Many years ago, Fujifilm quietly made a deal with Polaroid to release their own line of instant film. This came to be known as Fuji Instax film, and never quite reached the iconic status of Polaroid (or the sales) at the height of instant film’s enormous popularity in the eighties and nineties. Who knew, then, that in 2016 Polaroid as knew it would have ceased to exist and Fuji Instax film would be enjoying a tremendous upswing in popularity?
Fuji Instax cameras and film are currently the most popular instant film format out there, surpassing even the Impossible Project’s replacement for Polaroid film. Arguably, Fuji Instax is the only film product that still sees significant sales from everyday consumers outside of hardcore photography enthusiasts. Great cameras and low-cost film make it a great entry point in the world of instant film.
With the Fuji Instax line thriving, I thought it was time to put together a guide as to which Fuji Instax film cameras are best for different people. Luckily, there’s something out there for nearly every level of experience and purpose.
Wondering whether you should be shooting Impossible Project film on Polaroid cameras or Fuji Instax Wide or Mini? Check out my Polaroid vs. Fuji Instax vs. Impossible Project instant film comparison.
An Introduction to Fuji Instax Films
Fuji Instax instant films come in two sizes, the wallet-sized Instax ‘mini’ format, and the larger Instax ‘Wide’ format. Instax Wide is almost exactly twice the size of Instax Mini, and comparable to the size of a traditional Polaroid frame.
Fujifilm makes many different cameras for both formats, and other companies like Lomography also make cameras that utilize Instax film. Instax Mini cameras are the most common, and are also far smaller and easier to use than Instax Wide cameras.
Specific Camera Recommendations
Unlike my Polaroid camera guide, all of the cameras that I recommend below are actively in production and sold new. That means less hassle with prices and availability and that when you buy a camera you can be certain that it will work.
Best Camera for Events and Weddings – Instax Mini 8
The Instax Mini 8 is a great, affordable camera that is one of the most user-friendly cameras Fujifilm has made. It’s not quite as easy as the point and shoot Polaroid, but it comes close.
Fuji Instax Mini shines in events like weddings and parties, where guests can take home photos as keepsakes. The affordability of the film makes it possible, and the Instax Mini 8 is cheap enough that if one gets damaged its no great loss. Also, the price makes it easier to get multiple cameras.
Also making it great for events is the fact that it uses standard AA batteries. You don’t need to worry about charging up a bunch of lithium ion batteries the night before, just pop in some fresh batteries and you’re good to go.
Best Camera for Beginners – Instax Mini 8
The Fuji Instax Mini 8 is also perfect for people just getting started with instant film photography for many of the same reasons above. It’s a perfect combination of value and quality, and the film is highly affordable.
Best Camera for Active Photographers – Fuji Instax Neo 90
The Neo 90 is designed for photographers who are going to be using their Instax camera a lot. A rechargable lithium ion battery saves you from having to carry around batteries, and also slims down the camera.
Speaking of camera, this thing is a beauty. Small and easily transportable when not in use and featuring great ergonomics, the Fuji Instax Neo 90 is a joy to use and one of the best instant film cameras ever made.
It’s got a price tag to go with the quality, but for somebody who uses their camera every week it’s worth every penny.
Best Fuji Instax Wide Camera – Fuji Instax Wide 300
You’ll notice that Fuji Instax Wide cameras have been missing from most of this list so far. Unfortunately, despite being a fantastic film format, there are no great cameras available for Fuji Instax Wide. The best of the bunch is the Fuji Instax Wide 300 camera, which with a little practice, can produce some fantastic images. Unfortunately, it’s hobbled by a user-hostile lens and awkward body size. The Fuji Instax Wide 300 is, however, a vast improvement over the 210, which was the standard-bearer up until recently. The 210 is extremely difficult to use, but you might be able to find a used one for cheap. It has the same lens as its newer cousin, so you can still get some quality images out of it if you work at it.
For art, landscape, and fashion, I find that the Fuji Instax mini format is simply too small for me to use on a regular basis. That’s why, despite being one of my least favorite cameras, the Fuji Instax Wide 300 typically sees the most use from me. It’s also one reason why I continue to use Impossible Project film with Polaroid cameras despite Fuji Instax being a far more affordable option.
Best Camera for Experimentation and Hardcore Photographers – Lomo’ Instant Wide
Lomography makes some bonkers cameras that use both the Fuji Instax Mini and Wide formats. Last year I reviewed the Lomo Instant Wide, which is the only camera Lomography makes that uses the Wide format. I found it extremely difficult to use, with blind manual focus and strange ergonomics. However, it has a bevy of options that no other camera can match. If you want to experiment with double exposures, crazy filters, and manual focus, this is the camera for you.
Lomography has a whole bunch of other cameras and camera backs that use Fuji Instax Mini film, but I haven’t gotten a chance to test them yet. I expect them to be similar to other Lomo cameras I’ve used in that they are difficult to use as a practical camera, but fun to use as a photographic toy.
Purchasing Film for Fuji Instax
Fuji Instax Wide and Mini cameras and film are available in many different stores, but I typically purchase it all straight from Amazon. Fuji doesn’t have any direct sales, but they keep their film in stock at most major photographic retailers.
It’s an exciting time to be shooting Fuji Instax film. New cameras are still being developed, and other companies like Lomography are pushing the boundaries for what an instant film camera can do. There are even rumblings of a black and white version of Instax Mini coming out soon, which would be a huge boon for the format.
Using any of the Amazon links above to purchase your gear helps me keep this site running and costs you nothing. Thank you and happy shooting!