With so many of our memories stored in digital files, saved in cloud storage, or uploaded to social media, there’s something to be said for the physical experience of holding a photograph in your hands that makes the experience more profound to children. An instant camera allows kids to explore the world and capture it as they see it, preserving their memories in a way that young kids couldn’t otherwise do in an increasingly digital world. Pictures taken with instant cameras can be decorated with stickers or markers, pasted and saved in scrapbooks, or pinned on walls, allowing kids a precious chance to hold memories in their hands.
Instant cameras have come a long way since clunky old Polaroids, though. Today’s instant camera has filters and frames, print in color or black and white, and save your images to a microSD card for uploading to your computer to keep a digital copy in case something happens to your originals. Read on for our buyer’s guide to the best instant camera for kids, product reviews, awards for our top picks, and frequently asked questions.
Additionally, if you’re keen on advancing and developing your kids’ creativity, then take a look at our recommendations for the best kids easel. Together these two creative activities can make for a lovely homemade art project!
This small but stylish instant camera comes with everything you will need to get started! With two picture-taking modes, you can either take pictures of your family and friends or hop in the photo yourself with the camera on selfie mode.
How Does an Instant Camera Work?
Unlike cameras that use regular film or ink cartridges, instant cameras use film packs that include chemical developers, a negative, and the positive paper required to generate the photo you see. Pressing the shutter button will project the image in the viewfinder onto the film, which is in turn drawn across a series of rollers before emerging from the camera. Once in the light, the chemicals on the paper will react and develop into a color photograph. It’s a sophisticated chemical process, but to a child, it’s just like magic!
The Best Instant Camera for Kids
5.5 x 9 x 7.5 inches
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This small but stylish instant camera comes with everything you will need to get started! With two picture-taking modes, you can either take pictures of your family and friends or hop in the photo yourself with the camera on selfie mode. It’s easy to switch back and forth – when the lens extends automatically after pressing the power button, just pull the rim of the lens outward until you see the ‘Selfie On’ mark. There’s a handy mirror next to the lens to make sure you’ve got everyone in the shot, too.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 instant camera comes with 60 sheets of Fujifilm Instax film, an album that holds up to 64 photos, colorful stickers to decorate your pictures, a cleaning cloth for the camera lens, and a travel camera case with an adjustable strap so you can easily take your camera with you on the go. Printed photos take approximately 90 seconds for photos to finish developing once they’ve been printed.
This camera takes two AA batteries, which are not included. The viewfinder has a real image finder to help you focus. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 has a high-performance flash that automatically calculates surrounding brightness and adjusts the shutter speed accordingly, so you don’t need to worry about adjusting settings in order to capture bright backgrounds and subjects in a dark scene. Available in several colors, including lilac, blush pink, sky blue, white, and charcoal grey, there’s something here for everyone!
Reasons to Buy the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Camera
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Perfect for kids, the Barchrons Instant Print Digital Kids Camera has several features that make it easy to use for young photographers. Not only can you instantly print pictures on the 2-inches x 4-inches directly from the camera (note: pictures print in black and white, but can be colored in with markers or colored pencils), but you can also save images on the 32G memory card.
It’s also possible to turn off the instant printing feature and only save pictures to the memory card. This is a great feature if you want to sort through multiple shots of the same image and choose the best one, which can then be printed after attaching the camera to your computer via USB (included).
Besides photo capture, you can also record videos, use the self-timer, and take pictures in both selfie and rear capture modes. Just turn the lens on the top of the camera around to get yourself in the picture, too! There are also twenty different cartoon photo frames to choose from to make your pictures look extra special. The 2.4-inch screen is big enough for kids to easily frame their scenes. The Barchrons Instant Print Digital Kids Camera has a rechargeable battery and comes in a box with one instant camera, three rolls of printer paper, 1 USB charging cable, 1 neck lanyard to ensure the camera isn’t dropped, 1 32G SD card, and 1 user manual.
Reasons to Buy the Barchrons Instant Print Digital Kids Camera
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The Maidream Instant Print Camera offers excellent value if you’re looking for a quality instant camera for kids, on a budget. With its funky animal motifs, this camera might look like a toy, but don’t be fooled! Kids can use the rear-facing or selfie modes to take and print up to 150 pictures on the included paper rolls (refills available as well), and it’s capable of recording videos, too. Pictures are printed out instantly, and although they print in black and white, you can use this as a jumping-off point to further explore your creativity. Use markers or colored pencils to color in your photos, or decorate them with some of the fun stickers that come included with this camera.
This camera has a rechargeable battery, so you don’t need to worry about having replacements on hand. It also shuts down automatically after 3 seconds of inactivity, so if little ones put the camera down and leave it without switching it off, you won’t have to worry about the battery being drained. When plugged in, the Maidream Instant Print Camera takes approximately 2 hours to reach full charge. Included in the package you will find, in addition to the camera, 3 rolls of picture printing paper, 1 32G memory card, 1 card reader, 1 USB charging cable, 1 sheet of stickers, and 1 lanyard to wear around your neck. This instant print camera for kids offers great value for kids.
Reasons to Buy the Maidream Instant Print Camera for Kids
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Another great option for young kids is the Dragon Touch Instant Print Kids Camera. With both rear and front-facing cameras, a 2-inch high definition LCD screen, and fun extras like 35 built-in photo frames, 7 photo effects, and 6 color video modes, this instant camera for kids are sure to please. Black and white images can be instantly printed on environmentally friendly BPA-free photo paper, which can then be decorated with stickers and markers that come included. If you prefer, this kids’ instant camera also includes a USB cable to connect to your computer so you can transfer and save photos and videos.
The Dragon Touch Instant Print Kids Camera has a kid-friendly design with only 5 simple buttons to press, making it easy for young kids to use independently. It also comes with a protective silicone cover that is drop-resistant, as well as a camera bag and travel lanyard, so you don’t need to worry about young photographers dropping it. This camera comes with tons of accessories aside from the camera bag, including 5 rolls of photo paper, 1 sheet of stickers, 5 markers to decorate photos, and a USB cable.
Reasons to Buy the Dragon Touch Instant Print Kids Camera
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Suitable for older kids and teens, the Zink Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera has a lot going for it. Zink stands for ‘zero ink’, making it possible to instantly print full-color smudge-proof images at the push of a button. Insert a microSD card (32G card included) to instantly save your images, but the 2-inches x 3-inches prints take under a minute to develop. They have an adhesive backing, so are perfect for decorating scrapbooks, school lockers, or dorm rooms, among other surfaces. This camera has both rear-facing and selfie modes, and the self-timer feature lets you get in the shot, too.
The Zink Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera takes pictures with a 10-megapixel resolution and can take up to 10 sheets of paper at a time. If you run out of paper, you can still use the camera, it will just save all of the images to the microSD card. This camera has a rechargeable battery for convenience. It’s slim and compact, easy to pop into your bag for a day out, and the large buttons are easy to use. This camera doesn’t come with any additional accessories.
Reasons to Buy the Zink Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
Preserving Instant Camera Photos
One of the reasons people love digital cameras so much is that it’s so easy to preserve the thousands of photos you take. Photos taken on an instant camera will require a little more effort, but it’s possible to preserve them, too.
Because of the chemical reactions required to form your image, it can sometimes take some time for the chemicals to fully develop and finish their reactions. It’s best to let photos sit flat and dry after you’ve printed them. Handle the instant photos with care, especially while they’re drying, by only touching the borders whenever you need to pick them up. If you touch the image, you could smudge the photo or disrupt the chemical reactions taking place. If you’ve purchased an instant camera for a young child, this is an important point to emphasize to them.
Once they’ve dried, instant photos must be stored properly, too. Although it’s best to keep them flat, don’t store them stacked on top of each other. Place them in an acid-free photo book and keep them in a safe place that’s dry, and cool. Too much exposure to UV light or extreme heat can cause the film to deteriorate, as can a room with too much moisture in the air, such as an unfinished basement.
Once your photo has finished drying, you might want to make a digital copy to keep, just in case. Some of the cameras on our list come with SD cards that automatically save your images so you can later upload them to your computer. If the camera you like doesn’t have this feature, you can also scan the image and store it on a hard drive or in cloud storage so that if anything happens to the original, you can still have a copy in your archives.
Ease of Use
Read your camera’s manual carefully to make sure you are getting optimal functionality out of it. Some cameras have fun extra features like built-in frames or photo effects, so it’s good to have an understanding of how these extra features work. Some cameras are straightforward and have point-and-shoot capabilities and are easy to master, while others might take some work. If you’re buying a camera for a young child, this is an important point to consider so the child can use the camera independently.
The more megapixels, the higher resolution your images will be. Keep in mind that these are inexpensive cameras made for children, so the image quality is not going to be the same as it would be in the latest iPhone. Most cameras on our list have between 10 and 12 megapixels, which is enough resolution to get good quality images.
Before you start looking at instant cameras for kids, decide in advance what kind of budget you’re comfortable with. Our list includes cameras at a variety of price points, so there’s something to suit every budget, starting at under sixty dollars at one end of the scale and going up to less than 140 dollars at the higher end.
Some cameras come with lots of accessories and others come with none, but think about what you are planning to use the camera for and whether or not accessories matter. Instant cameras for young children are more likely to come with accessories like stickers for decorating and a carry case and lanyard to keep the camera safe from little hands. Cameras intended for slightly older children may not come with as much. The only accessories that are really needed are a charging cable (if the camera is rechargeable) and photo paper for printing out pictures. If your camera doesn’t come with printing paper and refills, you may want to purchase a set of refills at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Instant Cameras Last?
If properly cared for, instant cameras can last a long time, although you will need to replace the photo printing paper in them. These refills are readily available on Amazon. Just be sure you buy the correct size to fit your camera! Some of the cameras on our list are designed for use by young children, and these cameras are more likely to be outgrown than worn out.
Do Polaroids Need Ink?
Polaroids, and other instant cameras, use inkless technology. The no-mess printing process uses multi-layered thermal paper with magenta, yellow, and cyan dye crystals that activate when heat is applied. This process can take a while to fully develop, so it’s important to leave your photos lying flat in order to give the photo time to fully process the chemical reaction.
Do Instax Polaroids Fade?
If not cared for properly, instant photos can fade. You can take steps to avoid this from happening by leaving your photos lying flat long enough for them to fully develop, and storing them properly in an acid-free photo book that is kept in a cool, dry place.
Should You Shake Polaroids?
Contrary to what Outkast taught us on the dance floor, you should not actually shake modern Polaroid pictures. When the instant picture technology was first developed, shaking was initially encouraged, but as the technology improved it became unnecessary. Today, shaking a Polaroid can actually damage the image. It’s best to let instant photos lie flat until fully dried.