There is no doubt that many instant film cameras are, for the most part, point and shoot cameras. That said, we possibly ought to exclude some of the older instant film backs and Polaroid land cameras. For example, manual-focus Polaroid pack cameras, such as the 100, 250 and 350 their many variants, tend to use a rangefinder focussing system. Is the Instax SQUARE SQ10 still technically a film camera, or is it closer to a digital camera with a built-in printer?
Other cheaper models of pack cameras, such as the Polaroid Reporter, were pretty much semi-automated view cameras and so could be considered closer to being point and shoot film cameras. However, by being extremely large and comprising of a folding bellows system, they are certainty not compact film cameras. Perhaps more importantly, the pack films for most of these older vintage cameras are no longer being produced, which limits their usefulness going forward.
There are, of course, the various offerings from the Impossible Project, which manufactures films for original Polaroid instant cameras, such as the 600-type, SX-70 and Image/Spectra cameras, as well as a few of their own new models.
More recently, it’s been the new batch of instant film cameras, especially the Fuji Instax cameras (by which we ought to also include the Leica branded Sofort), which appear to be especially popular. Although, perhaps not as high quality as some of the original professional land cameras, they are reasonably compact and are still being produced.
However, the newly released digital/film hybrid Instax SQUARE SQ10 from Fujifilm presents us with an interesting dilemma. It shares the instant photographic approach of the other Instax cameras and even the earlier Polaroid instant cameras. However, it also has an inbuilt digital sensor and the ability to apply various filters to a photograph before printing multiple copies.
It makes me wonder whether this still technically counts as a film camera, or whether it makes it more akin to a digital camera with a built-in printer? How much this actually matters to photographers, is obviously a personal matter. But it certainly changes the rules of the game and opens up many creative possibilities. And, perhaps that’s all that matters.