Next time you head out on the town, check out what you see. When you spot a camera flash in your peripheral vision, check what it is. Is someone taking a late BeReal (so much for authenticity)? A Chris Pine-inspired disposable camera? Or perhaps it’s a digital camera, momentarily flooding the room with blinding light as it captures an overexposed shot?
That’s right. The latest vintage electronic device to make a comeback is the digital camera.
I’ve been expecting this. With the Y2K trend in full swing, it was only a matter of time before another ephemeral, brick-like device from that era made its resurgence. An original 2007 iPhone just sold for $3900 at auction. Nostalgia about Motorola Razrs and Nokia flip phones has set in. And Instagram might be taking cues from MySpace. What is going on?!?
The internet feels like an overproduced hellscape. Hence, the allure of anything that feels actually-virtually-real. From poorly produced TikToks to curated Instagram photo dumps, low quality is en vogue. And now, so are digital cameras.
The yearning for nostalgia
Life always feels simpler — more innocent — in hindsight. Now that we’re far too intimately acquainted with the beast social media has become, we ache for the days of Facebook photo albums and grainy photos. If we can’t recreate the feeling, at least we can recreate the aesthetic.
This is the impetus behind every retro-tech revival. Streaming culture brought about the return of vinyl. Instagram filters begat a lust for disposable cameras. And now, digital cameras’ shiny imperfections have taken center stage on our social media feeds.
Why get a digital camera?
For me, just sensing that I may be ahead of an upcoming trend is enough to convince me to make a purchase. I’m an Aquarius — so sue me. But there are many other reasons to hop onto this bandwagon.
Firstly, digital cameras are much more sustainable than their disposable counterparts. I mean, the word “dispose” is in the name. While the temporary nature of lightweight cams feels fun and whimsical, there’s nothing romantic about them ending up in a landfill. Plus, you have to wait days — or weeks — for CVS or wherever to develop them. Only to forget what you shot. And discover that you’ve ruined your precious memories with an obstructive thumb. Tragic.
Digital cameras offer the best of both worlds. They have the immediacy of camera phones yet still capture that revived, vintage feeling. Yet, no need to keep replacing them. No need to wait for your photos to arrive. And no unnecessary waste. Most people are finding their digital cameras secondhand — an even more sustainable choice.
Another reason to make this your accessory of the season: they act as a curated time capsule. When I scroll through my camera roll on my phone, I see an inscrutable mess of screenshots, saved memes, and TikToks that obscure my actual memories.
With a digital camera, there’s no mess. Just your photos. Your memories. All right there to flip through in their shiny, saturated glory.
The perfect film alternative! 📷 #papershootcamera #papershoot #filmslternative #film #photography #digitalcamera #sustainable
Convinced? If you need another justification, don’t trust me — trust the hoards flocking to their local camera stores or rummaging through their family storage boxes for that precious digital camera. This Gen-Z-approved trend is popping up on the wrists of all your favorite celebrities. Early adopters have been Bella Hadid, Devon Lee Carlson, Matilda Djerf, Emily Ratajkowski, Dua Lipa, and Nicola Peltz Beckham — and the list goes on.
And digital cameras are inspiring TikToks left and right. So it’s only a matter of time before they’re harder to find than point-and-shoots.
Consider: Taking a digital camera on your next trip
One major digital camera trend on TikTok is, of course, centered around travel content. “I took my digital camera to [insert romantic destination here] and here are the pics,” thousands of clips proclaim in the #digitalcamera tag. Followed by a rapid succession of bright, blue-tinged images with the signature date stamped on the bottom.
last of the Italy posts 🥺 #italy #digitalcamera #travel
I’ll be the first to admit I was definitely seduced by these travel diaries in the form of digital photos. For my next trip, I’ll make sure to tuck a digital camera in my must-have travel fanny pack so I can capture the most candid moments wherever I go.
Also, consider: Taking a digital camera on your next night out
If you’re not planning any exciting trips any time soon, never fear, a digital camera is still a worthwhile buy. Even more so. With this flashy, retro device, every night’s nostalgic. A dinner with friends turns into a memorable occasion. A run-of-the-mill house party suddenly becomes a memory-treasure.
The digital camera trend is here to stay. It will instantly transform your days and nights into something memorable. And it’s a great alternative to other wasteful retro trends. The challenge is to dig one up.
You can probably find an old, dinged-up one on Depop or eBay. But if you want a little more bang for your buck, here is where to look:
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