If Lo-fi film cameras are no longer just the core of the analogue camera market. There weirdly has started to be a trend for digital cameras of the same ilk. This year saw the launch of the Camp Snap camera, specifically aimed at being given to kids. Intended for that great North American tradition of setting them miles away for the Summer to camps. With almost no features and no screen, it aims to recreate disposable like feel. But with 8MP and 4GB or more of storage.
To us Europeans we like to spend our Holidays with out kids. Okay we take them but then maybe stick in daytime kid clubs but we still like ’em close. Granted it may be because we actually get statutory paid holiday measured in weeks. But we struggle with the idea of sending our weans off all summer into the hands of college students and year out Brits. And we don’t like the thoughts of ’em being chased round lakes by bears or serial killers in Captain Kirk masks .
But this camera also satisfies the digital Lo-fi ideal which the company is now pushing on social media.
The Snap is unashamedly designed to look like the current crop of retro styled lo-fi film cameras. You do wonder if some parts were were used. It’s only obvious difference at first glance is that it is much thinner.
There is no LCD panel, you get a red 24 style 3 numeric glowing LCD numbers display of shots. This is intentional. The makers didn’t want kids wasting there time reviewing photos or fiddling with settings.
It is intended to be easy to use- turn on, point and shoot. There are no controls other than the LED illuminator control (choice of force on, off and auto). It has a provided 4Gb Micro SD card which will store up to 2000 shots. You can swap that out for up to a 32GB card.
The Lo-Fi Digital push
Camp have cottoned on to the Lo-Fi market. This isn’t anything new. Even back in the days when film was still king, there was a search for digital Lo-Fi. The focus was often on toy or novelty items but soon more serious cameras accidentally enter the lexicon.
In 2009 CNET even published a piece about the Yashica EZ F521 as the Digital Holga. Arguably the camera did not set out for that market. But like the Holga or LC-A before it fell into the appeal by accident. There are others (e.g. the Kodak V610 and V570). The rise of Instagram with it’s retro styled images has driven it. Gen Z has recently moved onto noughties Digi-cams
So Camp wants to break into that market and it has credit. Little controls, no LCD and a low-ish resolution
Hang on digital with no screen ? You’ve mentioned that before
But they don’ have that market to themselves. Papershoot is eco cred camera which lacks a screen and has a cardboard like body is a good example. Superheadz better know to film shooters for its VUWS clone, are equally well known to lo-fi digital enthusiasts. And of course there was the Yashica Y35 with it’s digital film cartidges, marketed badly as a Yashica re birth when it should have like papershoot gone for the Instagram market..
And they will be joined shortly in the race by a camera that offers an even authentic disposable feel. Flashback was launched on Kickstarter and should be arriving to backer shortly. It is completely styled on disposable cameras and what’s more you are limited to 27 shots before “reloading” !?! What’s more like the Y35 you have to wind on and you must select a film type (digitally rather than physically) when loading. To unload the camera you must upload the files to your phone and an app takes 24hours to “develop them”. So not really suitable for you kids hiding in the broom cupboard at Camp Lakeside whilst the camp strangler prowls around.
So what does Camp Snap offer
Camp Snap Design
Looks like a disposable. It comes in two tone – black with a choice of six colours (black, white, pink, brown, aqua and forest green). Original it was only black yellow model but the current version appear to be updated. This second version has the same sensor
There is shutter button that doubles as an On/off switch. On the rear flash control (on/auto/off) switch and that’s really it. You get a covered USB-C port on base for charging/PC connecting. And plate covering the micro SD card on the base. There is a pin hole for resetting.
The design is to prevent loss of memory cards. But you can with a screwdriver swap out for up to a 32MB card.
There is no point for a strap which seem odd. I also am not a fan of the replacing a flash unit for a LED light set but I suspect that would have involved more of an ask on camera design.
The boxing is minimalist to point of being cheap but I guess I moan about the vast amount of plastic that wraps other cameras. You get a short 1 page manual and a USB C cable and that’s it.
It survived a drop and there are no moving parts so is suspect it would survive to over 2000 shots, I’m not sure most of my plastic fantastic film cameras could. I suspect Michael Myers could eventually hack it to death but it would take some time and he couldn’t just wipe or swipe the SD card easily
-Demonic possession V tech support
I actual have two of these currently. The first one arrived in October but wouldn’t work. It began by making a noise like a phone ringing
then after resting it started to display 666. It clearly had been possessed in transit by the ghost of a frustrated Evri delivery driver.
That said support was fantastic. Within hours of sending them an email a new camera was being order for me, granted it took a couple of weeks to arrive like the orginal but this one wasn’t possessed
8MP sensor. Little detail given beyond that. The manual indicated lens is 4.8mm 1:1.8. But EXIF gives a 7.45mm1:1.68 and a fixed f/3.2 aperture on all shots. With the aperture testing this v my smartphone would make me lean to the f/3.2 however.
The manual sates a ISO of 800 which I suspect means upper range. Testing shows a ISO range from 100 to 800 ISO from shooting towards the sun to shooting in near dark.
There is a 600mAh lithium USB-C rechargeable battery built in (you get a USB-C to USB-C cable provided). It’s smaller than most branded compacts. For example the 2019 Panasonic Lumix TZ70 packed twice the capacity but that is a more premium camera. It however is what I’ve seen on some budget digitals. Camp claim a 200+ shot life on one charge and I certainly ran into no issues although tended to shoot about 50 shots at a time.
There is no real data beyond that.
-Testing and EXIF exploration
The shutter does not go below 1/33. I didn’t get the best of weather when shooting so I usually managed between that and around 1/250 in daylight. It did go higher – the fastest was 1/770.
It sacrifices shutter speed to keep ISO low I think as many dull day shots were 1/33 to 1/100. As mentioned aperture seems fixed
The EXIF describes multi-spot metering which I assume is zone/matrix. It certainly seems to be the case
The time and date seems to move but you can’t alter which means my photos look like they were taken in January. There is GPS data on each shot but it is the same . This links to the Hebei suburb of Handan in China where I guess the sensor was assembled or tested. I suspect the latter as Handan is not a known as a major electronics production site.
File size is highly variable in daylight I got files from 0.9 to 2.3. Low light shots oddly got up to almost 4MB. Camp snap indicate the 4GB card the camera comes with will store up to 2000 images which would be about right for daylight shooting.
The EXIF describes the make of the camera iCatch model spca 1628. Now iCatch is a Taiwanese company that specialises in CCTV and dash displays. It’s name is linked to trail, cheap digital, web and dash cams. But that might have more to do with the spca1682 which is System on Chip controller made by SunPlus.
Angle of view matches about 42-45mm on a full frame SLR. A 1/2.3-2.5″ sensor size combined with a 7.45mm focal length would match that.
The camera arrives with charge. Turn on by holding down the shutter button until long bleep. frame your shot and lightly press the shutter button. There is lag until the shutter noise is played and that is when the shutter fires. Turning off the camera happens automatically after a few minute of not being used or holding down shutter for a second or 2.
And erm.. that’s it
To transfer connect the camera via a USB C cable (the provided one is a C to C so you may need a a C to standard USB if your PC doesn’t have a USB C port. There is a port with rubber cover on base. You need to turn on the camera for it to be seen as a USB drive. Connecting the camera charges the battery whether turned on or off.
Alternatively you can unscrew the small hatch and eject the card. That’s really for swapping the card out but I suspect that’s unlikely given the ~2000 shot capacity and the fact the display is only 3 digits.
The LED light has 3 setting On/Off and auto. It illuminates the subject with a bright cold light if a metre or 2 away just before the shutter fires. I’d much rather have a flash unit but at least the LED shut tends to reduce red eye effects. I think a flash is missing as this is an off the shelf sensor that was not linked to a flash but will be happy with a separate light system.
-Metering & Viewfinder
Metering is broadly reliable but at times errs on underexposing. It does cope well with interesting lighting however but sadly the camera rather narrow exposure latitude mutes that effect.
As to that latter point expect the sun to look like someone’s dropped the bomb and dont expect to be able to see the shadows on bright days. It’s no worse than a a mid noughties digi-cam however.
The simple viewfinder is actually reasonably central it chops off the top of the frame of a medium distance frame.
It did better in some ways than the old early 2000 Digi-compacts in lo light with less shake eident (is there some image stabilisation going on ?)
But the 800 ISO is awfully noisy. You don’t notice on web sized images like this
But crop in….
The images are reasonably focused in near to middle range provided you are taking something over the recommended 1m minimum distance. There is a slight softness. Zoom in and you’ll see lots of fringing, processing artefacts and chromatic aberrations but at 6×4″ print size things look okay.
But crop in and it’s obvious.
But that said it’s not bad. Longer distances are soft and there is notable pincushion radial distortion. Colour balance is broadly good with perhaps just a subtle blue bias. That except near dark where the AWB struggles and shots end up with a blue cast where or not the LED is used.
Might sound bad but compared to entry level Digi cameras from 15-20 years ago it does not bad anis about what you’d have expected from an smartphone about 10 years ago.
If I’m being picky. There isn’t massive character to the images. You might say that’s a good thing but for a lo-fi disposable like experience some may find it lacking. But then again this was designed for Kids in Summer camps so their parents and the police hunting the serial killer will probably be happier with the more clinical images.
Cost v Rivals
At the time of typing a Camp Snap cost £53GBP/$65USD. plus postage. That is considerably cheaper than a Papershoot, Y35 or the base Flashback KS Price ($125ASD about £99GBP). And it basically costs the a little more than 2 Kodak Funsaver disposables and processing. It’s alos less than my favourite plastic fantastic analogue camera the Kodak Ektar H35N.
The iON waterproof camera is less but is old stock. I’d argue it’s a good rival. Simple features and waterproof but comes with a LCD and a tendency to munch batteries.
Final Thoughts on The Camp Snap
Blimey this actually quite good for the money with some caveats. In reasonable lighting it does well and is easy to use. Image quality is reasonable and given it cost a little more than 2 disposables plus D&P it actually seems worthwhile. It is way cheaper than rivals and customer support is good.
It struggles with complex lighting and it just doesn’t produce that Lo-Fi an image compared to rivals. The LED light is Meh !The literally no frills will appeal to some but others will miss the filters etc. Oh and you can buy a second hand digi -cam even in the Gen Z craze for ’em that will offer way more.
But that not the point. This is fun and not knowing what your shots look like add to that. For it’s intended purpose it’s a reasonable choice for your kid- If you wanna new easy to use camera that doesn’t cost the earth. And there is defo wider appeal.
Well done Camp. You set a bar for a budget useable lo-fi digital
This has been reviewed by Tech Radar but you tube videos stand out for it. Coyotetrails do a good info review of the Mk I model. But I’d also visiting kenfuTV’s review. Ken isn’t a camera reviewer per se, as you might guess he’s more about martial arts but his review of this is quite personable and interesting in how he uses this with his students. He notably converts the images in post to B&W and is worth checking out