Consumer Reports: Best instant camera

Many of us are used to taking all of our pictures with a smartphone these days. But remember those old Polaroid cameras? The ones that spit the photo right out? Well, they’re back. And Consumer Reports has checked out some of the latest models that could make a great gift this holiday.

The latest instant cameras come in two types. There’s Instax, which is a lot like the Polaroid cameras you probably remember.

Instax instant camera

And then there’s something called Zink, which is a little bit like a photo printer attached to a digital camera.

Zink instant camera

With Instax film, the chemicals needed to develop the photo are in the piece of paper. You just wait for it to come to life. It looks a lot like some of the filters you might use on smartphone apps you’re sort of trying to fake digitally. Only you’re getting it for real.

With Zink cameras, photos emerge ready to go. And Zink film has a bonus: It allows you to peel the back off most photos to stick them up anywhere you like. Zink cameras also save your images to an SD card in the camera, so you can make as many prints as you want.

Consumer Reports checked out six instant cameras on the market and looked at several things, including image quality and autofocus. Our experts found there are a few drawbacks to “instant” photography. For starters, you’re not going to get high-quality photos by any stretch. And it can be expensive.

You can expect to pay anywhere from 66 cents to $1.15 for each standard color Instax print, and about 50 cents for each Zink print. Consumer Reports suggests trying to buy the film in bulk to save money.

So which cameras do Consumer Reports like the most? The best all-around option is the $99 Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6. Consumer Reports also says the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is cheap and fun for about $60. For Zink cameras, Consumer Reports likes the Canon Ivy Cliq for $80.

Consumer Reports has a tip if you plan to use an Instax instant camera: Don’t shake the photos like you might with Polaroid pictures because that can actually mess up your print!

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