Which Instant Camera Has the Cheapest Film?

By Mark Plummer •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  5 min read
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When you have an instant camera, you’ll need to pay each time you take a picture. If you aren’t careful, this can quickly add up. So, which type of instant camera has the cheapest film?

Canon and Kodak have the cheapest film, costing just 45 and 50 cents per shot, respectively. Next is the Fuji range, costing between 88 to 98 cents per shot. The most expensive film on the market is Polaroid 600, costing around $2.50 per shot. 

Which Instant Camera Has the Cheapest Film
Which Instant Camera Has the Cheapest Film?

It’s understandable if you need clarification about the costs of the film. Each instant camera brand has its type of film, and each one will charge a different price. Read on to see how each model stacks up.

How Much Does Instant Camera Film Cost?

There are many different instant cameras on the market. To help you find how they compare, we looked at the cost of purchasing the film. It should be noted that we only used standard pack sizes, not bulk packs.

Which Instant Camera Has the Cheapest Film
Which Instant Camera Has the Cheapest Film?

Furthermore, we only used colored prints, not specialty film, like monochrome. Here’s how they stack up:

Type of CameraApproximate Film Cost Per Shot $
Polaroid 600$2.50
Polaroid Now and Onestep$2.00
Polaroid Go$1.30
Instax Mini$0.88
Instax Square$0.90
Instax Wide$0.98
Kodak Smile and Kodak Step$0.50
Canon Cameras$0.45

There are winners and losers in terms of price. The Instax range, Kodak, and Canon are all known for their affordability. 

On the other hand, the Polaroid brands are significantly more expensive than the others on the market. In many cases, they double or quadruple their competitors’ prices.

What Affects The Cost Of Instant Camera Film?

What Affects The Cost Of Instant Camera Film
What Affects The Cost Of Instant Camera Film?

As you can see, there is a wide range of prices. A few factors will determine the cost of instant camera film. These include:

Film Size

The Fuji Instax Mini camera has some of the cheapest films. This is because of the film’s compact size, roughly the size of a credit card. On the other hand, the more expensive film, like the Wide, Square, and Polaroid options, are designed to slot into a photo album.

Type Of Printing Technology

Another vital factor to consider is the type of printing technology you are using. There are a few options on the market. For example, Canon and Kodak use Zero-Ink (Zink) film.

This is closer to a printed image than the traditional instant print used by Polaroid or Fuji. Because of this, there are some key differences, these include:

  • Development time. Zink prints out from the camera, similar to how you would print photos at home. This can be a slow process, but it’s ready the moment it comes out of the camera. On the other hand, you will need to wait a few minutes for a Polaroid or Fuji print to develop.
  • Photo quality. Fuji and Polaroid tend to create more vivid colors and images, while the Zink can sometimes appear dull or washed out.
  • Border. Fuji and Polaroid have become famous for the extensive border around their images. This doesn’t happen with Zink.
  • Light sensitivity. Fuji and Polaroid are sensitive to light. The film will be ruined if you open the back of the camera after the pack is opened. This can be an expensive mistake to make. This isn’t something that affects Zink.
  • Cost. Finally, the most crucial aspect of this article. It’s often a lot cheaper to purchase Zink than it is to buy Polaroid or Fuji film.

Furthermore, Polaroid 600 is the most expensive instant camera film on the market.

This is because it is built to suit the Polaroid cameras that came out in the 70s. As a result, manufacturing the antiquated format will be a little more expensive than making the modern film.

It’s not uncommon to see brands like Fuji come out with a wide range of customizable films for its Instax line.

For example, you can get one that has a pink border around the photograph. Polaroid allows you to create monochromatic pictures. While cool, this customized film will come at a slightly higher price tag.  

Tips To Save Money On Instant Camera Film

Tips To Save Money On Instant Camera Film
Tips To Save Money On Instant Camera Film

As you can see, instant camera film is reasonably affordable. Here are a few tips that you can use to lower the price even further:

  1. Buy in bulk. One of the easiest ways to get cheap film is by buying it in bulk.
  2. Shop around. Look around at shop options to find the best deal for you. Often, Amazon will have the best deals on film. Try to find second-hand items on sites like eBay.
  3. Look at the expiry date. This is a little more controversial. Polaroid and Fuji will have an expiration date. As a result, when the film is closed to or passed this date, it will be cheaper, particularly if buying second-hand. Usually, it will be safe to use, but you must ensure the seller has stored it properly.

Which Instant Camera Is the Cheapest?

Which Instant Camera Is the Cheapest
Which Instant Camera Is the Cheapest?

Of course, the film is only part of the cost of owning an instant camera. First, you need to buy a camera. Most of the time, instant cameras are inexpensive and priced under $200.

The Kodak Printomatic is the cheapest instant camera, priced at less than $50. The Printomatic also has the lowest cost film of any instant camera making this a fantastic choice for photographers on a tight budget.

The Instax Mini 11 is also a very affordable instant camera, costing less than $80.

Final Thoughts

If you think of owning an instant camera, you need to factor in the cost of paying for the replacement film. Canon and Kodak use Zink, which allows them to have low-cost images.

Fuji is the cheapest option for traditional instant camera film, costing under $1 per photograph.

Mark Plummer

Mark Plummer is a co-founder and blogger on Instant Cameras. Together with his wife, Susana, and daughter Scarlett he loves capturing special family moments with his Instax Mini 11. He is passionate about sharing knowledge and tips on Instax and Polaroid cameras through the Instant Camera Blog.

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