Create a Disposable Camera Filter Effect

A disposable camera filter is a tool that gives your digital images a personalized and vintage look. So, if you don’t feel like buying a disposable camera you can turn your digital photos to look like they have been taken with one by applying different filters to them.

To do so, in the text below you can find a full guide on how to edit your photos on your mobile phone, how to use Adobe Lightroom presets, and how to turn them into Instagram filters.


disposable camera filter

This is a great way to get a vintage photo effect, but for the full experience, I recommend using a reusable camera with film, so you don’t have to buy the camera all over again, just the film, and still get vintage photos.

Do you know that you can edit your photos on your mobile phone to look like they have been taken with a disposable camera?

All you need is a free Lightroom app on your phone and your image taken with your smartphone, but make sure that the flash is on. It is very important to have the flash on in the dark and even in the daytime when you really don’t need it on.

The disposable camera filter in Lightroom mobile app adds a touch of nostalgia to your digital photos, replicating the look and feel of film photos taken with a disposable camera. The filter includes a vignette effect and a grainy texture, mimicking the characteristics of disposable cameras and film.

After taking a picture open it in a free Lightroom app to start editing. Go to the Light and head over to the curve in the upper right angle. This is a very powerful tool that allows you to make precise adjustments to the tonal range of the image. The curve starts in the lower left corner which represents the darkest part of the image and ends in the upper right corner which represents the brightest parts of the image.

So, for this image, you should make a diagonal line with little tweaks, just on the bottom left side pull up the shadows a little bit and next to it on the right pull down a little bit to flatten out the curve to the upper right side. To make a disposable camera filter on your image you will have to edit lighting, colors, vibrance, and saturation.

After creating the curve hit the done button and you are ready to edit the light. To do so boost up the contrast to +30, highlights to +12, shadows to +40, and pull down the whites to -6 and blacks to -60 or -65. Now head over to colors.

To edit colors boost up the temperature to +14 and vibrance to +10, pull down the saturation to -40, and go to the color mix to bring back the skin tone. Switch over to an orange circle and boost up the hue to +15 and the saturation to +36.   

After all of those edits go to the effects tab to adjust clarity, dehaze, vignette, feather, and texture which refers to the grain. Pull down the clarity to -10 to make the image a little blurry, dehaze to +45 to get the crisp back in, and add a vignette to get a dark circle around the image by pulling down to -30. A vignette is a tool that gives you a disposable camera filter effect by drawing attention to the center of the image and enhancing the overall aesthetic. After adjusting its intensity you will have to adjust the feather and roundness.

Feather it out to +75 which will allow a more natural transition between edited and non-edited parts of the image. The next effect that you can add is the grain, which you can add as you like but keep in mind that sometimes less is more, you don’t want your picture to look unnatural. So, boost it up to 25 or 26.  The Roundness slider allows you to adjust the shape of the vignette, making it more round or rectangular.

And the last adjustment is the split toning which allows you to add color to the highlights and the shadows independently. This is a very powerful tool that can also be used to create a specific color cast to an image to emulate the look of film photography and that is exactly what we will use it for on our image. To get the effect of a disposable camera filter you have to edit highlights to have a purple tone and shadows to have a green tone. To create that effect, pull the highlights to a hue of around 300 and a saturation of 10 and the shadows toward green, a hue of around 175 and a saturation of 20.

As you can see using the mobile Lightroom app you can easily get the effect of the disposable camera filters and can try it out for yourself.

How to create a disposable camera filter aesthetic with Adobe Lightroom?

disposable camera filter in adobe lightroom

To create a disposable camera filter aesthetic on your digital photos you can use filters from photo editing software. The software, apps, and tools that you can use to get the effect of shooting with common film types, include Adobe Lightroom, Instagram, Photoshop, or Topaz Labs. 

The process of applying those filters to your digital photos is very simple. All you have to do is to load photos into the software or app, select the filter from the available options and adjust additional settings if required.  It is important to note that some of these, requires a subscription or purchase, to access filters or all of the features.

Film emulation filters

Film emulation filters are a great way to give your digital photos a vintage aesthetic. These digital filters replicate look and the feel of specific types of film and they will give you a disposable camera filter look.

Common film types include:

  • negative film that captures in a way that light tones are portrayed as dark and dark tones are portrayed as light,
  • reversal film that captures a rich range of colors and tones with less grain and sharper images,
  • slide film that gives images similar to digital ones,
  • color negative film, which is commonly found in disposable cameras, creates a negative of the picture, which when printed produces a negative of the negative, turning the negative into a positive,
  • black and white negative film that makes the picture reversed; any regions that seem clear or white on the film, will be black in print.

So, using film-emulating filters you can get photos with characteristics of films with fine grains for sharp images or with pronounced grains for softer images and with a more or less saturated color palette.

You can choose between Fujifilm, Kodak, Polaroid, or Ilford emulation filters.  Film Emulsion filters emulate the signature characteristic of each of these films, such as Fujifilm’s color palette and grain structure, the tonal range and grain structure of Kodak and Ilford films, and the color palette and vignetting of Polaroid film.


Adobe Lightroom Emulation Presets

Adobe Light Room Emulation Presets is preset that takes digital raw data (raw photos that you captured with your digital camera) and covers it into a photo that looks like it has been taken with a classic film camera and also you can customize it and apply it to multiple photos.  This aesthetic of classic vintage photos is very popular nowadays on Instagram and it is also used by wedding photographers that shoot both digital and film and want digital; photos to match film images.

Lightroom Presets will give you a disposable camera filter look and they are used to simplify and speed up post-processing. Since you can modify many pictures at once with just one click by pasting settings to all photos, your pictures will have a consistent tone and vibe this way. You can get presets for free, or you can download ones that require payment.

To explain how the presets work I will refer to RNI version 4. They include many emulation film types. For example, inside a black-and-white section, there are a number of classic film stocks. There is Ilford Delta 100, 400, 800, and 3200,  Ilford fp4, hpf5, Kodak T-max, and Kodak tri-x. Each one of these films has its characteristics and those numbers mean something. For example, 100, 400, and 800 indicate the ISO speed that you would use in different light conditions. For shooting in daylight, you would use 100-speed film, for overcast conditions 400, and low light shooting 800.

Each preset that can be found in this pack comes with a baseline standard version of the film and alternate versions. The standard version represents what the photograph would look like if it was captured with brand-new film and developed by using a standard process. And the alternate version represents what would it look like if had it been developed using different techniques, overexposed or underexposed.

In the Instant film emulations, you can find different versions of Fuji and Polaroid films. Also, there are different fades and some of them are muted and some replicate the effect of expired film, which gives more saturated colors and contrast and has a different look to it. Here is a little tip for you. If you have an expired film don’t throw it out because many people love that look of expired film and prefer shooting with them, so you can easily sell it if you don’t plan on using it. 

The negative film section includes many Fuji films because of their characteristic and classic Fuji look, mint greens, tinged pink, and magenta highlights. Furthermore, on the list, you can find Kodak films such as Kodak Ektar 100 which is a very vibrant film. Kodak Gold with very rich warm highlights, a lot of yellow and orange, and Kodak Portra which is one of the most popular film looks of all time, and Kodak Portra 400, which is still used today. Also, there are different versions of it such as overexposed one that gives a little more red and magenta in highlights.

Slide film section you can find positive films that have richly saturated and contrasty colors. The classic films of this type that you might recognize are Fuji Provia 100f with cool and warm versions and Fuji Velvia 50 with different alternates.   

So, if you have an image that desperately requires this type of edit, an image that evokes a particular mood and atmosphere you can also edit the picture yourself by processing it that way to give it film-like look. But if you don’t have years of experience doing photo processing image emulation will come in very handy.

As you can see you can use a number of different filters to emulate the particular look, but all of that can be a little bit overwhelming. To edit your photo you have to research different film stocks and their characteristics to find one that aligns with the look you want to achieve. Also to get your eye used to distinguishing differences between certain filters you can look at examples of images taken with different film stocks. If you decide that you want to shoot with film, make sure to read my previous post about the best disposable and reusable cameras with film. 

Grain Filter

A grain filter is a digital filter that creates a film-like look by adding grainy texture to the image. In order to create that kind of texture, the grain effect imitates the haphazard pattern of silver halide crystals seen in a conventional film. So, in a way, this is also a film-emulating filter. It can be found in many software and its application is very easy.

You have to know that when you use a grain filter, you can adjust the grain’s size, intensity, and distribution. These tweaks will give you different effects on the image. For example, by increasing the size of the grain you will get a more pronounced look and by reducing the intensity grains will be more subtle.

As I said before grain filters, can be found in many photo-editing software, and the popular ones are

  • Adobe Lightroom whose application for making a grain filter for Instagram I will explain furthermore in the text
  • Photoshop in which grain filter you can find in the texture category
  • Topaz Labs uses a film effects plugin to store grain filter
  • RNI Films in which grain filter is included in a presets


To create a Grain filter for Instagram in Adobe lightroom first you need to add a new Canvas and by clicking on it in a menu add a new rectangle. Head over to the right side of your screen and change the size of the rectangle to the full extent. Then create new material and change the shader type from standard to flat. Now you can choose whether you want animated or static dust. I recommend animated dust if you want to make filters for videos because it looks more natural than static in that case.

For this filter, I chose a static one, so the next step is to import a dust image. After importing you can change the blend mode to screen or add, and keep in mind that the screen is supple, and add is a little bit stronger and opacity to give your filter smoother look.

How to turn Lightroom Presets into Instagram Filter?

Instagram filter

To turn your Lightroom presets into Instagram filters and get a disposable camera filter aesthetic you just need a few things:

After downloading all things needed you can open Adobe Lightroom software and import the base grid by heading over to the library and pressing the import button. After that head over to the develop tab and choose an image that you would normally edit to see what preset you want to apply to your base grid.

The next step is to turn back to the grid and apply the preset and export this file as a PNG. You don’t have to change a lot of settings, just make sure that it is a PNG file and that it has a bit depth of 8, which is the number of bits used to represent the color information for each pixel and allows a total of 256 different colors. To use more presets later for creating more Instagram filters just reset the file, apply a new preset, and export that new file as well.

Now, after preparing your grid open Spark and choose a blank project. Select Focal Distance and click on add option to add a new Canvas. In the Focal Distance drop-down menu, you will see Canvas, and click on it to add Rectangle. And now you have your adjustment layer. Head over to size and click fill height and fill the width, so the adjustment layer covers the complete picture.

The next step is to convert the adjustment layer into a material, and you can do that by hitting the plus button in the material tab, so you get new material that you can rename as you want (adjustment layer for example).

To be able to connect the adjustment layer to the preset hit the arrow button next to the texture to get your material in the Patch editor and import the fast color corrector and the preset that you created earlier. Drag and drop the preset and the fast color into the Patch editor section and create an RGBA channel to the Fast Color Lut and leave it open for now.

Also, you have to create a Null texture and connect the RGBA channel to the texture on the Fast Color. To create a Null texture head over to the camera and click the plus sign on texture extraction and your new texture will show up in the drop-down menu of textures, and now you can rename it to the Null.      

The last thing to do is to create a color output to the adjustment layer and you can see that the effects are already applied to the image. To see how your Instagram filter will look like for your skin type head over to the video tab and choose a model that resembles your skin color.

To preview your Instagram filter, connect your phone to your laptop or PC. Then open the Spark Player app and head over to Test on the device where you have the option to send the filter that you created as a preview to the phone. Another way to test your filter is to head over to Test on a device and click on send to the Instagram camera, which will send the link to your phone, and by clicking it you will get a preview of the filter in the Instagram app. Now in a testing period, I would recommend filming a little video that you will have to upload as your demo video, which can be your surroundings, it doesn’t have to be special. Just send it from your phone to your computer and you will have a ready demo video in an mp4. or MOV file.

Now when you have tested your filter, to have it in your Instagram library you have to submit it to Meta (Facebook). To do that, select the right preset in the Patch editor and click upload. If this is your first time creating a filter, check to Publish a new effect and click upload which will lead you to the Spark Hub website. If that doesn’t happen automatically click on Spark AR Hub.

The next step is to fill out the needed sections. For the platform choose Instagram, type in the name of your preset, select the category Color and Light, and for the keyword add whatever describes your preset the best. After all of that upload the demo video, that you filmed earlier and add the Icon, a picture that can be easily cropped into a square. 

In the visibility, settings for publication date select as soon as possible, in the instructions for reviewer box write short and precise tags that will tell the reviewer what your filter can do and press the submit button. 


Author at Photography Official

Hey there, I’m Dominic Corbyn​, and photography is my life’s calling. With countless shutter clicks and endless hours spent perfecting the art, I’ve earned my stripes as a professional photographer. You can catch a glimpse of my world on the Photography Official blog. Trust me, I’ve poured my heart into sharing insights that’ll help you navigate the captivating universe of photography.

Follow Us At Instagram

We have two accounts, check them out and learn more about photography.



Most Recent Posts

Best Cameras for Interviews in 2024

Best Cameras for Interviews in 2024

Best Cameras for Interviews in 2024 In the world of professional interviews, the quality of your camera can greatly impact the outcome. Selecting the right one is crucial. This article will explore some of the top cameras for interviews in

Read More »
Best All Around Camera in 2024

Best All Around Camera in 2024

Best All Around Camera in 2024 In this swiftly evolving digital era, capturing moments with precision is paramount. Our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the world of photography in 2024, focusing on the ‘Best All Around Camera’. We’ll delve

Read More »
Best Cameras for Motorcycle Helmets in 2024

Best Cameras for Motorcycle Helmets in 2024

Best Cameras for Motorcycle Helmets in 2024 As technology advances, the market for helmet cameras is evolving rapidly. This article critically assesses the top contenders for the best motorcycle helmet cameras of 2024. From the leading GoPro series to emerging

Read More »
Best Cameras for Family Photography in 2024

Best Cameras for Family Photography in 2024

Best Cameras for Family Photography in 2024 Choosing the right camera for family photography is crucial to capture those precious moments. This article provides an in-depth review of various cameras suitable for family photography. From Canon EOS Rebel T7 to

Read More »