“Shake it like a Polaroid picture!” Many people fondly remember the magic of instant photography in their youth.
For some, it was shaking the SX-70 film type photos, for whatever reason that people thought shaking it sped up the process. For others, the smelly goo spread on the peel apart Type 100 film packs, or maybe even the roll films, is what’s remembered.
In 1947, Polaroid announced the Land camera and film, a revolutionary new product and process. Rumor tells us that a little girl asked Edwin Land the question, “Why can’t I see the picture now?” during a picture taking outing. That spurred on thoughts of instant film developing. In time, Polaroid, Kodak, Fuji, and a few other brands, were all producing instant films and cameras.
So for all those film buffs out there, I have found some of the best instant cameras for weddings so you can hold onto those memories for years to come!
Instant Cameras Are Huge Hits at Weddings!
What started as a fun new fad has gained traction and is now a regular part of modern weddings and other events. Having instantly available hard copy prints for guests and participants. Besides the event already being joyous, the addition of instant pictures makes it even more so for many.
Some of the things I’ve seen at weddings include photo booths and photographers going from table to table. At a couple of smaller weddings I attended, each table had an instant camera with instructions for the guests to take pics of each other which was a great ice breaker!
How I found the Best Instant Cameras for Weddings
This is kind of a specialty niche, but many of the same factors apply to the Polaroid or instant cameras as with other photographic equipment. Plus, a couple of instant camera and film specific points.
- Film Size. Since the film itself is actually the print, it needs to be big enough to be easily viewed. My personal taste is for the sizes to be similar to what they were in the past. Not exact, but I do think nostalgia is part of the new appeal of instant pictures.
- Film Price. One of the things that helped kill consumer level instant film in the past was the high cost of the film packs. We’re not expecting magic, but reasonable is the buzzword.
- Camera Price. We already have a lot invested in our gear. A low enough price opens up the fun part of the equation. At the same time, we don’t necessarily want a toy. Which leads to…
- Camera Quality. A blurry or poorly exposed instant pic doesn’t sound like much fun. A reasonably high quality should be expected from all of our photo gear.
- Ease of Use. Convenience, too. Make the loading film, taking the photos, and getting them out into a pair of hands as simple as is reasonable to expect. Told ya it was the buzzword today!
- Durable, Stable Prints. I have over 50 years old B&W Polaroids in family albums and 30 years old color pics that are still viewable. The image should last longer than a gas/petrol thermal printed receipt.
Top 5 Best Instant Cameras for Weddings
1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera Review
Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90 is one of those products that makes everyone smile. The bright and vibrant photographs produced are just the right size to pas around while at an event or to save in your wallet or purse.
Film size is on the small side, but plenty big enough for most users of this type of camera. The pics are similar in size to a credit card or to wallet sized photos. For candid portraits, this is a good size. Use in portrait or landscape orientation for either single person pics or for small group portraits.
There are 10 exposures per pack of film, packaged as single packs or double packs (2 packs of 10). Many retailers offer value bundles. Here’s where pricing comes in: reasonable. The best value comes from a retailer’s value bundles. A single pack will give you per picture prices of under $1.00, while the value bundles can lower the per picture price to even less.
Writing on the pics, on the front white area or on the black back, will require a soft tip marker, like a Sharpie. A ball point doesn’t seem to work on the white tabs and a ball point or pencil would damage the image if writing on the back. Be sure to let the ink dry completely before handling.
A few wedding photographers I’ve seen are using small peel and stick labels to write names and dates on the pics. Preprinted logo labels might be a good way to spread your brand awareness as an event photographer.
The camera itself is well made and looks good. While not pocket sized, I would consider it compact. A variety of useful features helps justify the cost. Priced at about what many of us have paid for third party flash units, it’s not a throw away toy.
2. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera – Smokey White Review
I will admit, this camera felt a bit like a toy to me, but nonetheless very fun to use! It’s about half the price of the 90, though, so I wasn’t expecting much more than basic instant photography anyways. Coming in a variety of colors, the novelty appeal of this camera is strong. Cobalt Blue, Ice Blue, Flamingo Pink, Lime Green, and Smokey White.
This was the kind of camera I saw on tables at those small venue weddings I mentioned earlier. Pretty fun to play around with them, snapping pics of everybody around. It uses the same type of film as the Mini 90, so per picture costs remain reasonable.
Camera function reminded me of years past. The camera meter gives you the suggested exposure type, which you then set on the camera. Indoor, Cloudy, Sunny, and Really Bright Sunny, plus flash were the settings. You can dial in a little bit of compensation also.
3. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera Review
“Wide” in the camera name is referring the film, not a lens type. The film itself and the image area is slightly wider than the Mini camera film. While the Mini pics are about business card size, the Wide film is closer to the size of an audio cassette tape. (A what?)
Whether purchased in twin packs or multi packs, the per picture price will be about a quarter more than Mini film pics. That size increase really makes a difference. The larger pics won’t fit into wallet size photo holders, but it makes picture details much more visible. This is closer to the size of classic instant camera photos.
Features include built in close up focusing, a built in flash, and a tripod socket. Focus zone adjustments and exposure compensation round out the features. The tripod socket is nice to have. As one of the best instant cameras for weddings, this gives the photographer options of how to use the camera.
4. Polaroid Originals 9003 OneStep 2 Instant Film Camera Review
Wow, this is old school! This new Polaroid instant camera is from the rebranded Impossible Project now named Polaroid Originals. So, basically, the brand name continues with an all new company. That’s nothing new in the world of photography. Yashica made Contax RTS cameras and Cosina made Voigtländer Bessa rangefinder cameras.
Polaroid Type 600 made a large, mostly square photo, about 3 x 3 inches. This current camera is the same format, but has two types of film available. The i-Type and the Polaroid Originals 600. The 600 packs can be used in older Polaroid 600 format cameras, since it has the built in battery pack those cameras required.
While the big, squarish prints are sure nice to look at, the film is pricey compared to Instax films. Sold in film packs of 8 pictures each, they cost close to $2.00 a picture. Even buying in bulk doesn’t bring down pricing that much.
5. Polaroid PIC-300 Instant Film Camera Review
Almost a copy of the Fuji Mini 8, this Polaroid is actually made by Fuji. Carrying the Polaroid brand name can be a big plus in some cases. Everybody knows Polaroid and the name Polaroid is virtually synonymous with instant picture photography.
That alone makes this a great choice for anyone looking to buy one of the best instant cameras for weddings. Point your camera at a wedding guest to capture some candid pics, and you will get a variety of reactions. Point a Polaroid, and it’s smiles and hamming it up all over the place.
So, you will get some fun images to add to the enjoyment of the special day. It is going to be a little less cost effective to use this Polaroid and Polaroid 300 film than the equivalent Fuji products. But not too different, and still very reasonable for instant film.
Wedding guests love this trendy photographic product. Even those with no memory at all of Polaroids, so having no nostalgia at all about instant photos, see this instant picture camera craze as one of the more enjoyable new options. You can also check out my other post on the best Polaroid cameras for under $100 which covers even more instant cameras!
I think the instant camera trend and craze has plenty of traction to last a long time, so spending a little bit to take advantage of this market change is money well spent.
As an event photographer, you can decide to operate that way, or include the estimated costs of handing out prints to people in the photography contract. For weddings, I like the contract idea. For other events, I think paying per pic is a fine way to go. You can also just do it for the fun of it. People seem to enjoy it any way it’s handled.