At least in photography, what’s old is new again. In an age where nearly everyone has a top-notch, portable camera in their pocket with their smartphone, something interesting is happening.
Especially with children, instant cameras are becoming more and more popular. More than likely, you’ve probably seen a child walking around with an instant camera ready to snap a photo at a moment’s notice.
If you want to find out more about instant cameras and why they’re great for kids, look no further.
Along with a quick rundown on what exactly instant cameras are and how they differ from old-school technology, we’ll provide some great modern options for both younger and older children.
What Are Instant Cameras?
The name Polaroid should sound familiar to those old enough. The one-time juggernaut made the instant camera hugely popular — well before the age of the digital camera.
While it might not seem fascinating in today’s tech-filled society, the instant camera still holds a bit of its magical appeal.
First off, you’ll need to load the appropriate film for whatever camera you own. Then, after framing your shot in the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button, a nearly complete image develops, then exits its film slot. Here’s a video on how to shoot with an instant camera:
That’s when the real fun begins. You’ll usually need to wait anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute as the image slowly appears on the film.
Why They’re Perfect for Kids
Instant cameras and children are a great combination for a few reasons.
Many kids are interested in taking great photos just like their parents. But in many situations, it’s not exactly a good idea to hand a child a very expensive piece of electronics that might break with just one inadvertent drop.
Instant cameras themselves are very reasonably priced. While the film seems expensive (averaging between $0.50 and $1 per print), the cameras can cost less than $75.
So if something does happen to the camera, it’s probably not the end of the world. But it can be a great way to teach responsibility before handing them a smartphone a few years down the road.
And let’s face it, they’re just plain fun, even for the young at heart.
Great for Younger Kids: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Fujifilm’s Instax 9 is a perfect instant camera choice for younger children. Historically less than $60, the camera is available in a number of fun hues including pink, blue, green, and white.
The Instax Mini line has lit up the sales charts at online retailers like Amazon — and for good reason. Most importantly, at least for younger kids, is that the camera is very easy to use.
Oversized and easy to hold in smaller hands, the camera gets power from AA batteries so there’s no need to worry about charging.
The camera’s rear contains a film compartment, print indicator dials, and viewfinder. Inserting film takes just a few seconds and can even be done by kids with just a little practice. The front of the camera sports a flash, shutter button, lens, selfie mirror, and power button.
When it comes time to take a photo, just line up the subject and push the shutter button.
Surprisingly, there are even a few more advanced features for children once they get a handle on the basics. The shutter speed is always fixed at 1/60th of a second, but the aperture can change using the brightness adjustment dial. The dial selects one of four possible choices: indoors, cloudy, cloudy and sun, and sunny.
It’s Easy to Use
The included close-up adapter that snaps onto the lens will allow kids to take close-up photos of subjects from just 14-20 inches from the camera lens. Also, a special high-key mode will give pictures a cool softer appearance akin to a filter on Instagram or other social networks.
Along with the easy-to-use camera, there is a huge amount of different film kids can use, everything from a monochrome option that will print in black-and-white to borders that feature Star Wars characters.
And there are also a lot of fun accessories for the cameras like camera case and frames specifically for the 2×3-inch prints.
Perfect for Older Children: Polaroid Snap
For a more advanced instant camera, the Polaroid Snap helps older kids explore the world of digital photography.
Along with an instant print camera that produces 2×3-inch prints, the Snap features a 10-megapixel digital camera sensor that can capture images onto an optional micro SD of up to 32GB. So older kids can have an instant print and even share the image to social media later.
Inexpensive and Easily Replaced
The special ZINK paper costs around 50 cents and uses a special thermal process to create the image in around a minute after snapping the picture. Photographers can select from three different color modes: normal, black and white, or vintage sepia tone.
Kids can print images with a Polaroid Classic Border Logo or just a plain shot. Another great feature is the fun Photo Booth mode that takes six quick pictures in 10 seconds. Older children can even use the Snap’s timer to make sure they’re even in the shot.
There are six different camera colors to select from: black, blue, red, pink, white, and purple. Historically, the Snap can be found for just less than $100 online.
If you’re looking for something else for a child, here are three alternatives you might consider.
As you could probably tell by the name, the main feature of the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the wider prints that measure out at 3.4×4.2-inches. Along with an automatic flash, the camera also sports a close-up lens, focus shooting dial, and tripod mount. Special light and dark control can add different high-key and low-key effects to each picture.
If you budding photographer really wants to see what it was like to shoot with an old-school instant camera, take a look at the Impossible Polaroid 600. Completely refurbished and backed by a one-year warranty, the camera works with film from Impossible.
Even if your child has made the move to smartphone photography, they can still enjoy instant camera prints. With the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2, anyone can create instant prints with a companion app for smartphones or tablets. They can even print images from the Facebook or Instagram app.
As a nice touch, the printer uses the same widely available film used by the Instax Mini 9. The portable printer uses a built-in rechargeable battery for portability.
Polaroid or Instant Cameras for Your Kids
As you can see, there are a huge number of great options to help introduce children, both young and old, to the fun world of instant cameras. Hopefully, with a little time and practice, your child will be capturing photos like an expert.
Are your kids using instant cameras to capture scenes from their everyday life? What are camera are they using? Let us know in the comments!