Reuse a Disposable Camera and Save the Planet! and Save a Few Quid




Introduction: Reuse a Disposable Camera and Save the Planet! and Save a Few Quid

Recently i was down my local photo store (jessops) to get a few used disposable cameras as im sure you are aware they make great fun for shocking people. Just ask and they give 'em away.I also thought, huh, these companies get the cameras back, put new film in, new stickers maybe, new battery, and sell em off for �5+ each. What to stop me putting more film in? Nothing. Aside from a few shocks, but that was my fault as i was trying to remove the boards on a few of these cameras. But anyway, i put some Ilford HP5 black and white film into one and got amazing results, by amazing i mean i got pictures. check out my flickr with them on . The results i got where consistent with what i get with film processed at school in my slr, so i was happy. i advise colour film which is quite cheap now and will give good results.

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Step 1: Choosing Your Camera

Go down to your local photo store and ask around for used disposable camera. They will usually have a box of them under the counter as the films are ready to be pulled out then the camera thrown away or given back to Kodak or whoever. It is vital to find a camera with all the bits intact. There are plastic covers on the bottom where the film pops out and where batteries go in should your camera have a flash (do try to get one with a flash as indoor photos will be impossible without one). A good idea would be to get say 3 or 4 different types that are intact so you can choose which to use and which will be easiest to load. The one i finally settled on was from tesco and said 'celebration' allover, before i toke those ghastly stickers off.

Step 2: Disassembling Your Camera

First off take off all those nasty stickers saying cheese if there are any. Then locate the tabs that snap open to reveal the inside of the camera. On mine there were only two either side. remember to locate them all. You will still need to apply quite some force to pry the camera apart. Once the camera is apart collect all the little pieces like covers and reels. This would be a good point to test everything works, so charge up the flash (if there is one), with the back open, wind the lever indicated right until the camera is cocked, it wont wind any further. Then press the shutter button on top. if you look though the shutter you should see a quick flash of light and if you have a flash you should see the flash fire. if neither does, find a new camera. (:

Step 3: Loading Up the Camera With Film

Now its time to put some film into that camera of yours. I used Ilford HP5 black and white but unless you can develop it yourself i would use colour film, its quite cheap to get it processed now everyone is going digital. Now depending on your camera you may have to load the film in pitch black in a windowless room at night, as the camera's wind on lever is only ment to be turned one way, and disposable cameras and made so that in the factory all the film is wound out of the cassette onto a spool and then as you wind on before each shot it moves the film back into the cassette so that when you finish the film they just remove the film without having to worry about rewinding, and so that if you brake the camera open the pictures you have already taken are safe, give or take one or two. To load my camera the first time i did it in a light-proof changing bag, the second time however i found there was a tab on the outside that released the film so that it could be wound backwards in relation to the wind on wheel. Look around on your camera for such a tab. Otherwise find a pitch black room, i mean pitch black, sit in there for a minute or two and if you see any light at all its not good. you might wanna try that room but with a thick towel of something over you camera. If this is what you need then sit in a pitch black room, with the lights on for now, when you took apart your camera there should have been a small reel on the opposite side to which has the wind on wheel. It should be split down the center so the leader of the film can be slid in through this gap and you can start winding. Now turn off all the lights completely. You need to roll all the film that was in the cassette onto this reel. Do it slowly, one bit at a time, until all the film is wrapped around this small reel and there is none left in the canister, don't pull it so the end comes out of the can, just so no more comes out. Now you need to place the little reel back where it was in the left of the camera with the film still tightly held around it. Now place the cassette in the right of the camera and slot back in any covers or things like that. Now you can place the back back on, it would be a good idea to study how your camera goes back together so you can get it right.
If you did find out how to be able to make the rewind wheel turn back (without forcing it :P) then simply take the leader of the film, and thread it onto the little spool, so that it catches, then place the cassette and covers and stuff back where they go and close the back. Where the spool was there should be a little screw or something on the bottom which you should be able to turn using a screwdriver or something. Turn this onto you feel it tighten and all the film should be on here, you will have to turn quite a bit. If you feel it come loose open up the camera and place it back on the spool. I find it helps to secure it with some masking tape.

Step 4: Take Photos!

i used ISO 400 film and it gave perfect exposures in bright sunlight and with the flash. Use the camera in direct bright sunlight without the flash, and indoors or in shadow use the flash if you have one. I would really love to see what other people take with these, so please link to a flickr or similar in a comment. if you have any question please email me at
thank you for reading my instructable and get out there and photograph! (:

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    4 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Ah, I see you've run out of pro account. I don't know if they're still running the offer but Flickr was giving away three months free:


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wow!I really need to do this.I have tons of used disposable cameras...But no film:(


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is cool. I've been trying to figure out how to do this for a while.