Sac équipement photo Instantanée

Instax or Polaroid Originals? Which one should you choose?

If you do not already own an instant camera and you don’t have a preference for a particular model, then you should study all the available options before committing to buying one. You should also evaluate the main differences between the two types of instant films available on the market: Instax (for Fujifilm cameras mostly) and Polaroid Originals (for Polaroids cameras).

Everyone has their own requirements, and determining the film that best meets your expectations is crucial to choosing the right camera. Here are the four most important characteristics of the two types of films:

  • the cost,
  • the format,
  • the practical and instantaneous aspect,
  • the rendering and variety of the films.

Budget consideration

Let’s face it, instant photography is not cheap. The price difference from one model to another seems anecdotal when you consider long-term use and expenses. What truly makes a difference is the cost of consumables. Whether you choose a Fujifilm camera or a Polaroid camera, photo cartridges will be expensive.

  • A cartridge of 10 Instax Mini photos will cost about 9,90€.
  • A cartridge of 10 Instax Wide photos will cost about 11.40€.
  • And finally, a cartridge of 8 Polaroid Originals photos will cost about about 20€.

This gives us an average cost of 0.99€ per photo for the Instax Mini movie, 1.14€ per photo for the Instax Wide films, and 2.5€ (!) for the Polaroid Originals film. This is a huge difference with the Impossible cartridge being 120% more expensive than the Instax Wide photo for example. Now, if we project purchases of several refills over time, we get figures that deserve our attention. For example, let’s begin with a base of 40 shots, which should allow a good start with your camera. This number wasn’t chosen at random, since it is a multiple of 10 and 8 (the refill packs include 10 shots at Fujifilm, 8 at Polaroid Originals, if you’re following…)

  • 40 Instax Mini photos will cost you a little less than 40€.
  • 40 Instax Wide photos will cost you a little more than 45€.
  • 40 Impossible photos will cost you 100€.

This is sobering….
If cost is your main requirement, and you are planning to use the camera for a long time (not just to test it to see if you like it), then the Instax films and corresponding devices are definitely the best options for you.

“Two packs of Impossible films? Ok, sir. There you go, that’ll be 40€.” Ouch.

The format consideration

An image format on the Polaroid side: the classic 8.8 x 10.7 cm format, with a square image of 7.9 x 7.9 cm in the middle. This emblematic format is recognizable among thousands. Are you seduced by this historical format? Are you nostalgic about this old-fashioned format? This is the only format that works for you? Then stop overthinking: the only available option compatible with older Polaroid devices is the Impossible film. These films are the only ones that have a similar appearance to the old Polaroid photos.

On the other hand, if you are not overly attached to this format and are open to other options, you might want to consider one of the two Fujifilm Instax formats. There are two available sizes: the smallest one is of 5.4 x 8.6 cm, with the inner image measuring 4.6 x 6.2 cm. Either you appreciate this mini format, comparable to that of a credit card, or you prefer a larger image. In this case, the second format should meet your expectations. The instax Wide has a surface area of 8.6 x 10.8 cm, with a rectangle of 6.2 x 9.9 cm dedicated to the actual picture. Its dimensions are obviously closer to the Polaroid format, while distancing itself from it because the image is square on the Polaroid side, while being rectangular on the Fujifilm’s.

On the left, an Instax Mini photo. On the right, a Polaroid photo.

On the left, an Instax Mini photo. On the right, a Polaroid photo.

Considering the traditional aspects of true instant photography

People enjoy instant cameras because of its instantaneous quality: you can enjoy a physical picture within five minutes after pressing the shutter button. Does the experience of seeing a picture develop right before your eyes make you feel excited? Fujifilm, with its Instax films score points here. Unlike Polaroid Originals films, Instax films do not fear light. You won’t have to protect them from light as soon as they are ejected from the device. You’ll be able to watch the development process and see your pictures come to life within five minutes. On the other hand, Polaroid Originals suggests you protect your pictures from sunlight as soon as possible and let them develop for 30 to 40 minutes (for color films).

The artistic and creative considerations

What do you expect from your images? Do you want the rendering to be as close as possible to what you see? Or would you prefer the result to have colors that are slightly off, with random effects?
If you are looking for a clean and faithful rendering, for a use that could be described as documenting, Instax films is your best option. On the other hand, if you want to create images that are subject to saturation effects, color dominance, irregularities, you should go for Impossible films. An important point: as of today, Impossible Project is the only one to offer black and white films. All Instax films are color films. Impossible also has a bunch of limited special editions films with cyan or yellow and black tones… and more.

The picture “frame” itself should also come into consideration: you can stick to the traditional white frame, or venture into more original horizons: gold, black, colored, or textured edges with snake or leopard skins… you have an extensive choice at Polaroid Originals, with all types of nuances, ranging from sober designs to kitsch. Instax also offers options, such as films with different multicolored edges, but their range is a little less extensive than that of Polaroid Originals.

Black & White, monochrome films can be found in both Fujifilm's and Polaroid Originals' product lines.

Black & White, monochrome films can be found in both Fujifilm’s and Polaroid Originals’ product lines.

As you probably figured out by reading this article, when it comes to instant photography, choosing the film that suits you best should come before deciding what camera to get.

If you are not able to test both films to get an idea, and you have to choose between Instax and Impossible, try to define, from the points explained above, which are most important to you. Which approach best suits your expectations?

The strengths and weaknesses of each film, in regards to the different angles of approach, should help you make the right choice.