For many, the perfect gift is a balance between something that’s useful and something that’s completely frivolous: Something, perhaps, like instant photography tools. Everyone already has a camera in their smartphone, so no one really needs an instant camera or instant photo printer. But they they add a function to your day off that your phone can’t pull off on its own; an immediacy in capturing a moment that can’t be replicated digitally.
Instant photography tools are something that exist purely for pleasure. They’re a way to capture moments with zero pressure, keeping you close to loved ones with every precious printed memory. Cameras are a big part of the “instant” category, but they’re not the only option available anymore.
The iconic instant analog camera
If you want to snap shots on the go, I’m convinced that there’s nothing better than a Fujifilm Instax. They’re bright, durable, and easy to spot. Plus, they’re super popular—which means that you can pick up new film in any major drugstore, even while travelling. The Instax Mini’s small size and affordability have led to Fujifilm eclipsing the Polaroid monopoly on instant photos.
Within the Instax line, you’ll find plenty of options to suit yourself or your recipient. Models like the Fujifilm Instax 11 are bubble-shaped and made from a hard-to-drop matte plastic. They’re great for beach trips and other holidays (I’ve taken my Instax Mini on countless hikes, and always love having it on hand). Plus, these iconic cameras make excellent gifts for teens and college students.
The Instax Mini originals are quite bright, however, which makes them less than ideal for moody goths and minimalist teens. For your colour-averse recipients, consider gifting them something like a Fujifilm Instax Square instead. The unique square photo paper is a little more novel, and the cameras and printers themselves are just more aesthetic. They’re available in chalky matte or metallic finishes, depending on the year and model, and deliver hard on the “cool” factor.
When to use heat-based instant photography
You essentially have two technology options when it comes to instant photography: ZINK technology and analog film. The Instax line uses analog film, which develops like a Polaroid would. I love it because it’s completely non-digital. Each photo gets a really creamy look with zero pixelation and a natural filtered effect.
ZINK paper is a little different. It’s used in cameras like the Kodak Printomatic, and it heats photo paper to shoot out an already-developed photo.
Personally, I think that ZINK photos look visibly more digital than analog prints. ZINK prints are pixel-based, and their colour feathering can be quite evident depending on the printer or camera model. But they have their strengths: sticky-backed, wallet-sized ZINK prints are amazing for families with young children, and they’re easy and affordable to restock on when you run out of photo printer.
All types of instant cameras are a fun addition to any party, but their differences make it worth choosing whichever one would best suit you, your gift recipient, or your holiday party vibe. I love using take-home prints as event favours, too—they can be more affordable than a full-on photo booth, but they let your guests take their party snaps home with them that very night!
Instant photography printers
I’ll admit it: I’m a little neurotic. I like being able to tweak my photos a little bit before printing or posting them, whether that means reviewing prints before they’re developed or adding a light filter to set a better mood. Smart instant photography printers let me do that.
Instant photo printers are without a doubt the gold-standard instant photography gift for the perfectionist in your life. Instant printers tend to be slightly pricier than your standard instant camera, but they’re really fun to use and I feel like they give your recipient more options when it comes to where and how they’ll print their favourite images.
For use at a party, instant printers can help cut down on the number of tools you have to bring, too. While every table needs an instant camera on-hand if they want to print from it, you’d only need a few printers per party. The printers can rotate their way through the event, and your friends and family can use them to take home their favourite smartphone snaps from the evening.
The Canon Selphy range is unbeatable when it comes to digital instant prints. These portable printers are a little larger than most, making them better for something like a wedding than something like a hike. But they print in a range of sizes (going all the way up to a 4″x6″ standard photo print) and produce high-quality, laminated results that can last for up to 100 years.
Another great choice is a Fujifilm Instax printer, which will give you that creamy analog look of an old Polaroid. You can even use instant printers to print out photos from your digital camera for instant, professional results.
Fun event ideas for instant photography
Instant printers and cameras are a hit all year long, but they’re a great investment for the packed holiday season. No one ever has enough time between gift-giving and eggnog-making, and instant photo printing takes going to the photo printer’s off of your to-do list.
Let an instant tool deck out your holiday party, winter wedding, or long weekend slumber party and get ready to give the gift of holiday memories.
Shop instant photography must-haves at Best Buy.