35mm · Film photography · Photography

Disposable fun

A forum I frequent has been running a disposable camera challenge where each participant can enter up to three photos taken with a single-use camera. I didn’t have a disposable laying around, so I bought myself an Ilford XP2 model especially to take part ( I had planned on getting the HP5+ variant, but the shop didn’t have them).

I’ve used it on three occasions – in Sheffield on the day I bought it; in London when visiting for a work meeting; and in Sheffield again this weekend just passed.

The camera itself is (or was – it’s been destroyed presumably when the film was developed) a very lightweight piece of kit with a snazzy red and white striped design. It feels like it would smash into a million pieces if dropped on a hard surface. Feature-wise, it has a viewfinder, lens (30mm f/9), flash activation button, shutter button, and a film-advance wheel. And that’s your lot.

In operation there’s not much to do other than frame the shot through the basic optical viewfinder, click the shutter, and wind on to the next frame. The frame counter is reversed so you can see how many shots remain. The flash is advisable for dim conditions – I took several frames in what appeared to be decent light in St. Pancras railway station and they’re all pretty much useless.

In terms of the results produced, they’re pretty much as you’d expect from a disposable camera with a plastic lens – soft at the edges, but with acceptable sharpness in the centre of the images. Of the 28 frames I eked out of the roll I probably have half-a-dozen that I like, several more that are ok, but nothing to write home about, and the rest are underexposed or just badly composed – I think I had a bit of a tendency to ‘snap’ images with this camera rather than taking my time to find better pictures with it. That said, I’m really happy with the first two of the five shots I’ve posted here today, and the others aren’t bad either.

I can’t honestly say I’ll bother with a disposable camera again – even if the competition is run anew in future – especially given the other good cameras I have, but it was a good experience nonetheless.

So, here are five of the photos I took with the camera.

This one is my fave of the bunch. It’s not a sharp as it might have been had I used a different camera / lens, but I’m really happy with the result. This was taken at the Barbican Centre in London

FILM - There's no such word as Barbican't

Another one I really like. It’s mostly negative space, but I think it works well. This is Blast Lane near Sheffield city centre.

FILM - Blast Lane subframe

This golden taxi sits atop the cab firm’s offices on Abbeydale Road in Sheffield.

FILM - Taxi

The lens on the camera had a tendency to flare in certain conditions, here rendering the figure with a ghost-like haze.

FILM - Barbican ghost

And finally, another shot from Blast Lane where a dmaged bicycle lay (I presume) abandoned next to the tunnel.

FILM - Buckled

Anyone else gone the lo-fi disposable route?

Ilford XP2 single use camera.

Taken in April and June 2019

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