Why You Should Be Experimenting With an Instant Camera

Decades ago, instant film was one of the most popular mediums for photography. Though camera technology has significantly advanced since instant cameras were in their prime, there are still many valid reasons for experimenting with them from time to time.

In this video, Josh Katz makes his case for using instant cameras, such as those made by Polaroid and Fujifilm. Katz points out that with digital cameras, we’re spoiled by the ability to “spray and pray” and have become lazy at making each click of the shutter count. Because there is a high cost per click when using instant film, with some film running around three dollars per exposure, we tend to be more deliberate and decisive when taking photos with these cameras. Instant cameras generally have very few manual settings, so creating great images relies more on achieving perfect composition. There is no post-capture cropping involved in producing prints with instant cameras, making it that much more critical to compose correctly in camera.

Though the film can be pricey, instant cameras themselves are fairly affordable. They are one of those things that if you haven’t tried them before, you really should. I agree that there is a certain “rush” you get when taking a photo with an instant camera, knowing that you only have a limited number of presses of the shutter, and that the image will be developed into a print that you can see and hold right away. There is a lot of excitement experienced in watching your photo develop in a few seconds before your eyes. Fun factor aside, taking an instant film camera for an occasional spin will make you a little more careful when you revert back to your favorite digital counterpart.

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4 Comments

Neville Ross's picture

Sorry, but if I want instant pictures, I'd rather buy a printer, hook up my digital camera up to said printer, and print the photo(s) out.

Peter Mabli's picture

You can have the best of both: check out the Fuji Instax printers. You can send smart phone images directly to it, and from a Fuji digital camera if you have one (I think. I don’t have one but tried one at a friend’s party. People had a blast with it). It’s chemical instant film, btw.

I had an original when I was a kid and I still have those photos in albums today. They look the same as when I took them. Waiting only minutes for your photo to be ready was totally cool high tech. The good old days :) Can't justify the cost for getting one for myself but I have bought the Instax as gifts.

Mike Gillin's picture

I have an Fuji Instax I bought a while ago. Do I think every photographer should have one for the reasons mentioned? Not really. I find it to be a fun alternative. Something to break up shooting habits. I don't think I have ever shot a truly great picture with it, but for a little fun why not?