As a Muslim, I don’t celebrate Xmas at all, but, and shame on me, in late 2020 when CameraFilmPhoto launched their Advent Calendar, I jumped on one. Also, as an avid film enthusiast with some environmental concerns, I mostly avoid single use cameras, and while I heard of the Harman single use Black & White camera, preloaded with either Ilford HP5+ or Ilford XP2 Super, I never had any interest in buying one. So how fortuitous that day 13-15 of the CameraFilmPhoto advent calendar contained a Harman Black & White camera loaded with XP2 Super?

Early in June 2021, in need of a second roll of C-41 film to make a developing session worth it, I grabbed the Harman camera and spent a week just shooting randomly. Luckily, it was an eventful sort of week.

I started with a drive around Dallas and stopped briefly to photograph the now almost completely demolished Valley View Mall (where my largely complete but aborted Sanger Harris project began), then stopped by the partly flooded park (already seen in multiple posts) on the way home.

After that, it was all parties… first at my Brother-in-Law’s place, where my wife’s cousin brought her bird; then at my Sister-in-Law’s place, where I captured (and am inexplicably sharing) the worst selfie I’ve taken in a long long time…

Given the 1/100th shutter speed and fixed f/9.5 aperture, you pretty much need to use the flash indoors (as you can see in the pictures of my brother in law in the gallery above) and outdoors in deep shade, even with 400 speed film, and it will slightly overexpose in bright sunlight. Thankfully, XP2 Super seems to be fairly forgiving, and I was able to pull back the highlights a bit in post.

The 30mm lens is reasonably sharp, with a bit of blur and falloff in the corners, as is expected with plastic lenses. At f/9.5, everything from about 3′ to infinity is as in focus as it can be, which is sharp enough for most anything, imo. I was way too close to get the bird in focus, but a bit of slider play and contrast adjustments in Capture One made it passable.

I dropped the camera early on, cracking the plastic housing and causing the flash to stick down, keeping it permanently charging unless I pried on it a good bit and/or shot with my hand over the flash. I wish I’d trusted the camera on this, and let it just fire the flash all the time, as I lost ~1/3 of the roll due to wild underexposure, and missed what I hoped were nice family snaps: my sister-in-law (Thahmina) looking like a pirate, in particul-arrr. Oh well. Something to remember if I reload the camera, which should be easy enough—though I’m pretty sure I completely disassembled and recycled it—or end up with another.

Harman helpfully provide an Technical Data Sheet for the Black & White Cameras: one for the XP2 version (the one I shot) and one for the HP5+ version and you can find the cameras (XP2 or HP5+) at the FPP and other fine retailers, and be aware, there’s also a reusable version that seems rather bulky (compared to the Lomography Simple Use, for example) and a motorized 35mm version. There’s also the Ilford Sprite 35-II, which is identical in features to the Harman reusable, albeit with a slightly different, more stylized shell. If I didn’t have two Lomo Simple Use cameras and a Yashica MF-1 that I probably don’t use quite enough (or, in the case of the Yashica, will never use again), I might pick one of the reusable ones up.

I will likely shoot Ilford XP2-Super again. It’s a lovely C-41 black & white film, and readily available, though I’m in no need of film of any type at present… the refrigerator (and freezer) are stocked.

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