Week 9 – Toy Cameras, Woo Hoo!

It was a stressful week. Lisa Binnie, our instructor, brought out a box of toy cameras on Monday and, after a brief intro, we were let loose on the campus to take photographs and get creative. The stress came from the cameras themselves, the post-processing and the weather. The cameras offer no control over the quality of your photographs. Zero. There is no f-stop setting, no shutter speed adjustment. In other words, what you get on film is a total crapshoot. Monday and Tuesday were sunny days, so chances were good that we’d get something on film, but the rest of the week was dark, rainy and gloomy. Definitely not enough light for these plastic toy cameras! And then there was the post-processing. Lisa asked us to modify every print. She introduced us to scratching, sanding, painting with oils and acrylics as well as sepia and blue toning. I was well out of my comfort zone.

Here are some of the toy cameras we shot with:

Holga Camera


Action Sampler Camera

Action Sampler

Diana Pinhole Camera

Diana Pinhole



Super Sampler Camera

Super Sampler

The Holga and Diana are medium format cameras, taking 120 film. The Holga produced images that were nicely distorted and very soft around the edges. The Diana Pinhole produced images that had infinite depth of field. You could switch it between 1,2 and 3 pinholes to get some interesting effects (see below). The fisheye was a lot of fun and produced some wild distortions. The Super Sampler had a pull chord that initiated a little two second movie. Each 35 mm frame was divided into four subframes that were exposed through four little lenses in sequence. If you moved the camera when you pulled the trigger, you could get some interesting effects.

Here are a few shots from the cameras that I scanned in. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to photograph the post-processing work. I had a lot of fun sanding, painting and cutting my images to build a little diorama, complete with pop-ups.

ToyCamera (1 of 3)

Donalda Chemical Plant taken with a Diana pinhole camera

ToyCamera (2 of 3)

Milkweed Plants with Diana Dual Pinhole Camera. Three exposures overlapping.

ToyCamera (3 of 3)

Donald Chemical Plant – Diana Pinhole with 2 pinholes firing. Two exposures overlapping.


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