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Best Polaroid camera

Which Polaroid camera is best?

Polaroid cameras made a splash upon their debut by offering the convenience of an instant photograph without the need for off-site film developing. The first instant camera (invented by Polaroid’s founder, Edwin Land) went on sale to the public way back in 1948. Though its popularity has boomed and waned over the last seven decades, there’s no denying that Mr. Land’s little contraption has long-term staying power.

While the name Polaroid is synonymous with instant camera technology, they’ve also moved into the standard digital photography realm, where they continue to innovate. Whether you want an instant camera or a digital model, Polaroid has something for everyone.

If you’re ready to buy a new Polaroid camera, then keep reading. This buying guide also includes product reviews at the end to help you make the best choice. Our top pick, the Polaroid POP 2.0 3 x 4” Instant Print Digital Camera, is compact enough to take almost anywhere.

What to know before you buy a Polaroid camera

Instant vs. digital

While Polaroid made its name in the instant-camera market, the brand also produces standard cameras as well. These days, “standard” means digital.

Instant cameras are best if you want something for on-the-go photography with an immediate payoff—a photo that’s printed right into your hands. If you’re more interested in serious digital photography and the highest-quality photos, then a digital Polaroid camera is probably for you. Luckily, a few models from Polaroid offer both instant prints as well as digital files. These usually have a resolution of at least 10 megapixels.

Instant cameras can be expensive and only offer minimal control over photo editing, while purely digital Polaroid cameras don’t offer immediate printing.

Film vs. Zink

Some Polaroid instant cameras use a type of traditional film that develops as soon as you take the photo. Essentially, this is the same way the original Polaroid cameras worked.

Others use Zink paper, on which the internal mechanism of the camera actually prints the photo as the paper exits the camera. Zink stands for “zero ink” because the paper actually uses special crystals that respond to light.

Print size

Instant cameras are limited in their print size by the size of the camera itself. Most current Polaroid instant camera models create prints of either 2 by 3 inches, or 3 by 4 inches. Digital cameras, on the other hand, allow you to print out photos of almost any size.

Image quality

To say it bluntly, you don’t purchase a Polaroid instant camera for their professional-quality photos. You purchase one for the convenience of instant photos. Keep this in mind if you choose to buy an instant camera. Digital cameras, on the other hand, will offer better image quality, color, and sharpness.

What to look for in a quality Polaroid camera

Zoom lens

Some Polaroid cameras include a zoom lens that can get you closer to the action you’re capturing. This feature is currently only available on Polaroid digital cameras, not on instant cameras.

Bluetooth/WiFi capability

Many Polaroid instant and digital cameras come with Bluetooth and/or WiFi connectivity. This is useful for connecting your camera to your smartphone or any other enabled device in order to edit or send photos.

How much you can expect to spend on a Polaroid camera

Most Polaroid cameras cost between $75-$300. For $75, you can get a basic film instant print camera without many additional features. If you spend $150, you can find standard digital Polaroid cameras as well as Zink instant print cameras. Polaroid cameras on the highest end of the spectrum are usually refurbished retro instant cameras.

Polaroid cameras FAQ

Are all instant cameras bulky?

A. Though they’re larger than most other point-and-shoot cameras, it’s for a good reason. The advanced internal mechanics required to print photos on the spot need space, thereby making the camera “bulkier.”

Why isn’t the print quality on my instant camera better?

A. Instant cameras have to automatically adjust settings for poor lighting and other circumstances, which means you don’t have much control over how they end up looking. You sacrifice high-quality printing on the best possible paper for having a print in your hands in seconds. It’s a trade-off, but one that most people are willing to make for the fun of instant photos.

What Polaroid cameras are best to buy?

Top Polaroid camera

Polaroid POP 2.0 3 x 4” Instant Print Digital Camera

Our take: This is the perfect camera for quick shots on the go.

What we like: It's available in six fun colors. It fits in your pocket. Use the complementary app to customize the borders of your photos.

What you should consider: Some users complained of low Zink paper quality.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon.

Top Polaroid camera for the money

Polaroid Snap Touch Instant Digital Camera

Our take: This is a nice balance between instant and digital photography.

What we like: This updated model includes an LCD display that was not present on previous models, an SD card slot and Bluetooth capability.

What you should consider: The photo quality is only fair.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon.

Worth checking out

Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera

Our take: This is a fun little camera that will take you back to the Polaroid days of the past.

What we like: It has an automatic flash. The pictures are sharp and colorful. It is compact and easy to carry.

What you should consider: The film is expensive, and pictures are only the size of a business card.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon.


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Adam Reeder writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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