When buying a camera a lot of people focus most on the megapixel rating and other such features that they may or may not use. We fall into the trap of thinking that these numbers are limitations. For example, a lot of people read ‘11 megapixel’ and see ‘only 11 megapixel’ when in fact it’s all a bonus. Every extra megapixel or megabyte of memory is just that – extra. Don’t fall into the trap that just because one camera has 12 megapixel, and the other has 6, that 6 megapixel is somehow too inferior for your uses. The army has bullet-proof vehicles that can carry 8 people across land at incredible speeds and even transport people across water; does that mean your 2-door hatchback is absolutely useless? No, because it’s still an incredible feat of engineering and technological advancement.
In fact, simpler is often far better.
The most common way to judge a camera is also the least important when comparing instant cameras. Rather than referring to quality, megapixels refer to the size of the image. And, since you’re printing it on consumer sized prints, it really doesn’t matter. Even if you plan to print it on much larger sized prints, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry too much. In fact, a lot of Instant cameras won’t even show you the megapixel rating because the images aren’t actually saved to the device. Which leads us to the next feature.
Again, thankfully, nothing you really need to worry about with an instant camera. Your free memory is the amount of blank prints left, and your saved memories are already printed out. Some instant cameras can store the images too, which is useful for uploading to websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. That said, it’s extremely common for people to print the pictures, display them, and then take a picture of it with their phone to show to the world. Instant printing adds a whole new dimension to your photography in which digital memory is an afterthought. It’s all about the now and the real.
The Price of Prints
You need to also consider the price of packs of blank prints, and whether or not you want to use the official paper or third party paper. Personally, we’d recommend having both on hand. Nice paper for when it’s worth it, and third party (non manufacturer made) paper for daily snaps and fun. If you’re about the price of either, then compare it to the price to print your pictures at other places and you’ll soon see the savings. Plus, you don’t need to travel to print them because you can do it on the go. Amazing.
Surely weight doesn’t matter? Wrong! Weight is the most important factor to consider when purchasing an instant camera. Why? Because if it’s not portable to carry then what is the point? The most important camera is the one you have with you. So, if you can’t be bothered to take it with you, then you’re better off with something smaller and lighter that you can keep in a pocket or a bag.
Some instant cameras come with a selfie mirror that helps you frame selfies or shots of your and your friends without guesswork. This is valuable because a large part of buying an instant camera is the ‘candid’ nature of using it. After the first spontaneous shot, if you didn’t frame it quite right, then things might be missed out of the picture or you might have to retake it — potentially ruining the mood. While more expensive cameras often come with a tilting LCD screen, using a small mirror is refreshingly traditional and a lot more ‘real’ than seeing the world through a computer screen.
Color, Black and White, Special Effects, Filters
Pay attention to the type of pictures that an instant camera produces. Some instant cameras only produce black and white pictures, intended more for street photography and arty type shots. Some produce flat photos with ‘washed out’ colours for a more relaxed, minimalist, vintage feel. Some give you a whole variety of filters to choose from which are similar to Instagram and specialist film types. Some cameras are even designed to take pictures that, by traditional standards, would be considered ‘mistakes’; e.g featuring lens flares and ‘light-leaks’ and producing images that are either too bright or too dark in order to create what are now called ‘low-fi- images. Intentionally faulty images to exaggerate the spontaneous and real aspect of your photos.
This is a little more difficult to judge because, while the measurements of the print sizes will be clearly stated, it’s hard to know what you want until you have it. That said, consider where you’ll be putting the images, not what will look better in your mind. If you want to have a scrapbook, then small prints may be perfect for you. Or, perhaps you want to be able to print multiple images on the go while out with groups of friends? In that case, business card sized may be your ideal choice. Alternatively, if you want to proudly display your images and have a bit of an arty-side, then perhaps the largest print size possible is for you? A lot of the time, a camera capable of printing large prints can also print small prints. That’s not always the case however, so you should make sure 100% before purchasing.
Accessories and Kits
Accessories can empty your bank account with their small individual prices that soon add up. It is possible to buy kits with everything you need to get started, and for the most part these are good deals. However, always consider if you really need a particular accessory. If the kit includes multiple accessories that you don’t need, then it’s not a good deal. Anything you don’t want to buy is never a good deal. That said, accessories can open up your world creatively, so don’t ignore them. A cheaper camera with more accessories might be exactly what you need, rather than a more expensive camera without accessories.