Glove Box Cameras

For most of my life I’ve made sure to have a disposable camera or some sort in the glove box of each car I own.  If I have three cars a disposable camera will be in each glove box.

I say ‘disposable’ because these are easy to find.  They also require no batteries so they can sit in there forever and still work.  Forget about them for 2-3 years, no problem!  They’re always ready to capture an unexpected moment.

Really, I didn’t carry a traditional type of disposable cameras.  I carried Olympus 35mm XA models.



Olympus XA 35mm pocket camera  


I’d find them in pawnshops for $10-$25, often brand new in the box.  35mm film, a sharp lens, aperture priority metering (powered by the light coming through the lens), and a sliding lens protector.  What wasn’t there to like?  I’d take it from the box without a scratch, load a roll of ASA 400 film, and throw it in the glove box where for the next decade or two it would roll around with everything else getting scratched and bumped and abused.. yet one never failed me.

I liked these so much I bought a few more.  But I was a bit more patient and found ones that had the optional X11 flash which attaches to the side via a thumb screw.  The flash takes a single AA battery and is good for about 100 images on a single battery.  I kept these handy for guests, or those times I knew I’d need a flash and didn’t want to take an expensive or larger camera.



Olympus XA with A11 Flash  


Heck, I still have a few of these here with me in Thailand.  One is in the glove box of my SUV.. ;o)

Why?  It’s all about lost memories.  Those memories that we live every minute of every day, something cute or meaningful happens, and you forget about it.  It wasn’t cute or meaningful enough to stick in your mind permanently, but now it’s on film to be discovered at a later date.

I’d pull out these ‘disposable’ cameras on such occasions, snap 1-2 images, and throw them back in the glove box.  Years would go by and they’d collect a couple dozen shots, maybe less, and I’d yank the film on the way into a Costco or something similar and get the film developed.  It was such a nice surprise, because the prints I’d get back were lost memories that I’d forgotten all about!  Isn’t that a nice surprise to make your day or share with your wife or kids?  Look honey, remember 2-3 years ago when?  And watch the smiles..

And of course if aliens ever landed in front of my car, or a Pulitzer winning news story, or Spiderman leapt off a building right in front of me.. then I was prepared.  It doesn’t matter that none of these things ever happened.  The Lost Memories were enough.


Modern Glove Box Cameras? 

I’ve given this a lot of thought.  Can a digital camera be as useful and survive under the same set of circumstances?  I think it’s possible.  I’m keeping my eye out on clearance websites for a compact digital point and shoot for under $50 that accepts AA batteries for power.  You laugh, but there are many such deals out there.

Once I find one I like I’ll buy one for each car, and load it with the small flash memory card that comes with it (the small ones good only for 10-20 images that we normally throw away or in a drawer and forget about), and install a set of AA Lithium disposable batteries.  These have a shelf life of 12+ years!  The only real question is can the electronics take the humidity over the years rolling and bouncing around in a glove box?  I’m not sure, so I’ll put it in a 3 baht Ziplock bag before I put it in there.

Some of my favorite family and travel photographs were taken with Glove Box Cameras.  Why not throw one in your glove box, even if it is a true disposable?  In the coming years the lost memories will bring a smile to your face.


Some Glovebox Lost and then Found Memories:



My son and his mother on his birthday  

Son’s first day of life



Son’s first day of school and first bus ride  

Son’s first day of school and first bus ride



Harley in Japan  

Harley in Japan



Yours truly climbing his antenna tower in Japan  

Yours truly climbing his antenna tower in Japan



The last picture of a great friend with my son.  17.5 years old  

The last picture of a great friend with my son.  17.5 years old