If you're a fan of larger format instant camera photos, and you want those photos to be of as high a quality as possible, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is our top choice. In our testing this camera produced the most consistent quality prints with the best exposure, color saturation, and clarity of all the models we tested. It even did a decent job of exposing photos taken in bright sun, something most instant cameras struggle with (though we did have to play around and often put the camera into the dark mode to get a usable photo in these situations). The wide film format also more closely resembles the classic Polaroids most people probably think of when they imagine instant cameras, which produces (in our opinion) a more enjoyable keepsake than the smaller formats that many modern cameras have trended towards. The Instax Wide 300's biggest limitation is that it doesn't offer some of the more creative options and modes, like multiple or long exposures, that many other cameras in this genre do. If having more creative options sounds up your alley, than we would suggest the much more versatile Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide. While it is a slight downgrade in consistent image quality, it offers many more opportunities for creative expression.
Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Review
Pros: Excellent photo quality, brightness control adjust well to lighting conditions, user-friendly
Cons: Quite large, limited image settings, somewhat expensive film
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 produces the best image quality of all the cameras we tested, and isn't too expensive, making it a great choice for most people.
The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 performed at or near the front of the field in most of our tests, lagging a bit only in image settings and film costs. As long as you don't mind average rather than budget film costs, and aren't looking for lots of creative image modes, this is an excellent camera.
This is where the Instax Wide 300 really separates itself from the rest of the field, offering photos that are clearly a cut above the rest.
The first thing you notice when comparing photos taken with the Instax Wide 300 with photos from other instant cameras is that the colors are appreciably more vibrant. Where may other cameras seem to have colors bleed a bit into one another, creating a flatter image, the Instax Wide 300 maintains good color saturation and separation, resulting in a much more immersive image. All instant cameras struggle somewhat with bright light and subjects, with overexposed flashes of white almost being a staple of the medium. The Instax Wide 300 does a much better job than most with these bright areas, keeping white objects in bright light relatively well defined and mostly avoiding overexposure.
Speaking of overexposure, the Instax Wide 300 is one of the few instant cameras we've found that can capture a usable photos in bright sun and even a blue sky, a feat most of its competitors fall short of. Sure, photos in bright sun can look a bit overexposed, and you have to kind of play around to get the exposure close to correct (we found using the D or dark mode to generally yield the best results), but we found the Instax Wide 300 to be much more likely to produce a good picture taken outside on a sunny day than any other camera.
Offering simple controls and basic functionality, the Instax Wide 300 is amongst the easiest cameras to use.
This camera runs on 4 AA batteries, and we found loading film to be a breeze. Just open the back, load the film pack in making sure the two yellow lines are aligned, close the back, press the shutter once to release the black slide covering the film, and you're good to go.
The controls are likewise simple. There is an on/off switch right next to the shutter. A small button on the back lets you switch between light and dark modes, which is indicated by an L and a D appearing on a small screen to the left. Another flash button allows you to force the flash to fire, even if the camera has decided the situation is too bright for a flash (unfortunately you can't just turn the flash off). Finally, twisting a knob on the lens lets you switch between its two different focal ranges (more on that in a second).
The biggest complaint we've heard about the Instax Wide 300's user experience is that the viewfinder offers a narrower view than what the lens is actually seeing. That's certainly true, but that extra bit of space on the left and right sides of the image generally doesn't mess up your framing for landscape shots. Even when taking more macro style shots we felt like it was easy to get a feel of how much more area was going to show up on the final print and then adjust accordingly.
The Instax Wide 300 offers some basic image adjustments, but lacks the creative modes that some other cameras provide, earning it an average score in this metric.
The most significant image options are a light and a dark mode, providing enough control over the exposure to adequately adjust for most situations. It also has two different focal ranges: 0.9 meters to 3 meters, and 3 meters to infinity. The former is great for portrait shots, and the latter is great for landscapes. This camera also comes with a close-up lens that you can attach for shots up to 40cm from the subject. The camera automatically decides if you need a flash or not. Unfortunately, if it decides you need a flash, you have to use it (or cover the flash with some tape if you really don't want to use it). If the camera decides you don't need a flash, you do have the option of forcing it to flash.
Beyond these basic settings, the Instax Wide 300 doesn't offer any adjustability. In most situations this doesn't feel limiting, but if you think you'll ever want to experiment with multiple or long exposures, you'll want to consider the Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide or possibly the Instax Square SQ6 instead.
As of this writing, the most economical way to buy film for the Instax Wide 300 is in a 20-pack for $25. This works out to $1.25 a photo. This certainly isn't cheap, but it also doesn't feel too expensive seeing as you're paying for an image that is double the size of what many of the more economical cameras produce. You have to pay a just a bit more for monochrome film, as a 10-pack of black and white film will generally set you back about $13.
If you're looking for the best photos you can get from an instant camera, we feel that price tag is well worth it. If you don't mind sacrificing photo quality and size in order to save some cash, the FujiFilm Instax Mini 9 is a worthy alternative. If you're mostly looking to take creative shots, like multiple exposures or light painting, you'll get more value from the slightly more expensive Lomography Lomo'Instant Wide.
For those that want a simple, reliable instant camera that can consistently pump out good shots with little fuss, and don't mind paying a bit extra for it, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is definitely your best bet. If you're looking for lots of creative shooting modes, however, this camera will likely fall short.
— Max Mutter, Steven Tata, and Jenna Ammerman