Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera review: pick a color, there a plenty

The Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera comes in a huge range of color options, just add film and a battery.

Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera is nothing if not colorful, available in a wide range of bright and muted colors. It’s very basic and simple to use. Just add a roll of 35mm film and a Triple-A battery and you’re good to go. Keep your expectations low for image quality and you won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • +

    Lots of color options

  • +

    Built-in flash

  • +

    Reloadable

Cons

  • -

    Film and battery sold separately

  • -

    Basic design

  • -

    Variable results

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It’s easy to argue that the Kodak M35 is more eco-friendly than the massed ranks of single-use 35mm film cameras on the market. Instead of binning it after shooting just one roll of film, you can reload at will and use it again and again. That’s a tick in one box at least. For those of the digital age who have never used a film camera before, there’s no need to panic. Loading the film is easy and shooting with the camera is even easier. In fact, it could hardly be more basic.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Specifications

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Camera type35mm reusable
Film type suppliedNone
Color / B&WPurchased separately
Film length suppliedN/A
FlashYes
Minimum subject distance1m
Dimensions (W x H x D):114 x 63 x 35mm
Weight (inc film & battery):128g

Price & Availability

Widely available from Internet suppliers and retail stores, the Kodak M35 costs around $27/£25. That’s a little more expensive than most single-use, disposable cameras but naturally, its reloadable nature can make it cheaper in the long run. There’s a catch though, in that unlike disposable cameras, it’s not supplied with a film or battery, so you have to buy those separately, and 35mm doesn’t come cheap.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Design & Handling

The Kodak M35 is undeniably cheap for a reloadable 35mm film camera, and it looks it. It’s made from shiny, smooth ABS plastic although at least it comes in a big range of different colors, including the likes of Candy Pink, Flame Scarlet, Yellow, Mint Green, Grapefruit, Lavendar and Cerulean Blue, as well as more subtle hues like Clouds White, Olive Green and Starry Black.

The feature list is pretty standard, with a single-element 31mm fixed lens. As usual for this type of camera, the lens is fixed in terms of both aperture and focus distance, the former being f/10 and the latter giving enough depth of field to cover distances from 1m to infinity. The shutter speed is also fixed at 1/120th of a second.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

If you’re also in the market for film, Kodak UltraMax ISO 400 is a good choice, as it has a wide exposure latitude to compensate for the camera’s lack of exposure adjustment. It should work ok for outdoor shooting in wide-ranging conditions from cloudy and shade to direct sunlight.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

For shooting indoors or after dark, the camera features a built-in flash with a range of about 1-3m. There’s a sliding switch on the front panel of the camera for turning the flash on and off, and the AAA battery (which you have to buy yourself) gives a recycle time between flashes of about 15 seconds.

The sliding switch for turning the flash on and off is situated on the front of the camera, just below the flash module itself. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

The battery flap is much easier to open than with the Kodak i60 camera that I’ve also reviewed, and the film door is less prone to being opened inadvertently. Loading a film is quick and easy to do, the shutter button works smoothly and the film advance wheel comes to a satisfying click after each frame. An interlock with the shutter prevents double-exposures and stops you winding the film on too far between shots. At the end of the roll, there’s release button on the bottom of the camera and a crank up top for winding the film back into its canister. A frame counter by the shutter button lets you keep an eye on progress.

A safety catch for opening the film door is fitted to the left hand side of the camera. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Up on top are the shutter button and frame counter, a flash ready indicator lamp and the rewind crank for pulling used film back into the canister. The last of these works with a release button on the bottom of the camera. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Photo Performance

I took the camera for a sunny day out, testing it outdoors in wide-ranging lighting conditions, from direct sunlight to deep shade. I also took some indoor shots with and without flash. 

My choice of film was Kodak UltraMax ISO 400 color negative film, which is advertised as giving vivid yet accurate color with a wide exposure latitude. True to its claims, it gave sufficient headroom for really bright scenes under direct sunlight, yet still delivered usable exposures in deep shade, despite the camera having a fixed exposure setting of 1/120th of a second at f/10. With ISO 400 film, flash proved all but essential when shooting indoors, even under bright room lighting. 

The Kodak M35 certainly isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, however, with typically poor retention of fine detail in images, typical of cheap plastic film cameras with single-element lenses.

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

I like that Kodak offers this camera in such a wide variety of color options. There’s something to suit every taste and mood. It’s also pretty good value for money as a reloadable rather than a single-use camera, even though you have to buy the film separately from the get-go. Build quality and handling are pretty good but, as with other cheap disposable/reloadable film cameras, outright image quality looks more like something people would find ‘passable’ half a century ago.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Should you buy the Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera?

✅ Buy this...

  • Reloadable with new film
  • Built-in flash
  • Lots of color options

🚫 Don't buy this...

  • Doesn’t include film
  • No battery included
  • Finish looks cheap

Alternatives

Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera

The Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera is more stylish, with retro charm based on old Kodak Instamatic cameras of a few decades ago, but its battery flap is really hard to open and the film door opens all too easily.

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 cheaper to buy and comes with a 36-exposure roll of color negative film, whereas the Kodak M35 has none.

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