Somehow, it just doesn't seem right that we are being asked to make a permanent record of our life with a disposable item. But, that is exactly what Fuji and Kodak are asking us to do with the introduction of a new line of throwaway cameras.
Cardboard and plastic have come a long way when it comes to cameras. They have brought photography down to the lowest common denominator. In an age where most cameras have a multitude of features, these cameras have been stripped to their birthday suits.
Some people may have a hard time believing that their camera will end up in the trash after just one use--but this is precisely what the Fujicolor Quick Snap and Kodak's Fling are designed to do.
While both cameras seek the same result, they go about it in different ways.
Fuji's Quick Snap is about the size of 2 1/2 boxes of 35-millimeter film. It weighs 3 1/2 ounces and comes neatly wrapped in a green and gold foil package. The list price of the camera, including film, is $9.95.
The Fling is about one-third the size of the Quick Snap, making it slightly larger than a matchbox. It weighs about two ounces and comes in the familiar yellow and black of Kodak. It also comes with film and has a list price of $6.95.
The major difference between the cameras is the size of the film.
Fuji went with the more popular 35-millimeter film. The camera uses an unconventional winding system. The film advances from the take-up spool into the cassette.
The Kodak Fling uses a more standard format for a tiny camera. It is built around a 110 film cartridge, and the film advances from one side of the self-contained cartridge to the other. The design of both cameras makes them very simple to operate by eliminating the loading and rewinding procedures.
Fuji, with its larger, 35-millimeter film, went with higher-quality photos but had to make its camera larger and more costly. Kodak made its camera incredibly small but had to forfeit some quality with its smaller film. Comparing the quality of the photos produced by both cameras was easy. The Fuji Quick Snap produced excellent photos--snapshots you would be proud to show off--while the Kodak Fling's photos were soft and grainy.
Film speed (ASA, ISO, EI) is another difference. Fuji uses its Super HR 400 film, while Kodak uses VRG 200 film. Both cameras offer only 24-exposure color print film. While the difference here is slight, the Fuji Quick Snap, with faster film speed, may perform a little better should the sun go behind the clouds.
Obviously, these cameras are not for everyone. They are targeted at three major groups.
First, there is the traveler who may have left his camera at home. Finding one of these cameras should be no problem because they are or will soon be available at amusement parks, zoos, airports, hotels or wherever film is sold.
Another target group is people who visit places where their camera could be damaged. Trips to the beach or snow might cause an especially worrisome person to shudder over his shutter. Having a camera you can stick in your shirt pocket or purse might be just the cure for those SLR (single-lens reflex camera), heavy-camera-bag blues.
These cameras only work outdoors, so why not take advantage of this? Why carry a heavy camera on that long hike, fishing trip or picnic? Just toss the camera in your backpack.
Third, the disposable camera is just the ticket for children. No f-stops to set, no film to load, no unloading, no lens to focus, no shutter speeds to set, no worries about losing an expensive camera. You can send your child off to camp with a camera anyone can use.
Remember, these cameras will not perform miracles. You are relying on the latitude of the film. The camera is set for shooting in bright daylight or under light cloud cover. Back-lit situations are a problem. When the sun goes down, you are out of luck.
Considering the convenience these cameras provide, the loss of quality can be overlooked. Fuji produces a print with surprising quality. The Quick Snap has a good feel, with the shutter button on top. It allows you to be steady while taking your picture.
The Kodak Fling is much smaller, making it a breeze to carry. Holding the camera steady is a problem, though, because of the miniature size and location of the shutter button, which is at the rear of the camera. Your fingers can get in the way of the lens if you're not careful.
Try to find these cameras at discount stores. At Fedco, you can buy the Quick Snap for $3 under list price. If you're at an amusement park or zoo, be prepared to pay the premium price. Knott's Berry Farm, which carries the Kodak Fling, charges $3 over list. You are definitely paying for convenience.
Disposable cameras may be here to stay, but don't look for them to take the place of your more conventional camera. These cameras have only one life to live. They do not have the ability to change exposure or use a flash. In fact, they are little more than an outdoor candid camera.
DISPOSABLE CAMERA COMPARISON
Pictures shot from the Fuji Quick Snap and the Kodak Fling