Hot holiday gift tip: Instant film cameras are making a comeback. Sharing tangible photos creates moments of curiosity and anticipation that snapping shots with your phone and texting them lacks, and the few minutes spent waiting for the film to develop leaves a gap that you’ll inevitably fill with conversation. Plus, we’ll always have a soft spot for reliving trips and the previous night’s shenanigans with retro-ish Polaroid prints. “Pics or it didn’t happen,” as Virtuoso Life associate art director Korena Sinnett says. Here are four favorites we put to the test.

The difference between Lomography’s leading instant cameras primarily comes down to size: The Instant Wide Central Park (4) is about 50 percent bulkier than the Automat Glass Magellan (1), but it also produces sharper and bigger shots – 4.25 x 3.75 inches versus 3.5 x 2 inches. Both feature automatic flash and auto aperture, a selfie mirror on the front, and a shutter release built into the lens cap so you can take a group shot or a long-exposure sunset, hands free. Color gels and zoom/wide-angle adapters allow for artistic expression and whimsy in keeping with Lomo’s genre.

Versatile controls on the Leica Sofort (2) let you customize shots, from selfie to action, closely focused or with a slight zoom. We had fun with the double-exposure setting, and the camera wins hands down for ergonomics, being both easy to hold and natural to shoot with. In short: This is the instant camera for the photophile, just as you’d expect from Leica.

The Fujifilm Instax Square 10 (3) snaps square, slightly larger shots than the Lomo Automat or the Leica Sofort cameras, similar to the original Polaroid format. A rear-facing LCD, rather than a viewfinder, makes framing as simple as it is with a phone’s camera, and you can apply filters after the photo is taken to brighten images and make colors pop. Its built-in memory holds as many as 50 photos for printing at any time, and, in a cool twist, you can insert memory cards from other cameras and print those shots instantly.




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