Last weekend a friend and I went off to Watergate Bay near Newquay for a weekend of surfing fun. We had an all day lesson booked with the O’neill Surf Academy on the Saturday and had a really great time…
We decided we’d like to come home with some photographic souvenirs of our trip so before we went I bought a couple of Kodak Sport Single Use Cameras from Boots (they were buy one get one free!). These are Kodak’s waterproof disposable cameras with 27 shots on them, ISO800 film and no flash.
I was really interested in how well this performed as I am used to some nice digital cameras that help me get some good shots when I’m out and about. Obviously this is going back to film camera so processing would be necessary, and with an ISO800 film on a bright day I wasn’t very confident the pics would be that good – I was anticipating a lot of noise and for most of the bright areas to be burnt out.
First though, ease of use.
The rubber strap is great as the whole point of this camera is that you use it when taking part in sport/in water (it has a 15m waterproof rating). So I doubled it around my wrist to make sure it didn’t go anywhere while I was surfing and then was able to forget about it apart from when I was taking photos.
As this was a disposable film camera the winding mechanism was manual. It is a massive dial on the top of the camera which was very easy to use even with wet hands – no problems there. The viewfinder was average, no complaints.
The main issue with this camera was the shutter release button. It’s well placed on the front of the camera, which made it easy to find, however the design meant it had to have a lot of pressure applied to actually take the photo. I realise this was probably to make the camera more rugged (you don’t want to be taking photos by accident), but with wet hands this wasn’t very easy and so a few times I missed the shot. The amount of pressure needed to take the shots also meant there was a risk of the camera moving when you pressed the button, giving you a blurred picture.
It’s been a while since I’ve had 35mm film developed so I went off to my local Boots store when I got home to take these cameras in. What I wanted was a CD of images, however they wouldn’t allow me to have just a CD I had to also buy prints, which was disappointing. I just got 6×4 prints on gloss, the most basic thing they did (I used to get 7×5 prints on matt when I had films developed but this was all about price as all I wanted was the CD). It also turned out that in order to have the CD I had to use the longest service they offer (2 days) rather than the 1 hour I actually wanted.
I picked the prints/CD up on Sunday and I was expecting to be a bit disappointed so my expectations were low. However I was pleasantly surprised as the shots we got weren’t bad at all. The colours were indeed very muted and the sky didn’t come out accurately, and there was indeed a lot of noise due to the ISO800 film, but the pictures were ok!
Here are some of the shots we took…
As you can see while the shots aren’t going to win any awards for water photography, they are great souveniers of a day on the waves – exactly what we were after. We got shots we simply wouldn’t have had otherwise, which were taken in the midst of our surfing fun.
I do think these pictures would have been better with a ISO100 or even ISO400 film, but understand Kodak put an ISO800 film in this camera to compensate for the lack of flash and to cater for those using it when diving. And I also think the camera would have been easier to use with a different shutter release button. But I do think buying these cameras to take into the sea was a good move as we now have pictures we wouldn’t have without them. If I was to take up watersports more regularly then I would consider a waterproof case for my little digital camera, but this was an ideal alternative for our day as surfer chicks and if I go again I would buy another one.