Flashback ONE35 digital camera

Weak Beer – Flashback ONE35 Review

Flashback’s finally arrived ONE35, is aiming for folk wanting a Lo-Fi digital with a film vibe. But it’s quirky features may end up grating and cause issues down the line, as are the rushed to release issues. Is this a flash back in the lo-fi digital fight or a mere flash in the pan ? Let’s go the pub and decide on this Aussie number.

The camera arrived last weekend and I ended up lugging it out my walk to a pub lunch with an old friend. He’s familiar with fixation of cameras and Kickstarter tendencies. But he ended up looking at me going “Why ?” over this.

Flashback image of  Suspension bridge . 2024
Flashback ONE35 with Flashbackclassic setting. Dumfries 2024. This and most other images will open enlarged if you click on them

And I’m not sure he’s wrong. Let me use our chat over a nice ‘spoons pizza and a few pints to explain about this camera with a little tweaking to update. I hadn’t actually had any shots “developed at that point and the woes I got into were to come.

So What’s this Flashback camera ?

Flashback describe this as “the soul of a film camera reborn in a digital era”. They wanted a modern camera that had no frills but would capture film like images. They goaled it to be like a disposable but without all that waste as you can re-use this again and again. The camera has no screen and no controls other than the shutter button and flash switch.

Or cynically they picked up on the lo-fi digital trend and tried to come up with a quirky new camera to tap into that market.

Devorgilla Bridge. Flashback ONE35, 2024
Flashback ONE35 with mono film option. Dumfries 2024

The company is based in Australia but the camera is chinese made.

You’ve had a few similar camera before ?

Well yes.
Flashback are not treading new path exactly. The most successful rival is Paper shoot. This has been around since 2012 and has had several upgrades. It is a eco cred simple camera that uses a mobile phone sensor wrapped up in a changeable shell. I tested the 13MP version but that has been succeed twice with a 18MP version being the current model. The core aesthetic remain the same. No screen and only a 4 selectable filter switch in the way of controls. Film filters can also be added via a second card slot.

Paper Shoot Camera
Paper Shoot Camera. This tape cassette case is still in the line up but underneath is the older 13MP model

And then there is the Camp Snap. Launched in 2022 but gaining traction last year this is a simple digital aimed initially for kids going to summer camp in America. Cheap (cost of couple of disposables) but able to capture up 2000 images on the included card. Aimed to stop kids bothering about capturing perfect images and fiddling with settings whilst being chased by Michael Myers. And if it got dropped off the canoe not exactly a major loss. It has moved on to be targeted at the lo-fi digital market.

Camp Snap
Camp Snap

And then there is the one that didn’t quite succeed. The much maligned Yashica Y35 had similar aims to the above and also included the novel idea of having swappable film like cartridges that acted as filters. It was over priced and got a lot of hate as it wasn’t an old school yashica. But it was actually better than some though. It technically still is on sale but the company have not had stock of it for some time.

Yashica Y35 from Top
Yashica Y35 from Top. Yes you wind this digital to use.

So is this Flashback camera much different ?

Yes and no. It is styled to resemble and has the aesthetics of a cheap disposable like film camera. It is available in 4 colour combinations

The 4 Flashback ONE35 models
Promotional image showing the 4 Flashback variations

It’s well enough made. Solid plastic but if I quibble the USB C charging port is uncovered and the strap slot is nary to get a strap loop through

The USB port is for charging only. You don’t see a drive when connected to your PC using the provided or any other USB C cable.

Like it’s rivals it is a simple viewfinder. That viewfinder is slightly out of focus (I hadn’t notice and then I read the KS comments). And no it’s not my eyes. I checked this against my Kodak i60, Cylo and lomography Diana Mini. They are all simple viewfinder and ain’t blurry. although both my camp snap and the a Ilford half frame disposable I’ve been testing were equally blurry in the finder.

Holding the flashback can be tricky to avoid getting your digits in shot.

The hand grip is best avoided . You get your digits too near the lens but you naturally hold the camera using it.

Tell me about the Flashback’s spec ?

Flashback have been quite guarded on spec but a you get 4.4MP photos back. the lens appears fixed focus and has a protective filter in front (likely UV coated). The actual lens sits behind an aperture further back making me wonder if the camera sensor and lens are unit from a mass produced line used in devices like webcams or dashcams.

View of the Flashback lens

There is no EXIF data to speak of and in fact the date & time given to the photos is when you down load them from the app.

River Nith. Flashback ONE35. 2024
Finger in shot again !! Flashback ONE35. Dumfries 2024

It is the only one of these that has a proper flash unit. But that’s not it’s USP however. Like the others, there is no rear LCD, just a small frame count LCD. The finder has no lights and all you get is the rear flash ready LED.

There are no controls bar the shutter, flash and the winder

Winder ?

Ah yeah. You have a thumb winder you use to turn on the camera and move between shots. It’s just like you’d find on a disposable. Again the Yashica Y35 bet flashback to this with the same concept (it has a a winder arm).

Top plate of the Flashback ONE35
The winder is like a disposable film camera. The LCD shows I’ve 25 shots to take

And for some weird Spinal Tap 11 moment they have a winder noise after you’ve taken the shot. You it’s got a manual advance and a winder noise . Go figure.

Hang on 27 frames ?

Yes you can only shoot 27 frames before digitally reloading the camera. at the moment you have a choice of 2 “films”

Flashbackclassic is inspired by Fujifilm superia but tweaked for disposable feel (like fujifilm don’t sell ’em 😒). It acts as the colour option.

Flashback shot of Suspension Bridge using flashbackclassic "film"
This allegedly has hints of Fujifilm Superia – not so sure as we”ll see. Flashback ONE35, Dumfries 2024

Flashbackmono is the B&W option and a “monochrome film with lots of contrast, best for gritty scenes with lots of detail“.

Flashback shot of Suspension Bridge using flashbackmonoc "film"
well it is a monochrome image at least monochrome. Flashback ONE35, Dumfries 2024

The company do indicate they may develop more choices. and this is quite novel due to the way you reload the camera.

Once loaded you can’t change the film until you finish the virtual roll which as a reviewer is really annoying.

But then you just plug the Flashback into your PC and transfer the images ?

Lo-light shot on Flashback
It can do lo-light, sort of. But this was better than I expected. Flashback ONE35

Sadly no. This is where the USP kick in. You need to transfer the image to an App on your phone and then get them “developed”. For some reason the makers decided to send the apps into the android and apple store pretty last minute and the apple app only went live around the 7th of January well over a week after some folks got theirs.

The Android app has not yet been approved but you can download it as a APK and install at your own risk. It seems pretty stable and I suspect within a couple of weeks will be on play store.

Bet the app developer is popular right now. Not.

Although world wide Apple only enjoy a market share of around 17% in Australia that share is actually almost 60% hence there may have been a focus on the Apple store first. And erm … it ain’t exactly working well.

So does it link by Bluetooth ?

No it doesn’t appear to but TBH I have no idea how it connects which is both wonderous but security scary

The Flashback Android app ~Jan 2024
The app is clean and functions well enough. Here it shows my battery charge, shots taken and firmware details. The unload to lab is greyed out until I finish the “roll”.

The app allows you to upload finished rolls and reload the camera with a film of your choice. It lists being able to do that by direct connection but I could get that to work (It may have been my phone security) but it has the option to upload over Wi-Fi. You set the Wi-Fi access for the camera via the app.

And then your phone processes the images ?

You’d think so. A modern smartphone has about 100,000 the processing power of the computer used to land the Eagle lander on the moon (and at least a million times the memory). My google pixel 6 has a quad core processor with the 2 slowest cores running at 2.25GHz. That is in fact just marginally slower than the base clock Ryzen 5 PC CPU I’m typing this on. And my phone is more than happy editing double digit MP photos with various filters.

Example shot of image given a film effect on a mobile.
Few second of editing this with a filter, blur and vignette within the Google’s photo app on my phone did this. So why can’t flashback do the work on a phone ?

But according to Flashback your phone is not capable of processing the images. No it has to be sent to a server to do all the wibbly wobbly stuff to the original images which are then sent back to your phone.

The processing time takes 24-48hrs depending on demand. A wee suggestion is they could do is make a charge for speedier development (aka 1 or 4 hour photo). But they need the process to work….

Blimey you have to wait that long , Want another Pint ?

Yeah cheers, I’ll have the IPA.

What’s more you can only process one roll at a time

And just how much did you pay ?

The Kickstarter standard price was $125AUS (about £66GBP). I missed the $99 early bird. That’s discounted by $25 off the full retail price of $150AUS . and really irritating as a backer their currently selling the camera to the public for the same discount. B&H are listing it for $99USD probably before all that weird US tax stuff. For comparison B&H sell the old13MP Paper shoot for $169USD although Paper shoot sells the newest 18MP for less at for $139

River Nith. Flashback ONE35. Dumfries 2024
Just for the record this was blue sky crisp winter morning and the sun is over my Right shoulder. The crap tilt is my fault however. FlashbackONE35. 2024

The Camp Snap costs just $65USD although tax will nudge that up. I’m not sure the Y35 is still made but Yashica list it on their store but out of stock at an eye watering $1,880HKD (that ~£189GBP/$240USD) with one digifilm.

Alan, Does the wife Know ?

We have an understanding about cameras. I understand if she doesn’t see them I don’t get into trouble.

You’re not thrilling me about this Flashback’s “developing”. What happens if something goes wrong ?

Yeah about that. And what happens if the server is shut down. Let’s be frank, servers cost money and this is a keenly priced camera which leaves little room.

On the KS message board the app & servers are already having issues. My one worked fine for the first roll, it took 48hrs but film back and downloaded onto my phone. The second roll seemed to go fine and got processed. All the shots are back on the phone but every time I try to download onto phone I get an error message

Flashback app showing saving error

It did transfer about 18 image but each time I hit transfer I added another copy of some or all of those 18. These extra copies don’t show up in my photo app and take up space (what you get for using an unofficial APK I guess)

Others have their images stuck on the server

And you have no way of getting at them in either case. You cant download direct from the camera, the server is obviously a no no and I can’t find the app or any cache on my phone (and trust me I’ve been through loads of file folders)

Lola the bulldog. Flashback ONE35
In fairness Lola is never the easiest to photograph when out for a walk together. Flashback ONE35. 2024

But they’ll be responsive eh ?

Ya’d think they would. I messaged them directly about the app error and also posted on the the message board. I’ve actually held finishing this review for over 72 hours to give them time to respond. The only response I got was another backer saying he had the same problem.

And others have raised issues that haven’t had responses (in fairness the updates do mention these issues with promises to fix)

For a comparison when I got my 1st Camp Snap which was faulty, they not only replied by the next day but had already sent a replacement out gratis.. And most KS I’ve backed I’ve got a response within 48hrs when I’ve raised issues.

Blimey I think we need another pint ! That doesn’t sound good. Could you rescue the images ?

Yours truly. Flashback screenshotted image. 2024
A rare view of yours truly captured by my drinking buddy. This got stuck on the app and is a low res screenshot image. The Bruce Dumfries 2024

I’ve rescued a few by screen shotting the app but the app insist in displaying all the image win landscape mode on your phone in portrait orientation

My phone showing the gallery view on the flashback app
This is how the gallery feature shows all individual shots. The app does not rotate with the phone so if you need to screen grab this is what your grab looks like

This means the image you get are only about 0.7MP. In fairness for web use they look about as good as the actual images

Low res screenshotted image of Friar's Vennel. Flashback. 2024
One of the shots I couldn’t get off the app. Itn probably doesn’t look any different on this page but is less than a 1/5 the resolution of the other images. Flashback ONE35 Dumfries 2024

And the images. Any good ?

Well you know me. What’s one man’s trashcam is a lomographers delight. But hmm..

Let’s start with the good news the images are way better than my worst Digital of 2023 (and probably all time) the alleged vlogging camera from Ali Express.

The image below is probably the best I have to illustrate the optic quality

Deer park Dumfries. Flashback. 2024
The centre is shrapish the rest not so and that’s not the blue sky I had. Oh and my fingers may be just in shot. Flashback ONE35 with flashbackclassic. 2024

The images have that disposable or plastic fantastic optical nature to them to a point. They are sharper centrally and rapidly worsen to the edges. It does this effect more convincingly than any of the 3 rival I mentioned and I suspect this isn’t down to the wibbly wobbly server stuff. This is crap optics and sensor.

The flashback is never sharp but best centrally from ~2-10m as you can see with the lifebelt holder above. It softens off beyond centrally and stuff in the distance towards the

My fingers are very slightly evident in the image. this is a hard camera to hold as you naturally wanna use the grip.

Fringing evident as you can see on this cropped portion

On colour shots purple fringing is evident. There is also a weird rainbow like banding on shots with the sky in it (likely artefactual). The subtle vignetting is actually quite pleasing but I can’t tell if filter or camera.

Oddly it is actually worse than current brand disposables (even before I’m onto the “film”) and the plastic fantastic that said I suspect back in the 80’s cheap disposables combined with cheap labs with crap scanning you may have got similar results .

What about Exposure ?

The dynamic range is not great either. The 3 other Lo-Fi digitals do a better job especially the paper shoot. Even the Y35 is better and that a camera that has a tendency to make things look like someone’s dropped the bomb.

Shot illustrating poor dynamic range. Flashback ONE35. 2024
Dynamic range isn’t far off instax. Flashback with flashabckmono. 2024

Flash shots tend to be little better I found and the camera can do lo light but you get some banding

Lola. Flashback 2024..
Badly over exposed here. Flashback , Dumfries 2024

Auto exposure can be hit or miss. It can do lo-light but shake and underexposure does seem to be an issue

My gut feeling is this isn’t a mobile sensor like the paper shoot.

Okay but what about the film effect ?

Before we start we need a comparison. Here are selection of images taken on a Fujifilm Simple Ace disposable by my good Friend Peggy Marsh of Camera Go Camera (read her review here)

To be frank the Ace is a mid quality disposable (The 2 element Kodak Fun snap is way better) but image are notably better than the flashback. It also shoots Fujifilm stock a 400ISO

The Mono does look like a million the standard B&W filters. It adds some noise like grain. Without seeing the pre development images it is impossible to guess how much it is added in the “processing”.

The flachbackclassic claims to be inspired by Fujifilm Superia. But it’s not Superia as I know it.

The shot below is recent Generation Superia 400. It only differs from older Superia by the extra layer that peaks red (note the pushchair for example). Otherwise this is pretty naturalistic 400 ISO film that likes greens.

LC-A with Fujifilm Superia 400. London 2015. Click on image for full size in flickr

That Superia image was taken on a dull day in London, whereas most of my outdoors colour shots were taken on a crisp blue sky winter morning.

Now in fairness they say expired Superia so here is some Expired 800 ISO (same as many a disposable) that was 13 years out of date when shot

Yashica ME1 with Expired Superia (2002). Dumfries 2015. Click on image for full size

This is older stock and obviously more grainy but…

Not the purplish tint we get with the flashback. This is especially on flash. And greens are not given the preference you get on both older and newer Superia stocks.

My eldest hasn’t been self tanning nor are her walls purple

This is the maddest thing I’ve heard you get. What do you think ?

Look it was a great idea but boy do I wish they ironed things out more and falls short in many ways. And

I actually like the though of not getting to look at your shots for a period of time and weirdly the camera does have a film camera vibe.

But it’s not a disposable camera vibe it’s more a a camera called Olympia or Mintax vibe. The film effect isn’t really matching what it says it is. That I mind less and I guess if this get successful we will see better “film” options.

Olympia OY4040 with the typical potato masher flash
Olympia OY4040 with the typical potato masher flash. This has similar image qualities IMHO and at least you wont lose your shots on the app and server

There are also some issues with the production run. The finder is off _it doesn’t bother me. I’d be pissed if the I had the winder issue that is affecting some cameras.

No idea why the branch is in the bin but you can hardly see it here. Flashbackmono setting. 2024

And not getting your photos ! And that weird having to transfer to the server thing

I’m sorry but really a mobile could do the processing or how about providing a PC/MAC app ? And in the discussion page on Kickstarter we’re already seeing folks run into server issues. Some have had their images stuck on servers. And I personally couldn’t get images back off my phone.

Nith Place from the over the Nith. Flashback. Dumfries 2024

That’s using an APK that isn’t approved for use by google and wasn’t even available for me when the camera arrived. Really all of that should have been sorted and is a massive own goal

The server and app are clearly the weak links. Shame as this had some interesting ideas but I get I would get frustrated probably by the wait (especially as you can’t process more than film at once)

And TBH at the moment just buy a paper shoot or camp snap if you want lo-fi digital take your shots and upload ’em to your PC/Mac and then just run a filter on ’em if needed. If you want the fun of leaving them 24 hours before seeing either leave the camera or don’t peek when you uploaded. Or do the same with a noughties digicam.

Or just by a reusable film camera and support the film industry. Even the Kodak i60 did a better job

Let’s Get another Pint ? How’s the Pizza?

Yeah Ta. Nice pizza, delivered what you’d expect unlike the Flashback

I’ll maybe revisit this once the issues are sorted.

Other sources on the Flashback ONE35

The kickstarter page is still up as is the company’s main site. You can order this from American photo supplier B&H but it currently is out of stock. Actual review of using the camera are scant. The only one I could find was by Matt Spurlock on Tik Tok if you want something more positive

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