The Best Instant Camera Under $100 of 2023

The Fuji Instax Mini 11 performed the best in hands-on tests

Instant cameras are only for fun. They are a go-to for remembering moments and working on creative projects that call for a retro feel thanks to their evocative prints. All of these models have a cute design, are simple to operate, and deliver photographs with a vintage appearance for a fair price.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a wonderful price and simple to use, therefore we suggest purchasing one. We particularly appreciate the Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera’s full-size prints and vintage Polaroid appearance.

Why Trust Us

Instant Camera

Since 2017, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and photographer, capturing anything from sports to street scenes. I’ve utilised DSLR and mirrorless systems, as well as analogue film, with manufacturers ranging from Nikon to Canon and beyond. Universities, neighbourhood companies, and individuals in need of quality headshots are a few of my professional picture clientele. John Bogna, a journalist, has done research on a variety of tech devices to create best-of lists, including DSLRs, picture printers, and camera straps.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera

TL;DR: This easy-to-use instant camera is simple to operate and a great deal if you don’t mind smaller prints.


  • Sturdy design
  • Simple controls
  • Fast print time
  • Prints don’t bend


  • Very small viewfinder
  • Selfie mirror could be bigger

Though it doesn’t have the most elegant look, the Instax Mini 11 is simple to hold and enjoyable to use. It even has an automated light metre that decides when to use flash so the picture doesn’t get blown out, however the highlights can still be a little bright.

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It sports a special selfie mode that, because it slightly zooms the lens, also works for macro (close-up) photographs. Small additions like a stick-on shutter button cover and the provided wrist strap made the camera seem movable. The number of shots you have remaining is shown in a huge, visible window on the rear of the camera that measures film consumption.

The images develop in 5-8 minutes and the camera prints swiftly. Although the prints are quite small (2.5 by 1.8 inches), the colours and contrast are vivid. There is no in-camera customisation because Fuji utilises instant film rather than Zink paper, but you may select between colour or black-and-white film stocks. Also available are black-bordered colour reproductions of the images, which include a place beneath for writing. The images resemble card-sized Polaroids.

The camera’s narrow and difficult-to-see viewfinder was its main drawback. Although modest, the front selfie mirror serves its purpose. Additionally, this is the only camera I tested that does not utilise a Li-ion battery and instead relies on replacement batteries. If you don’t want to continually buying AA batteries, this might be a headache.


  • Who else recommends it? The Verge and TechRadar both recommend the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11.
  • What do buyers say? 84% of Amazon reviewers rate this camera five stars from an average of over 23,000 reviews.

Bigger Prints

Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera

TL;DR: This instant camera offers full-size prints with a vintage look while maintaining everything cool about the classic Polaroid.


  • Prints have a signature vintage look
  • Lightweight
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Full-size prints


  • Bulky design
  • Only eight shots per pack of film

An improved Polaroid camera, the Now I-Type instant camera costs around $100. It has contemporary design elements including a rechargeable Li-ion battery and uses the company’s i-type film.

This camera has a retro appeal that makes it fun to use, even though it feels a little awkward in the hand. I appreciate that it has a full neck strap rather than a wrist loop. Although it’s lightweight, it’s big enough to make carrying it on your wrist difficult.

It is simpler to push when holding the Polaroid Now because the shutter button is on the front. On the front of the camera is also where you’ll find the double exposure/self-timer button. The shot counter, flash control, and power button are all located on the rear and are all reachable with your thumb. This camera has superb ergonomics all around.

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Instant film typically requires 10 to 15 minutes for images to fully develop. It was wonderful to have full-size square film in both colour and monochrome for this camera because all the other cameras I tested produced smaller prints.

Photos take on a warmer tone and show good contrast and detail.Only a small amount of additional light is needed to achieve good interior images because ISO is regulated at around 640. In-camera switching between colour and monochrome is not possible. You may still select from a variety of film stocks, such as monochrome film, colour film with multicoloured borders and frames, and colour film with black borders.

  • Who else recommends it? The Verge, Digital Camera World, and Tech GearLab all recommend the Polaroid Now.
  • What do buyers say? 80% of Amazon reviewers rate this camera five stars.

Or Maybe These?

  • I want Bluetooth. The Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo Instant Film Camera has all the cool stuff you get with the Mini 11, plus Bluetooth and a preview screen.
  • What about color filters? The Polaroid Now+ has all the features of the Polaroid Now and adds a Bluetooth-connected app and a pack of color filters.
  • Is there an instant camera that offers different size prints? The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is an excellent instant camera that outputs small prints and photos two times as wide.

How We Test and Rate Instant Cameras

Each camera was evaluated in the following categories: 

  • Design and ergonomics
  • Ease of use
  • Image quality
  • Print and development time
  • Battery life

Considering these factors, I tested each camera in multiple situations, from indoor portrait shoots to bright daylight to dusk.

Instant Cameras We Tested

  • Canon IVY CLIQ 2
  • Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
  • Polaroid Go Instant Mini Camera
  • Polaroid Now I-Type Instant Camera

I looked for anything that made it difficult to use the camera, such awkwardly positioned buttons or a shaky grip, to gauge how ergonomically each was constructed. The shooting and handling of the better-designed versions were much improved.

In addition, I considered added features and the time it took for each photo to print and develop. For instance, the Canon has the option to print in colour or monochrome with or without borders, while the Polaroids include a double exposure capability. In general, accessories were simple to utilise. My favourite cameras gave a simple, enjoyable shooting experience that you could pick up and use right away.

Regarding film quality, I evaluated each one based on the colour vibrancy, dynamic range (shadows and highlights), and degree of detail present in each print once the photos had been processed. Did the pictures have that old-fashioned film look? How did the contrast look? The majority of these cameras created gorgeously nostalgic photos. Although the Canon prints were quite detailed and had a great dynamic range, they lacked the retro appeal of real instant film.

During testing, the battery life of each of these devices performed admirably. Those with Li-ion batteries charged easily and kept going strong for more than a week.

Every time we do a review, we ask for review samples of the goods we evaluate and either buy or return them to the supplier.

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How We Rate Instant Cameras

  • 4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best instant cameras we tested. We recommend them without reservation.
  • 4.5 to 4.7 stars: These instant cameras are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.
  • 4.0 to 4.4 stars: We think these are great instant cameras, but others are better.
  • 3.5 to 3.9 stars: These instant cameras are just average.
  • 3.4 and below: We don’t recommend instant cameras with these ratings because they didn’t meet basic expectations; you won’t find any on our list.

What to Look For

You’ll want a few items while looking for an inexpensive instant film camera:

  • Good battery life
  • A classic film look
  • Intuitive controls

Battery Life

There are few things worse than having your camera die in the middle of a session. These cameras don’t have a lot of high-tech functions, therefore the battery lasts for a long time between charges. The AA batteries that the Fuji Instax uses are likewise long-lasting, but they must be taken out before storing the camera to prevent corrosion. To save yourself the headache of managing AA batteries, choose a device with a rechargeable battery.

Film Quality

A person purchases an instant film camera for the vintage appearance rather than for razor-sharp detail and flawless colour. Instant film prints resemble 35mm film more than digital photos because of their dreamlike appearance, strong contrast, and lack of detail.

The cost of each type of film should be taken into account because some are more expensive than others and add to the overall cost of the camera you choose. Find a movie that gives you the desired effect without costing too much every shot if you’re on a tight budget.

Controls And Ergonomics

Choose a camera that is lightweight, has simple-to-use controls for snapping pictures, and a non-obtrusive design. The shutter button, as well as any other necessary settings like the flash switch or self-timer, should be discrete and simple to access.


Why choose an instant camera over a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera?

The higher-resolution camera on your smartphone won’t likely be replaced by an instant camera. Fun, the novelty of printing a snapshot as you take it, and making memories with others are the main focuses of instant cameras. They are more akin to a playful and imaginative toy you may use to print images than a regular camera.

What happens if you run out of film?

Only a minimal amount of film can be stored in certain quick cameras. You won’t be able to use the camera again until you add more if you run out. Remember that you may save money by buying generic film rather than brand-name for some cameras as long as it is compatible with your camera type when thinking about buying additional film to keep on hand.

Can you make digital versions of your printed photos?

If you want digital copies, instant cameras aren’t the ideal option because they often only allow you to print genuine photographs. However, you may always take a photograph of your instant photo using your smartphone.

Also Read: Google Pixel Fold: Resolving The Issue Of Damaged Screens

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Riya Kapoor

Riya Kapoor writes about lifestyle, entertainment, news and gadgets. She has been in this industry for almost 4 years now. She is a graduate from Delhi University with English Hons and had deep connection with writing since her childhood.

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