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How to develop a disposable camera at home

Updated February 21, 2017

Film from disposable or one-time-use cameras can be developed in a home darkroom. The brand and process of the film in the disposable camera is usually indicated on the camera's package. The film removed from a disposable camera will be processed the same way as film of the same brand and process shot in a conventional camera. The photographer should confirm he has the chemistry and equipment to process the film before removing the film from the camera.

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  1. Remove the camera's cardboard or paper covering. Use a sharp utility knife to cut the paper and pry it away from the plastic camera body.

  2. Locate the tabs that hold the two portions of the camera body together. Depending on the manufacturer there may be three or more tabs. Pry these tabs open with a small screwdriver. Pry the tabs open carefully if you plan to reload the camera with fresh film. If you are attempting only to remove the film for processing breaking the tabs is not a concern.

  3. Carefully remove the capacitor or battery if the disposable camera is equipped with a flash. Handle the battery with care to avoid electrical shock.

  4. Locate the film canister and remove it from the camera. Go to a completely dark room and open this canister. Usually the canister can be pried open with a bottle opener although some darkrooms have specialised canister opening tools.

  5. Transfer the film to whatever equipment you use to develop film in your darkroom. Process the film according to the standard procedures for the type of film.

  6. Tip

    There is no danger of ruining the film by exposing it to light during the process of removing the film from the disposable camera. The film is wound into a canister as each frame is exposed providing a light-safe storage of the film. The danger of ruining the film is during the process of moving the film from that canister to the developing equipment or canisters.

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Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Small screwdrivers
  • Darkroom equipment

About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.

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