The cost of developing film for a disposable camera can vary greatly depending on where you choose to have your film processed. In this article, we will explore the costs associated with developing disposable cameras at three popular processing centers: Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS. We will also provide some tips on how you can save money in this process.
What are Disposable Cameras
A disposable camera, also known as a single-use film camera, is a simple point-and-shoot camera meant to be used once. Most disposable cameras come pre-loaded with a roll of film and are sold ready to use. After the film is exposed, the entire camera is returned to a photo shop for development and printing.
These cameras are designed to be compact, easy to carry, and simple to use, making them perfect for occasions like parties, weddings, or any event where you might not want to risk damaging a more expensive camera. They are also popular for travel and tourism, as they offer a convenient way to capture memories without the need for charging or careful maintenance.
Disposable cameras typically have a built-in flash, a fixed focus lens, and a single shutter speed. This simplicity can be a boon for creativity, as it forces you to focus on composition and timing rather than technical settings. Despite the rise of digital photography, disposable cameras have maintained niche popularity, offering a unique and nostalgic way to capture moments. Find out some of the best disposable cameras we’ve reviewed to try if you’re just getting started for the first time in our most recent post.
The Cost of Developing a Disposable Camera
Walmart is a popular choice for developing disposable cameras due to its widespread presence across North America. At Walmart, you get a standard 4″ print plus a digital copy (in CD) of your photos. However, they won’t return the negatives to you. The processing time takes a minimum of 6 days. Here’s their price list:
|Number of Exposures||Cost for One Set||Cost for Two Sets|
While Walmart is one of the cheapest places to develop disposable cameras, Walmart is not typically known to have stellar quality when it comes to its prints. But if you are looking for something quick and cheap it’s always a great option. The digital copies of your developed film should be enough to get you started and possible print elsewhere.
Walgreens, a pharmacy chain that also offers photo processing services, is another option. They primarily develop 35mm film which is used in disposable cameras, but also can process 110mm and ASP film. If you’re in a rush to get your film developed, Walgreens is a great option as they offer a 3-5 business day turnaround time.
Here are their prices for 4 x 6 prints:
|Number of Exposures||Cost for One Set||Cost for Two Sets|
If you want to have the photos printed on 8 x 10″ paper, then you’ll have to pay $3.99 per picture. For those of you who want only to convert the negatives to digital copies without print, you can get a CD for only $5.99. But if you want a Photo CD from film to digital (no paper output as well), they charge $10.48 for this.
** Update: Please note that starting price for 24 exposures of 35mm film is now listed as starting at $15.99 per roll with a free CD of digital images, as per Walgreens’ website. **
CVS is another store that offers services for developing disposable cameras. However, not all CVS branches have a photo center, so you’ll have to check first before actually going there to save time. They are ranked as the 4th best image processing service provider in the US. Look at their pricing list here in double sets:
|Number of Exposures||Cost for Two Sets|
If you don’t want prints, they also offer file transfers from negative/films to USB or DVDs. The price usually starts at $25.99 for DVDs and $34.99 for USB transfers.
The Total Cost of a Disposable Camera
The total cost of a disposable camera includes the cost of the camera itself and the cost of developing the film.
Choosing the best place where to develop your disposable camera can help keep those costs down. For example, if you buy a disposable camera from Target for $15.99 and have it developed at Walmart for $10.96, the total cost is $26.95, including the prints.
How to Develop a Disposable Camera at Home
For the more daring photographers, developing a disposable camera at home can be a rewarding experience. It allows you to have full control over the process, however, it’s important to note that this process involves handling chemicals, so it’s crucial to take safety precautions. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can develop a disposable camera at home:
- Disposable camera
- Film developing tank
- Darkroom or changing bag
- Developer, stop bath, and fixer chemicals
- Measuring jug
- Clothes pegs and a string for drying
Step 1: Safely Remove the Film
The first step is to safely remove the film from the disposable camera. This must be done in complete darkness to prevent the film from being exposed to light. You can use a darkroom or a changing bag for this. Open the camera case, usually by releasing a latch or using a small screwdriver, and carefully remove the film roll.
Step 2: Load the Film into the Developing Tank
Still in complete darkness, cut the end of the film and load it onto the reel of your developing tank. Once the film is securely on the reel, you can place it into the tank and seal it. Now you can turn on the lights, as the tank is light-proof and will protect your film from exposure.
Step 3: Mix Your Chemicals
Follow the instructions on your developer, stop bath, and fixer to mix them with the correct amount of water. The developer is what will bring out the image on your film, the stop bath halts the developing process, and the fixer makes the image permanent. Use your thermometer to ensure the chemicals are at the correct temperature (usually around 20°C/68°F).
Step 4: Develop the Film
Pour the developer into the tank and start your timer. Agitate the tank gently every 30 seconds or so to ensure the developer is evenly distributed. Once the developing time is up (this will depend on your specific film and developer), pour out the developer.
Step 5: Rinse and Fix
Pour in the stop bath and agitate for about 30 seconds, then pour it out. Next, pour in the fixer and leave it for the recommended time, agitating occasionally. Once the fixing time is up, pour out the fixer.
Step 6: Wash and Dry
Rinse the film thoroughly with water to remove any remaining chemicals. Finally, carefully remove the film from the reel and hang it up to dry in a dust-free environment. Use the clothes pegs to hang the film from the string.
Once your film is dry, you can cut it into strips and place it into protective sleeves. Now your negatives are ready to be scanned or printed!
Remember, developing film at home requires patience and practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t turn out perfectly. With time, you’ll get the hang of it and be able to produce beautiful photos from your disposable camera right at home.
Whether you decided to develop the film at home or develop it in a shop, the cost of developing a disposable camera can vary, it’s clear that the process can be quite affordable, especially if you choose to develop your film at a popular processing center like Walmart, Walgreens, or CVS. However, it’s always a good idea to compare prices and consider the quality of the prints before deciding where to have your film developed.
Why do the costs of developing a disposable camera vary between different stores?
The costs of developing a disposable camera can vary between different stores due to a variety of factors. These can include the specific services offered by the store, the quality of the prints, the turnaround time for developing the film, and whether or not the negatives are returned to you. Additionally, some stores may offer discounts or promotions that can affect the price.
Can I get digital copies of my photos instead of prints when developing a disposable camera?
Yes, many stores offer the option to convert your film negatives into digital copies. This service is often provided for an additional fee. For example, Walgreens offers a CD with digital copies of your photos for $5.99, and CVS offers file transfers from negatives to USB or DVDs, starting at $25.99 for a DVD and $34.99 for a USB transfer. Always check with your chosen store for their specific services and prices.