Disposable Cameras: Their Design And Applications.

As a student of photography my first assignment was to build a pin-hole camera. I recommend the excercise highly as it effectively demystifies camera construction and puts you the photographer fully in charge of the instrument.

A camera is a light-tight box with an aperture at one end, which lets in light and a film, or digital sensor, at the opposite end of the box. A pin-hole camera has no lens, but instead has a small hole. It produces diffused images and requires a long exposure.

The amount of light reaching the film is regulated by either varying the size of the aperture, or the time that light is permitted to enter through it.

If the aperture is much larger than a pin-hole a lens must be used to focus light on the film, otherwise the image will be blurred.

Lenses make fast shutter speeds possible, and with a fast film and a wide aperture photographs of reasonable quality are possible even in poorly lit spaces.

Disposable cameras are today’s equivalent of the box cameras of past. George Eastman produced a simple preloaded camera in 1888 that put picture taking in to the hands of the common people. The cameras contained enough film for 100 exposures and were returned to the Kodak factory for processing.

Today’s disposable cameras contain highly sensitive film, which has a wide exposure latitude. This means that it will produce good pictures across a range of lighting conditions even though the camera is capable of just one shutter speed, and has a fixed lens aperture.

Some disposable cameras have a built in flash unit that may be enabled in poor lighting conditions.

A waterproof disposable film camera

A waterproof disposable film camera

A number of waterproof models are available. These have oversized controls, and viewfinders.Such cameras are quite good for street photography since they may be safely used in the rain and their plastic lens will most likely produce an ‘old-fashioned’ quality, especially if the images are later digitally manipulated in an editor such as Adobe Photoshop®.

Disposable cameras are fun to use in the sea, but not really suitable for underwater photography, which requires a quality camera fitted with an underwater housing.

Article copyright S. J. M. Bray ©2007

Kindly note: Photoshop® is a trademark of the Adobe Corporation.

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