Smartphones have been the camera of choice for years, not only because of their convenience, but because of their excellent photo and video quality. Most of us like that about them. But if you’re online enough, you might have noticed something odd: More and more young people are choosing older point-and-shoot cameras to take their photos, rather than using their iPhones, or even a DSLR.
Gen Z loves point-and-shoot cameras
As evidenced by PetaPixel, the latest photography trend among Gen Z is the 2000s-era digital camera (or, as some loving refer to them, “shitty” cameras). The vibe you want is a slightly blurry, over or underexposed image with a classic orange date and timestamp in the corner of the frame. The shittiness is the point. The trend is taking advantage of a now “vintage” look (sorry, fellow millennials), invoking nostalgia for a more disconnected (if not analogue) photographic past some Gen Z’ers may or may not remember themselves.
Creators from across the social media spectrum are running with the trend, including Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Nicola Anne Peltz Beckham. The cameras are even being used as props in typical posts, such as this post from Charli D’Amelio:
Of course, this is nothing new. Every generation has a draw to the styles and tech that came before. Look at Instagram: The app started as a way to turn your high-quality (for the time) iPhone photos into “vintage-looking” snapshots from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Some at the time decried the whole thing, balking at the idea of taking a perfectly good photo and haphazardly slapping a crude filter over it. And who could forget the resurgence of Polaroid? Instax cameras brought back the appeal of instant, printable (usually terrible) photos at a time when instant digital photos had never been easier to take and share. Before the point-and-shoots, disposal cameras started making a comeback, too. Time is a flat circle.
Speaking of sharing, that’s another fun part of these tiny cameras: The younger generation likes that you can’t simply snap a photo and instantly share it with the world. If you want other people to see it, you need to go through at least one extra step, whether that’s plugging the camera into a computer or ripping the media from the SD card. I’m sure part of the fun is researching which adapters you’ll need to connect those “ancient” cables to your modern machines.
The easiest way to pick up a point-and-shoot camera today?
Some camera manufacturers do still make and sell point-and-shoots, and they aren’t cheap. Wirecutter’s list of the three best point-and-shoots of 2021 range in price from $US500 ($694) to $US1,200 ($1,666) — quite the investment for an internet fad. But these aren’t the point-and-shoots you’d want to cash in on the hype anyway. Those compact cameras are expensive for a reason: They take great photos! Instead, you want something on the “cheaper” end of the spectrum, which means digging up an oh-so-desirable point-and-shoot produced in the 2000s.
PetalPixel highlights a number of models popular with creators on TikTok, including the Canon Powershot SD1300, the Canon S100, the Nikon Coolpix L15, the Samsung MV900F, and the Sony Cybershot DSC-W220. Don’t go looking for them at tech retailers like Best Buy. The point-and-shoots they sell are all too new and too modern. Gross!
Instead, you can find some of these options super cheap on sites like eBay. You can find a Cybershot DSC-W220 for anywhere from $US30 ($42) to $US50 ($69), while the S100 has a listing for $US18 ($25) right now. Because you aren’t looking at these cameras for their quality, just pay attention to the wording in the listing and make sure they’re still in good working order. Otherwise, you might end up with a point-and-shot labelled “broken,” which could still be useful as a prop, I guess.
Of course, you might have a friend or two with an old point-and-shoot hiding in (sigh) their parents’ junk drawer or at the bottom of a storage closet, which could save you some money. But while you’re there, ask if they have any old smartphones lying around, too — the iPhone 3GS’ camera is currently in vogue and also takes absolutely horrendous photos, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other popular phones from years back, like the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S5, follow suit. After all, these were the phones mostly responsible for all of our favourite vines. Get ready for everyone to try to recreate that look soon enough.