Instant cameras have recently exploded again, with new models like the Polaroid Go and Fujifilm Instax Mini forty arriving lately for new analog sensations. But since both brands have a huge legacy in the field, Which one deserves to win the huge “Polaroid vs Instax” debate?
It's a pretty tough question, but we're in a good position to answer it after growing up with the original cameras (albeit it reveals our age). Today's Polaroid and also Instax lines have never been healthierBut to truly understand brands, we must go back to their original stories.
Instant film has given photographers virtually instant results since the medium's inception in the 1940s. By using chemical reactions to self-discover each image, instant photos develop in minutes, bypassing the long wait times associated with printing and processing 35mm film negatives. Many photographers have also fallen in love with instant film's own almost ethereal color balance and tonal range.
As the popularity of digital cameras grew rapidly in the early 2000s, interest in analog film waned, but since then the instant has had a veritable revival. Now, A new generation of photographers understands the value of having a physical photograph, rather than just a digital image on a computer or smartphone screen.
There, 2 big companies flying the flag for instant film are a Polaroid sub-brand and also Fujifilm's Instax. Both have their cameras, a plurality of different film formats, and different interpretations of what "instant" means. Which one is the best for you? Let's find out.
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Polaroid vs Instax: How did we get here?
Most photographers are familiar with Fujifilm and Polaroid, the two brands started producing cameras in the late 1930s and were household names while analog film was in its prime.
It was Polaroid that first championed instant film with the Land Camera Model 95 in 1908.. It produced sepia prints in about a minute; color film would take another 2 decades to arrive. Polaroid ultimately offered the most extensive range of instant cameras and film formats, so much so that the brand became its namesake carrier. The fact that it owns the instant film patents helped ensure that the likes of Kodak couldn't compete in the arena.
Fuji's first foray into the instant came later in the 1980s with cameras like the Instax 100., but only after successfully dodging a possible lawsuit for infringement of Polaroid film patents. These patents would expire in 1998, when Fuji introduced its first Instax camera.
This coincided with the advent of the first digital cameras, an industry change for which the Japanese company was considerably more prepared than Polaroid. Only Fuji would survive with integrity and since then it has become the new market leader with its line of cameras and instant film formats.
Polaroid, as we know it today, began as The Impossible Project. This group of lovers of instant photography acquired the last Polaroid factory and its production equipment from the holding company formed after the bankruptcy of the brand in two thousand and one.
It started selling film for existing Polaroid cameras, then started making its own, eventually acquiring the Polaroid name. Hence the arrival of the Polaroid Now and the Polaroid Go, their first novelties under the original brand.
Polaroid vs. Instax: The Cameras
Polaroid's current line consists of 3 cameras: the entry-level Polaroid Now, the more advanced OneStep+, and the pocket-sized Polaroid Go. Polaroid also sells officially refurbished versions of an original model from the 1980s called the Polaroid 600, which uses custom-made XNUMX film.
The Now and OneStep+ use Type I film, plus the former's autofocus lens. transforms it into a more compact camera aimed at industry newcomers. The OneStep+ costs a bit more, but gains in Bluetooth connectivity and a companion smartphone app, which unlocks more creative shooting modes.
The Polaroid Go, for its part, is the smallest model in the range. It produces prints that are half the size of a traditional I-Type film, while retaining advanced features like a selfie timer and the perfect double exposure mode.
Fuji offers a considerably more extensive range of cameras, divided between the Instax Mini, Instax Square and also Instax Wide formats. The Instax Mini line includes the most affordable and capable models for beginnersincluding the Fujifilm Instax Mini eleven, which currently tops our guide to the best instant cameras.
It has an automatic exposure system that helps combat the overly sensitive nature of instant film when shooting outdoors. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 40 is fundamentally the exact same camera, but with a nicer body for a bit more money.
Fujifilm Instax SQ1 and Fujifilm Instax SQ6 shoot square format film and are more advanced than the Mini line, with multiple shooting modes and a more premium build. They are also physically larger and more expensive. There's also the SQ20 hybrid instant camera, which takes both digital and still photos, but its digital shots are only on par with smartphones from the early 2010s.
Lastly, the Instax Wide 300 (above) is as tall as the Instax models. It has adjustable focus, a snap-on close-up attachment, and takes pictures with incredible clarity, but film packs are certainly more expensive and lack the more advanced features advanced photographers might expect.
Polaroid vs Instax Film: Exactly How Is It Different?
Until recently, Polaroid only sold one primary type of film: I-Type, which produces square-format photos. A bundle contains 8 snapshots, each measuring 10 X 7,8 cm (4,2 x 3,4 inches). The actual photo area is smaller at 7,9 x 7,7 inches (3,1 x 3,0 cm), more still significantly larger than most Fuji Instax formats (including Square).
Color and black-and-white film versions are free, with a choice of different border colors. It also generates the physically identical 600 film, which is developed for use in original Polaroid cameras, but is also compatible with the modern line.
The new "Go" film is exclusive to Polaroid Go and is physically considerably smaller. At 6,6 x 5,4 cm (2,6 x 2,1 inches) and a photo area of 4,7 x 4,6 cm (1,9 x 1,8 inches), each photo is even more compact than Fuji's Instax Mini competitor. Today only color film is available and is sold in sets of 2 bundles of 8 shots.
Fuji Instax Mini, Square and Wide films cannot be intermixed or mixed: Each is developed for a specific Instax camera series. The credit card sized Instax Mini is the most popular and affordable, with free packages at most retailers. Each package contains 10 photos of 5,4 x 8,6 cm (2,1 x 3,4 inches), which have an image area of 4,6 x 6,2 cm (1,8 x 2,4 inches) . Beginner film is great for fun as well as brash shots and selfies with friends.
Instax Square is, as its name suggests, a square format film that at 8,6 x 7,2 cm (3,4 x 2,8 inches), is about a third larger than an Instax Mini photo. Each shot has an image area of 7,2 x 7,2 cm (2.4 x 2.4 inches) and can be purchased in a selection of different colors and border patterns, but not as many as the Instax Mini. Color and monochrome movies are free, and the larger image size is more suitable for portraits and more detailed scenes.
Lastly, Instax Wide Film Packs use 8,6 x 10,8 in (3,4 x 4,2 cm) photos with an image area of 6,2 x 9,9 in (2,4 x 3,9 cm). XNUMX inches), which makes them precisely a couple of times wider than an Instax Mini print. Monochrome and color film classes are free, but the only border color option is white. Bearing in mind its limited support, Instax Wide is highly attractive to instant photography enthusiasts who have multiple cameras.
Polaroid vs Instax: Which is better?
Well, now is the time to answer the big question: Which is the best brand of instant camera, Polaroid or Instax?
Because of its size, Polaroid's I-Type has the benefit over 2 of Fuji's 3 film genres, and despite the different aspect ratios, it also comes very close to Instax Wide. Cameras that accept it typically have good optics, resulting in clear, detailed images. On the other hand, there are not many options and the packages are still expensive to acquire. For the cost of a single bundle of 8 I-Type color shots, you can get 2 bundles of 10 Instax Mini films.
With multiple sizes to choose from, including a wide range of compatible cameras, both from Fuji itself and from small third-party manufacturers, Instax is simply the most flexible option.
Photographers who are familiar with the particular characteristics of the moment will appreciate Instax Square, which is typically used by more advanced cameras, but beginners should go for Instax Mini. Film bundles are particularly accessible and the cameras that accept them are usually easy and rotatable.
That may change the moment the wallet-compatible Polaroid Go sets in, but for now Instax is the huge winner in our book.