The Best Instant Cameras Under 100
Following the Insta-trend with a $100 bill
What is the one item that is an absolute staple at every wedding, baby shower, and bridal shower you’ve been to this summer? If you are a shameless mother of two who loves to capture every “moment” like me, you would have noticed the party photobooth right away and been the first to seize that instant camera. Instant cameras are a thing of the past, but somehow, with the help of Pinterest and Instagram, it made an enormous comeback within the last handful of years.
The appeal is in being able to capture that special moment and having something solid in your hands that you can stack away in your wallet for later viewing. I personally love that I can take a picture of my Polaroid pictures and post it on my Facebook or Instagram feed like Taylor Swift and her 4th of July party with her squad. It feeds the inner narcissist that wants the whole world to “like” my picture and I can gloat over the great time I had.
Obviously, we all want to own an instant camera, but a quick check online would yield way too many cameras to review and all at price points that don’t seem to worth the purchase in the end. I mean, I have a really good camera on my phone, I don’t need to spend over $100 on a toy camera. So, let’s just say that we were magically granted a $100 bill to spend frivolously on an instant camera. Here I have compiled for you, through my OCD googling, my top 5 ideas for the best instant cameras under 100 dollars.
Fujifilm Instax mini
After reviewing about twenty different instant cameras, this is probably the most popular option out there. Just about every wedding I’ve been to had this as their go to instant photography equipment. The Fujifilm Instax mini series are handy and small, is in our price range and come in a ridiculously huge variety of colors like beach blue and wild raspberry. It’s easy to use and super simple to handle even if you’ve got a baby on one arm, camera in the other and all the while trying to yell instructions to your toddler to pose a certain way.
This is the OG of instant cameras, the originator of instant photography just by its namesake alone. If you are looking for that old, grainy and nostalgic flair to capture those moments like you used to, the Polaroid PIC-300 series is the pick for you. Just like its peer, the Fujifilm instax, it has a big selection of colors, and a sleek shape to hold onto. It’s definitely a dependable brand to count on.
Find one in attic/nearest antique store/ebay
When I was planning my wedding back in 2009, there weren’t too many instant cameras on the market, and the ones that were had price points of above $500 because they were antiques. I got the idea from Pinterest to let people take photos during the reception and was so excited to incorporate it into my guestbook table. One problem; I didn’t know where I could find a printer that I could hook up onsite to print pictures from our cameras immediately. That’s when a coworker suggested he could loan me his old Polaroid camera that was sitting in a lot of dust in his attic. The said camera was an old Polaroid Spectra and it was beautiful. My old soul loved all things vintage and it fitted my whimsical garden wedding theme perfectly. Most purists and photography enthusiasts would agree, nothing beats the original Polaroid cameras. So if you aren’t fully committed as I was to invest in purchasing an instant camera or you appreciate old photography equipment, then I would suggest to do the same. Talk to your immediate friends and family to see if they have one around. Chances are, they do, and you can borrow it on special occasions. You can also look around on Ebay, Craigslist or even your local thrift store for a used one. They are in our price range and film can be purchased online.
If the white bordered, blurry filtered effect of a Polaroid camera isn’t what you’re looking for, then the VuPoint Cube is a great option for you. If you want to just print directly from your iOs or Android phones, this instant camera printer is a really fun idea. You can download any great iOS or Android apps to take pictures with your favorite filters, there is a lot of room for your creativity to roam free completely wirelessly. Honestly though, It is not the best handheld equipment; a little bulky for those picnic polaroid moments. It is, however, ideal for photobooths that are stationary and allow guests to just print out beautiful selfies with a great backdrop.
I am not kidding you, this came up to me because our inner Martha Stewart love all things DIY. Some are very complicated and requires an Engineering degree to make it work, others requires a whole lot of parts and ingenuity to build one altogether. The tutorials from Exposure Guide’s DIY Popsicle Polaroid and Lomography’s Instant Pinhole Camera are really superb in making your own homemade Polaroid camera. It’s easy enough that I might even attempt to make one with my 3 year old when his chubby hand-eye coordination improves next year. It’ll take a couple of trips to the dollar store and thrift store to pick up parts to build this bad boy but I think it’s a special project that is under budget and fun for the whole family.
Instant cameras are a great tool to expand your portfolio and capture memories. It’s even better when you can get one under budget which gives you more room to be creative. Have fun and remember to “shake it like a Polaroid picture”!