It was the end of our Christmas 2008 holiday in Canada. My wife and I along with our son and his family – a party of six had spent the time with our other son and his extended Canadian family at a large cottage on Canning Lake, Ontario. I had moved from film to digital having spent a meagre Christmas bonus on a Panasonic DMC-LC80S digital telephoto compact and a handful of memory cards.
Why would someone with a brace of half decent cameras even consider buying a disposable camera?
I pondered over this question as I emerged from a photographic shop in the city of Mahon – the capital of Menorca – with a couple of colour films in the one hand and a Polaroid branded 35mm single use camera in the other. Around my neck was my regular holiday weapon of choice since 2012, a Canon G12 digital zoom compact. You couldn’t miss the shop with its traditional international retro red and yellow Kodak sign high above the door resplendent with dodgy wiring.
We’ve all got George Eastman and his Brownie cameras to thank for creating the tool for vernacular photography. That simple principle of combining a single element, fixed focus lens and a single speed shutter in a hand held box is still in evident today courtesy of the humble single use camera.
Camera snobs ”wouldn’t be seen dead with such rubbish” but, would they turn their collective noses up at one if they found themselves camera-less at an exotic holiday resort?
The Olympus XA1 was ntroduced in 1982. This little gem of a clamshell 35mm compact was the simplest and cheapest of the XA series. It has a fixed-focus f/4 to f/22 x 4 element Zuiko lens, a shutter range of 1/30 to 1/250 sec and programmed exposure via selenium solar cell (like the Olympus Trip) surrounding the lens. There are two film speeds of 100 and 400 ASA via a switch on the base of the camera. The build quality is identical to its siblings the only difference being their varying degrees of sophisticated features.