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I bought the Kodak M38 off of amazon for an easy point and shoot, but all my photos came out super dark and I obviously can't control the exposure. Can I do anything or is it just a bad camera? What can I do?

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I wouldn't call this a "bad" camera, per se, but it's certainly a cheap camera.

There's some information on your camera here:
https://kodak.sinopromise.com/kodaklicensingproducts-filmM38.html

As far as I can understand from the specifications listed, the exposure is fixed at 1/120 second @ f/10. A fixed exposure means that your camera doesn't adjust for the actual light conditions, rather, it is exposing the film for a particular fixed level of light.

f/10 @ 1/120 second is roughly the right exposure for the following conditions:

  • EV 14 light levels – if you are using ISO 100 film
  • EV 13 light levels – if you are using ISO 200 film
  • EV 12 light levels – if you are using ISO 400 film
  • EV 11 light levels – if you are using ISO 800 film
  • EV 10 light levels – if you are using ISO 1600 film
  • EV 9 light levels – if you are using ISO 3200 film

And these EV levels approximately equate to:

  • EV 14: Subjects in weak, hazy sun.
  • EV 13: Subjects in cloudy-bright light (no shadows).
  • EV 12: Subject in open shade or heavy overcast.
  • EV 11: Sunsets. Subjects in deep shade.
  • EV 10: Landscapes and skylines immediately after sunset.
  • EV 9: Landscapes, city skylines 10 minutes after sunset. Neon lights, spotlighted subjects.

If you stick to these shooting scenarios, then at least your photos shouldn't come out dark. (But they won't come out sharp with this camera's cheap lens, one way or the other.)

The above information is for photography without flash. Since the camera has a flash, then in theory you should be able to work in darker scenarios, and light close subjects (1 to 3 metres away) with flash. But I really wouldn't expect to be "wowed" by the results – as I said, this is a very cheap camera (cheaply made, certainly).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If I was going to try to have some fun with this camera, I'd try some Ilford Delta 3200 black & white film in it. I know the specs say that the camera takes ISO 200 or 400 film, but there's nothing stopping you from loading faster (more sensitive) film. So I'd just experiment like that, and I think the grain from the fast film could add something to the "lo-fi" aesthetic. Note that Ilford Delta film doesn't use the C-41 development process, but rather needs specialised B&W development, but you should be able to find places to do it relatively easily (possibly by mail order). \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Jul 20, 2023 at 21:15

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