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I’m on a mission to summer like it’s 1990. But, there was something missing amid the Disney classics, scrunchies, and sending my kids in the backyard for a few minutes of quiet. That something missing was childhood photos like the ones in a plastic tote at my parent’s house. You know, the ones with lots of grain, cheesy smiles, and colors that can’t be imitated in an Instagram filter. I found exactly that in the Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof.
Earlier this year, Fujifilm revived the once discontinued disposable film camera. Say what you want about millennials and Gen Z, but we’re bringing back old-school film cameras and hair scrunchies. Besides the obvious nostalgia, the Quicksnap 800 Waterproof will go where your smartphone can’t, and still keep shooting. And, well, it’s only $14. That’s something you can’t say about digital. Available even in-store from places like Wal-Mart, it’s also destined to be purchased by vacationers who forgot or broke their camera.
So what does a disposable film offer in 2021? A heap of nostalgia, great colors, and happy accidents.
Too Long, Didn’t Read.
The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is an easy-to-use disposable film camera. You’ll get photos that look straight out of the 90s, but you’ll have to work with a lack of versatility and a teeny, tiny viewfinder.
Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof Pros and Cons
- Simple to use
- Great film colors
- It’s $13
- Tiny viewfinder
- Fixed focus
- Grainy (but it is the good grain)
The beauty of disposable film is that you need nothing else, not even a battery.
The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is a revival of an old disposable film camera. This is all about going old school, so there are no real innovations to see here.
Fujifilm USA lists these specifications for the Quicksnap 800 Waterproof:
- Film: FUJICOLOR SUPERIA X-TRA 800 (ISO 800/30°) 135 – 27 exp.
- Lens: 32 mm f/10, fixed-focus lens
- Shutter Speed: 1/125 secs.
- Exposure Conditions: Outdoors on sunny or slightly overcast days
- Subject-to-Lens Distance
- Open air: Beyond 1 meter (Outdoor daylight bright or cloudy-bright)
- Submerged: Between 1 to 3 meters (Outdoor bright daylight clear water)
- Finder: Inverted Galilean-type plastic lens finder
- Water Resistance (Pressure): Depth of up to 10 meters
- Size: 73 (H) x 133 (W) x 42 (D) mm
- Weight 170g
The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is a disposable camera that’s wrapped in a clear plastic case. This case is what gives the camera the ability to head underwater. But, that design feature makes the camera a bit easier to grip than a disposable camera without a case. There’s even a small bump over the lens to keep fingers out of the shot. (I swear 20 percent of my childhood photos have a finger in the corner.)
At the front, my hand rests near the large shutter release. The shutter is a pull-down lever that’s large and clunky. That’s on purpose, however, to make the camera easy to operate underwater or when wearing gloves in cold weather. The lever has a smooth easy push with a satisfying click as the photo is taken.
Once the photo is taken, a chunky film winder at the top advances the film. Again, the winder is intentionally big to make it easier to grip with wet or gloved hands. The camera won’t let you take a second shot without advancing the film. If you’re looking for cool double exposure effects, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. A window next to the winder shows how many photos are left on the roll.
The back of the camera houses the viewfinder. The tiny viewing window was my biggest complaint about the camera. The viewfinder is so small that I couldn’t easily see through it with goggles on. My underwater photos with moving people in them were a crapshoot. (And, of course, I wasn’t very lucky.)
The back of the camera also houses some vital instructions. It serves as a reminder that you can’t shoot too close. (Spoiler alert: I still forgot). The back also details how to shoot and wind the film.
At the side, there is a loop if you want to add a wrist strap to the camera.
The size of the camera is a happy medium between being large enough to grip comfortably and small enough to easily toss in a bag. Since it’s wrapped in waterproof plastic, I didn’t bother with a camera bag and just tossed the whole camera into my beach bag. It was small enough to also fit in my coat pocket and, just barely, the back pocket of my jeans. At about six ounces, it doesn’t really make a dent in a travel bag.
My Quicksnap 800 Waterproof traveled to the pool, down a river in a kayak, to the beach, and to a splash pad. The waterproof casing held up well. I never saw water or sand on the interior of the plastic casing and the film certainly wasn’t ruined by any water. I had a few shots that were hazy, likely from water residue on the outside of the case.
I found one of my favorite features of the camera when I dropped it in the pool the first time: it floats! This is great for preventing a lost camera while you’re adventuring over water. It was still easy to hold on to underwater.
For a $13 camera, it felt very sturdy. It felt plasticky too, but for the price, that’s what I expected. I dropped the camera a few times. I even banged it on the corner of my desk to see if the plastic case would crack easily. But, I sent it into its final destination for development unscathed.
But is development actually a disposable film camera’s final destination? Fujifilm offers a free recycling program for their one-time-use cameras. If one-time use plastics makes you cringe, choose a developer that uses Fujifilm’s recycling program.
The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof doesn’t have autofocus — the lens is fixed focus. The camera is made to focus 3.3 feet to infinity above water. Because of how light bends water, you’ll get sharp photos of anything between 3.3 feet to 10 feet in clear water. Less, if the water isn’t super clear. Murky water will get you nothing at all.
Fujifilm reminds you of the focusing limitations right on the camera. Still, I had a few snapshots where I was a little too close and the image is fuzzy. Since I wasn’t shooting with a measuring tape, I’m pretty sure it was user error.
Ease of Use
The idea of using film often seems complicated, but a disposable film camera like the Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is anything but. There’s an extra step to wind the film, but there are no settings to mess with. You don’t even have to wait for the camera to lock focus or add any batteries.
Of course, the lack of actual settings limits the use of the camera. Fujifilm clearly states in the specifications that it’s a camera meant for sunny days or partially sunny days. They’re not kidding — the photo that I took in an outdoor pavilion is quite grainy. It’s not a camera that you’ll be able to use indoors. That’s unsurprising, considering it’s an f/10 lens at ISO 800.
The viewfinder is so small that I couldn’t easily see through it with goggles on. My underwater photos with moving people in them were a crapshoot. (And, of course, I wasn’t very lucky.)
Honestly, the Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is easy enough to use that I could teach my six and eight-year-old how to use it. I would just have to remind them not to get too close or take it inside.
I read the tech specs — so I didn’t take the camera inside and end up with dark, unusable photos. The camera will take reasonably lit photos on sunny days and with partial clouds. Underwater, you’ll need to stay in that top ten feet of water and be sure to use it when the sun is giving off the most light. Don’t use this camera indoors, it’s not made for indoors.
When I opened up my scans from the Quicksnap 800 Waterproof, I felt like I was looking at my own childhood photos. Instead, I now have pictures of my own children with the colors and grain from my own childhood. I absolutely love that. I wanted to give my kids a 1990s summer (or, at least, the best mix of the 90s and now). I was able to capture some of that summer in a way that looks like the 1990s.
The reason to work with film is color, and the Superia film inside didn’t disappoint. Well, maybe if you’re expecting super accurate vivid digital camera colors you’ll be disappointed. The colors were a bit more muted. There’s some definite gold undertones. The greenery has a deeper color that I often edit into my digital files. Skies are a bluish gray.
Of course, film is about both color and grain. There’s an obvious texture to each photo. But, the grain is the good kind of grain, if there’s a good kind. It’s not color noise but a more soft, uniform texture.
The images are shot with a camera lens that’s meant to be thrown away. The edges of the image are soft. If you place the subject on the edge, that will look bad. If you place the subject in the center, that will help make up for a lack of bokeh on an f/10 lens. Still, even the center isn’t super sharp. The camera also isn’t made for action. Even though it’s made for sunny days, movement will still blur.
Can I pick apart these images? Absolutely. But, everything that’s wrong with them by today’s digital standards is what is delivering that nostalgia. If you want an underwater camera with realistic colors and super sharp centers, you don’t want a disposable film camera. You want a digital camera.
Extra Image Samples
From day one, the Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. As a film camera, these photos are all untouched, straight from the scanner except for resizing into a web-friendly file and rotating vertically shot images.
- This camera can go anywhere, and if you drop it in the water, it floats.
- I intentionally banged on the case and it stayed intact.
- It’s simple to use.
- The colors from the film are great. Hello, 90s nostalgia.
- It’s recyclable, but that will depend on where you get it developed.
- Where else can you buy a camera for $13?
- The viewfinder is nearly impossible to use underwater with goggles, so you can’t really see what you are shooting underwater.
- Expect blur from too close subjects, movement and at the edges of the image.
- Photos are grainy. It’s an f/10 lens so the ISO 800 is needed for full sun.
The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof is a great camera for several different uses. For nostalgic, true film colors on the cheap. For getting film colors without even knowing how to load a film camera. For a cheap camera that goes where your smartphone can’t. For teaching photography to kids. For when you forgot your camera or your camera broke on vacation. If you want to summer like it’s 1990, I can’t recommend it enough.
Of course, it’s a $13 camera. The small viewfinder is difficult to use when wearing goggles underwater. It’s made for bright, sunny conditions only. You’ll get soft edges. And if you’re not quite far enough away, you’ll get soft centers too. It’s an f/10 lens with a fixed focus. For film color with background bokeh from bright lenses, you’re going to have to use something besides a disposable.
If you want a camera that is easy to use underwater, gets bright realistic colors, and can shoot in any conditions, well, you want a digital camera. Try something like the Olympus TOUGH TG-5. But, if you want some 90s nostalgia that you can take to the beach, you won’t be disappointed in the Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof.
I’m giving the Fujifilm Quicksnap 800 Waterproof four out of five stars. If I were to judge it on digital camera standards, it’d get one star — but that nostalgia (and price) make the flaws fun. Want one? Check out Amazon for the latest prices.