The 3 Best Disposable Cameras of 2023
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The 3 Best Disposable Cameras of 2023

Sep 10, 2023

Disposable (or single-use) cameras create a mysterious kind of fun that many people rarely get to have these days. Simply look through a hole to make sure that what you want in the photo is there, press a button with a satisfying click, wind a wheel to ready the camera for the next picture, and that's it.

But you have to wait until you develop the photos to see them, and the promise of what could have been memorialized keeps you clicking. In your heart you know that you probably just caught the essence of your family and friends, and the image you made will live on to commemorate that brief instant in time.

If you’ve ever wanted that magic feeling yourself, or if you want your party guests to feel it, our research and testing conducted at an event with 100-plus people have convinced us that you should opt for Fujifilm's QuickSnap Flash 400, Kodak's FunSaver, or Ilford's XP2 Super Single Use Camera (if you want black and white). These cameras are especially easy to use and produce reliable results with the enjoyable look of film photos.

Fujifilm's QuickSnap camera is easy to use and consistently delivers the best results you can expect from a color one-time-use camera.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

Kodak's FunSaver is just as simple to use and consistent as Fujifilm's QuickSnap.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

If you want a color disposable camera, either Fujifilm's QuickSnap Flash 400 or Kodak's FunSaver will give you reliably great results. Both cameras are easy to find and a breeze to use, and the best of the photos we ended up with in our tests were vibrant, sharp, and full of character. Though most other color disposable cameras you might come across are likely to use film made by these manufacturers, you can't be sure that the film is fresh and has been stored properly if you opt for a no-name camera.


Ilford's XP2 is simple to use, makes great black-and-white photos, and can be developed anywhere color film is developed.

Ilford started making black-and-white roll film in 1912 and has focused its film production on black and white since then. As with our color picks, we recommend Ilford's XP2 Super Single Use Camera because it comes from a known manufacturer that produces some of the best film around. Even though XP2 isn't the best film the company makes, it's the best you can find in a black-and-white disposable camera that you can have developed at any drugstore. Our test photos looked like classic film images rather than the nearly clinical-looking photos you sometimes get from a cell phone.

Fujifilm's QuickSnap camera is easy to use and consistently delivers the best results you can expect from a color one-time-use camera.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

Kodak's FunSaver is just as simple to use and consistent as Fujifilm's QuickSnap.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

Ilford's XP2 is simple to use, makes great black-and-white photos, and can be developed anywhere color film is developed.

I’m Wirecutter's senior staff writer of camera and printer coverage, and I’m the former senior technology editor for Popular Photography; prior to that I served as a senior camera editor at CNET. In my role at Popular Photography, I was in charge of camera and lens testing procedures and personally field-tested all of the cameras, as well as many of the lenses, that the publication tested during my tenure. My first experiences with photography were taking photos with film in the late ’70s and ’80s, before just about anyone had a computer in their home, let alone a digital camera to carry around. I still use film cameras today, and I’ve used many one-time-use cameras in my lifetime.

If you want the look of film images, disposable cameras are a great way to get started without shelling out a lot of money for a camera. They’re also great if you want to take photos without using your phone and don't want to bother with a separate digital camera. That said, they don't provide as much control over what you get, though that works in your favor if you’re passing them out at weddings, birthday and holiday parties, or other events since they really have no learning curve. They don't perform well in dimly lit situations, so they work better at outdoor gatherings where there's plenty of sunlight. The flashes aren't all that great and can lead to washed-out, overly bright faces, especially if you’re shooting at close range.

If you can't decide between color or black and white, think about what kinds of images you want to make. A color photo, in its more blatant attempt to mimic current reality, may tread too close to the uncanny valley to let you focus on what's happening in the moment. Photos with no color can provide a separation from immediate reality that helps an image of a moment that has passed take on the weight of a treasured memory. As Wirecutter updates writer and member of our test panel Arriana Vasquez put it, "Even though the color is sharper, I like the black and white more."

A large percentage of the photos you get from these cameras will not be keepers, especially when you start out, or if you distribute the cameras to people who aren't used to film photography. Ultimately, though, that's part of the fun: When you don't know immediately what the photo will look like, you don't get bogged down in making the perfect image, which can often be a buzzkill. Plus, if you end up in a situation where your phone's camera can handle things better, you can always get the benefits of computational photography by grabbing a quick shot with it if you need to.

We looked at all of the single-use cameras available at online photo stores, as well as more mainstream retailers such as Amazon. We also spent time in the real world at drugstore chains and even local New York City bodegas and tourist shops. More often than not, only Fujifilm or Kodak disposable cameras were available for purchase in physical stores and at major retailers online.

Although other options exist, those cameras typically end up being pricier and are sometimes intended for people who want to experiment and go beyond what the average person wants to do. One example, Lomography's Simple Use Film Camera, costs about twice as much as the models we tested but includes three color filters that you can slide over the flash to create unusual and sometimes unpredictable effects. That's fun for experienced photographers, but we ruled that it was out of the scope of this guide.

For this guide we looked for cameras with the following attributes:

Amazon has a long list of brands selling one-time-use cameras, many of which we’ve never heard of before. Knowing that only a few companies make film these days, and considering the pricing of those cameras from unfamiliar brands, we think it's pretty obvious that they are using film made by other companies. Look at eBay, and you’ll find that there's a whole lot of old film in the world, and you can pay a vast premium for it on that auction website. With all of this in mind, we concluded that many of the off-brand disposable cameras on Amazon are highly likely to use old film that may or may not have been stored properly and will probably produce unreliable results. In our quest to provide the best buying advice online, we stuck with cameras that use film from known sources by brands that we know we can trust.

In the fall of 2022, we ordered eight Fujifilm, eight Kodak, and eight Ilford cameras online and distributed them to the attendees of Wirecutter's 2022 all-staff retreat. We gave our colleagues no special instructions other than to have fun with the cameras, fill out a short survey form about the experience, and return them at the end of the retreat. We ended up getting 11 back: four Fujifilm, three Kodak, and four Ilford. The Wirecutter operations staff then packaged these cameras up and sent them to The Darkroom for processing, scanning, and photo printing.

We chose The Darkroom because the company has a very good reputation, we know from experience that it does a great job, and anyone can send film or cameras in for the company's services, which include providing the negatives afterward. We wanted to use the same company for all of our test samples so that the processing, scanning, and printing would be conducted to the same standards for each camera. Once processing was complete, The Darkroom emailed us links to the scans so that we could download the images, and then it shipped to us the prints, the negatives, and a USB drive with all the image files.

Once we had the scans, prints, and negatives, I looked them all over and convened a test panel that consisted of Wirecutter updates writer and professional photographer Arriana Vasquez, Wirecutter associate photo editor Connie Park, and me. We looked over the images in all of their forms and discussed the results. (As an attendee of the staff retreat, Arriana had also participated in the picture-taking process.) To judge the photos, we looked at the sharpness of the images, their color rendition, and their exposure. We also took note of how many good images we got from each camera and the results of handing out cameras to a group that included experienced photographers, people who hadn't used a film camera in years, and those who had never used a film camera before.

For the most part we found that you can't expect a large number of great photos from cameras like these. Out of 648 frames of film (27 frames on each of the 24 cameras we distributed), we ended up with 79 photos (about 12.2%) that we thought were good. It's hard to say what that might translate to for an average group, but we can say that the Wirecutter staff displayed a keen eye for framing photos through the tiny, tunnel-vision viewfinders on these plastic photo machines, so our results may be above average.

Fujifilm's QuickSnap camera is easy to use and consistently delivers the best results you can expect from a color one-time-use camera.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

Kodak's FunSaver is just as simple to use and consistent as Fujifilm's QuickSnap.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

When it comes to color photo film, the two names that most people know are still your best bet if you want reliable results from a single-use camera. Fujifilm's QuickSnap Flash 400 and Kodak's FunSaver are the disposable cameras that you’re most likely to see in a store or at a theme park or roadside attraction, and they’re the only one-time-use cameras that make clear where their film comes from, since their makers are the sources of the film. There's an extremely good chance that any other brand's disposable cameras (aside from some expensive specialty brands’ cameras) use film made by one of these two companies anyway, so you may as well buy your disposable cameras from them, too. Furthermore, both Fujifilm and Kodak have programs to recycle the cameras after they’ve been developed.

In our tests, both of these cameras produced images that were as good as what we could expect from this type of camera and film combination. Both have plastic lenses, and both use film whose results aren't nearly as color-accurate as smartphone photos, but no other disposable cameras out there would be noticeably better. The plastic lenses don't control light as deftly as the glass lenses on your average camera (even the one in your smartphone), so the images have a softer look. On top of that, because the film is tuned to work best in sunlight that shines around midday, you may notice color shifts if you’re using either camera around artificial light sources: Fluorescent lighting can make the images take on a greenish hue, while light that mimics tungsten lights (the yellow-looking light often associated with non-LED light bulbs) might yield a yellow tinge. In a world where people are used to images that are manipulated by portable computers, you can't look to film photos for technical perfection.

In our survey of our colleagues who used the cameras at our company retreat, all the testers said that the cameras were easy to use overall and that they would want to use one again if given the opportunity. One said that the shutter button on the Fujifilm QuickSnap felt stiff sometimes, and they worried that it might cause the camera to shake, though in the final photo results we didn't notice problems (typically a certain kind of blurriness) that would be caused by camera shake. Another tester, who used a Kodak FunSaver, said that winding to the next frame took so long that they may have missed some picture opportunities. This is a drawback of the simple design of plastic cameras, since it would be nearly impossible to build a reliable, lever-type mechanism to advance film in them the way that metal-bodied mechanical cameras do.

The best measure of the worth of disposable cameras was the reaction we got when we brought the prints to the Wirecutter office. Every person was excited about what they saw. Some noticed the technical imperfections in some of the photos but said that those made the pictures as singular and full of character as the people in them. Everyone at the event where we distributed the one-time-use cameras had a smartphone with a camera in it, but only this handful of disposable cameras made these particular photos. "The people who participated in testing the cameras became a part of the event," said Wirecutter updates writer Arriana Vasquez. Ultimately, when you hand out disposable cameras, you’re inviting people to take part in the experience you’ve planned.

"They’re meant for fun," noted Wirecutter associate photo editor Connie Park. "Even if you’re using a nice camera with a nice kind of film, you’re not going to like all of the images you get."

Ilford's XP2 is simple to use, makes great black-and-white photos, and can be developed anywhere color film is developed.

With a history of black-and-white film production that spans over 100 years, you can't go wrong with Ilford's XP2 Super Single Use Camera. In our tests, it produced pleasing results and was just as easy to use as our color picks. Our test panel described the images from the Ilford camera as having an "atmospheric vibe" and a "classic aesthetic."

The images you get from the Ilford XP2 camera aren't the sharpest black-and-white photos you can make because XP2 film is processed in the same chemicals as color film (C-41), but conveniently the camera can be developed at any drugstore or big-box store that offers film developing. By their nature, black-and-white films that can be developed this way (called chromogenic black-and-white films) tend to be just a bit less sharp than black-and-white films that require traditional—and typically harder to find—processing. This is the tiny sacrifice you make if you opt for the fun and convenience of one-time-use cameras and want a monotone look. Ultimately, that look can bring a special charm.

Our testers liked the feel of the film advance on the Ilford disposable camera, with one saying that they liked "the sound the gear makes when you’re getting ready for your next shot because it verifies that the camera is actually functioning." They also called out the "satisfying click with every shot." Another appreciated the "retro" look of the camera itself, and one person noted that it "looks so cool, I just want to carry them around all the time."

When you’re buying a one-time-use camera, try to purchase from a store that keeps them properly stored if they’re sitting around for months on end, or one that is likely to sell them relatively quickly if they’re out on display. Each package has an expiration date; though the labeling doesn't explicitly say that it's an expiration date, and technically the film will still work after that date, be sure to look for one that has a date in the future. If the packaging is covered in dust, and the camera is on the shelf of a shack on the beach in a humid locale, for instance, you’ll probably end up with funky results. If you know that you’ll want a disposable camera on your vacation, it might be best to order one ahead of time or to get one in an air-conditioned airport store while you’re waiting for your plane.

Film is made to be used anywhere, but you’re best off with film stored in temperature-controlled conditions so that it isn't exposed to extreme heat or humidity. This is most important for film stored for long periods of time, in which case black-and-white film should stay below 68 degrees Fahrenheit and color film should remain below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Film should also stay dry; in this regard, you probably have nothing to worry about unless you’re in an extremely humid location and the store you’re buying from doesn't have air conditioning. If you plan to store film for long stretches of time, it's easiest to keep the film in a refrigerator and then take it out a couple of hours before you plan to use it so that it reaches room temperature first.

Like anything that you use only once, a disposable camera isn't necessarily the most environmentally friendly choice for photography, and if you plan to use film regularly, you should get a reusable film camera instead. Lomography makes a reusable alternative to its one-time-use camera that's just as simple as our picks in this guide and comes preloaded with color film.

Fujifilm runs a recycling program for labs and retailers so that they can send used cameras in to be recycled. We contacted the company, and representatives said that the flash units in the cameras are reused whenever possible, and that the casings are ground down and remolded for used in new cameras. Kodak started its recycling program shortly before before Fujifilm did, but since then the brand has been sold, and the single-use cameras are now made by a company called Kodak Alaris; at this writing, we have not yet received a response to our inquiries about the status of that recycling program.

The service we used for processing, The Darkroom, notes on its page about disposable cameras that it recycles the cameras it processes. Specifically, it contracts with a company called Commodity Resource & Environmental that participates in Fujifilm's program.

Film manufacturing involves chemical processes that, like those that are involved in the production of any plastics, cosmetics, or other household cleaners or items, can be a net negative for the environment. All photo film contains silver halides that are suspended in gelatin. Creating this gelatin uses animal bones, though PETA "does not actively campaign against watching movies or taking photographs for pleasure." The chemicals used in photo development require careful handling but are considered safe and in small amounts can typically go down the drain at home and are easily processed by any local water-processing plant in the US. In larger amounts, the chemicals need to be disposed of properly (PDF), and there are regulations in place to manage that, which The Darkroom indicated it follows by treating its used processing chemicals and contracting a licensed hauling company to dispose of them. The Darkroom also says that it undergoes regular inspections by the county in California where it operates.

Late in our research for this guide, we became aware of Analog Camera Company, which reuses the camera housings from previously used disposable cameras by reloading them with film, sending them out to customers, and then getting them back for developing, scanning, and reuse. The company confirmed to us that it uses Kodak film in its cameras, but its service is currently limited to scans that are best suited to sharing digitally or making prints measuring 4 by 6 inches or smaller, since they’re 1000×1500 pixels. The company told us that it plans to offer higher-resolution options in the coming year. We hope to test Analog's cameras for the next iteration of this guide.

If you plan to use a developing service that can deal with traditional black-and-white film: You have more options for monochrome disposable cameras. Kodak's Tri-X 400 Single-Use Flash Camera and Ilford's HP5 Plus Single-Use Film Camera are loaded with those companies’ respective black-and-white emulsions, have built-in flashes, and are great choices that can give you slightly sharper images than our black-and-white pick. But be sure that you’re okay with bringing these cameras to the right place for developing, because your local Target or Walgreens almost certainly can't work with them. Sending your camera away to The Darkroom works, but if you’re thinking of choosing any other service, you should check the service's website carefully—if it does only C-42 processing, it won't work for these cameras—or send an email and ask.

Kodak's Daylight is essentially the FunSaver without the flash. If you know that you will be using the camera outside, in bright sunlight, and that your subjects won't ever stand with their back to the sun, you can probably get away with using the Daylight, but if you don't have that kind of control over the conditions you plan to shoot in, go for the FunSaver.

Kodak's Power Flash is basically the same as the FunSaver but with a more powerful flash. It can be the right choice if you’re definitely going to take pictures of subjects that are farther away, or if you’re planning to use all the film on large groups of people who will be about 15 feet away. For general use, the FunSaver is the better option.

Kodak's Sport single-use camera is a version of the FunSaver, without flash, made to be used underwater. It might make sense if you’ll be skiing, perhaps, or visiting a rainforest where the camera is likely to get very wet, but we wouldn't suggest using a film camera in such situations. Underwater photography is particularly difficult because light doesn't travel as easily underwater as it does above the surface. For waterlogged adventures, we highly suggest a digital waterproof camera instead. Yes, they’re expensive by comparison, but a disposable camera isn't worth taking along in those situations. The same admonishments apply in regard to the Fujifilm QuickSnap Waterproof camera.

This article was edited by Erica Ogg.

Phil Ryan

Phil Ryan is Wirecutter's senior staff writer for camera coverage. Previously, over 13 years he covered cameras and other photo-related items for CNET and Popular Photography. As the latter's tech editor and then senior tech editor, he was responsible for maintaining and refining the lab testing for cameras, and as the main camera tester, he used and wrote reviews of many of the cameras released in that timeframe.

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Widely available: Relatively affordable: Reliable: Equipped with a flash: Easy to get developed: If you plan to use a developing service that can deal with traditional black-and-white film: