Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera review: is it a case of style over substance?

The Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera certainly has some retro charm going for it but it’s not without its foibles.

Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I like the Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera's classic looks. It's a real throwback to the days of easily affordable 35mm film cameras. But while it’s reloadable and ticks the retro box on my wish list, handling is a mixed bag and image quality is mediocre.

Pros

  • +

    Retro Instamatic styling

  • +

    Fancy pop-up flash

  • +

    Reloadable, not single use

Cons

  • -

    No film included

  • -

    Severely cropped viewfinder

  • -

    Troublesome battery cover

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There’s certainly no lack of digital cameras that have classic retro styling. This reloadable 35mm film camera goes the same way, styled on Kodak Instamatic cameras of a bygone era. That stretches to the classic Kodak logo and even a faux selenium cell, which serves no purpose whatsoever apart from completing the look.

It’s made from ABS plastic and has a textured overlay on its front panel, available in a variety of different colors. I went for Kodak yellow. The i60 certainly looks the part but handling could be better, as I’ll come to later.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Camera type35mm reusable
Film type suppliedNone
Color / B&WPurchased separately
Film length suppliedN/A
FlashYes
Minimum subject distance1m
Dimensions (W x H x D):112 x 65 x 46mm
Weight (inc film & battery):193g

Price & Availability

Widely available around the globe, the Kodak i60 is made under license by Meta Imaging Solutions in China. It costs a fair bit more than most disposable film cameras, priced at around $39 / £50. Naturally, you can reload it and reuse it but the steeper price tag doesn’t include a roll of film or a battery to power the flash, which tend to be thrown in with disposable cameras costing around half the price. Indeed, the price of film certainly isn’t cheap nowadays, adding a significant extra cost.

Design & Handling

The lens in the i60 is par for the course in the disposable/reloadable plastic film camera market. It comprises a single optical element, has a focal length of 31mm and a fixed aperture of f/10. With no ability to adjust the focus distance, the depth of field covers a range of 1m to infinity. Similarly, the shutter speed is fixed at 1/125th of a second.

Barely sufficing as an aid to composition, the viewfinder is essential a clear window on the world. It’s stated as giving 70 per cent coverage of the field of view of the lens, which is the same as in the similar Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera. I found that the i60 viewfinder gave a much more restrictive view, and what you see is much less than what you get in terms of viewing angle compared with what ends up on a frame of film.

Sold separately, Kodak UltraMax ISO 400 color negative film is a good match for the camera. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

The first task after unpacking the camera is to load it with film, so you’ll need to buy one separately if you don’t have one already. I went for a 24-exposure roll of Kodak UltraMax ISO 400. Again, because disposable cameras are pre-loaded with film, you can expect to get 27 exposures from the same length of film.

The flash module is popped up by pressing a button on the front of the camera. You simply push the flash down again to retract it. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Next up is adding a AA battery to power the flash. The flash itself has a pop-up mechanism, linked to a pushbutton on the front of the camera. I think that’s a nice touch. What proved more of a problem was that the battery cover in my sample of the camera was incredibly difficult to slide off, to the point that I was worried about damaging the camera. Once inserted, the battery gives a flash recycling time of around 15 seconds, which can seem quite a long wait.

The battery flap on the side of the camera proved very difficult to remove in the sample I purchase. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

By contrast, the film door at the rear opens much too easily. There’s a locking catch but it protrudes from the rear of the camera. It would be all too easy to knock this accidentally, thereby opening the door and fogging the film in the camera.

The locking catch for the film door at the rear protrudes from the camera body and you need to be careful not to nudge it by accident. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

On the plus side, loading a roll of film is easy to do, and the shutter button and frame advance wheel operate smoothly. Rewinding the film for extraction is based on a pushbutton on the underside of the camera and a winding crank on the top.

The top of the camera features the pop-up flash, film rewinding crank and the shutter button with a frame counter just in front of it. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

A lug is molded to both sides of the camera, either of which you can use for attaching the faux leather wrist strap. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Photo Performance

For testing, I used the camera in wide-ranging lighting conditions, from direct sunlight to deep shade for outdoor shots, along with indoor settings with and without flash. 

Pairing the camera with Kodak UltraMax ISO 400 color negative film gives sufficient headroom for really bright scenes under direct sunlight, yet still gives usable exposures in deep shade, thanks to the latitude of the film, despite the camera having a fixed exposure setting of 1/125th of a second at f/10. 

Flash is all but essential when shooting indoors, even under bright room lighting. Sharpness and the retention of fine detail are pretty poor compared with even a basic smartphone.

Sample Images

This gallery of sample shots was taken in varying lighting conditions from bright direct sunlight to deep shade, as well as indoors with and without flash.

Verdict

With styling that harks back to Kodak Instamatic cameras of the last century, the i60 isn’t without retro charm. The pop-up flash is a nice touch that’s seldom featured on cheap reloadable cameras, but then the i60 is pricier than many others. Build quality and handling are a bit of a letdown, with a troublesome battery flap and a rear film door that’s all too easy to open accidentally. Image quality is fairly typical of the breed, with mediocre results even when using good-quality film like Kodak UltraMax ISO 400.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Should you buy the Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera?

✅ Buy this...

  • Reloadable
  • Retro styling
  • Pop-up flash

🚫 Don't buy this...

  • Disappointing build quality
  • Blinkered viewfinder
  • No film included

Alternatives

Image

I prefer the Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera to the i60. It doesn’t look as nicely styled or finished but it has better handling, the viewfinder gives better frame coverage, it’s cheaper to buy and image quality is the same.

Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera Color Negative

The Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera Color Negative looks and feels like a disposable camera but you can actually reload it, if you have the patience. It’s more cheaper to buy and comes with a 36-exposure roll of color negative film.

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