About 20 years ago, instant film photography was presumed out of style, and yet today, vintage Polaroids and Instax continue to capture people’s imaginations.
That includes one thrifty Redditor, who recently posted a photo of their “new” Fujifilm Instax 11 camera to the ThriftStoreHauls subreddit.
The pastel blue model is in mint condition with a matching leather case that looks brand new. Judging from the cat photos beside it — complete with that nostalgic grainy aesthetic — it’s in full working order, too.
The best part is that it cost the Redditor only $8. As of May 18, the same model could be bought new on Amazon for $76.95, making this a massive $68.95 saving.
The cost of film doesn’t have to be too prohibitive, either. You can get a twin pack of film, which is 20 photos, for about $14 on Amazon (with prices subject to change).
“Compared [to] some vintage Polaroids (which can cost up to $40 for 8 shots, basically $5 a photo) they’re actually quite affordable!” the thrifter wrote in a comment.
The history of instant film cameras is an inspiring story of film fanatics rescuing e-waste from landfills.
When the Polaroid Corporation went bust in 2000, it effectively rendered all existing Polaroid cameras obsolete.
Those millions of cameras would have been destined for landfill, if not for innovations by people like Andre Bosman, a former Polaroid factory manager, and Florian Kaps, a Polaroid wholesaler, who bought the last Polaroid factory in the Netherlands and started manufacturing the film themselves.
At the same time, Fujifilm’s Instax experienced a boom in Southeast Asia, which the company attributed to South Korean TV shows that featured an Instax.
Instant film’s resurgence is still on the up. Fujifilm’s revenue increased by 23.7% year-on-year between July 1 and September 30, 2022.
But given that digital film already nearly turned the world’s collection of film cameras into e-waste once, consumers should still be cautious of buying new models.
Globally, we disposed of around 19 tons of small electronic equipment, which includes cameras, in 2019, and that number is projected to keep increasing.
Purchasing instant film cameras second hand can help to reduce some of that waste.
“[I] just bought this exact camera on Amazon last week for $150,” wrote one regretful commenter.
“Real nice, these are great cameras to take on trips, makes for some real tangible captured moments to go with the hundreds on your phone,” said another user.
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