in close-ups, so you need to aim a bit more to the right to get the desired framing. Keep an eye on how many photos you have left using the film counter and film pack confirmation window.
A neat selfie mirror makes it easy to take a selfie pic by yourself or with friends by just pulling out the lens barrel to activate the mode and framing your shot (up to 50 cm away). Automatic exposure will sense the light and choose the right shutter speed accordingly to help prevent overexposed photos. With shutter speeds from ½ to 1/250 second, you can even get slow synchro for low light photos, and a macro mode means you can take pics from close up. The camera conveniently powers off after five minutes of idle time. Grab some film/paper and batteries, and you're off to the races!
Best for Retro Look: Polaroid Originals OneStep+
Polaroid Originals OneStep+
Revisit the '70s
Polaroid invented the instant camera category, and way back in 1977, the first OneStep model was released. This new version takes the simplicity and style of that retro camera and adds a modern spin on it. You can snap photos to instantly print on I-type and 600 film at 4.2 x 3.5 inches in size (3.1 x 3.1-inch actual photos).
Measuring 5.9 x 3.8 x 4.37 inches and weighing 1.08 lbs., it isn't the smallest nor lightest camera of the bunch. But it provides plenty of manual control thanks to Bluetooth and the companion Android or iOS app that lets you control exposure, light painting, and noise trigger remotely.
Note that while you'll get high-quality prints that you can tweak as desired before printing, it will take a good 15 minutes or so for them to develop. You can switch between a standard and portrait lens using the dual-lens system, the latter of which lets you take photos from 1-3 feet away.
Powered by a rechargeable 1,100mAh lithium-ion battery (recharge via USB), it offers an up to 60-day battery life per charge, which means it's an excellent camera to take on vacation. The camera also includes a flash and a self-timer. For those looking to harken back to the old days, it's the kind of camera that will spark nostalgia as soon as you set eyes on it.
Best for Pocketability: Polaroid Mint
Zink Polaroid Mint
Camera in your pocket
This tiny, handheld instant camera and printer can take 16MP photos on 2 x 3-inch sticky-back Zink paper that features Zero ink technology built right into the paper. The paper comes in packs of 20, 30, and 50 sheets.
The neat thing about this camera is you can snap shots vertically, just like you would with a smartphone. Except now, you can make prints right away as well, manipulating settings like color, black & white, or vintage. The camera automatically senses light levels and will trigger the flash in dark or dim places, so you get great photos, no matter the setting. Using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, you can print up to about 40 photos before it needs to be recharged. There's even an integrated selfie mirror to help you frame the best selfies.
The camera measures just 4.6 x 3.1 x 0.8 inches and weighs only 6 ounces, so you can easily slot it into your pocket to snap photos while out with friends. It comes with a starter pack of paper along with the charging cable and wrist strap and is compatible with microSD memory cards up to 256GB if you want to store photos.
Best for Connectivity: HP Sprocket 2-in-1
HP Sprocket 2-in-1
The HP Sprocket 2-in-1 is a super-connected instant camera and printer that is about the size of a smartphone. It can wirelessly print photos not only that you take with the actual device but from social media sites and other sources as well. Connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth to print photos from social media accounts and customize images using filters, borders, emojis, and more. Friends and family members can take turns connecting their devices to it to print customized pics.
Powered by a rechargeable battery, it has a scratch-resistant lens, tripod mount, and built-in selfie mirror. You can make borderless prints or stickers and save them to microSD cards if desired (purchased separately.) It uses Zink 2 x 3-inch photo paper, and this set comes with a pack of 20 sheets to get you started along with an 8 GB microSD card.
Measuring 3.05 x 4.8 x 1.14 inches, it comes in five fun color options and includes a wrist strap for comfortably carrying it around.
Best for Presentable Prints: Canon IVY CLIQ+
Canon IVY CLIQ+
Take group photos
Another compact and pocketable instant camera and printer, the CLIQ+ prints tiny photos onto peel and stick back photo paper that makes it easy to decorate a school locker, notebook, office desk, or other surface. Use the Canon Mini Print app to personalize photos using things like stickers, filters, and emojis. The app can also be used to remotely trigger the camera's shutter for taking selfies or group photos. The camera also has a built-in 2-inch selfie mirror.
To help ensure you get the best quality photos, the camera also has an 8 LED Ring light. Using Zink photo paper that has Zero ink, you can make prints in either 2 x 3 or 2 x 2-inch sizes. The paper is smudge-proof, tear-free, and water-resistant.
Measuring 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.8 inches in size, it's pretty small and easy to throw into your purse or even the pocket of your jeans or blazer. And with Canon's prowess in the photo world, the pictures might be small, but they are top-notch.
Best for Kids: *Dragon Touch InstantFun For Kids *
Dragon Touch InstantFun For Kids
Fun for kids
If you're looking for an excellent instant camera that young kids can use, this one is a great option. Designed for kids aged 4-11, it has a 2-inch color screen, simple five-button operation, and an anti-drop silicone design along with a durable lanyard. Kids can compose and print miniature photos on paper rolls – it comes with one on which kids can print up to 750 photos using built-in effects, filters, frames, cards, and line drawings. They can also decorate the prints using the included stickers and color pencils.
Kids can snap 8MP photos and selfies, timed photos, and even record short FHD videos or cyclic recordings when using an optional microSD card (up to 32GB in capacity.) Photos can include the date and time stamp and can be transferred via USB or card reader.
Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and with a built-in selfie mirror, the kid-friendly camera comes with the charging cable, lanyard, cartoon sticker, five print paper rolls, a color pencils set, and the Quick Start guide. Measuring 3.54 x 2.75 x 1.57 inches and weighing 1.1 lbs, it's a great way to help kids explore their creative sides.
Instant cameras are experiencing a resurgence, and there are various models to suit varying needs, whether you want something for fun, for young kids, or to bring you back to the old days of Polaroid instant photography.
While there are tons of great models out there, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 (opens in new tab) checks all of the boxes as a great starter instant camera that you can use to take fun photos and selfies to print and display on a variety of surfaces, keep in your wallet, use in a scrapbook, or share with friends and family. There are lots of paper options, from basic white to patterned, and ways you can customize the photos to make them more personal, even adding personalized messages. Plus, it has features that those who know a thing or two about photography will appreciate, including slow synchro for taking better photos in low light and macro mode for close-up photography. While the others use rechargeable batteries, the fact that this camera works on easily sourced AAs means you can keep spares with you while traveling to keep shooting without missing a beat. All of the cameras on this list are worth considering, but this one has everything you could possibly need or want in an instant camera.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Persaud resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and 8-year-old son, and while she takes tons of digital photos daily, she still appreciates the value of a tangible print.