Gen-Z’ers dumping smartphones for digital cameras from early 2000s because they love blurry photos


They’ve taken on the questionable Y2K trends of low-rise jeans and Uggs – and now  Generation-Z is turning its attention to old digital cameras from the early 2000s.

You remember the ones – the blurry photos, ugly metal camera frames with the wrist strap and the impossibility of instantly editing each photo to be Instagram-perfect. 

That’s exactly what’s trending with the younger generation who are rebelling against the sleek, edited photos on their iPhones to seek out more authenticity in their pictures. 

Gen-Z favorite’s app, TikTok, has more than 184million views featuring the hashtag #digitalcamera, and fashion’s favorite magazine, Vogue, has even sported the device in its glossy pages. 

Anthony Tabarez, 18, brought his Olympus FE-230 – a camera made in 2007 – to prom to snap pictures of him and his friends waving their arms on the dance floor and pulling out their best moves. 

Tabarez finds digital cameras ‘more exciting’ than snapping photos on his smartphone. 

Zounia Rabotson (pictured), who is now a model in New York City, who remembers standing in front of monuments and tourist attractions as her mom snapped her picture on a digital camera. She now uses the same camera to snap pictures for her Instagram

Zounia Rabotson (pictured), who is now a model in New York City, who remembers standing in front of monuments and tourist attractions as her mom snapped her picture on a digital camera. She now uses the same camera to snap pictures for her Instagram 

Digital cameras have become the newest Y2K obsession with Generation-Z, such as the one Rabotson (pictured) uses

Digital cameras have become the newest Y2K obsession with Generation-Z, such as the one Rabotson (pictured) uses 

Sadie Grey Strosser uploaded a fun pick of her friends reading tarot cards at a party. The blurry, overexposed photos are taking over social media with 184million views on TikTok and many more on Instagram feeds.

Sadie Grey Strosser uploaded a fun pick of her friends reading tarot cards at a party. The blurry, overexposed photos are taking over social media with 184million views on TikTok and many more on Instagram feeds. 

‘When you have something else to shoot on, it’s more exciting,’ the now-freshman at California State University, Northridge, told The New York Times. ‘We’re so used to our phones.’ 

Mark Hunter, 37, a photographer who used to shoot celebrity nightlife on digital cameras back in the early 2000s, told the Times: ‘People are realizing it’s fun to have something not attached to their phone.

‘You’re getting a different result than you’re used to. There’s a bit of delay in gratification.’  

And it’s not just the high school and college crowds that are jumping on the bandwagon, but celebrities, such as Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid have also been seen sporting the early 2000s staple. 

Many of today’s teens and young celebrities are posting these blurry, unrefined images to their Instagram pages, rather than their parent’s scrapbooks – unlike their own childhood photos that sit dusty on the shelf – and relishing in the new trend. 

Among those is Zounia Rabotson, who is now a model in New York City, who remembers standing in front of monuments and tourist attractions as her mom snapped her picture on a digital camera. 

The devices were popular in the early 2000s and were often seen in the hands of celebrities, like Carrie Underwood

The devices were popular in the early 2000s and were often seen in the hands of celebrities, like Carrie Underwood 

Tom Cruise snapped a pic with fans in 2007 outside the Rome Film Festival

Tom Cruise snapped a pic with fans in 2007 outside the Rome Film Festival  

Rabotson now uses that camera to snap moments of her adult life, posting the overexposed images to Instagram, while sporting other 2000s trends like denim skirts and tiny handbags. 

‘I feel like we’re becoming a bit too techy,’ she told the Times. ‘To go back in time is just a great idea.’ 

Sadie Grey Strosser, 22, also uses digital cameras to signify a different life stage and to capture the moment she feels ‘so off the grid.’ 

More than 35 percent of teens have admitted to spending too much time on their phones, according to a Pew Research Center study, and some have taken it on their own will to distance themselves from the soul-sucking, mentally-depressing devices. 

In order to live more freely, teens are now digging through their parents’ old boxes and pulling out Canon Powershot and Kodak EasyShare cameras – and if they can’t find them at home, they take to eBay and other secondhand sites. 

Searches for digital cameras have gone up 10 percent on eBay from 2021 to 2022, Davina Ramnarine, a company spokeswoman told the Times. 

Strosser and her friend post for a photo posted to her Instagram account. Teens are saying that shooting on digital cameras is 'more exciting' and captures a moment differently than an iPhone

Strosser and her friend post for a photo posted to her Instagram account. Teens are saying that shooting on digital cameras is ‘more exciting’ and captures a moment differently than an iPhone 

Searches for digital cameras have gone up 10% in eBay between 2021 to 2022

Searches for digital cameras have gone up 10% in eBay between 2021 to 2022

In addition, Nikon COOLPIX searches have skyrocketed 90 percent, Ramnarine said. 

However, the means to live a more authentic life might not be as clean-cut as Gen-Z wants to make it out to be. 

Brielle Saggese, a lifestyle strategist, told the Times that some Gen-Z are using the cameras to appear more authentic online and to give their accounts ‘a layer of personality that most iPhone content doesn’t.’ 

‘We want our devices to quietly blend into our surroundings and not be visible. The Y2K aesthetic has turned that on its head,’ she said. 

However, some just want another way to characterize a special moment. 

‘When I look back at my digital photos, I have very specific memories attached to them,’ Rudra Sondhi, a freshman at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said. ‘When I go through the camera roll on my phone, I sort of remember the moment and it’s not special.’ 



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