The 5 Best Polaroid Cameras for Creative Experimentation

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Capture moments and create memories with a Polaroid camera. We’ve put together a list of the best Polaroid and instant cameras on the market. Find out which camera is right for you.

Words by Aaron Chapman

Polaroid photographs have been embedded in popular culture since the camera was first released in 1948. The cameras sold out just as instantly as they produced romantic little thumbnails seemingly out of thin air. It was pure alchemy at the time. Thanks to Polaroid, the ‘1-hour photo’ was now less than 1 minute, and the photography landscape was forever changed.

Although initially marketed as an everyday camera for amateur hobbyists, the Polaroid Corporation cleverly endorsed artists like Andy Warhol, gifting him with free film. Warhol always kept a Polaroid camera close to his chest, capturing modest and instant moments of his friends, other artists and celebrities. These polaroid photographs are now among the most recognisable in history. 

Andy Warhol's polaroids.

Publisher Taschen has chronicled Warhol’s archive of polaroids into a hardcover book that can be purchased here.

These pocket rockets have irreversibly shaped the contemporary photography landscape, and are still the go-to for capturing spontaneous moments of raw beauty.

Okay, let’s get down to it. To save you the hassle, we’ve put together a list of the 5 best instant cameras found online. 

Polaroid Originals Sun 660 Autofocus Camera

One of the best Polaroid cameras (and the favourite here at Urth HQ) is the Sun 660, which was first released in 1981. Sporting the iconic Polaroid rainbow, the sleek outline and a retro finish make it a true vintage Polaroid gem, pleasing enough to rest on the mantelpiece or bookshelf in between use. 

Although you might find an original version, you can easily get your hands on a refurbished vintage Sun 660. Polaroid is admirably committed in their efforts to breathe new life into old cameras through expert restoration. Visit their website for more information about the Sun 660’s history.

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Fujifilm Instax Wide

The Fujifilm Instax Mini’s big brother is Fujifilm’s Instax Wide. While providing similar functionality and ease of use to the ever-popular mini version, the film for this camera is slightly larger (or wider), allowing greater image resolution. The Wide can be found on Amazon for under $150, which is slightly more expensive than the Mini that retails between $50 and $100.

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Polaroid Go Instant Camera

The Go Instant Camera is the smallest camera in the Polaroid range. It’s the perfect pocket companion and still packs a creative punch. Experiment with the double exposure function or set the self-timer for a family snap. No matter where you’re at in your photographic journey, this camera is the perfect analogue starting point, a portable sidekick for your next adventure.

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Polaroid OneStep+ Instant Film Camera

The Polaroid was made to make photography accessible and instant. Although conceived as an analogue technique, the Polaroid Corporation has sought to continue this mission in the digital age. Today, the Polaroid has evolved to incorporate various digital elements including Bluetooth connection.

The Go Instant Camera is the smallest camera in the Polaroid range. It’s the perfect pocket companion and still packs a creative punch. Experiment with the double exposure function or set the self-timer for a family snap. No matter where you’re at in your photographic journey, this camera is the perfect analogue starting point, a portable sidekick for your next adventure.

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Fujifilm Instax Mini

The Fujifilm Instax Mini is perhaps the most popular Polaroid-style camera because it’s small, affordable, and incredibly user-friendly. One of the only functions you have as the photographer is the use of an aperture ring that is categorised by a house (indoors), a cloud (overcast conditions), a small sun (partly sunny), and a big sun (bright conditions). Pretty simple! 

The other major benefit of the Fujifilm Instax Mini is accessibility. The smaller, credit-card sized film frequents the shelves of department stores, so restocking your easy-to-load film cartridge can be done without waiting for film to be delivered from specialised suppliers. 

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The Difference in Polaroid Film Types

Before investing in a Polaroid or Polaroid-style instant camera, it’s important to know which film your camera will take as the film size can vary slightly between models. Polaroid currently manufactures three main types of film, which include the following:

1. i-Type

2. 600

3. SX-70 

The main difference between the film types above, and why i-Type isn’t compatible with a vintage Polaroid camera, for example, is due to the presence or absence of a built-in battery. Polaroid offers a great resource on their website that outlines the differences between each type of film. See it here.

Fujifilm, who manufactures instant film under their sister brand Instax, also produces the following three sizes of film:

1. Mini

2. Square film

3. Wide film

While there are few film sizes, there are plenty of different Instax designs, allowing you to experiment with different border colours other than traditional white, as well as different background patterns.

Before purchasing any film, it’s best to check the packaging the camera comes in as the film type should be clearly indicated. Or if you open the film door, there may be a sticker that indicates the correct film for your instant camera. 

If you really want to play it safe, most Polaroid and Instax sellers typically offer both the camera and the appropriate film type as a bundle. 

How to choose a Polaroid camera?

When it comes to Polaroid photography, it doesn’t matter if you’ve never taken a photograph, or if you’ve been a studio photographer for the past 20 years. The fun is all the same and encourages your pursuit of creativity and your recognition of a moment. An instant that’s captured, developed and printed in 60 seconds — and that will now last a lifetime. Pick one that suits your price range, in a format you like the look of best, and start experimenting with it. 

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Aaron Chapman

Aaron Chapman is an artist and writer based on the Gold Coast, Australia working across a range of mediums including photography, sculpture and public art. Chapman’s work is motivated by themes of home and memory, and in particular, childhood.

2021-09-27T14:24:58+00:00Categories: Gear|Tags: , , |