Which instant camera is best: Polaroid or Kodak?
Almost 15 years ago, Polaroid announced that it would cease production of instant film cameras, to the dismay of hipsters everywhere. But just over 2 years later, there was a consumer-driven revival of the Polaroid film system, which led to an industry-wide resurgence of instant film cameras that many top manufacturers tried to cash in on.
Two prominent names in photography, Polaroid and Kodak, make some of today’s most popular instant cameras. Generally speaking, Polaroid instant cameras have lots of features and great image quality but cost quite a bit, while Kodak instant cameras are less expensive and fit in your pocket but don’t capture images as well. If you want something in between those two extremes, there are also some great recommendations from Fujifilm, one of Kodak’s and Polaroid’s biggest competitors.
Polaroid instant cameras
For years, the word Polaroid was basically synonymous with instant film pictures in general, so it’s no surprise that the same company is responsible for some of the most impressive instant cameras today. Of course, it’s important to keep your expectations reasonable with any instant cameras, as they don’t deliver the same high resolutions, bold colors and other advanced picture-taking features that we’re used to with today’s remarkable digital cameras.
Keep in mind that instant cameras are meant for fast and fun photos that capture memorable moments as much as they capture beautiful scenery. Since they use analog film, they have a fundamentally different quality to their appearance than printed digital photos. Speaking of film, today’s instant cameras use a system from Zink, short for zero ink, a company that’s partnered with many modern instant camera makers to bring you reliable and reasonably priced photo paper.
Polaroid instant camera pros
- Impressive feature sets: What really stands out about Polaroid instant cameras is the number of advanced features offered. For example, the most recent release, the Polaroid Now+, offers Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app with premium functions like full manual image control, double exposure and custom triggers for creating fun and innovative photos.
- Above-average picture quality: Polaroid instant cameras won’t rival any of today’s advanced smartphones, but they’re not meant to. In terms of instant cameras, on the other hand, Polaroids get some of the brightest and clearest results around.
- Moderate film cost: If you search around for good deals, you can take Polaroid instant photos at just under $0.50 each.
Polaroid instant camera cons
- Expensive: Polaroid’s instant cameras cost almost as much as a good point-and-shoot camera. If you’re looking for something cost-conscious and portable, you might even consider pairing an instant photo printer with your smartphone instead.
- Some are very bulky: In particular, the Polaroid instant film cameras that take the best photos are impossible to fit in your pocket. Remember, the best camera is one that you’ll actually use, and the size of Polaroid’s flagship offerings makes it hard to imagine carrying one around all night at a party or club.
What are the best Polaroid instant cameras to buy?
This is the latest evolution of the wildly popular Polaroid OneStep first released in the early 1990s. It offers tons of interesting features including close-up and standard autofocus, full manual control via Bluetooth app and double exposure for creating interesting and memorable images on the spot.
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Auto-focus improves clarity with this camera. You can capture two moments in one photo with the double exposure feature. The self-timer lets you get in on the action.
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Kodak instant cameras
Believe it or not, the first digital camera in history was developed at Eastman Kodak in 1975, but the engineer behind it and the company’s executives “were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.” That lack of foresight led to a 2012 bankruptcy which was followed by a 2013 sale and reemergence as producer of premium niche analog film.
Today, instant cameras make up a small but meaningful part of Kodak’s offerings and come in a few flavors. As you’ll quickly learn through hands-on reviews and expert opinion, though, their use is somewhat limited in scope.
Kodak instant camera pros
- Remarkably small: Most Kodak instant cameras are smaller than a smartphone and a comparable size to the Polaroid Snap, which ensures you’ll actually have it on you when you want to take a picture.
- Low cost: Unlike many other brands, you can get your hands on a decent Kodak model for roughly $50.
- Easy to use: About as straightforward as they come, a Kodak instant camera would be great for anybody who isn’t very tech-savvy, including young kids or older family members.
Kodak instant camera cons
- Image quality is inconsistent and often poor: A large number of owners complain that it’s nearly impossible to avoid blurry images and that the colors are bland and washed-out.
- Their reliability is less than ideal: A not-insignificant number of owners report that one day their pocket-size Kodak cameras simply stop working, often just a few months after purchase. Make sure to stick with the most successful and dependable model you can find.
What is the best Kodak instant camera to buy?
This is one of the few Kodak instant cameras worth recommending. While it doesn’t offer great image quality, it’s about as affordable as anything else on the market and good for casual use.
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What are the best alternatives to Kodak and Polaroid instant cameras?
Polaroid makes great high-end instant cameras and some from Kodak are effective and highly portable, but what if you want something that takes good-looking pictures and also fits in a pocket or small purse? In that case, consider one of the several great instant cameras made by Fujifilm. They’re smaller and less expensive than models from Polaroid and more reliable with better image quality than those from Kodak.
It’s compact, affordable, suitable for high and low light and takes great selfies.
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Some say this one delivers better-quality images than almost any other. It boasts advanced features including macro and long exposure photography, which few other instant cameras offer.
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As the name implies, it’s one of the few instant film cameras that takes widescreen photos, which look consistently great due to its premium engineering.
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Should you get a Polaroid or Kodak instant camera?
If you want great image quality and premium features, consider investing in a Polaroid instant camera. A decent Kodak instant camera is a highly portable option, but don’t expect the clearest pictures. For a compromise between portability and photo quality, take a look at one of the great alternatives from Fujifilm.
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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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