Well, it’s not really disposable. More like recycleable. But a couple of drugstores now sell a digital, one-time use camera made by Pure Digital Technologies that definitely has its up side.
The husband and I bought a couple of these babies for a European trip, in part because we didn’t want to risk our own digitals getting stolen but mostly to save on weight. It was a highly mobile trip, so we needed to travel light and our cameras and chargers weighed a lot more than the little disposables.
There are plenty of one-time use cameras out there, and some are even advertised as digital. But most of those cameras use film, then send you a CD with your scanned photos on it. The Pure Digital model is truly digital, which makes it superior in two repects.
First, it has a screen that lets you view and delete the photos you’ve taken. So if you take a bad, blurry shot, you can just delete it. And if you fill the camera up but see one last great shot coming up, you can sacrifice a photo you already took to make room for just one more.
Second, the end quality is generally higher than it is with film translated to digital. I actually managed to take some photos with the disposable that were published in The Courant’s travel section. (Including the one of the Fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki’s harbor, bottom right. The other photos are the view from a fourth-floor room at the Hotel Brouwer in Amsterdam and The Bronze Horseman, a statue of Peter the Great in St. Petersburg.)
All that said, there are drawbacks. No zoom. Limited capacity (25 shots) and only medium resolution (2 megapixels.) The camera retails for about $20 (although the CVS website lately has them on sale for $13.99) and the processing is extra: about $10.
With regular digital cameras getting cheaper and lighter, my need for a one-time digital is not high. I recently bought a very small, light 4-megapixel camera for a reasonable price, and in most cases I’ll likely bring that on a trip.
But in cases where I don’t want to risk my own camera, including in wet or dirty conditions (a tricky hike I once took in the Virgin River in Zion National Park comes to mind) I’d still like to have one around.