338% surge for disposable cameras as retro photography keeps booming

Ilford disposable camera
(Image credit: James Artaius)

Here's a sobering stat: since 2018, internet searches for disposable cameras have more than tripled. In that same time, searches for traditional cameras have dropped by over a third. 

We all know that film photography has seen a huge resurgence in recent times. The best film cameras and the best 35mm film are in greater demand than they have been for years, and even within modern mirrorless photography there is a movement towards the best retro cameras that look like old-fashioned SLRs. 

What we didn't really appreciate, however, is just how much demand there is for the best disposable cameras, too, with a new report revealing that there has been a 338% jump in searches in the past 5 years. 

That's according to data compiled by Max Spielmann, a specialist photo printing chain in the UK. The report showed that "35mm film" went up by 158% in that same time, and "film cameras" jumped 75%, while "DSLR cameras" slumped by 37%.

Sue Burden, Retail Director at Max Spielmann, explains the findings:

"While we expected to see some form of rise in searches for the more 'retro' camera options, a leap of 338% in searches for disposable cameras since 2018 was what really piqued our interest to investigate further," said Sue Burden, retail director at Max Spielmann, noting that "a picture is painted of a generation of budding photographers who want to move away from digital modes of photography.

"There’s even a massive increase of 169% for the term 'film developing near me', so not only are more people choosing to shoot on film, but they're also opting to visit stores in-person rather than send off their rolls online. 

"Whilst this might be due to the complications of shipping film eg. potential damage, it would also suggest that, much like the renewed interest in physical film, there’s a renewed interest in visiting physical stores as well."

Given that this has been happening for five years, we have to ask: at what point does a trend become the norm? Either way, it's even more concrete evidence that film isn't dead.

If you enjoyed this article you might be interested in buying and using film cameras, and the best online photo printing to develop your film. And don't forget to check out the best instant cameras for another fun form of film photography.

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.