Cameras, printers and cameras that print: what's the best option?
November 7, 2018 3:37 AM   Subscribe

My daughter has expressed a desire for a 'Polaroid camera' for Christmas. This technology must have moved on a great deal since the days of real Polaroids, but what are the options and does anyone have any commendations?

My hunch is that a far better option is to buy a robust, simple camera (she is ten) and printer. However, for this approach to be successful, both items need to look neat and sleek and not at all boring. Are there small form factor printers that can print out 'traditional' photograph sized images? Can these be simply linked to a camera? Any bundles or systems out there we should know about? I'm also well aware that this may well be more toy than tool and therefore price is a factor. Thanks in advance for all your photography wisdom.
posted by srednivashtar to Technology (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Instant print cameras are still a thing, and would be rather more wieldy (is that a word?) than a separate camera and printer.
posted by flabdablet at 3:42 AM on November 7 [5 favorites]


Your daughter doesn’t want a separate camera and printer, that’s a boring, yet sensible, adult thing. She wants something like the Instax Mini in the link above.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:57 AM on November 7 [23 favorites]


We have both an Instax camera that prints small "Polaroid-style" pictures, and a Canon Selphy photo printer that prints regular 6"x4" photos. The Instax is good for that classic Polaroid style BUT the prints are pretty expensive, like in the region of 75p-£1 per picture and the shots are can also be very blurry and dark - obviously since this is an instant-print camera there's no retries until you get a nice shot like with a digital camera. The Selphy printer, even with brand-specific paper/ink refills is better value per print - in the region of 25p per print. I like the Selphy printer because you can connect it to a PC to use print from there, or wirelessly connect to it from a phone to print your phone photos without having to copy them to the PC first.
It basically comes down to: how many photos are you going to take/print, and how important is the Polaroid-iness to you? With a kid, it can be easy for them to get some Instax film and burn through the 10-shot refill in 5 minutes, but the instant nature can mean they're fun to share with friends. We found we have to ration the Instax film and only bring it out for special occasions (holidays, birthdays, etc).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:58 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


My daughter asked for one of these around 13-14 years of age. We got one of the Fuji Instax (which has since been discontinued by the manufacturer), but the other Fuji instant cameras appear to be well-reviewed.

Be forewarned: My daughter and her friends really enjoyed the Fuji Instax for approximately 9 days and then I don't think it ever saw the light of day again.
posted by kuanes at 5:00 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I went to Urban Outfitters with a friend, who was shopping for vinyl records for his daughter's birthday, and they were also selling some kind of Polaroid branded camera. That may be what teh kids like. That was about 5 years ago though; she was 13.
posted by thelonius at 5:08 AM on November 7


Polaroid has a "new" instant camera that takes the standard Polaroid film.
posted by jenny76 at 5:12 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


Thanks all. I hear the message about this needing to be an all-in-one package loud and clear. I also heed the warnings about this being potentially short-lived. In order to future proof it slightly (when we tired of paying nearly £1 for a single picture!), do any of these types of cameras also have a screen and memory so they can be used like a conventional digital camera (so that pictures can be selected and even edited before they're printed)?
posted by srednivashtar at 5:51 AM on November 7


Your daughter doesn’t want a separate camera and printer, that’s a boring, yet sensible, adult thing. She wants something like the Instax Mini in the link above.
posted by plastic_animals


plastic_animals has it exactly right. Instant cameras like the Instax and Polaroid are a hot "new" thing again. The idea is that you will hang out with your friends, take goofy pictures of each other and have a memento to tack to your bedroom wall or whatever, without fiddling with technology. Plus the cameras themselves are funky, fun, and come in lots of attractive colors.

Note that this seems to be mostly marketed to tween and teen girls, but I (a mid-50 gentleman) have one of those cameras as well, and I love it. I also have a printer that outputs my iPhone photos onto the Instax film. This may be closer to what you are thinking of, but it's not "fun" in the same way as using one of their cameras. (I use it to output analog photos so I can get a natural grainy look, which I sometimes combine with the digital original to make a hybrid print.)

Anyway, that's what she seems to want. It's fun, but the film cost can really add up! But like many tween/teen interests, she may grow bored with it pretty quickly, and you might only be buying film for special occasions.
posted by The Deej at 5:52 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


I have the instax printer linked by The Deej. It’s easy to connect to my phone and you don’t waste the expensive film because you only print photos that you want - and the nice thing is you can use the “reprint” button to print the same photo again, which you can’t do with an instax camera. (Good for sharing group selfies!) Granted, when I was a kid I probably would’ve pouted for 5 minutes if I got the printer instead of the camera, but then I would’ve seen the benefit and probably gotten over it. The printer is super small and cute and definitely portable for sleepovers, etc. (I actually purchased it to serve as a photo booth for a recent party. Huge hit!) One more consideration is that the standalone printer is more expensive than the camera, and requires a phone to really use it. But, I feel the savings on not wasting film has been worthwhile!
posted by girlalex at 6:38 AM on November 7 [1 favorite]


I have had an Instax for a few years, and have found that if you buy the film in multi-packs online (like through Amazon) the price comes way down.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:47 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


The Wirecutter has a good writeup on instant cameras.
posted by andythebean at 8:02 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


do any of these types of cameras also have a screen and memory so they can be used like a conventional digital camera (so that pictures can be selected and even edited before they're printed)?

If you're thinking about the Instax type (that are akin to Polaroids of old), but the digital camera aspect is not really worth it.

Has she seen the Instax prints in-person? The standard cheap ones are quite small compared to a Polaroid. The wide or square format ones are much closer in size.

Take a look at the zink based cameras - they don't have the lofi look of the analog ones but might hold her attention longer.
posted by Candleman at 8:24 AM on November 7


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