The resurgence in popularity for instant cameras shows just how much people love playing with retro style. The latest cool throwback camera comes with a thoughtful, eco-friendly twist. Paper Shoot is an innovative digital camera that lets you capture film-like photos.

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A camera hanging by a strap against a person's chest.

What is Paper Shoot?

Paper Shoot is a compact camera with a handful of pieces that are easy enough to put together yourself. Insert the circuit board into a creative case of your choosing, put in an SD card and two AAA batteries, then secure it together with a few screws that can be twisted together by hand — no special tools required.

“The switchable and editable camera case provides people with a fun unique digital photography experience that’s tailor made for the individual, brand or event,” explained on Paper Shoot’s website.

Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife

A deconstructed camera laid out on a table.

How is Paper Shoot eco-friendly?

The slim and simplistic design is not only easy to assemble, but good for the environment. To keep Paper Shoot’s environmental impact low, the brand prioritizes compact design and uses eco-friendly materials such as stone paper for the case. Additionally, one of the company’s main goals is to “create sustainable, long lasting alternatives to film and disposable cameras.” With Paper Shoot, you get the aesthetics of a retro camera without having to use and throw away a plastic disposable camera.

“We’re all about doing our best,” Paper Shoot said. “We’re doing our best to produce responsibly by sourcing sustainable and recycled materials where we can, and combating unethical labor by providing all of our workers with living wages and healthy, safe and happy working conditions. We’re also doing our best to live in the moment and get back to the simplicity of photography and life before phones and social media.”

These values are part of Paper Shoot’s appeal. In an age where nearly everyone has a phone capable of taking high-definition photos and seeing instant results, Paper Shoot offers a chance to capture a moment without getting sucked into your phone. Think slow fashion but for cameras. Paper Shoot’s thoughtful design encourages users to unplug and connect to the world around them.

What are the options?

In a Paper Shoot camera bundle, you’ll get the exterior case in a design of your choosing, a circuit board, camera strap and everything else required to assemble the camera. Optional accessories such as an Italian vegetable tanned leather shoulder bag to hold your camera and radial and micro effect lenses are also available. If you want to swap out case designs, you can buy additional cases in styles ranging from an eight-track tape to a cork texture.

Several boxes of camera equipment laid out among plants.


Courtesy of Paper Shoot, I took this clever little camera for a test drive. The camera kit and cases came in minimalist brown paper packaging, a definite plus for eco-conscious buyers. Unpack everything and you have all the pieces to assemble your camera. That’s another great part of Paper Shoot — not only do you get a camera, you get a fun DIY project too. It’d make a great gift for photography lovers who want a customizable and hands-on experience.

Assembly is fairly straightforward. I was able to put everything together with the help of simple instructions on the back of the box (though I did double-check online to make sure I was correctly connecting the screws). At first, it seems impossible for this small, simple creation to function as a camera. To test it out, I aimed the lens at a perfect subject for my first photo. Our family dog looked particularly adorable in black-and-white film photo style.

A black and white photo of a dog.

If you love the look of film photography, the Paper Shoot camera is a great, simple alternative. After taking several test photos, I removed the SD card and reviewed my shots. Paper Shoot’s film-like effect lends everything an artsy, vintage look. A switch on the back of the camera even lets you choose between color, black-and-white, blue or sepia-tone filters. Then, all you have to do is aim the camera and click a button on the front of the case. A small blue light will flash and a shutter sound will let you know the shot has been captured. Check out this image comparison to see examples of the filter effects.

Four images of flowers in various filters.

The more I used the Paper Shoot camera, the more it grew on me. Many of us have been extremely online since the pandemic began and forced much of our communication to go digital. Paper Shoot is a fun way to capture fun moments without reaching for your phone and obsessing over how things look in each shot.

The film-like look is a huge advantage, too. It makes each picture feel like part of an old photo album. Pair that with the company’s eco-friendly and ethical practices, and you have a purchase you can feel good about.

+ Paper Shoot

Images via Paper Shoot and Grae Gleason / Inhabitat

Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Paper Shoot. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.