A couple of months ago I saw an advertisement for a Kodak Funsaver disposable camera. It was priced at 11 euros and because it seemed cheap I ordered one. Except for Polaroid I never photograph with anything else than digital cameras, so I was excited to see how I would like this.
Of course these disposables don’t have high quality glass lenses, so I didn’t expect too much of it. The camera contains a 35mm iso 800 film and has a built in flash that can be turned on and off when wanted. The camera is very colorful and attracts some attention because of this, but it feels very nice to hold and shoot with. Since the camera is so small it’s easy to put your finger over the lens. When looking through the viewfinder you will not notice this since you’re not looking directly through the lens. This also makes it almost impossible to frame precisely. I had the camera in the pocket of my jacket for about 3 months. In hindsight that is ridiculously long considering it only contains about 39 photos…
While shooting it I did learn a few things.
1. First of all I found myself shooting more impulsive. It’s a bit contradictory because I expected to be less impulsive than with a digital camera. But I did take more snapshots than otherwise.
2. I now know that the first couple of photos are not exposed. I didn’t when I started photographing. I have a couple of photos I was excited about that didn’t get developed.
3. I also started to look differently at things. I had a certain idea of how the images might look on film and because of that I photographed certain scenes that I wouldn’t photograph with my digital cameras. It made me reconsider what would be a good photo. It’s almost like how I look at things when I take polaroid images.
4. But obviously the idea of how I thought things looked was often different from what it actually looked like. So let’s have a look at the images and see what did and did not work. (Please note that I edit all of the pictures since the scans are very neutral, as in having no shadows or contrast.)
This first image was just for fun. I do kinda like the orange leak on the underside.
The first 15 pictures were all made on the border between Belgium and France. You have this street on the border that is filled with tabacco shops, sex shops and shops where they sell Belgian chocolates. It’s a strange place and these big containers of tabacco were so colorful and strange at the same time that I had to shoot them. I like the warm autumn light hitting them too.
There are also vendors selling things like clothes. I liked this scene where you have the most kitsch clothing against this peaceful rural landscape. It didn’t turn out as I had hoped though.
This florist looked so vintage that I thought it might look good on film. It’s not really what I had in mind but the strange looking family shows exactly what kind of people you find on this stretch of borderland.
I probably liked the colours in real life but it obviously didn’t translate on the photo.
This small train was standing in front of a café. It looked good, but again it didn’t really translate. Also the way I framed this is pretty bad.
This is one of my favourites. For me this is this place summarized in one frame.
A little test to shoot a backlit photo. It turned out really well. I like the way nothing really overexposed or underexposed and the sunlight is what I hoped for.
Another view on the cable lift, but not as good as the first one.
I should learn that a nice car doesn’t make for a nice photo. A waste of a frame.
I really tried to make something out of this scene with the horse and a beautiful setting sun. Not exactly what I hoped for but the damn horse didn’t want to look my way.
One of my favourites. A beautiful autumn scene and my own shadow capturing it.
Another test to see how it held up in a situation with very dark shadows and some very bright spots. Not the best but I still kinda like it and the exposure was a lot better than what I expected.
This horse did want to look my way, but the light was less good and so is this photo.
No idea really what this is.
Another one of the favourites.
Tried to capture a selfportrait with my wife. Forgot to turn on the flash so I was afraid it would be a wildly underexposed photo, but it was actually ok. The colours looked like shit though so I made it a black and white image.
Coming from work I saw this scene in the trainstation. There were actually a lot of dark shadows, but the light hit the guy. Unfortunately everything exposed quite well so I lost all shadows. This is one of those cases where I would have the exact result I wanted if I shot this on a digital camera. I still like the colours and warm light though.
I thought this might look good and maybe it would have if there was some light or something.
In black and white I do like it a bit more.
Tried to photograph my cat. Focal point is of course not as close as it should have been. I should have known this. But then again my cat looks drugged so it doesn’t matter too much.
Morning light. The light was just perfect so I had to take the photo.
Nothing special. Just a random photo.
I thought this car might look good, but it’s not.
Spent a day in Brussels, ended up taking only a handful of photos with my Fuji, none of which I liked. Nothing just wanted to work out. There was only some sunshine for about an hour and this is the only one I took with the disposable.
In black and white I do like it.
Portrait of my wife. The colours are actually better than expected.
Artificial light on some wet plants. Didn’t know what to expect but the film held up pretty well.
Would have been a nice photo. But before seeing it I knew her eyes would be closed. Bad timing I guess.
Another one from some plants. I like the light and the colours. This is what this camera is made for I think.
Idem as previous.
Not sure what I went for here, but it’s not anything special.
I just had to capture this. Not a good photo or anything, but too good not to photograph.
I tried the flash in total darkness when I saw this brown christmas tree in front of a bar. I was standing about 5 to 6 meters away but the flash didn’t really do much at this distance.
Tried to capture this old harbor crane, but the timing was off since the grass is just covering it.
Just a snapshot.
I liked the colour and texture of this grass, but it doesn’t really look like anything in photo.
This snackbar looked funny. The light at the time was pretty bad unfortunately and it also doesn’t look too good on photo.
5. After finishing the roll I went to a local shop to have it developed and scanned. I remember from back in the days when my parents took pictures for me at airshows or events it cost quite a bit of money to have them developed and printed. To my surprise it only cost me 7 euros for the development and scans. So shooting the 39 picture roll cost me about 18 euros in total. That’s a little less than the price of 8 polaroid pictures. So I can conclude it’s much cheaper than what I had expected.
6. When asked if I wanted low or high res pictures I chose the low res. I made the choice based on the fact that I don’t want to make prints. I did forget that if I wanted to edit the pictures a high res file would have been a better option. So when asked, choose the high res…
7. Editing the photos was easier then expected. I could quite easily get a bit of details back from the highlights. Getting details from the shadows was almost impossible. But I could still do my basic editing without all too much trouble. I will post a video on Youtube in two weeks where I’ll show the editing process so you can see the limits for yourself.
All in all it was a lot of fun shooting this disposable camera. It was all very relaxed. Snapping photos and then waiting weeks before seeing the results. I might be doing this more in the future because it did cost less than expected and I enjoyed some of the results. Since I now know what works and what doesn’t I could probably take better photos than before and I would definitely use it in another way than I did now.
Make sure to check out this video from my previous blogpost to see how I made some of these photos.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Let me know in the comment section below.
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