All you need to do to understand why disposable cameras are coming back into fashion is dig through the thousands of photos on your smartphone’s camera roll. It’s easy to get choice paralysis when picking your fave out of thousands, so the appeal of a disposable camera’s limited number of shots is pretty apparent, especially because you can’t agonize over whether they turned out right until you get them developed. One-time-use electronics suck, but so does spending your whole vacation behind a viewfinder, so the Flashback ONE35 is looking to recreate the experience of a disposable film camera, but in a digital and completely reusable way.
It’s not hard to see why digital photography nearly wiped film photography off the map once it became accessible to the masses, as you can snap tens of thousands of photos with a digital camera without having to pay a single cent to develop prints, and you instantly know whether or not a shot turned out as you intended. But a digital camera is also a completely different experience than a film camera. Seasoned photographers will often use film cameras as a teaching tool, as the limited number of exposures forces users to be more deliberate when they press the shutter, instead of firing off hundreds of images at once and just hoping one of them is a keeper.
There’s also something to be said for the delayed gratification of a film camera. Those who grew up with digital photography will never know the excitement of heading to the photo lab to see how your pictures turned out. It’s part of the reason why disposable film cameras — cheap plastic shooters that can’t be refilled — are becoming popular again. But reusing is always better than trashing or recycling, so the Flashback ONE35 camera strives to merge the functional advantages of a digital camera with the experience of shooting film.
The Flashback ONE35 camera both looks and functions like a retro disposable 35mm film camera. A slider on the front turns a bright Xenon flash on and off, a button on top acts as the shutter release, and a thumbwheel winder on the back advances to the next exposure. Shots are framed using a basic, see-through viewfinder, and while there’s no colour screen on the back to play back photos, a basic LCD screen on top shows how many of the 27 shots you have left. It’s about as easy to use as a camera can get, skipping any exposure adjustments, or even the need to adjust its focus.
Instead of dropping off an exposed roll of film at a photo lab, users connect the ONE35 to an accompanying app on a smartphone where, after 24 hours, they’re able to see and share their snaps. It doesn’t sound like the app offers much in terms of photo editing or development options, but when virtually reloading the camera, users can select between different film stocks — two to start with more being promised later — including ‘#flashbackclassic’ which emulates Fujifilm’s colour Superia film, and ‘#flashbackmono’ which emulates high-contrast black and white film stocks.
The creators of the Flashback ONE35 camera have turned to Kickstarter to help put their creation into production, with a funding goal of a little over $US52,000 to help move their working prototypes into the production stage. Users can pre-order one with a contribution to the Flashback crowdfunding campaign. Delivery is expected as early as August, but as with any crowdfunded product (especially electronics), it’s a good idea to expect unforeseen delays. Crowdfunded products shift most of the financial risk to backers, and there is no shortage of innovative ideas and products that have failed to materialise, taking backers’ money with them. It’s always a case of buyer beware.