At least in photography, what is old is new again. In an age where almost everyone has a high-end portable camera in their pocket with their smartphone, something interesting is happening.
Especially with children, instant cameras are becoming more and more popular. Chances are, you might see a child walking around with an instant camera ready to take a photo when the notification arrives.
If you want to know more about instant cameras and why they’re great for kids, look no further.
Along with a quick overview of what instant cameras really are and how they differ from old school technology, we’ll provide some great modern options for both younger and older kids.
What is Instant Camera
The name Polaroid should sound familiar to those who are old enough. The one-time juggernaut made instant cameras very popular – long before the age of digital cameras.
While it may not seem that appealing in today’s tech-filled society, instant cameras still have a bit of their magical appeal.
First, you need to load the appropriate film for whatever camera you have. Then, after framing your shot in the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button, an almost complete image develops, then exits its movie slot.
That’s when the real fun begins. You usually have to wait anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute as the image slowly appears on the film.
Why They’re Perfect for Kids
Instant camera and kids are a great combination for several reasons.
Many children are interested in taking great photos just like their parents. But in many situations, it’s not a good idea to give a child a very expensive electronic device that might break with just one accidental drop.
Along with ease of use, instant cameras help foster creativity in children, teach basic photography principles, and provide a better understanding of the world around them.
Instant cameras themselves are very affordable. While the films may seem expensive (average between $0.50 and $1 per print), they can cost less than $75.
So if something happens to the camera, it might not be the end of the world. But it could be a great way to teach responsibility before handing them a smartphone a few years down the line.
And let’s face it, they are really fun, even for the young at heart.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9: Great for Young Kids
Fujifilm’s Instax 9 is the perfect instant camera choice for young children. Historically for less than $60, this camera is available in a number of fun colors 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 this camera is very easy to use.
Oversized and easy to hold in smaller hands, the camera is powered by an AA battery so there’s no need to worry about charging.
The back of the camera contains the film compartment, print indicator button, and viewfinder. Inserting movies only takes a few seconds and even children can do with just a little practice. The front of the camera features a flash, shutter button, lens, selfie mirror, and power button.
When it’s time to take a photo, simply lay down the subject and press the shutter button.
Surprisingly, there are even some more advanced features for kids once they get the hang of the basics. The shutter speed is always set at 1/60 second, but the aperture can be changed using the brightness adjustment knob. The dial selects one of four possible options: indoors, cloudy, cloudy and sun, and sunny.
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Easy to use
The included close-up adapter attached to the lens will allow children to take close-up photos of subjects from just 14-20 inches from the camera lens. Also, a special button-height mode will give images a softer and cooler appearance like filters on Instagram or other social networks.
Along with an easy-to-use camera, there’s a plethora of kids’ movies to work with, everything from monochrome options that will print in black-and-white to edges featuring Star Wars characters.
And there are also plenty of fun accessories for the camera like a camera pouch and a custom frame for 2×3-inch prints.
Polaroid Snap : Perfect for Older Kids
For more advanced instant cameras, 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 has a 10-megapixel digital camera sensor that can capture images to an optional micro SD of up to 32GB. So older kids can have instant prints and even share pictures to social media later.
Cheap and Easy to Replace
Special ZINK paper costs about 50 cents and uses a special thermal process to create the image within about a minute of taking the image. Photographers can choose from three different color modes: vintage sepia tones, black and white.
Kids can print an image with the Polaroid Classic Border Logo or just a plain photo. Another great feature is the fun Photo Booth mode which takes six quick pictures in 10 seconds. Older kids can even use the Snap timer to make sure they’re even in the shot.
There are six different camera colors to choose from: black, blue, red, pink, white, and purple. Historically, Snap can be found for just under $100 online.
If you are looking for something else for a child, here are three alternatives you can consider.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300
As you may know by the name, the main feature of the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the wider print which measures 3.4×4.2 inches. Along with the auto flash, the camera also sports a close-up lens, a focus shooting button, and a tripod mount. Custom light and dark controls can add different high-key and low-key effects to each image.
Impossible Polaroid 600
If you’re a budding photographer who really wants to see what it’s like to shoot with an old school instant camera, take a look at the Impossible Polaroid 600. Fully refurbished and backed by a one year warranty, the camera works with film from Impossible.
Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2
Even if your child has moved to smartphone photography, they can still enjoy instant camera prints. With the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2, anyone can create instant prints with the companion app for their smartphone or tablet. They can even print images from the Facebook or Instagram apps.
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.
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