Give the gift of instant photography - Instax Square film

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 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 12 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 bubbly, 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 Mini Evo instead. The retro camera body design is a little edgier, and the cameras in the Evo line are just more aesthetic.

Polaroids for the modern day

For true vintage enthusiasts, Polaroid is back on the market with a few updated versions of their classic instant camera. The Polaroid Now Instant Camera is a full-size instant camera that uses I-Type film. It’s big: at 3.7″ tall on its smallest side, the Now is a lot larger than most other instant cameras. (Than every other instant camera I’ve tried, actually). But what it offers in return is a truly retro-feeling design, with prints that come out of the front of the camera and big, gorgeous, square Polaroids. The Now features autofocus, a self-timer, and the ability to double expose your images, so your recipient can really play around with their artistic eye.

For users on the go, there’s the Polaroid Go Instant Camera. It’s like a baby version of the Now—smaller in every dimension, making it palm-sized. Unfortunately, the prints are smaller as well; just under 2″ squared.

I personally find the new Polaroid prints to have too much of a retro feel for my tastes, but they’d be an awesome gift for someone more artistic than I. Polaroid prints tend to be moodier and more purple/cyan than the Fujifilm Instax prints that I’m used to. They’re more moody and spooky than creamy and punchy; they look more filtered, making them a gorgeous gift pick for a modernized VSCO girl aesthetic. (You can read my review of the Polaroid Go here.)

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 CP1500 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.

For mini prints, you can go with an instant photo printer like the Canon Ivy 2 (which makes prints with a sticky backing) or a Fujifilm Instax Mini printer. I like the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 2—I have one in pink and I use it all the time. 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 print shop 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.

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.


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