The holiday season is here, and there is a great option for the travel photographer on your list; an updated version of the venerable instant Polariod camera. Why go retro? Have you ever seen how touching it is watching a remote villager see their own photo for the first time? Or how excited kids get when you give them a shot of them with their best friends? Being able to give instant pictures to people in your travels is a great ice breaker, a kind gesture, and you might get some incredible images when they see their shot.
There are numerous instant cameras and mini-printers on the market. I wanted a camera, not a mini-printer, and after some research, I went with the Lomo’Instant. Unlike many of the competitors, this camera had a lot of features I wanted. First, it had flash, which you will need for shooting in low light situations. Next, the camera has exposure comp. If your image is too dark or light, you can manually use exposure comp to get the right exposure. Focus is simple, you are either moving the lens for a close shot (less than a meter), or you are shooting for everything else. You can adjust aperture from f16 (the default) to F8 using the wide angle lens. The camera also offers a long exposure Bulb setting, multiple exposure for creative effects, and a small selfie mirror on the front. The Lomo uses Fuji Instax Mini film, better quality than some other instant films on the market. The camera produces a credit card sized print. You can also buy accessory lenses and gels. The camera sells for around $100.
A few notes on using the camera. If you shoot in cold weather, it will take the instant film 3-5 minutes to fully develop. The flash can miss exposure in bright daylight, I just used available light. And one more point…you need to hand check the film at airports or it will streak if it goes through an X-ray machine.