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110-format disposable camera

Extra-compact disposable camera using 110-format film
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In the 1970's, many popular inexpensive cameras used "110-format" film, whose frame size was about half that of 35mm in each dimension. The film came preloaded in plastic cartridges which could drop into the camera much like an audio cassette. These cameras were less than an inch tall, and many were compact in the other dimensions as well.

While newer 35mm cameras have eliminated the advantages of other cartridge-based formats like 126 and paper-backed formats like 620, the 110 format retains the advantage of its small size.

To be sure, the smaller negative of 110 format film would necessarily reduce image quality compared with larger formats. On the other hand, 110 film was adequate with 1970's film stock and with today's film stock should be even better.

The one limitation would be getting the stuff printed. The magnification would be comparable to that of 35mm panoramic prints, but equipment designed to feed 35mm or APS film would probably be unable to feed 110 film directly. On the other hand, it should be possible to design a "carrier" that would allow 110-format film to be loaded into 35mm or APS equipment.

Anyone else like the idea of a subcompact 110-format disposable camera?

supercat, Mar 02 2002

(?) For Bristolz http://www.digitald...com/shop/espion.htm
Tiny digital camera [dare99, Mar 02 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

(?) Micro pocket Spy Camera http://www.safetyce...m/micpocspycam.html
Very close to what my daughter has [phoenix, Mar 02 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

(?) ...and another... http://www.pimall.com/nais/spycam.html
[phoenix, Mar 02 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

(?) ...and a few more... http://www.merrillp...0ClipOnShootOut.htm
...including one just like the one I describe (top of page, left corner and in the package on the right after the first paragraph.) [phoenix, Mar 02 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

(?) Kodak Fling disposable 110 camera http://user.itl.net...er/110/fling110.htm
Looks like the idea is baked, apparently didn't sell too good. [whlanteigne, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       I like the idea of a 110-film camera sized digital camera.
bristolz, Mar 02 2002

       My daughter has what is essentially a disposable 110 camera. It consists of a lens assembly attached to a keychain. The lens assembly - which is maybe 3/4" on each side - snaps on to a roll of 110. I think she got it out of a bubblegum machine or as a grab bag prize at a birthday party.   

       Of course since 110 film exists, so does the means to develop it, so I don't know what you're talking about there.
phoenix, Mar 02 2002

       Bristolz: I have a digital camera that's about the same size as the old 110, although you hold it vertically instead of horizontally. Kind of a pain in the neck, as to look through the viewfinder and hold it squarely, you have to essentially jam your thumb up your nose...
StarChaser, Mar 02 2002

       I know that there are many "reloadable" 110-format cameras. They all need to use 110-format cartridges, though; by contrast, a disposable 110-format camera could use "raw" filmstock. This could reduce the film cost [disposable camera bodies are generally reusable; I don't think the film cartridges are] while also allowing film capacity, size, and shape to be manipulated as desired. Just as some disposable 35mm cameras are smaller than any cartridge-based ones (since the cartridge itself doesn't take up room) so too could a disposable 110 camera be smaller than a cartridge-based one.
supercat, Mar 02 2002

       Yeah, but. I have a couple of disk cameras that are totally useless, albeit obsolete. The thing I liked about those was that their size was much like a gentleman's wallet -- something that I eschew.   

       I draw a blank trying to think of reasons to have more disposeable packaging enter the market; hence, I don't think highly of the 35mm disposeable camera anyway.
reensure, Mar 02 2002

       It should be noted, btw, that "disposable" cameras actually aren't. What they really are is cameras whose film cannot be removed without exposing it to light. When a disposable camera is submitted for developing, the processor then ships it to the manufacturer (receiving a small payment for doing so) who can then inspects, reloads, and resells it. [or inspect it, find that it's starting to get worn out, and melt it down to make a new camera].   

       I'm not sure, but I think Walgreen's "free film" cameras operate on the same principle; these are cameras which sell for about $12 with film in them; every time you take the camera in to Walgreen's for film processing within the two years after purchase, they'll refill it "free" [i.e. including the cost of the film in the processing]. Pretty clever concept, really, since owners of those cameras are captive customers of Walgreen's processing and since bulk film, at $0.30/foot, is much cheaper than packaged film.   

       While I'm not positive, I would expect that a 110-format disposable camera could be used multiple times with less waste than a conventional 110 camera [I'm not positive, but I don't think the plastic cartridges are generally reused].
supercat, Mar 02 2002

       Hmm... some disposable cameras I've seen don't seem quite wide enough front-to-back to hold a metal film can. There are a variety of units on the market, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if some are as you describe.
supercat, Mar 02 2002

       I find "disposable" (actually, "discarded") 110 cameras all the time in flea markets and thrift stores, often in remarkably good condition and usually priced under $1. A bit of careful cleaning usualy brings them back to life. The nifty thing is, I can reuse them until they break (they made them simple, not much to break) or until I find another, prettier one... The only trick is to be selective and only buy the ones in good shape.
whlanteigne, Sep 26 2002

       [whlanteigne] What's your preferred source of 110-format film cartridges? Does anyone make any bulk-loading equipment for them?
supercat, Sep 26 2002

       I haven't used 110 film in the last couple of years, since my favorite medium is 35mm (135 film) or 9cmx9cm (120 or 220 film.) I think I bought my last 110 cartridge at WalMart. BTW, if you're interested, 126 Instamatic film is still available from an Italian company, though a bit pricey at about $5.50/cartridge- good luck getting it developed. 126-format cameras can be bought very cheaply on eBay or at thrift stores and flea markets. Contrast this with 35mm film, which can be bought for as little as $1/roll and developed and printed for $3/roll. Cheap, fixed-focus plastic 35mm cameras can be found inexpensively at (where else?) eBay, thrift stores, and flea markets... I have several, got them for about $0.50 each, usually the rewind crank is broken off, but a nickel or quarter works just as well. I keep a bright yellow one loaded and ready to go in the glovebox of my car, just in case I'm involved in an accident and need photographic evidence.
whlanteigne, Sep 28 2002

       110 film is still alive and well and being sold at Osco and Walgreens. I just bought a several cartridges (I have a dozen old 110 cameras I got for next to nothing at a thrift store because, as the manager said, "You can't buy the film any more," and I never argue with someone so convinced... One could pry open an exposed roll of 110 film (in a darkroom) and try to load it with unexposed film- I think the processors simply break them open and recycle the plastic, so there might not be a neat way to open them. Before the 110 cartridge, there were 16 mm cameras- Minolta made some excellent cameras in 16 mm format, and you can buy them on eBay for quite cheap. Maybe the big film companies would be interested in developing a "disposable" or "one-time-use" camera in 16 mm format? I haven't looked into availability of 16 mm film, but I think it can be bought in bulk like 35mm film (they're both movie film formats. You simply buy a roll of 1,000 feet or so of movie film- you want C-41 process- and wind it into cartridges. If you search the web, you can find reuseable metal 35mm film cartridges, possibly 16mm as well. I think as unkindly of 16 mm as I do of 110, so I haven't looked into this. Okay, that's not fair. Pentax made an excellent 110 camera- the Auto 110. It was anything but disposable, came with an entire array of available accessories, such as lenses, filters, cases, flash units, etc. Check them out on eBay, they still go for around $100. Minolta also made several really superb 110 cameras. ) I wouldn't advise anybody to toss an old camera simply because the corner drug store doesn't carry anything but 35mm film. There are several mail-order sources that have websites for ordering "obsolete" film types, such as 127, 620, 828, and as I mentioned earlier, 126 cartridges. Maybe someone will convince Polaroid to make film for those Kodak Instant cameras they made in the early '80s- and, as much as I dislike the idea, someone could make film for disk cameras as well...
whlanteigne, Oct 13 2002


       Some of my "rescued" thrift store cameras. If you'll notice the "110 vs 35 mm comparison" pics, the 110 cameras aren't much smaller than the 35mm "disposable." In fact, the 110 with flash is larger than the 35mm "disposable," thus less "pocketable."   

       The 110 cartridge gets a bit of an advantage in price compared to 35mm "disposables." It's cheaper to buy the cartridge, but not by much.   

       The very cheapest film format shown are the 35mm fixed-focus (now misleadingly called "focus-free") thrift-store "rescuees." I got most of them for $1 or less. From mail-order labs I can buy 35mm color film for as little as $1 per roll, if I buy 4 or more rolls. I do this and keep the extra rolls in the refrigerator. (Okay, I'm enough of a camera/photography nut that I have an extra "photography" refrigerator.) The same mail- order lab charges me $3 a roll for developing and printing (this includes the return postage.) We're talking $4 total for a 24 exposure roll. That's 6 prints for $1, less than 17 cents each.   

       My opinion is that, yes, it's possible to develop and try to market a 110 or 16 mm format "disposable" camera, but I don't see any advantage, and the reduced image quality and increased "redeye" effect would probably kill the idea.
whlanteigne, Oct 13 2002

       You're quite right, 120/220 is 6cm x 6 cm, my typo- I generally think of it as 2 1/4 x 2 1/4.   

       If your Dad isn't using that YashicaMat I'd be willing to make the sacrifice and give it a good home. I use an ancient Minolta Autocord, I think it's getting lonely in its old age.   

       I shop around constantly for cheap film and developing prices. Usually, a major retail chain somewhere will be running a special promotion. For example, at the grocery store today, I found the store-branded 35mm 24 exp 200 ASA (ok, ISO) film for $2.49- the second one free, so about $1.25/ roll. The packages also have a $1 off processing coupon, so developing at my friendly local store will be $2.99/ roll. This is competitive with mail-order prices.   

       As for the digital cartridge, I think that's a very doable thing. I would have suggested 126 cartridge, because there were a good number of decent 126-format cameras made. I recently asked a patent attorney about the digital cartridge, and his response is that it's a "marketing idea," not a patentable invention- that is, it's just another twist on existing technology.   

       (Dissect a low-end digital cam, such as my detested Agfa ePhoto Smile camera, and transplant the innards into a 126-format cartridge. Voila, the digital cartridge. Put in some better components, make it "stupid-friendly" and maybe it'll sell.)   

       The most interesting aspect of the Pentax Auto 110 is its strikingly similar properties to the human eye- that is, it can be used to take pictures through monoculars, telescopes, microscopes, without elaborate or expensive adaptive lenses. I'm amazed that reasearch-lab types didn't climb all over them. And yes, it can take pictures through the viewfinder of another camera- a neat little trick.
whlanteigne, Oct 13 2002

       BTW the digital cartridge is covered in another thread.
whlanteigne, Oct 13 2002


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