I first started buying disposable cameras because they were a cheap and safe alternative to taking my compact digital camera to festivals and on holiday. I love the aesthetic of film and the excitement you get when you collect them from being developed, but in recent years the cost of disposable cameras has skyrocketed.
Last week I was in Snappy Snaps and was absolutely shocked at the price of disposable cameras. Since I own a semi-automatic film camera (as well as Nikon FM2 (opens in new tab), a Canon AE-1 (opens in new tab) and an Instax Mini 11 (opens in new tab)) it’s been years since I bought one but I said I'd pick one up for a friend.
• Read more: 5 reasons you should buy a film camera over a disposable (opens in new tab)
The cheapest color film disposable with a flash was almost £20 – and that’s before you’ve paid for developing costs. But it gets worse. Amazon UK was selling a Kodak underwater disposable for a whopping £48. Now that to me is daylight robbery. Surely no one in their right mind would spend that much...
If you shoot a lot with disposable cameras there are lots of reasons you should really just invest in a cheap 35mm semi-automatic. There are plenty of vintage and modern cameras to choose from including ones that you can zoom with. If you have a look on eBay, you can pick up a decent one for around £20 - £30, but if you get lucky in a charity shop I’ve seen them for as little as a fiver.
Admittedly the film is still pretty expensive, and like disposable cameras, the cost of it has shot up in the last couple of years. This is partly due to it becoming so popular again and partly because there have been serious supply issues due to the covid pandemic. However, if you invest in a decent 35mm point and shoot, chances are you'll waste fewer shots and your images will be better quality.
You can still pick up a decent disposable for around £12 if you order online or order in bulk. If you don't mind shooting in black and white you can pick up an Ilford single-use XP2 camera from boots for £10.99 but developing will cost you about the same so overall, you'll still end up spending nearly £1 per shot.
Despite the cost of film, disposables and development, I will always find the money for it from somewhere. There is something so beautiful about the quality of film you really can't mimic with a digital photo, even if you make a film like preset.
One of the wonders of the film is that you often forget what pictures you've taken so when you get them back it's a complete surprise and the memories of recent times with friends and family come flooding back. I do feel like the devil's advocate a little because I'm all for spending my money on film, but someone really is having a laugh at a price of £48.