Updated January 2024. This article uses affiliate links which help me keep this site online without annoying banner ads. Thank you!
“What Polaroid camera should I get for my wedding?”
Over the past decade, I’ve been getting this question quite a bit. Couples are looking to instant film to add a little fun to wedding festivities and give guests a keepsake to take home. Polaroid and Fuji Instax instant snapshots both offer something that digital pictures can’t compete with when documenting a life-changing event. Also, beyond weddings, people are taking and sharing instant film photos in parties, baby showers, and more.
That said, what’s the best instant camera and film for an event like a wedding?
If you just want a quick recommendation without the fuss, get yourself a Fuji Instax Mini 12 camera, Fuji Instax Mini film, and call it a day. (For those of you who may be using ad blockers that delete my affiliate links, the rec is a Fuji Instax Mini 12 camera and film).
The Two Major Brands: Polaroid and Fuji Instax
First, it is important to know that there are two major brands that are currently making instant film cameras. Most of you will remember Polaroid with its timeless square frame. Polaroid itself stopped producing cameras and film in the late 2000s, but Polaroid Originals (now just ‘Polaroid’ again) has stepped in and makes new film for vintage cameras and new ones.
The second brand out there is Fuji Instax. You’ve likely run into many of these cameras, as they are colorful, cheap, and plentiful. Fuji Instax Mini cameras in particular have proved to be enormously popular. Confusingly, you’ll likely hear many people call these ‘Polaroids,’ but Fuji Instax and Polaroid cameras are very different and are not compatible with each other.
Polaroid Originals and Fuji Instax are both great formats. However, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Knowing them will help you figure out which one will work best for your wedding or event.
It’s helpful to remember that most guests are not going to be experts in vintage photography, and need something intuitive and foolproof. Luckily, most Polaroid cameras are super simple and easy to use.
Vintage Polaroid cameras like the OneStep Closeup 600 can be found for cheap and are fairly hardy. If you’re lucky, you might have one in your attic already. Vintage cameras are charming and dead simple to use, but sometimes can encounter mechanical issues.
Many people are going to want to skip the fuss and go with a new camera from Polaroid. The Polaroid Now+ is a great camera that is simple to use, and my top recommendation if you want a camera lying around that anybody can shoot.
The Now+ uses Polaroid I-Type film. You can get it directly from the Polaroid website or on Amazon. I-Type film comes in color and black and white variants. I personally love the black and white, but both are great. Also, I like Polaroid colors much more than Fuji Instax’s colors, but both are on equal footing when it comes to black and white film.
An added benefit of I-Type film is that it is a bit more affordable than 600 film for vintage cameras, coming in around 17 USD for a pack of 8 photos. If cost is your main concern, jump over to Fuji Instax, which has the cheapest line of film in Instax Mini.
If you’re shooting with a vintage Polaroid camera instead of a new Polaroid Originals camera, you’re going to need the appropriate type of film to go with it. To figure out what kind of film you need, check out my handy guide.
Polaroid is the way to go if you want large, handsome photos that are exactly the same size and shape as vintage Polaroid. It also features cameras that are a bit more fun to use, but Polaroid can be more expensive than Fuji Instax.
Fuji Instax is generally cheaper and more readily available than Polaroid film. It utilizes three different frame sizes: mini, square, and wide. A Fuji Instax Mini frame is about the size of a credit card, and square is just a bit wider. Fuji Instax Wide is almost exactly double the size of Fuji Instax Mini, and the closest in size to a traditional Polaroid.
The great thing about Fuji Instax Mini in particular is that it is (relatively) cheap. You can get a ton of film at a great price.
As recommended at the top of this article, an affordable combo is a Fuji Instax Mini 12 camera paired with Fuji Instax Mini film. Because they’re cheaper, you can scatter a few Instax Mini 12s around the event and let people take their own pictures.
If you want to get a bit wider, the Fuji Instax SQ-6 is a decent camera that produces square photos that look like smaller versions of classic Polaroids. Avoid the SQ-10, which adds in a digital camera to the mix and defeats the purpose of these things.
All Fuji Instax film comes in both color and black and white (monochrome) versions. Personally, I much prefer Fuji Instax monochrome. It’s both more fun and I don’t really like the cold blue cast that Instax color tends to have.
The main tradeoff with the Fuji Instax system is that some Instax cameras are a bit of a mess. While most Polaroid cameras simply require you to point it at something and press the shutter button, Fuji Instax cameras have all sorts of weird quirks. It’s best to stick with Fuji Instax Mini cameras like the Mini 12, which tend to be the best of the bunch. Avoid the Fuji Instax Wide cameras like the 210 and 300, which are particularly user-unfriendly.
At the party, you can either choose to set out cameras for guests to use themselves, or you can have a photographer take pictures and hand out the photos they take. Simpler cameras like the Instax Mini 12, vintage Polaroid OneStep Closeup, and Polaroid Now+ are perfect if guests are taking photos and need to figure out the cameras for themselves. They can also be used if the designated photographer isn’t a professional. Avoid more complicated cameras where you can (which has the added benefit of saving you some money!)
If there is a person in charge of taking photos and they have some skills, they might benefit from cameras that are a bit more advanced. Vintage autofocus Polaroid cameras like the Impulse AF produce great results, and the best Polaroid camera of them all is the SLR 680 (though I would only hand that to a pro). If you want to spend more on the Instax Mini side, the Instax Mini 90 is an excellent camera that is a joy to use.
Good luck on your special day!
If you want a more in-depth guide on what Polaroid camera to get, check out my complete Polaroid camera buying guide.