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Iconic Film in a Single-Use Body

Kodak Tri-X Disposable Camera Review

A picture of the box from a Kodak Tri-X Disposable camera.
At least the box is easily recyclable at home...

Disposable cameras are a relic of the past, a reminder of the days when photography was more spontaneous and less predictable. They are also a source of environmental concern, as they generate plastic waste and consume batteries that often end up in landfills. But despite these drawbacks, some people still enjoy the thrill of shooting with a disposable camera, especially when they want to capture candid moments without worrying about settings or quality.

 

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Kodak, one of the pioneers of film photography, has recently launched a new disposable camera that aims to appeal to both nostalgic and adventurous photographers. The Kodak Professional Tri-X disposable camera is loaded with 27 exposures of the legendary Tri-X 400 black-and-white film, which has been used by many iconic photographers for its high contrast, high acutance and wide tonal range. The camera features a 30mm f/10 doublet lens, a fixed shutter speed of 1/125s, and a built-in flash that can be turned on or off. It also has an optical viewfinder and a manual film advance wheel.


But is the Kodak Tri-X disposable camera worth buying in 2023, when digital cameras and smartphones offer superior quality and convenience? And how does it compare to other disposable cameras on the market, such as the Fujifilm Quicksnap or the Ilford XP2? In this review, we will try to answer these questions and give you our honest opinion on this product.


 

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Design and Handling

The Kodak Tri-X disposable camera is a simple and lightweight device that fits easily in your pocket or bag. It has a black plastic body with yellow accents and the Kodak Professional logo on the front. The camera feels sturdy enough for its purpose, but it is not waterproof or shockproof, so you have to be careful not to drop it or expose it to moisture.


The camera has only two buttons: one to turn on the flash and one to release the shutter. The flash button is located on the front of the camera, below the lens, and it has a red LED indicator that lights up when the flash is ready. The shutter button is on the top of the camera, next to the viewfinder. The viewfinder is small and basic, but it does the job of framing your shots. The film advance wheel is on the back of the camera, and it has to be turned manually after each shot. The film counter is also on the back, showing you how many exposures you have left.


The camera is easy to use, even for beginners. You just have to point and shoot, without worrying about focus or exposure. The only thing you have to decide is whether to use the flash or not, depending on the lighting conditions. The flash has a range of 1m to 3m, and it can help you take photos indoors or in low light situations. However, it can also create harsh shadows and reflections, so you may want to avoid using it for portraits or reflective surfaces.

 

Specifications

  • Film type: Kodak Professional Tri-X 400 black-and-white film

  • Film format: 35mm

  • Number of exposures: 27

  • Lens: 30mm f/10 plastic lens

  • Focus range: 4 feet to infinity

  • Shutter speed: 1/125s

  • Flash: Built-in flash with on/off switch and red LED indicator

  • Flash range: 1m to 3m

  • Viewfinder: Optical viewfinder

  • Film advance: Manual film advance wheel

  • Film counter: Film counter on the back of the camera

  • Battery: One AA battery (included)

  • Dimensions: 114 x 54 x 36 mm

  • Weight: 100 g

 
A picture of the Kodak Tri-X disposable camera.
The tacky plastic and cardboard surrounding the primitive lens do nothing to inspire confidence.

Image Quality

The image quality of the Kodak Tri-X disposable camera depends largely on the film that it uses. The Tri-X 400 film is one of the most popular and versatile black-and-white films ever made, and it can produce stunning results in different situations. The film has a high sensitivity that allows you to shoot in low light without flash, and it also has a wide exposure latitude that can handle bright highlights and deep shadows. The film has high acutance that gives your photos a sharp and detailed look, and it also has a high contrast that creates dramatic tones and textures.


However, the film is not everything. The camera itself also affects the image quality, and in this case, not in a good way. The lens of the Kodak Tri-X disposable camera is a cheap plastic lens that suffers from several flaws. It has a fixed focus that can only focus from 4 feet to infinity, meaning that anything closer than 4 feet will be out of focus. It also has a fixed aperture of f/10, which limits the amount of light that reaches the film and reduces the depth of field. Moreover, the lens has poor optical quality that causes distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, flare, and ghosting.


A photograph of the Jubilee Line between Canning Town and West Ham stations
The camera can produce sharp enough images in the right conditions... Photo credit: Michael Elliott
A photograph of a road in East London.
... however it has a tendency to produce somewhat soft and vignetted images with quite some aberration. Photo credit: Michael Elliott

These flaws can sometimes add character and charm to your photos, especially if you are going for a vintage or lo-fi look. But they can also ruin your photos if you are expecting sharpness and clarity. The photos taken with this camera often look soft, blurry, grainy, dark, or washed out. They also lack detail and dynamic range, especially in low light or high contrast situations.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use

  • Loaded with Tri-X 400 film

  • Built-in flash

  • Optical viewfinder

  • Recyclable

Cons:

  • Low-quality lens

  • Fixed focus and aperture

  • Poor image quality

  • Plastic waste

  • Extra cost for developing and printing

 

Developing and Printing

One of the main drawbacks of shooting with a disposable camera is that you have to pay extra for developing and printing your photos. Unlike digital cameras or smartphones that let you see your photos instantly and share them online for free, disposable cameras require you to wait until you finish your roll of film and then take it to a lab or a store that offers film developing services. This can take several days or even weeks, depending on the availability and quality of the service.


The cost of developing and printing your photos can vary depending on where you go and what options you choose. Some places may charge you a flat fee for the whole roll, while others may charge you per photo. Some places may offer you different sizes and formats of prints, such as 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10, or even digital scans that you can download to your computer or phone. The average cost of developing and printing or scanning a roll of 27 exposures can range from £5 to £15, depending on these factors.


However, there is a way to reduce the environmental impact of disposable cameras. Some places that develop film from disposable cameras can also recycle them. They can remove the film and send the camera back to the manufacturer, who can then reuse the plastic parts and the batteries to make new cameras. This way, you can avoid throwing away your camera and contributing to plastic waste. Kodak claims that they recycle or reuse more than 75% of their disposable cameras, which is a commendable effort.


Conclusion

The Kodak Tri-X disposable camera is a fun and easy way to experience film photography, especially if you are a fan of black-and-white photography and the Tri-X film. It is a simple device that lets you capture candid moments without worrying about settings or quality. It can also create some interesting and artistic effects, such as grain, contrast, and vignetting, that can give your photos a unique look.


However, the Kodak Tri-X disposable camera is also a wasteful and expensive way to take photos in 2023, when digital cameras and smartphones offer superior quality and convenience. The camera has a low-quality lens that produces poor images that often lack sharpness, detail, and dynamic range. The camera also generates plastic waste and consumes batteries that are harmful to the environment. The camera also requires you to pay extra for developing and printing your photos, which can add up quickly.


Therefore, we do not recommend buying this camera unless you really want to try film photography for fun or nostalgia. There are better alternatives on the market, such as reusable film cameras or instant cameras, that can offer you more control, quality, and sustainability. If you do buy this camera, make sure to take it to a place that can recycle it after developing your film.

 

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