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Harman Reusable Camera - A Review

Updated: Feb 7

Everyone has that special camera with which they started film photography in the first place. In the midst of summer in a pandemic-caused lockdown, the Harman Reusable Camera was that for me. I can’t recall what made me look for a film camera to begin with, but I wanted it as a hobby, something to keep my mind and body occupied as I went through a furlough period. I found the Harman Reusable Camera online, saw the reasonable price tag on it, went through a couple of reviews, and bought it immediately.

Although I think it is a great camera to start with film photography, a year later, I think it is now time to put it on the shelf and give another one a go. Find out why:

Harman Reusable Camera: Cold Hard Facts

The Harman Reusable Camera was brought by the same folks who looked after the Ilford and Kentmere brands in the UK. With an all-black, plastic toy-like design similar to that of a disposable camera, the Ilford Harman Reusable Camera is a 35mm point-and-shoot camera with a fixed-focus wide-angle lens and a built-in flash. It is typically sold in a package that includes a wrist strap, one AAA battery to power the flash, and two rolls of Kentmere Pan 400 (36 exp). All this comes at a price of around EUR 36.

The Ilford Harman Reusable Camera review
The Ilford Harman Reusable Camera is sold in a package that includes two rolls of the Kentmere Pan 400 film

Key Features

  • 35mm format

  • Fast shutter (1/120s)

  • Mid-range aperture (f/10)

  • Fixed-Focus (1M - ∞) Wide-Angle Lens

  • Manual loading and rewinding

  • Manual advance

  • Built-in flash (15s recycle time)

  • Plastic built

  • Accepts 1 x AAA Battery

  • 100g in weight

As you can probably tell from its look and listed features, the Harman Reusable Camera is film photography in its most simple form. There is no lens to adjust, no light metering, no focus lock, or anything else. It’s a point-and-shoot camera and a very basic one at that.

Yet, if it is too simple for your liking you can easily add decorations to it, like lanyards or custom-made stickers. You can be creative with your preferences or add your own labels to design custom die-cut stickers. Indeed, putting stickers on your camera not only makes it look cuter but also enables you to expresses your personality.

Harman Reusable Camera: Ease of Use

Everything about the Harman Reusable Camera is manual, including the film loading, rewinding, and advancing. This itself isn’t necessarily an issue. In combination with its plastic build, however, this becomes quite painful.

The camera’s build feels so fragile. It feels like every time you turn a knob or pull a crank, something is about to break. When you rewind the film, for example, you would have to lift the film rewind crank and keep turning it. Every time I go through this routine it feels like the tiny little crank can break at any moment.

The Ilford Harman Reusable camera review
Full instructions detailed on the back of the package

The same happens when advancing the film. All you need to do is turn the film advance wheel on the camera. Sure sounds simple enough, but again, it can be quite tough to do due to the camera’s build. Just think of an engine that is not properly lubed up. So you need to be gentle enough not to break it to pieces, but also forceful enough to actually make an impact. The package that it comes with does have full instructions, but I would suggest this YouTube video to help you better.

Luckily, the bulk of your activity with this camera will be taking photos, and with the Harman Reusable Camera that comes quite easily and naturally. A point-and-shoot camera in nature, all you need to do is aim and press the shutter at the top right of the camera. If you feel like you need the help of the flash, just switch the button on the front of the camera to manually turn it on.

Harman Reusable Camera: Image Quality

The Ilford Harman Reusable Camera produces relatively good image quality for its grade. Not surprisingly, it has that lo-fi look that is prevalent in reusable cameras. Though, as you might be able to see from the photos below, the quality softens a bit on the edge and at a distance, and you can also see some vignette effects in the photos.

A black and white photo shot with the Ilford Harman Reusable Camera and Kentmere Pan 400
You can see the image has a vignette effect and softens around the edges and at a distance | Kentmere Pan 400

A black and white film shot with the Ilford Harman Reusable Camera and Kentmere Pan 400
Same here, slight vignetting on the image and blurring at a distance and around the edges | Kentmere Pan 400

It might also take you some time to get used to its viewfinder. The camera’s viewfinder has a field of view of 70%. This means that what you see inside the viewfinder is going to be about 30% less than what the camera actually captures, which is quite a lot of difference... So don’t be surprised if your photos come out a little different from what you remembered taking. In this case, what you see is not what you will get.

This is typically the case with point-and-shoot or range-finder cameras. These types of cameras are built in a way that you don't actually see the exact image you are capturing in the viewfinder, but rather an approximation of it, if you will. The discrepancy is quite negligible if you're taking pictures from a distance, but it does become more prevalent as the distance decreases. More advanced range-finders are generally better at this, but don't expect that from the Harman Reusable.

Another thing to note here relates to the camera's flash setting. You can turn on/off the flash by sliding the flash button left and right. But be careful here to make sure that the button goes all the way to the left or right. We have heard a few instances where photos turn slightly blurry due to the flash button being somewhat in between its on and off stage. Wouldn't want this to happen to your photos!

Harman Reusable Camera: Final Verdict

With its simple features, the Harman Reusable Camera is perfect for beginners who are just starting in film photography. It teaches you the basics of analog photography, composition, and exposure. You don’t get put off thinking of all the settings you'd have to adjust before taking a photo as there is basically no setting to adjust, you just shoot.

Weighing at only 100g, it is also a perfect camera to carry around with you all day as you search for your next shot, which you don’t often find with more professional film cameras out there. It also comes ready to use in a package with two film rolls, making it a perfect starter’s kit or a gift idea for a film enthusiast, and a cheap one at that too.

A color analog photo taken with the Ilford Harman Reusable Camera and Fuji Superia 400 film roll
Plenty of fun taking photos with the Harman Reusable Camera | Fuji Superia 400

A color analog photo taken with the Ilford Harman Reusable Camera and Fuji Superia 400 film roll
Plenty of fun taking photos with the Harman Reusable Camera | Fuji Superia 400

However, you do get what you pay for. The Harman Reusable Camera’s build is fragile, and while it produces good image quality for a reusable camera, it does have its limitations. If you want to take your film photography skills to the next level, the Harman Reusable Camera will not be able to help take you there.

In this case, you might want to look for a more advanced point-and-shoot camera that can give you better-quality images. Or perhaps even an SLR camera. With an SLR, not only will you learn more about film photography by having more settings to play with, but you will also have a viewfinder with a field of view closer to 100%, so you have a better idea of what you (and the camera) are actually capturing.

For me, the Harman Reusable Camera served its purpose. I have had loads of fun and learning experiences taking photos with it, but it is now time to put it on the shelf and invest in a higher-quality SLR film camera.

Have you tried shooting with this camera too? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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