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How to Develop Disposable Camera Photos – Can I Do It Myself?

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woman taking photo using kodak disposable camera

Back in the day, a disposable camera could be found in almost any tourist’s hand around the world. While they’re not quite as popular today, you can still buy and use them. You might even find an old disposable camera lying around your house.

But after using a disposable camera, how can you develop the film? While you technically can develop it yourself, it’s not easy, so it’s almost always better to take it to a professional film developer.

shutter camera divider

How to Develop Disposable Camera Photos Yourself

While it is possible to develop disposable camera photos yourself, it does require a bit of equipment and expertise to complete the job. For starters, you’ll need access to a dark room, developing tank, developer solution, stop solution, fixer solution, wetting agent, agitator, storage container, and scissors.

In short, it’s not for amateurs. But if you really want to develop your disposable camera photos yourself, this is what you need to do. The exact time requirements vary depending on the exact film that you have and the products that you use, so read everything thoroughly.

  1. First, take the film out of the camera in a dark room. Next, prewash the film in a developing tank, and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Next, add developer solution to your developing tank, and agitate.
  2. Remove the developer solution, add the stop solution, shake everything up, empty it, and repeat.
  3. Add fixer solution, agitate every 10 seconds, and repeat for 10 minutes. Remove the fixer solution and rinse the film.
  4. Now you need to wash the film. You can safely expose it to light now too. Fill the tank with water, mix it for about 20 seconds, empty it, and repeat for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add wetting agent, tap the tank to burst bubbles, and let it sit for 30 seconds.
  6. Empty everything out, unravel the film, hang it up, and let it dry for at least 4 hours. Now all you need to do is cut the film into negatives!

This complicated process is why most amateurs choose to take their disposable film to a professional developer.

fujicolor disposable camera

Image Credit: bady abbas, Unsplash

What Happens If You Develop Disposable Camera Film Wrong?

If you develop disposable film the wrong way, it’s not something that you can go back and fix afterward. If you accidentally expose the film to light, you won’t be able to process it at all, and if you develop it the wrong way, you won’t be able to fix your mistake.

If you’re planning on trying to develop disposable camera film yourself, we highly recommend practicing with film that will be okay to mess up. Once you practice and get the process down, you can move on to film that you actually care about.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Disposable Camera?

The cost to develop your disposable camera film will vary depending on where you take it, but it’s not that expensive in most places.

Walgreens charges about $15, and that’s a standard price tag for film development. Keep in mind that these stores don’t typically develop the film in store, though, so the processing time is going to be a bit long because they need to mail it off and wait for it to come back.

35mm film for disposable camera

Image Credit: Waldemar Brandt, Unsplash

Who Still Develops Disposable Cameras?

Disposable film is not the most common way to process images today. So, it’s only natural to wonder where you can take it for developing! The good news is that more places than you think still offer this service.

Two common places that develop disposable camera film at their locations are CVS and Walgreens. But there are plenty of other options out there!

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Final Thoughts

If you need to develop disposable film, we highly recommend against trying to do it yourself. There’s a good chance that all you’ll do is ruin the film, and plenty of places still offer professional developing services that can do it for you. Even better, they don’t cost nearly as much as you might think!


Featured Image Credit: Alberico Bartoccini, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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