The Harman reusable Camea is the only film camer that goes with me evdise. It’s lightweight, sime, and easily the most fun camera I’ve ever used.
The build quality is finicky at best, and the images it creates are soft. But I’ve dropped it more times than I can count and it’s still taking many of my favorite images.
This camera is so simple that you can pass it around the room and anyone can take a great photo with it. In fact, I love taking it with me on photoshoots with couples. I pass it to them and get them to take selfies or portraits of their partners. The photos they take are often way different and show more of that couple’s personality that only they can bring out in each other.
The Harman Reusable Camera also happens to be one of the best deals in film photography right now. It comes with a AAA battery and two rolls of Kentmere 400, a budget B&W film similar to Ilford’s HP5 that delivers excellent results. I personally recommend this camera for anyone who loves the look and energy — but not the waste — of disposable cameras.
Some limitations make you better
The main reasons I always come back to film is because the process is just so simple compared to digital photography. There’s no menus, no videos, and no making huge amounts of changes between photoshoots. All you have to focus on is the composition and exposure.
With the Harman Reusable, there’s even less to consider. The only decision you need to make is turning the flash on or off. That’s it. Compose, press the shutter button, wind the film, and get ready to take the next shot. The camera has a fixed shutter speed around 1/120 of a second, 31mm focal length, and an f/10 aperture with a fixed lens that focuses to infinity after 1m. So basically, everything is “in focus,” and the image will almost always turn out if the flash is on — unless you’re trying to photograph a distant object at night.
When you’re out on a walk or hanging out with friends, this is the camera that’ll let you get the photos you want without interrupting. I capture more laughs, cheeky portraits, and street photos with this camera than any other. And that’s just because of how simple it is.
There have been many times in my wedding photography career where I’ve struggled with creating perfectly sharp images. Praising sharpness and megapixels in imagery feels like an unending struggle. Some of my favorite photos have been good because they’re sharp — but many ‘technically bad’ photos are the best ones in my collection because of the emotion and life they captured.
What kind of film does the Harman Reusable Camera use?
The camera is designed for ISO 400 film. But you still get solid results with ISO 200 stocks like Kodak Gold and Fuji Superia. Put the cheapest film stocks you can find into this camera because the image quality isn’t designed for a $15 roll of Portra.
The Harman Reusable comes with 2 rolls of Kentmere 400, which is a grainy budget film stock by Ilford. It doesn’t have the same exposure latitude or push flexibility as HP5, but it still creates amazing images for a budget stock.
It’s good enough that I actually went back and bought some more, but the store clerk couldn’t hear me under my mask and gave me a couple of rolls of Kentmere 100. Turns out The Massive Dev Chart has a formula for pushing this film to ISO 800 with a semi-stand development. And this film actually pushes way above its weight. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll have some fun with the results.
How bad is the Harman Reusable image quality?
If you’re a pixel peeper, the Harman Reusable Camera doesn’t have good image quality. But that’s actually my girlfriend’s favorite features about this camera.
Just like disposables, It renders skin beautifully, and the softness makes people’s skin look it’s best!
If you’re photographing wildlife with this camera, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. National Geographic isn’t going to purchase any photos taken with this camera. But that’s not what it’s for.
There is strong distortion closer to the edges of the lens. The edges also lose sharpness and exhibits some vignetting. That just means you have to place the subject in the center of the frame, and use the vignetting to draw attention inwards.
Images look their best when the light is behind the photographer, as it also tends to show bad flaring.
As far as light leaks are concerned, this camera has been through a lot and still hasn’t developed a leak. I’ve dropped it plenty of times, tossed it loosely in my bag and put groceries on top of it, got it scratched up, let it sit in the sun for days, and nothing.
Can I use the Harman Reusable camera at night?
The Harman reusable can make good exposures at night with the flash. Because the camera doesn’t allow you to control the exposure settings, shooting at night without flash is nearly impossible. With the flash, you can expose people and objects between 1-2 meters away. Any object closer than 1 meter will be overexposed and out of focus. But anything further than 2 meters will be underexposed.
The flash requires a single AAA battery, and takes between 2 and 5 seconds to charge. I use cheap rechargeable triple As from Amazon, and can get through 10 rolls of film before it dies. The camera is all mechanical, so if the battery dies, it’s still usable without the flash.
Nighttime shots with the flash on will allow you to completely isolate the people or subject of your photograph. In low light, these photographs have a real Nan Goldin feel to them. The un-polished nature of the camera makes the images feel real — they have a special character about them that makes you want to take more and more photographs.
Can the Harman Reusable take Double Exposures?
This camera is not able to make double exposures via a setting. Instead, you’ll have to set them up manually.
Rewinding the film can be done by pressing the little button on the bottom of the camera, and then turning the film rewind knob on the top left of the camera. In my tests, advancing the shutter moves this rewind knob by a 1/2 rotation. Meaning a half rotation backwards should get you in approximately the same position you were in before. But, there will be some slack in the canister from regular use.
So to manually make a double exposure: start by rewinding the film until you can feel some pressure from the film inside. At this point, there will be no more slack inside the cannister. While holding the rewind lever, press the rewind button on the bottom right side of the camera. Next, rotate the rewind lever by a half rotation.
After this, the camera will re-expose approximately the same frame. This process will take some trial and error, but it can create some fun results! I’ve also created interesting exposures by simply re-running a roll of film through the camera. That method is also unpredictable. Unless you took notes, there’s no way to know exactly what you shot on the previous run through.
Try it out and have fun! This camera will not disappoint.
Is this camera worth purchasing?
I’ve been using this camera since the pandemic. And I waited months to get my hands on it before that. It wasn’t in stock anywhere in Montreal for months since its announcement. I picked up the first copy I saw 4 months later, and I haven’t looked back. This camera is an absolute joy to shoot with because of its simplicity. It works in almost every situation. It’s quick to use. And the photos it takes are a lot of fun.
Taking film photographs can be a long, and daunting process for many users. Pull out your light meter, change the settings, compose, manually focus, then take the shot. But this one is so simple.
Point, shoot, profit
When you’re in a photography rut, the Harman Reusable is the type of camera that can bring your game back to life. I went through exactly that scenario last year, and this was the best cure. From an objective point of view, the image quality is bad. But if Image quality was what you’re going for, then you’re better off shooting digital. What makes this camera so fun and unique is the intangibles that come with shooting film, and the inherent beauty of poor-quality images. It’s just like the old Holgas and Dianas, which became popular not because of image quality, but because of how fun they are to use. Toy cameras like these are used all the time by professionals, even when the modern-day alternatives are so good and cheap. If you want to see photos from a toy camera in the hands of a professional, fine-art photographer Michael Kenna made an amazing book full of images taken on his Holga.
Disposable cameras are a ton of fun, but they’re expensive and extremely wasteful. This camera has exactly the same look and feel, but with the ability to change film and try something new. It’s fantastic for both people who know a lot about photography, and those who know nothing at all. I have no problem giving it to strangers to take my cheesy vacation photo, because it’s not worth anything and the photo will inevitably turn out.
I also love handing this camera over to couples and passing it around to the bridal party at weddings. Everyone has a ton of fun with it, and they take photos that they would never let me take — even after a couple beers.
Take it to parties, document your daily life with it, and this camera will never, ever let you down.
Daren is a journalist and wedding photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. He’s been taking personal and professional photos on film since 2017 and began developing and printing his own photos after wanting more control than what local labs could offer. Discover his newest publications at Soft Grain Books, or check out the print shop.