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Polaroid Snap Review

A good choice for kids, but definitely not a serious photography machine
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Price:   $90 List | $72 at Amazon
Pros:  Simple, inexpensive paper
Cons:  Poor photo quality, very few image settings
Manufacturer:   Polaroid
By Max Mutter, Steven Tata, and Jenna Ammerman  ⋅  Jun 4, 2019
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41
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 7
  • Image Quality - 45% 2
  • User Friendliness - 25% 7
  • Image Settings - 20% 3
  • Film Cost - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Offering a digital take on the instant camera genre, the Polaroid Snap is essentially a digital camera with a built-in printer. This, in our opinion, makes the Snap a great toy for a kid. Printed photos are cheaper than film ones, making wasting photos of much less consequence, and we've found that kids are just as enthralled by seeing a photo slowly feed out of a camera as they are watching instant film slowly develop. Outside of that use, we're not huge fans of the Snap. Its printed photos tend to look like (and essentially are) poor quality digital ones, lacking that vintage patina that real instant film offers. The experience of using the Snap also feels more perfunctory and digital, which will disappoint those that are looking at instant cameras for the analog appeal. That being said, it is the smallest and arguably the coolest looking of all the cameras we've tested.


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Pros Simple, inexpensive paperExcellent photo quality, brightness control adjust well to lighting conditions, user-friendlyGood photo quality, nice group of creative image modes, classic aestheiticsGood photo quality, nice selection of image and creative settings, both camera and photo size a nice middle groundGood photos in indoor/low-light situations, both camera and film relatively inexpensive, multiple exposure settings, small and durable
Cons Poor photo quality, very few image settingsQuite large, limited image settings, somewhat expensive filmRelatively expensive given the smaller film format, poor bright and backlit photo performancePoor performance in outdoor lighting conditions, lack of long exposure abilityTends to overexpose when used in bright sun, smaller photo size, limited image settings
Bottom Line A good choice for kids, but definitely not a serious photography machineThe most consistent and highest quality model we've tested, but lacks some adjustabilityThe most creative option for the smaller film formatOffers more opportunities than models that shoot mini film, but not nearly as bulky as those that shoot wide filmA great balance of price and performance that will please most users
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Polaroid Snap Fujifilm Instax... Instax Mini 90 Neo... Fujifilm Instax... FujiFilm Instax...
Image Quality (45%)
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5
User Friendliness (25%)
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8
Image Settings (20%)
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Film Cost (10%)
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Specs Polaroid Snap Fujifilm Instax... Instax Mini 90 Neo... Fujifilm Instax... FujiFilm Instax...
Dimensions 4.75" x 3" x 1.25" 6.6" x 3.7" x 4.8" 4.5" x 3.6" x 2.2" 4.7" x 5.0" x 2.3" 4.6" x 4.7" x 2.7"
Weight 218 g 612 g 296 g 393 g 307 g
Picture Size 2" x 3" 2.4" x 3.9" 2.4" x 1.8" 2.4" x 2.4" 2.4" x 1.8"
Image Settings normal, black/white, vintage sepia 2 exposure settings, 2 focal length settings, force flash on 2 exposure settings, double exposure, bulb, party, macro, kids, self timer, flash on/off 2 exposure settings, landscape, macro, selfie mode, double exposure, color flash filters 4 exposure settings, Hi-Key
Focus Distances N/A 0.9 m - 3 m / 3 m - infinity 0.3 m - 0.6 m / 0.6 m - 3 m / 3 m - infinity 0.3 m - 0.5 m / 0.5 m - 2 m / 2 m - infinity 0.6 m - infinity
Focal Length N/A 95 mm 60 mm 65.75 mm 60 mm
Aperture N/A f/14 f/12.7 f/12.6 f/12.7
Cost per photo $0.50 $1.25 $0.58 $1.05 $0.58

Our Analysis and Test Results

If all you want is an instant camera that looks cool and allows you to instantly print photos you just took, the Snap isn't a bad choice. If you want those photos to look good or vintage, the Snap will likely be disappointing.


Performance Comparison


Largely thanks to its poor performance in our image quality tests, the Snap occupies the lowest rung on our overall leaderboard.

Image Quality


In our opinion, the Snap largely misses the mark when it comes to the quality and look of its instant photos, accordingly earning the lowest score in this metric.


The Snap's photos have a few glaring problems. The first is that the camera tends to saturate reds to the extreme. If your photos have any red in them, chances are it's going to look overblown and likely dominate the image.

The Snap actually avoids the problem of overexposure on sunny days more than the field leading Fujifilm Instax Wide 300  but the odd streaking in the print and oversaturation of the red colors makes it (in our opinion) a less compelling photo.
The Snap actually avoids the problem of overexposure on sunny days more than the field leading Fujifilm Instax Wide 300, but the odd streaking in the print and oversaturation of the red colors makes it (in our opinion) a less compelling photo.

The Snap's prints also tend to have a grainy look to them, with visible streaking often showing up. This is even more noticeable if you have any large monochrome areas within the image. Thus busy images with lots of different colors tend to look much better than more simple compositions.


One thing to note about the Snap's graininess and streaking is that it looks decidedly not-instant film like. All instant cameras are going to produce some imperfections in their pictures. When they use real instant film, those imperfections often give kind of a vintage glow that many people like. The imperfections in the Snap's prints look like they came from a low-quality printer (because they did) and thus lack that signature look that many people are seeking from an instant camera.


The Snap's photos are slightly larger than Instax Mini prints (2" x 3" vs. 1.8" x 2.4"). You can also opt to print the photos with a white border in order to make them look more like they came from an instant film camera. In that case the photo size is actually smaller than Instax Mini.

User Friendliness


One upside to the Snap's smaller size and simplicity is that is is quite easy to operate, earning it one of the higher scores in our user friendliness testing.


In essence, the Snap is just a point and shoot camera. All you have to do is load paper in, turn it on, press the shutter button, and it starts printing a photo. It also has a magnetic lens cap, which is one of the most surprisingly convenient features we've encountered while testing these cameras.

The Snap is very simple to use  but it's not completely obvious how to do things like change the prints to black and white or sepia  nor to offload photos from its memory card.
The Snap is very simple to use, but it's not completely obvious how to do things like change the prints to black and white or sepia, nor to offload photos from its memory card.

We didn't award the Snap a top score in this metric because accessing its few 'advanced' features can be a bit tricky. For example, there is a photobooth function that allows you to print 4 photos on a single page, which is accessed by holding the shutter down for 3 seconds. This is a nice feature, but isn't completely intuitive to use.


The Snap does have a slot for a microSD card, allowing you to save all of your photos digitally. The digital photos actually look quite a bit better than the printed ones, but still fall well short of the quality most smartphone cameras can deliver.


Image Settings


The Snap's only real image settings have to do with how its photos are printed. You can select to print a photo with no border, with a classic instant film border, or print 4 photos on one sheet. Thanks to its digital format, you can also print photos in black and white or sepia. Apart from these printing options, you don't really have any control over the photos you're taking with the camera.


Film Cost


Printing photos is generally less expensive than all of the chemicals required to make a piece of instant film. You can get a 30 pack of paper for the Snap for $15, resulting in a relatively low cost of $0.50 per photo (the Snap uses 'zero ink' technology, which essentially means the ink is stored within the printing paper itself, so no need to buy ink cartridges). You can also print in black and white for no extra cost. In general, black and white instant film costs even more than its full-color counterparts.


Value


Listing for $90, the Snap isn't a bad value if you're looking for a toy camera that kids can have fun with. If you're looking to get creative with instant film, or get vintage looking keepsakes that you'll keep on display for years, this there are much better ways to spend your money.

Conclusion


The Polaroid Snap is simple and relatively inexpensive, making it a great toy for kids interested in photography. However, its photo quality is poor enough that those that care at all about the results of their instant photography adventures will likely be disappointed.


Max Mutter, Steven Tata, and Jenna Ammerman