I’ve been a film photographer for seven or more years and over that time I’ve sampled a lot of cameras, including many disposables.
Disposable cameras tend to deliver shots that are lower quality compared to most other types of cameras. The pictures from disposables usually aren’t very sharp and they can often be underexposed or blurry. Disposable cameras are the bare basic cameras so high-quality shots aren’t really to be expected. This does not mean that your pictures will be bad but they won’t be sharp.
If you want to find out more about the quality of disposable cameras and how to get better shots from them then read on.
So, Do People Get Good Shots From Disposable Cameras?
You can certainly get good shots from a disposable camera, Perfect for festivals, holidays and weddings, disposable cameras are the carefree way of easily getting beautiful candid moments. I would argue that you can get great shots with any kind of camera but it does depend on what you define as a good shot.
If you’re searching for the nostalgic, grainy film feel then you can get good shots as a complete beginner. They won’t be very sharp, they’ll be quite soft focus but they will perfectly capture a trip away.
If you choose a brand like Kodak or Fujifilm then it’s more likely that you’ll have more in-focus shots that are exposed better. Whereas if you buy low-quality disposable camera then it’s more likely that your shots could be out of focus and less sharp.
For most people the somewhat low quality of disposable cameras is part of the charm so if you’re not expecting that then perhaps would be better off getting something different. So basically disposable cameras take reasonable photos that reflect the cost and the fact that they’re a one-use item.
How Do Disposable Cameras Work
Most disposable cameras have a manual flash you need to activate yourself, they also have a manual wind on so that you can move on to your next frame, you have to do after every photo that you take.
Disposables shoot on 35mm film and this means you’ll have to send you a disposable camera off to a film developing lab once you finish shooting your whole roll.
Typically the focal length of a disposable camera will range between 28 and 32mm Which is quite a wide angle lens. This means that when you’re taking pictures with your disposable camera you will be able to get quite a lot in the image.
The aperture of a disposable camera tends to be around F11 or F10 which is quite a middle ground in terms of F-stop. This means that you won’t really get any shallow depth of field and it’s certainly not suited to low light without flash. Also, the lenses are typically just plastic which means they are much lower quality than most other camera lenses.
The shutter speed tends to be around 1/140 of a second which is okay but it can’t go any lower or higher so it can’t really adjust to changes in light. This shutter speed means that you need to keep the camera fairly still in order to ensure they don’t get any blurred images.
How Can You Take Better Pictures With A Disposable Camera
Take your time! The shutter speeds of disposable cameras aren’t very fast so if you aren’t very steady then your picture will come out blurry. I always try my best to be aware while I’m taking a picture and just hold steady for a few seconds. With or without flash, you need to be aware and steady
Light is your friend! Always make sure that you’ve got enough light, these cameras don’t have any ability to change their settings so if you aren’t using your flash then you need light! If somewhere looks too dull then maybe try to figure out how you can change your position slightly to get some more light in your frame.
Use your flash! Knowing when to use your flash will save you from a lot of underexposed pictures! You’ll need to use your flash for any indoor pictures or any general low-light shots. A fun time to use flash is when the sun is just setting, so you can then make your foreground bright and the background is still light too.
Don’t get too close! Usually, disposable cameras can only focus as close as 1 meter, so this means if you’re any closer to your subject when taking your shot, they won’t be in focus! Try to keep this in mind when you’re taking your shots, generally, if they’re just a bit further than arm’s length from you then they should be in focus!
Should You Get A Disposable Camera?
Whether you should buy a disposable camera or not depends on a few things. If you’re thinking of shooting film consistently and want to take high-quality pictures, then I’d strongly suggest that you at least get yourself a reusable point-and-shoot camera. I believe that the place of a disposable camera is for someone that really has no intention of going any further with film photography or for specific one-time events.
You can also take a look at this video I produced where I compare the Kodak and Fuji Disposable cameras and explain why you might want to shoot other cameras:
Ultimately, disposable cameras are really fun and they’re a good introduction to film photography for a lot of people but I find if you look just a little bit harder, you’ll find alternatives that produce better shots and aren’t quite as wasteful.
I’m going to write an article and produce a video to show people what kind of alternatives they could use instead of a disposable camera to save you money and get better shots more consistently!
This is not to say that you shouldn’t use a disposable camera, as I said, they have a place, especially if you’re a complete novice or just don’t want any hassle at all. These cameras can definitely be a fun idea for things like weddings or other similar events and as you can see, from the rest of the article, the shots aren’t too bad.