Shooting Vancouver with a disposable camera / by Philipp Fiehl

As you might have read in my previous post, when i got to Vancouver, my Leica M6 had a little problem and i had to improvise a backup camera. After some fruitless attempts with my Smartphone, i stumbled upon a Ilford HP5 + disposable camera in a 7/11 store. For 15$ i got 29 frames to play with.

With a shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second and its 400 ISO it was fairly easy to shoot and good enough for almost all lighting conditions i encountered in Vancouver. For bad lighting (a.k.a. "the indoors") it had a built-in flash, i never used.

While sharpness is rather good in the centre, it gets worse the farther it gets to the corners of the frame.

I made a few modifications, the effects of which i'm not sure about. Mainly i tried to reduce unwanted light getting in around the lens with a black marker. Attempts to fit a very oversized yellow filter to the camera failed. It couldn't secure my rather expensive filter well enough without blocking parts of the frame, so i abandoned it.

But the biggest challenge with this camera turned out to be not to block the lens with my fingers. There's a certain way i hold my camera, which caused my fingers to be very close to the lens of this particular camera. Also i have hands that need XXL-gloves, so holding this small camera was rather fiddly. At the beginning i didn't realise that i sometimes blocked the lens, which ruined some good shots.

The combination of 1/100th and ISO 400 works rather well for indirect lighting.

Still i got away with a few images i liked. Although the lack of quality of the lens shows, it's not too bad, giving the photos a soft look, especially in high contrast areas.

Bright light is not your friend with this camera.

Because of its small sitze and quiet shutter, the camera is unobtrusive and you're guaranteed to be stealthy. The lack of control regarding shutter speed, focus and aperture also means, you'll be very quick. The downsides of this on the other hand are rather obvious.

Blown out sky and at the bottom left corner a part of my finger

All considered, it was fun shooting the Ilford disposable camera although the results shouldn't be expected to be very good considering detail, lighting and sharpness. If you want to concentrate exclusively on composition and can forgive the shortcomings i mentioned, it is a rather good teacher.