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You Wouldn’t Catch Me Dead Without a Disposable Camera — Until I Bought This Game-Changer

If you know me, you know I wouldn’t be caught dead without one of the best disposable cameras. For the past couple of years, there’s been a disposable somewhere on my body. In my jacket pocket, my tote bag, my jeans, my hands — you name it. As someone that’s deeply invested in keeping film photography alive, disposable cameras offer a smaller, more carefree way to snap 35mm film photos when I don’t want to bring a larger, more expensive camera on the go.

But, loving film photography, and specifically disposable cameras, comes with quite the burden. Film prices have been rising astronomically over the course of the past couple of years. As of January 10, 2023, Digitial Camera World dishes that Kodak prices have soared up to 40% this past month alone.

Not to mention, if you don’t know how to develop film yourself, taking your film to a local development shop will cost you even more money. I’ve come to realize that although the ease of disposable cameras is something I’ve come to love dearly, it’s also become quite an expensive habit when comparing side by side with already expensive 35mm film. It might only be by a few bucks, but still, you get the point. Film is expensive in 2023.

Disposable cameras also aren’t necessarily the best for the environment. Sure, any development center will recycle your disposable camera for you, says Napa Recycling & Waste Services, but no waste is better than waste, period. Aside from ease and aesthetics, I’ve begun to question why I’m even shooting with disposable cameras in the first place. That’s until I discovered a “disposable camera” unlike any other I’ve shot with before, the Kodak M35 35mm Film Camera. But what makes this “disposable camera” so unique compared to other disposables? And why in the world am I using quotation marks? Find everything you need to know in my full review below.

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  • Great quality
  • Reusable
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Easy to carry


  • Battery dies quickly
  • Not disposable

What Sets the Kodak M35 Aside?

Well, for starters, this disposable camera isn’t disposable at all. Yes, that’s why I used quotation marks earlier. Though it isn’t disposable, I still treat it like a disposable camera. It has that cheap, lightweight feel and costs around the same price as any other disposable camera, so you don’t have to feel bad if you accidentally lose or damage it. The non-disposable functionality of this camera helps folks save money in the long run and create less trash when shooting.

Because this camera is reusable, you load the film yourself. Loading film for the first time can seem a bit daunting, so we suggest you check out the below tutorial on YouTube before loading your Kodak M35. In comparison to those unaware, you typically don’t load disposable cameras. These cameras will almost always come pre-loaded with film.

Just like the average disposable camera, the Kodak M35 comes with a separate viewfinder and lens. That means that what you see in the viewfinder isn’t exactly what you’re getting because the lens taking the photo is slightly underneath.

The M35 comes in a number of cute colors, unlike most disposable cameras. In comparison, Fujifilm and Kodak disposable cameras (our two favorites) only have one look. Here, you can opt for green, purple, blue — you name it.

One issue I encountered here that set this camera aside from disposable cameras in a negative light is the battery life. This camera takes AAA batteries that aren’t included and die fast. Like, so fast that I thought the camera might have been broken. I’m the type of person that can go more than a few weeks with the same disposable camera, only taking it out of my pocket when I find it necessary. This camera makes that a little harder. While on the same roll of film and a fresh battery, the camera battery died on me when I needed it most at a drag show seeing the Victoria Elizabeth Black from The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula. The camera’s battery only activates the flash. Still, it’s important to note that you should be using flash with this camera (and any other disposable camera) 99% of the time if you’re not in direct sunlight.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken that I couldn’t get a stellar shot on this disposable. I now keep AAA batteries on me at all times, so this doesn’t happen again.

Tyler Schoeber | SPY

Shooting With the Kodak M35

Aside from the battery-related troubles I went through, the Kodak M35 shoots exactly how any disposable camera would. It has a flash you switch on and off on the front of the camera when needed; just make sure to keep it off when you’re not using it. In addition, the camera produces high-quality images with exquisite saturation, something I always look for in disposable cameras.

Because the Kodak M35 is refillable, you can use whatever kind of 35mm film your heart desires. Yup, from any brand. You can stick a new roll in every time to find your favorite.

To help you get a gist of what your images might look like, check below for a number of images I shot on the Kodak M35. These images were all shot using Kodak Portra 400 35mm film and were all developed at Analogue Films in London, UK. This is important to note because both film types and film development shops will affect how each roll turns out, so your images might look much different than mine.

Partygoers at Maggie’s Club taken using flash in Chelsea, London, UK. Tyler Schoeber | SPY
The editor on the street taken without flash in direct sunshine in Hackney, London, UK. Tyler Schoeber | SPY
A hand on a dart board taken using flash at Flight Club in Shoreditch, London, UK. Tyler Schoeber | SPY

Verdict: Should You Buy the Kodak M35?

If you’re the kind of person that’s constantly found shooting with a disposable camera, I vote that yes, you should purchase the Kodak M35. It’s functional, affordable, lightweight, and will save you money when shooting 35mm film on a disposable camera alternative.

If you are not actively shooting a disposable camera, the answer is up in the air for me. While I personally believe everyone who loves photography should be shooting film, even in a disposable format, I am torn on whether or not this camera is made with the average person in mind. Why? Solely due to that battery life. Before owning this camera, I did not have AAA batteries lying around as I do now, nor did I carry them on me “just in case.” It might become a bit of a hassle for someone who wants to take their disposable camera out once in a blue moon simply because I believe they might have to switch to a new battery each time they use it.

Nonetheless, the choice is entirely up to you. This camera has tons of perks, and it starts with affordability. If you’re looking into shooting more film, the Kodak M35 is an excellent way to start without feeling the need to break the bank. Give it a whirl and see if it’s for you; just remember, film is sold separately!

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