With the best disposable cameras, you can not only get a bit of a retro kick, but also give your photography skills a bit of a boost while you're at it. While a DSLR or even your phone can provide you with all the crystal-clear shots you need, with a disposable camera the limitations – the fixed lens, limited perspective and a finite number of shots before you run out of film – force you to stop and think before you point and shoot.
That said, they're also a lot of fun. Disposable – or single-use – cameras are perfect for getting a lo-fi analogue look that Instagram filters can never really replicate; you can do just as well in that regard by checking out the best instant cameras.
And while the notion of a disposable camera sounds more than a little irresponsible from an environmental point of view, they're not as bad as you might think. You'll find that many of the cameras in this list act just like disposable cameras, but they're actually reusable and allow you to change the film and batteries when you need to. Top analogue revivalists Lomography have a great way of describing their kit; not single-use cameras, but simple-use cameras. Nice.
Even if the concept of a reusable disposable camera is unfortunately little more than fiction, these cameras are generally very recyclable. Many manufacturers invite you to send your camera back so it can be refilled or resold; just don't toss it in the trash.
We've put together a selection of the best disposable cameras available right now. Honestly, they all look pretty similar from the outside, but inside you'll find a variety of film stocks that can result in markedly different shots. And once you've shot your perfect analogue images, you may well want to digitise them; in which case, see our guide to the best photo scanners. But if on the whole you'd rather stick to digital photography, check our guides to the best cameras and the best cameras for beginners.
The best disposable cameras you can buy right now
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While Ilford specialises in black and white film, this retro colour camera gives its fans a blast from the past – and is one of the most fun disposable cameras you can use. It's loaded with Ilfocolor film, which gives images a stylish, washed-out look that instantly transports you back to the 1960s. That pop of colour is something else.
With a fixed-focus lens and a set shutter speed, the camera only requires you to point and shoot (this will be a common theme as we go down the list). There is an amount of control you can exercise though – you can activate and deactivate the flash with a touch, meaning it doesn't blast out a scene when you don't need it.
We mentioned the Ilford “Simple Use” cameras at the start of this guide, but the fact is that they're more than a clever name. While they're simple to operate, they come with fun extra features like colour gels that can be placed over the flash to give an image a stylised tint of colour.
A few options are available, but we've picked the camera that's packing Lomochrome Metropolis. A more subtle, muted film than some of Lomography's wildly coloured emulsions, it's perfect for exploring the city. But hey, if you don't like it, finish the roll and load the camera with something else! We'd recommend sticking with ISO 400 though – the camera won't know if you load something that requires a different exposure time.
When you think back to the look and feel of disposable cameras from back in the day, you’re basically thinking of the Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash 400. With its fixed-focus lens, its single-button operation and its powerful built-in flash, this is an archetypal disposable film camera. Loaded with ISO 400 Fuji Superia colour film, it’ll do well in the majority of lighting conditions, probably only struggling in the black of night. You get 27 exposures, and it’s so simple anyone can use it. There are some cameras on this list with more exciting features or special uses, but if you’re just looking for a straightforward, good-quality disposable camera, this is it.
This stylish rechargeable camera from Harman functions like a disposable camera, but like many of its contemporaries, is completely reusable. Its built-in flash is powered with AAA batteries, and in the box, you get two rolls of Kentmere, a budget black and white film with a usefully high ISO of 400 for use in all different lighting conditions.
The fast 1/120sec shutter combines with an f/10 lens to make for a solid, all-purpose photography setup. It's a basic setup, but that's just what you want from a disposable-style camera. Point that 31mm lens at pretty much anything and it'll probably come out in focus – as long as you're more than 1m away.
Disposable cameras are great for holidays, as they’re fun for anyone to use and make it easy to create physical images of your adventures. The AgfaPhoto LeBox Ocean 400 has one advantage over other disposable cameras when it comes to holiday use – it’s waterproof and sandproof, making it a great choice for beach getaways.
It can be submerged down to depths of 3m, meaning it’s ideal for leisurely dips in the sea, and its included yellow wrist strap means you can easily keep it secure and not worry about dropping it. The controls are also big and visible, meaning they’re kid-friendly if you’ve got little ones on your holiday. But really this is one of the best disposable cameras for all ages.
In 2021, Kodak unveiled its Tri-X 400 Single Use Camera, a disposable camera loaded with B&W film dating all the way back to 1954, making it a shoo-in as the best disposable camera for a vintage look. Long beloved by professional photographers of the era for its dramatic, high-contrast look and its forgiving exposure latitude, Tri-X built up a reputation as a film for all situations. Its striking look may not be what you want for, say, a family barbecue, but for exciting photography with fantastic tonality, it’s a great choice. This flexible format works in lots of lighting conditions – if you’ve fired off a lot of shots in dark conditions, you may be able to ask your developer to “push” the film by one or two stops to retain detail.
Normally, black and white film has to be developed using a different process to colour film, and many photo labs will often charge more for it (and you can expect it to take longer). Ilford’s XP2 super film is a different breed though; it can be developed using the C41 process normally reserved for colour film. This can really save you a headache once you’re done shooting and just want to find a high street lab that can handle your film with a fast turnaround time. Also, XP2 looks great – it’s a high-contrast B&W film with a stylish grain that’s ideal for getting shots with a little drama and flair.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400, to give it the full title, is perhaps the standard B&W film stock. It’s the one that photographers reach for time and again when they want an all-purpose film that’ll handle most situations; it’s arguably not as exciting as XP2 or Tri-X, but it’s great for getting clear and sharp images that are full of detail. You do have to get it processed with proper B&W processing, which can be more time-consuming and expensive, but the images that come back are all but guaranteed to look a cut above what you might expect from a disposable camera.
The Kodak Funsaver 35mm Single Use Camera uses Kodak’s ISO 800 film, as opposed to the ISO 400 in most other disposable cameras. This means that it’s more sensitive to light, and thus more usable in low-light conditions, the trade-off being that higher sensitivity film has more grain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as these days, with pristine digital sensors available all over, film grain has become something of a sought-after look – but it’s something to be aware of. Also, be aware that this is a pretty cheap disposable camera and it feels it, with a flimsy plastic construction sleeved in paper. Still, were you buying a disposable camera for its build quality? Of course not!
If you don’t need the waterproofing of the AgfaPhoto LeBox Ocean, then this is essentially the vanilla version, which can be picked up for a cheaper price. It shoots colour film (which may surprise some analogue aficionados, as AgfaPhoto only really sells black and white films these days) and can produce 27 exposures that'll look solid in all sorts of conditions. The built-in flash is handy, with a 4m effective range – and as with many disposables, you’d likely be best off leaving it on pretty much all the time. It’s not as exciting a film stock as Kodak Tri-X, Lomochrome Metropolis or Ilford’s Retrocolor, but it gets the job done.