For a holidaymaker in the 1990s it was the essential accessory. The plastic disposable camera had its drawbacks — a strict limit of 27 photos on a roll that took three days to develop at your local pharmacy — but was cheap enough not to matter if it was lost or stolen.
Now instant cameras are making a comeback with the selfie-obsessed iPhone generation. Fujifilm expects to sell 7.5 million this financial year, including Instax instant cameras – up from 6.5 million last year and 3.9 million in 2014-15.
It says many buyers are teenage girls or women in their early 20s who are sick of the “fake life” created with carefully edited smartphone pictures.
Fujifilm’s 35mm Quicksnap camera, which costs £5.99, is experiencing the biggest renaissance.
“Billions of mobile images are uploaded every day. People take multiple pictures of the same shot and edit them endlessly,” the company’s David Honey said. “The result is people are creating perfect images of themselves. They’re creating a fake life. People are rebelling against that.”
It is part of a trend which has also led to the resurgence of the old Nokia 3310 phone and vinyl records, “Millennials and Generation Z associate film photography with their parents, and they have never experienced it themselves,” Mr Honey said. “They love retro because they believe the past is a beautiful place and they want to recreate it.”
Smartphone app developers are joining in the craze for old technology. A South Korean developer has created a disposable camera app for the iPhone, Gudak Cam, which is modelled on an old fashioned Kodak, and allows you to take a roll of 24 photos through a tiny viewfinder and then forces you to wait the requisite three days to see the results.
“Purely and utterly pointless,” said Steven Rueter, a customer writing on the website ProductHunt. “Flies in the face of reason; distorts the essential purpose of technology — it’s absolutely brilliant.”
Another, Brendon Bigley, wrote: “I find that having a limited amount of photos I can take in a ‘roll’ makes me more selective about the moments I intend to capture, and waiting days to see them means I don’t spend time in my photos app checking to make sure the framing is just right.”