Disposable cameras are a great way to get started in the world of film photography. They require very little investment, and the combination of a cheap lens and a prominent flash gives a unique and distinctive look that smartphone cameras can’t easily replicate. Now Kodak has introduced a new disposable that comes with its iconic black-and-white Tri-x 400 film. It’s a relatively affordable way for the analog-curious to try one of the most famous films of all the temperature.
The Legend of the Kodak Tri-X
Even if you’ve never shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 film, you’ve definitely seen footage taken on it. It debuted as a large format sheet film in 1940, but soon became available in 35mm and medium format. Tri-X became a staple for photojournalists and other professional photographers because it offered tremendous flexibility and latitude.
With the camera set to expose film at ISO 400, the stock delivers solid sharpness, punchy contrast, and very noticeable but pleasing grain. In a pinch, however, photographers can underexpose Tri-X by as much as three (or even four stops) and then use specific developing techniques to achieve a usable image at the equivalent of ISO 3200. It’s a technique called “push” that really intensifies the grain.
This flexibility has helped photographers win countless awards, often in difficult situations. Pulitzer-winning Nick Ut’s “Napalm Girl” photo from the Vietnam War was taken on Tri-X. Famous rock and roll documentarian Anton Corbijn was a huge Tri-X fan. It really was the norm.
The Tri-X disposable
The camera itself offers specs similar to what you’d expect from a typical disposable. It has an F/10 prime lens that will keep almost everything sharp from one meter in front of the lens. It offers a single 1/125th second shutter speed option and a built-in flash that fires whenever the shutter fires.
It is extremely simple in design, but still offers the familiar Tri-X look. You can easily stop the film in processing to really increase the contrast and grain if you want to hammer out the aesthetics of the film. Each camera comes with 27 exposures and you can see some early sample photos taken with it below.
When can we get the Kodak Tri-X instant camera?
Kodak has yet to announce official pricing or availability for the Tri-X compact. A single roll of Tri-X is already $10, though, and Kodak has announced film prices will rise in 2022, so we’d expect it to be $20 or even more, which is high end. for its color disposables. —most of which use cheaper mainstream films.
If you can’t wait for Kodak to start shipping them, Ilford currently sells two black-and-white disposables. One comes with its proven black and white HP5 film. The other opts for XP2, which is a black and white film, but it develops using standard color chemicals (process C-41).