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Compare the Best Instant CamerasAugust 2020

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What is the Kagoo Score? Our unique digital cameras rating which considers: 33,000 US prices • 130,000 expert & user reviews • 1,900 product comparisons • 4,300 industry awards • Score breakdown
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83

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Kodak logo

Kodak Printomatic

1 Review

$28.50

10MP
Info
1x
Info
317g
Info
Instant
Info
Info
Oct 2017

80

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Leica logo

Leica Sofort

21 Reviews
Ephotozine RecommendedPhotographyBlog.com Recommendedtechadvisor.co.uk Recommended

$331.99

(Unknown)
Info
1x
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305g
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Instant
Info
Info
Jul 2017

77

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Polaroid logo

Polaroid ONESTEP2

 

$74.99

(Unknown)
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(Unknown)
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475g
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Instant
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Info
Oct 2017

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$800 Price Drop
$2,797
$1,996.95
24.3MP
6016 X 4016
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3.5x
OPTICAL ZOOM
FULL HD VIDEO
RESOLUTION
51,200
MAXIMUM ISO
SPEED
1s
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$846 Price Drop
$2,320
$1,473.00
20.9MP
5568 X 3712
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RESOLUTION
7.8x
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4K
VIDEO RESOLUTION
3.5
MINIMUM
51,200
MAXIMUM ISO
SPEED
$951 Price Drop
$2,100
$1,149.00
24.2MP
6000 X 4000
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OPTICAL ZOOM
FULL HD VIDEO
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16,000
MAXIMUM ISO
SPEED
$796 Price Drop
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1s
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VIDEO RESOLUTION
25,600
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SPEED
1s
CAMERA
$1k Price Drop
$8,699
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24MP
5952 X 3976
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FULL HD VIDEO
RESOLUTION
6,400
MAXIMUM ISO
1s
CAMERA
680g

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QWhat is the difference between an SLR, Mirrorless and Compact cameras?
ASLRs and Mirrorless cameras are both powerful cameras with changable lenses for a large amount of flexibility. Mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter than SLRs (because they don't have to include a mirror to bounce light onto the sensor) but are not quite as powerful.

Compact cameras are small fixed-lens cameras meant for casual photography and everyday carry. In previous generations compact cameras were significantly less powerful than other types, but modern variants are almost as powerful as SLRs.
QWhat is the difference between optical and digital zoom?
AOptical zoom uses the hardware of the camera to physically move the lenses, enlarging the captured picture. Digital zoom uses software to further enlarge the picture. This means digital zooms can go far beyond the range of optical zooms, but the quality is much worse, and degrades sharply as the image is zoomed in.
QWhat is an 'image stabiliser'?
AAn image stabiliser detects and compensates for small judders and shakes while filming, meaning the resulting images are far smoother and still.
QWhy is a big sensor size important?
AA larger optical sensor produces better quality images, because more light can be brought into the lens at once, This leads to larger, more highly-detailed photos.
QWhat is GPS function on a camera?
AGPS allows the camera to tag each photo with exactly where it was taken.
QWhat is the difference between 'waterproof' and 'water resistant'?
AThere is a small but important difference between waterPROOF and water RESISTANT - waterproof means that the camera can be submerged underwater for an extended amount of time with no adverse effects. Water resistant means that the camera can suffer limited exposure to water without any problems - normally this is limited to heavy rain or liquid splashes, not total immersion.
QWhat are the benefits of instant cameras?
AInstant cameras have been seeing a revival in recent years - modern versions work similar to the classic Polaroid cameras, but use modern thermal-reactive paper. They allow immediate printing of photos when out and about - perfect for parties! However the paper is expensive to buy, and you can easily blast through a pack of 10 shots very quickly.

Instant Digital Camera Buying Guide

There are five main camera types that you will need to decide between when choosing a new camera - each have their own advantages and disadvantages and which one is right for you will depend on what type of photos you plan to take and what you aim to get out of your photography. These are Compact, Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR), Bridge and System models. Here we will concentrate on Instant cameras.

Instant Cameras

Instant digital cameras are an old technology updated and brought into vogue once again. They are cameras that have a very small printer built into the unit - this means you can take a photo and then immediately have it printed off as a physical copy, without having to have anything developed or connect to a computer. This makes them fantastic for instantly capturing memories and creating quick physical keepsakes of special moments. However, instant cameras use special film that is very expensive, and the physical nature of the printing means that mistakes can burn through film very quickly.

Instantly create physical copies of photos
Simple, point-and-shoot functionality
Unique and very much geared towards creative photo-taking
Film can be expensive
Photos can't be re-taken one printed
Lacking complex bells and whistles of SLRs

Instant digital cameras allow you to create physical copies of your photos at the touch of a button, allowing you to create unique keepsakes of treasured memories.

Image Sensors Explained

Megapixels & Sensor Size

Megapixels are a quick and easy way of measuring the level of detail that you can expect from a camera. One megapixel means 1,000,000 pixels and refers to the number of individual pixels that the camera's sensor can capture.

Whilst megapixels are a quick guide to the camera's performance, equally important is the physical size of the camera sensor. Larger sensors are able to capture more light which produces images with less noise and better dynamic range. Because they capture more light they can also take superior photos in low light conditions without flash.

One of the biggest differences between smart phone cameras and other cameras is the size of the sensor. Even modest compact cameras will have a larger sensor size than a mobile phone.

Bigger sensors require physically bigger cameras and also bigger lenses to gather enough light to cover the sensor. For this reason the biggest sensors tend to found on the biggest cameras such as the DSLRs. This is also the reason why mobile phone manufacturers use very small sensor sizes.

The physical size of the sensor is described in many different ways including fractions and letters. Unfortunately it is not easy to relate these sizes to one another, but the chart to the left provides a guide and shows how each sensor size relates to the size of traditional 35mm film.

Full frame sensors are sensors that are physically the same size as traditional 35mm film. Full frame sensors are desirable because they capture very detailed images, but also because they are directly compatible with the huge range of lenses designed for 35mm film. There are plenty of DSLR cameras with sensors which are smaller than full frame. These cameras can still be used with 35mm lenses, but the smaller sensor size means that a conversion factor will apply to the lens. For example if a camera with non-full frame sensor has a conversion factor of 1.5 then a 200mm lens will behave like a 300mm lens, which is great if you want to be closer to the action, but not so good if you need a wide angle shot.

CCD Sensors

Charge Coupled Device (CCD) sensors have been around for over a decade and produce high quality low noise images. However they consume a lot of power and struggle with burst photography (taking lots of photos in quick succession). CCD sensors are still found on some cameras but most manufacturers have now switched to CMOS sensors.

More mature technology
High quality, low noise images
Drain the battery more quickly
More expensive to manufacture
Slower maximum frames per second

CMOS Sensors

Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensors are a newer technology that is commonly found on the latest cameras. They consume very little power so your battery lasts longer and can take many shots in quick succession. When first released CMOS sensors had problems with image noise, but technological developments have completely elimated these concerns.

Sensor of choice on pro cameras
Cheaper to manufacture
More energy efficient
Fast maximum frame rate
Less mature technology

Optical vs Digital Zoom

Many cameras have incredible zoom capabilities which let you get really close to the action. However when checking a camera's zoom capability it's important to check whether it has an optical zoom, a digital zoom or a combination of both.

Digital zooms let you zoom in by effectively cropping the photo. They do produce a zoom effect, but the quality of the image will be reduced because it has been cropped. Most mobile phones use a digital zoom.

Optical zooms work by physically moving the lenses that capture the image. The zoomed in photo is still captured using the full extent of the camera's sensor so there is no loss in image quality as you soom in.

Camera Screens

Almost every digital camera has a built in screen which lets you frame the shot you are taking, review and edit photos that you have taken, and also adjust the camera settings. Some cameras have fold out screens which make it easy to take self portraits and allow you to take photos when the camera is not at eye level such as in a crowd.

Touchscreen camera displays offer very intuitive control systems similar to those found on a mobile phone. Touch allows you to choose which part of the picture you want to be in focus or to be exposed correctly simply by touching it.

Viewfinders

As digital screens have become more advanced many camera manufacturers have dispensed with the traditional camera viewfinder. However there are many advantages to a traditional viewfinder. Firstly it is much easier to see what you are photographing in bright sunlight conditions through a viewfinder. Holding the camera to your face also steadies the camera giving you sharper photos. Finally a viewfinder uses much less power than a screen so you can switch the screen off when taking photos to make your battery last longer.

Traditional cameras have optical viewfinders. This means that the image viewed through the viewfinder is exactly the same as the image that camera will photograph. Optical viewfinders reflect light entering the camera's lens off a mirror and into the viewfinder. When the photo is taken the mirror quickly flicks out of the way to let the sensor receive the image. All top end DSLRs have optical viewfinders. Some cameras have digital viewfinders which are basically a second very small screen viewed through the viewfinder. Digital viewfinders have the advantage of allowing you to preview how the final image will look including any applied effects, however generally speaking they are considered inferior to an optical viewfinder.

Image Stabilisers

Some cameras have image stabilisers. These devices are designed to reduce the effect of hand shake on the stability of the camera thereby producing a sharper photograph. They are particularly important for large zoom cameras as zooming in will amplify the effect of any hand shake on the camera image.

There are two main types of image stabiliser: optical and digital. Optical image stabilisers work using a special lens which moves to counteract the effect of any hand shake. Optical stabilisers are considered superior as they do not artificially manipulate the image quality.

Digital image stabilisers work by a processor analysing the photo after it has been taken in order to reduce image blur. This can be achieved by the camera taking multiple photos and then combining the best parts of each photo together.

Autofocus

The camera's focus setting determines which part of the image is sharp.

Compact cameras will have an intelligent autofocus system which attempts to determine which part of the image should be in focus. These generally work well, but sometimes the camera can focus on wrong thing, for example when shooting through a window the camera may focus on the glass. Often budget compact cameras do not have a manual focus setting.

Premium compact cameras and above have manual focus as well as autofocus. Manual focus lets you control which part of the image is sharp by either twisting a focus ring or on touchscreen cameras, touching the part of the image that you want to be sharp. This is particularly useful when the subject is not in the centre of the image.

Cameras with viewfinders such as DSLRs often have multiple focus points which can be seen through the viewfinder. You can preselect which focus point is going to be used, which is great if you know that your subject will definitely be in a particular part of the picture. High end DSLRs also have predictive focus which will track the subject that you are taking, such as a fast moving car, and predict the position of the subject at the exact moment the photo is taken to give the sharpest possible image.

ISO, White Balance & Manual Exposure

With the exception of budget compact cameras most cameras allow you to manually set the exposure settings. Primarily this means setting the ISO level, the lens aperture and the shutter speed. Manual control is useful for capturing images in difficult light conditions such as at dusk, or for controlling creative effects such as depth of field (which parts of the image are in focus and which aren't).

The ISO level is particularly important as it effectively sets the sensitivity of the image sensor. Look for the maximum ISO level that the camera can support. A higher maximum ISO means that the camera's sensor is more sensitive to light which is very useful for taking photos in low light conditions without flash.

Some cameras let you manually set the white balance of the photo too. White balance is important because different light sources (such as the sun or artifical light) produce different types of light which can affect the colours in the photo and if set incorrectly can make the photo look unnatural.

Continuous Shooting

Some cameras support rapid continuous shooting. This lets you hold down the trigger to take a rapid succession of photos, which is useful for capturing fast moving subjects. The speed at which the camera can take multiple photos is measures in frames per second and most cameras will have a limit on the number of photos that can be taken in quick succession. For best results you will also need a fast memory card which is capable of saving images very quickly.

Lens types

For system and DSLR cameras there are hundreds of different lens types available giving you a huge range of creative possibility. Lenses fall in to a number of distinct categories each of which has their own unique benefit.

Prime

Prime lenses are set at a fixed focal length (zoom). This makes them more simple, requiring fewer pieces of glass to capture the image. The advantage of this is that they are able to capture more light through a very wide aperture which makes them great for taking sharp portraits with blurred backgrounds.

Zoom

Zoom lenses let you vary the focal length so that you can quickly get close to the action. The ability to quickly zoom in and out makes them very versatile and ideal for travel photography when you are likely to be photographing a wide range of subjects.

Wide Angle

Wide angle lenses are set at a very wide focal length which allows you to fit large objects such as buildings into the entire frame of the photo. Ultra wide angle lenses are called fish eye lenses and these can be used to create interesting distorted photos.

Macro

Macro lenses let you get really close to small subjects such as insects. With a macro lens you can hold the camera just a few centimetres away from the subject and still get a sharp, close up shot.

3D

Some manufacturers have created 3D lenses which let you take a 3D image using a normal camera. They work by splitting the image into two halves so that in effect you are taking two photos on one image. Computer software then renders these images back into a 3D image.

Lens Aperture

Lens aperture refers to the size of the hole inside the lens that lets light through to the sensor. A large aperture will let lots of light in which lets you take very short exposures, effectively freezing any moving objects in motion. A small aperture lets through very little light which means a longer exposure time is required. This can be used to create motion blur and to control how much of the image is in focus (depth of field).

Aperture is measured with an f number and it is worth looking at what the lowest f number is that the camera supports. In the case of interchangeable lens cameras the f number will depend on the lens itself, not the camera body. The lower the f number the bigger maximum aperture is which means the lens is capable of capturing more light. Bigger aperture lenses produce better quality images in low light conditions.

WiFi, Bluetooth & NFC

WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) are all methods of wirelessly connecting the camera to other devices and to the internet. This lets you send photos directly from your camera to your phone or computer, and some cameras let you take photos on the camera using a remote app on your phone. With a direct internet connection your camera can upload photos directly to Facebook and Twitter. Some cameras also allow you to download apps to your camera for editing photos.

GPS

Cameras with a built in GPS will automatically tag your photos with the location that they were taken at. The location is stored inside the photo so even if you copy the photo to your computer or other devices the location information will always be attached. Location data lets you view all the photos created in a certain location and also allows you to create cool maps of your trips.

Creative Effects

Most cameras feature a host of creative effects that can be applied to the photos that you are taking. These include changing the image colour, perspective, tone and shape.

Create cool city shots in black & white or sepia, or apply artistic effects like watercolour or crayon to landscape shots. Many cameras include automatic scene detection which will adjust the camera settings for example when the subject is backlit.

Video

Virtually all new cameras can record video, which saves carrying around a separate camcorder. Some cameras can record Full HD video and even 4K video. DSLRs with built in video recording can produce outstanding video quality and are a popular choice for amateur film makers. Don't forget that videos will take up much more space on your memory card than photos.

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