Rediscovering film cameras in Princeton

A few months ago, Paola and I took some friends to Princeton, New Jersey. We were just looking to get out of the city and enjoy a sunny Saturday. While we were there we happened across a store named, interestingly and somewhat incongruously, New York Camera.

Struck by nostalgia, we decided to buy a disposable camera. This one, to be exact. We walked around town taking photos of ourselves and whatever struck us. It was a throwback — The last time I finished a roll of film I was still in high school.

We were hooked. Or at least we were temporarily obsessed like I’ve been with records, baking, beer making, and various other things. Which is funny because Princeton is home to the Princeton Record Exchange, one of the best record stores in the country and a must-visit when in town.

We were encouraged to find a reloadable point-and-shoot, which is when we realized we were several years late to this retro film craze. Prices have been going up for year last several years, particularly for high-end consumer cameras, as the last models were produced roughly 20 years ago.

In the end I found a few duds (broken, sold as-is), stumbled across a gem in Montreal, and dug out my old Fujifilm from high school. Still functional. Then I picked up another on our most recent trip to Princeton. I suppose we’ll use them until they break or pass them on to the next wave of retro fans.

Time will tell if this retro hobby stands the test of time for us given how easy it is to use a cell phone and particularly given the price of film ($10-15 per roll) and the price of developing ($10-20 for digital negative scans). For now, it’s a fun and impractical distraction with unpredictable and sometimes beautiful results.

P.S. One of the upsides of 35mm today is that digital negative scans are the preferred method of delivery, which means you can save your film together with your phone photos.

Below is a sample of photos we’ve taken over the last few months, uploaded directly from my phone:





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