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The Toycam Handbook is the result of the collaboration of 32 members of toycamera.com. The concept was initiated on the forums of toycamera.com in February 2005, submissions were received through June 2005 and ﬁnal production and editing ended in mid-August 2005. From start to ﬁnish, in approximately seven months, and without ever meeting face to face - we made this book. Project Initiation: Project Coordination: Project Advisors: Cover & Book Design: Editing & Prooﬁng: Published by: Michael Barnes C. Gary Moyer and Dave Bias Michael Barnes, Susan Burnstine and Gordon Stettinius Dave Bias Eric Chudzinski, Skorj, C. Gary Moyer and Dave Bias Light Leak Press 1101-1144 Rockingham Ave. Ottawa ON Canada K1H 8L7 Lulu.com
Printing on Demand:
Copyright © 2005 by Light Leak Press Photographs and Illustrations © 2005 by their respective owners
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
“Boat” by Leon Taylor
“Gnarly” by Don Brice
Table Of Contents
Chapter 1: “What the Hell is a Toy Camera Anyway?”
Who Are Toy Camera Photographers ................................................................................................9 About toycamera.com .......................................................................................................................10
Chapter 2: “What Does a Toy Camera Look Like?”
So You Want to Buy a Toy Camera...................................................................................................13 Agfa Clack ...........................................................................................................................................14 Agfa Isola ............................................................................................................................................16 Ansco Panda ......................................................................................................................................18 Ansco Pix Panorama .........................................................................................................................20 Bioﬂex .................................................................................................................................................22 Brownie Holiday ................................................................................................................................24 Coronet ...............................................................................................................................................26 Diana ...................................................................................................................................................28 Fujipet .................................................................................................................................................30 Holga 120FN .......................................................................................................................................32 Imperial Mark XII ...............................................................................................................................34 Lomo Compact Automat ...................................................................................................................36 Lubitel 166U .......................................................................................................................................38 Nickelodeon Photo Blaster ................................................................................................................40 Polaroid Land Camera .......................................................................................................................42 Skolnik ................................................................................................................................................44 Spartus Full-Vue .................................................................................................................................46 Others .................................................................................................................................................48
Chapter 3: “But I Want to Tweak My Toy”
Tweaking Your Toy Camera...............................................................................................................55 Loading Film in Your Holga ..............................................................................................................57 A Pin-Holga Odyssey .........................................................................................................................58 Up Close and Personal ......................................................................................................................60 The “Holgarama” ..............................................................................................................................62 The Holga Scale .................................................................................................................................66 Zone Plates and Toy Cameras: A Perfect Match .............................................................................68 Shooting 35mm Film in Your Holga .................................................................................................72 Guessing Exposures ..........................................................................................................................75 Filters on Your Toys ...........................................................................................................................76
Chapter 4: “You Say Toy Cameras Shoot Film? Do They Still Make That Stuff?”
Film? ...................................................................................................................................................79 Chart of Available Films ....................................................................................................................80 Film Info ..............................................................................................................................................81 A Conspectus Of Heterogeneous Thermoplastic Resins Coated With Various Photosensitive Emulsions ...........................................................................................................................................82 Intro to Film Development (a crib sheet) .........................................................................................83 Developing to Get the Best From Your Toy Camera Negatives .....................................................90 Scanning Tips .....................................................................................................................................92 Thinking in Pixels ...............................................................................................................................93
Chapter 5: “Wax On, Wax Off”
Toy Camera Musings .........................................................................................................................97 Resources .........................................................................................................................................108 Contributors .....................................................................................................................................110
“Luna Park” by Skorj
“Dyke” by Francisco Mata-Rosas
Who Are Toy Camera Photographers?
he toy camera photographer eschews the modern developments of camera technology, the reliance on computerised exposure systems, motorised ﬁlm transport, PPI, TTL, CCD, DOF, the drive for higher and higher resolution, for gizmos, gadgets and carbon ﬁbre tripods. They believe focus is an over-rated commodity in most photographs and a focusing ring to be a needless gimmick on your average camera. They may however enjoy painting their Holga a pretty color. Toy camera photographers are rebels who want to prove that you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Toy cameras are for the artist within. It’s all about the photograph, and not about the price of your gear. They may even make their camera themselves out of an oatmeal box. They agree that depth of feeling is more important than depth of ﬁeld. Toy camera photographers probably would probably get kicked out of the f64 club. Toy camera photographers would probably call themselves Neo PhotoSecessionists who believe in the intrinsic revelatory power of the snapshot, if they knew or cared what that means anyway. They are also sick and tired of getting stiffed by ridiculous ‘collector’ prices for old Dianas on e-bay. Toy camera photographers believe: “If it’s plastic, it’s fantastic.” “I can never be bothered with dials and things anyway”. “My camera is not a status symbol of my upwardly mobile social standing”. “You may or may not use the viewﬁnder- it’s up to you” “It’s all just a bit of fun”.
e’re all about Plastic Cameras. Cameras called “Holga”, “Diana”, “Dories”, “Debonair”, “Lubitel”, “Banner” “Snappy” and “Yunon”. They’re cheap, maddening, fascinating plastic pieces of crap. Many people hate them, they think they’re junk, worthless, a waste of time. But we love them. We can’t stop talking about them. We just can’t shut up at all. We like the lack of sharpness, we appreciate the light leaks, we ﬁnd the poor viewﬁnders amusing. We think it’s cool that they’re only 15 bucks each. We’re a close and yet diverse group - not exclusive, not competitive. We value personal expression above all other considerations. We want you to join us in our photographic journey. Because after all - We’re having fun, why shouldn’t you? We aren’t terribly organized. We all have different viewpoints. We come from all over the world. We are not competitive. We’ve been around for a few years now and while we maybe aren’t THE source for Toycamera Photography, we ARE up there pretty good these days. Cool, huh?
We hope to inspire you, dear viewer, to become a Plastic Camera devotee as well, so put down that Nikon, shelve those Canons, liquidate that Blad and join us on our quest for the “Image Sublime”. The Search for the Photograph that is more than the sum of its parts. Where photography regains a bit of its Magic and is no longer a mere technical exercise. This is a place where any and all can take photographs that have personal meaning. Whatever that might be. Please enjoy and be sure to jump into our very cool and fun message board where lots of fun and interesting things happen. We live for discussion and feedback. No lie, it’s true. Toycamera.com started as just two people with an interest in Plastic Cameras. We found these funny little cameras to take odd and compelling images. Over a fairly short time and a few conversations with others who found themselves interested in the Cameras, we found ourselves with a Group. Not a club. Not much of a Gang even. But our numbers grew. And continue to grow. Our desire is to provide an outlet or maybe an option, to those who have a desire to create personal art, but have not identiﬁed a way to make this happen for themselves. Photography is often perceived to be complex and this can keep otherwise talented people from exploring it. The Plastic Camera is a perfect way to get you started. For some, the Plastic Camera is an end unto itself. For others, it is only a beginning. It is most important that you give it a try and see where it leads you. Results can be surprising. Unexpected. There is a simple joy in this that is important. Plastic Camera photography is cheap and simple. You can always put it aside - maybe never come back to it. But anyone with a desire to create should give it a try. There is little to lose - the cost of a camera (about $20) some money for ﬁlm and processing. Much to be gained - self expression and a new way of seeing your world. A new way to capture your world.
H.J. SEELY & DON BRICE
“Pink Bath” by Janet Penny
So You Want To Buy a Toy Camera...
s with any type of photography, you are always faced with the difﬁcult challenge of deciding what camera equipment do you need. In the following pages we offer camera reviews of some of our favorite toy cameras. Each one offering information as to what type ﬁlm, cost, characteristics, functionality, and tips to help you decide what is right for you. The list is not meant to be all inclusive of every toy camera ever made. It’s a great starting point for you to decide what camera to get started with.
One of the great starter cameras has to be the Holga. With its low price, they are very affordable and easily customized. Once you start shooting with toy cameras, you may ﬁnd it hard to just use one. You will quickly ﬁnd that collecting different models is part of the fun. Each camera has its own ﬁngerprint when it comes to making images. You’ll notice that even cameras of the same brand may offer different distinctive characteristics. One of the most famous toy cameras is the Diana. Her lens offers a wonderfully unique quality to your photos. Slight vignette, clear bulls eye image in the center, and an almost blurred peripheral frame around your subject. Unfortunately the camera is no longer produced and has to be bought second hand. Prices tend to run higher for these cameras over many other choices. The Diana has many clones that are basically just renamed. The Stellar, Lina, and Arrow are just a few of many versions that are out there. Probably one of the most satisfying ways of obtaining a toy camera is to ﬁnd one in an old junk or thrift store. When you walk in and see a mint Diana for a dollar, I will tell you it’s like ﬁnding a diamond. Scouring these stores are always fun, but sometimes, it doesn’t always produce. Probably the most common choice for picking up toy cameras is thru the Internet. Auctions such as eBay and several online camera shops offer a lot of choices. When reading the following reviews, decide for yourself what camera or ﬁlm format will work best for you. You may prefer the ease of 35mm ﬁlm processing at your local drugstore, or want larger negatives from using 120 ﬁlm. As the case with any type of photography, you will have to decide what do you want to use the camera for. Do you want to shoot at night? Then you need a bulb setting. Indoors? A ﬂash could be very handy. Long exposures? How about a tripod socket. As you can imagine there are plenty of choices. Use the camera reviews to help decide what’s right for you.
C. GARY MOYER
Agfa Camera-Werk AG in Munich, Germany The Agfa company was started in 1867 (even though the trade mark Agfa was only registered in 1897) and still exists today. The company started as a dye factory before their ﬁrst photographic product (developer) was launched, after which they produced ﬁlm, other chemicals and photographic paper. Agfa started manufacturing cameras quite early on and during the economic boom (the German Wirtschaftswunder) of the 1950s they released several types of cameras in rather large quantities. In time the camera technology of other countries, such as Japan, surpassed their own, but the company has survived until this day and is still a big name in the world of photography, albeit less consumer orientated 6x9cm on 120 ﬁlm $5 - $25 depending on condition and accessories (I’ve noticed that Clacks can turn a bit overpriced on ebay due to their popularity, so I’d suggest to look around thrift/charity shops as they’re usually sold for next to nothing there) Manufactured in Munich, Germany, from 1953/54 to 1965. The camera (an updated version of the boxcamera) was quite popular, especially in Europe. Many today can still be found if you look in the right places, but they might be more scarce in the US (for which it was renamed the Agfa Weekender) • There is one shutter speed of about 1/30, plus Bulb (B) setting • Apertures are f/11 for overcast weather and f/12.5 for sunny weather • The single element lens is plastic and has a focal length of 95mm • The focal range is 1m to 3m with close-up setting, otherwise 3m - inﬁnity • The lens is quite sharp, the focus generally seems be on the centre • Has two built in ﬁlters: close-up and a yellow ﬁlter. The camera also accepts accepts 30mm slip-on ﬁlters • The viewﬁnder is incredibly small and when looked through makes everything look tiny and distorted • The body itself is made out of plastic, the outer shell is steel - the two slide into each other and are locked together by a large key located on the bottom of the camera
Format: Expect To Pay:
Camera Use Tips:
When I ﬁrst purchased this camera it didn’t include the little brown leather bag, be sure to try and buy one as I’ve noticed the shutter release lever can be quite easy to trigger when the camera is carried around on its own. The key located at the bottom of the camera should keep the camera closed with no problem - I have yet to encounter a loose Clack and so light leaks should (generally) not be present.
A User’s Story:
KIRSTY VANDER VOORT
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
This was one of the ﬁrst older toy cameras that I bought - I found it for just a couple of euros in a large second hand store in the Netherlands. There were several Clacks to choose from, they must have been incredibly popular in the Netherlands. The Clack is a very modest point and shoot camera, its main special feature is that it can produce sharp and, most importantly, large negatives. It’s an incredibly fun camera to play around with and can be used both in and outdoors, in good weather and in slightly bad.
Barcelona, August 2004 16
Branch, January 2005
Agfa-Werk AG, Germany In production from 1957 to 1963 with slight variations in design resulting in various models: Isola 1, Isola 2 etc. 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm You can get these in perfect condition for around £5 (~$10) A super-dependable, lightweight & robust camera with a pull-out lens. It produces photos with a wonderful period feel. • 1/30 & /100sec + B • f6.3 & f11 • Plastic meniscus Agfa Agnar 6,3/75mm • Red window on camera back • focusing at 3.5, 4, 5, 7, 10, 20 & inﬁnity • Shoe & synch • Standard Mount • Flat ﬁlm plane • The lens is sharp in the middle, but softens out towards the edges. The Isola manages to pack a lot of ‘charm’ into its photos. • Tinting adds a great ‘period’ feel to both colour & b/w photos. • Slight vignetting at the extreme edges. • Light can get in through the ﬁlm counter window in bright conditions & sometime around the bottom of the camera back, but again – only in very bright conditions. • Unlike most toy cameras ﬁlm speeds as slow as 100ASA can be used in the Isola in most weather conditions.
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Camera Use Tips:
Film loading is straightforward, but make sure it’s drawn tightly across before closing the back. It isn’t obvious at ﬁrst, but having the ﬁlm loaded loosely will have an effect on your results.
A User’s Story:
The Isola 2 is probably my most consistent performer and the one I take on holiday in preference to most toy cams because I know I’ll get some usable snaps. The shutter release is a bit soft and can take some getting used to. Film must be advanced between shots which means multiple exposures are not possible in the way they are on Dianas and Holgas. The lens barrel must be fully extended before the shutter will work... I’ve missed many a “perfect moment” by not checking this before going for a shot. The viewﬁnder is pretty accurate framing-wise. The bulb setting allows you to take shots in low light; if you want to freeze a moment as well as getting some atmosphere in the shot, use the Isola on bulb in conjunction with a manual ﬂash (i.e. someone else’s digital camera) and end the exposure once the ﬂash has gone off. This technique can be very effective.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
Agfa/Ansco, Binghamton, NY USA Built 1939-1950 6x6cm on 620 ﬁlm $5 - $10 A basic, light, Bakelite, TLR box-style camera • 1/25 - 1/60 (approx.) No ‘b’ setting • f16 • Single element, glass lens, ﬁxed focus for 6ft and beyond • Large, bright waist-level viewﬁnder • No ﬂash options • No tripod mount • No special features or functions of any kind. • The lens is nameless and fairly wide in angle. • Images can be surprisingly sharp, but it does better in the near to middle distance, with focus falling off as it goes to inﬁnity. • The lens has no tinting. • The camera does not vignette, but does produce subtle distortions, especially at the edges. • While I am sure some old Pandas leak light, mine does not. • Recommended for ﬁlm of ISO 100 and above.
Camera Use Tips:
Focus is described at 6’ and beyond, but is actually a bit closer.
A User’s Story:
The Ansco Panda is the most basic of toy cameras and could not be cuter or more appealing. The images it produces are impressive, from the surprisingly sharp to the slightly soft and distorted. It renders accurate color, with good saturation, as well as detailed B&W negatives with good tonal range. The Panda’s big and bright, waist-level viewﬁnder is very welcome to middle-aged eyes. Highly recommended! A Panda users’ group can be found at: http:// groups.yahoo.com/group/AnscoPanda/
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Ansco Pix Panorama
A series of stitched images
Ansco Pix Panorama
Ansco Photo Optical Products Corporation, USA Produced in the early 1990’s to rival Kodak’s “Stretch” and “Funsaver 35” formats. Literally hundreds of other manufacturers made similar cameras in different shapes, colours and sizes, but the Pix Pano is a pretty snappy dresser and has caught on in toy camera circles. 24x36mm on 135 ﬁlm 50p - £5.00 (approx. $1 - $10) A really fun, lightweight, plastic, panoramic aspect camera which ‘leterboxes’ the 135 negative to produce a print with a different aspect ratio. • 1/125th sec ﬁxed • f11 • Plastic 28mm 2 element • Automatic ﬁlm counter • 3 feet to inﬁnity • No ﬂash options • No tripod mount • The 25mm lens produces some sexy distortion at the extreme edges of the frame. • Lenses are very sharp considering they’re plastic. • No obvious vignetting. • No light leaks unless you have a beaten up example. • In anything other than sunny conditions 400ASA ﬁlm should be used
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Camera Use Tips:
This baby is simplicity itself. Compose your shot and just click away.
A User’s Story:
After using the camera for a few weeks I realized it might be fun to turn it on its end, take a series of images of a single subject and then stitch the series together in Photoshop afterwards. After a few attempts I got it down and breathed new life into the format. To try your hand at this ﬂavour of toy photography pick up any similar plastic ‘panoramic’ camera. Don’t wait speciﬁcally for an Ansco as they’re all pretty much the same. Despite being a cheap plastic gimmick, these cameras can produce some very ﬁne images. For me it works particularly well with 400ASA b/w ﬁlm to produce some really gritty material. The different aspect ratio forces you to look at subjects in a different way and go for different angles and perspectives. When you get it right it can be really rewarding.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Picnic Area, Walker County Lake (Skipping School) 22
Great Wall Plastic Company, Hong Kong Unknown. Likely made in the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. Also sold as the Traveler Camera. approximately 5x5cm on 120 ﬁlm $35 to $100 Great Wall’s take on the Rolleiﬂex TLR—feature packed and almost too sharp! • 1/25, 1/50, and B • f8, f11, f16, and f22 • Single element plastic lens • Red window frame counter with sliding blind (no taping!) • Adjustable, 6 feet to inﬁnity • Accessory shoe and PC socket. • Standard tripod socket. • Reﬂex and sports ﬁnders. • Sharper overall than its sister, the Diana. • Good center sharpness with mild distortion and blur at the edges. • Slightly muted, warm color rendition. • Very slight vignette. • Some edge fogging (at times severe) from loosely ﬁtting back; tape suggested.
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
Camera Use Tips:
Easy operation with well-placed controls, but reﬂex ﬁnder is difﬁcult to use and inaccurate; stick with the sports ﬁnder.
Suggested ﬁlm speed:
Varies with lighting conditions; adjustable shutter and aperture allow for greater ﬂexibility in ﬁlm choice.
A User’s Story:
A real curiosity, the Bioﬂex attempts to replicate the complex features of a quality TLR camera with the materials and build quality of the classic Diana. Results are mixed —the adjustable shutter and aperture settings are useful features that expand the capabilities of the camera, but it seems delicate for something that is large and complex as toy cameras go. A larger 5x5cm negative size (as opposed to Diana’s 4x4cm negative) is a welcome feature. The single element plastic lens is related to that of the Diana — but offers increased sharpness, with less edge distortion and vignetting. Whether this is a good thing or not is entirely a matter of personal opinion!
CHRISTOPHER W. TRICE
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
My Only Reliable Mode of Transportation
Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY Manufactured (most likely in great numbers) from 1953-1962, also available as the Brownie Holiday Flash. approximately 6x4.5cm on 127 ﬁlm $5-$10 A cute camera, boxy and solidly built. Similar in size and shape to a US ‘Chinese Restaurant’ take-out box. • Fixed shutter, approximately 1/50. • Fixed aperture, approximately f8. • Single element plastic lens. • Red window frame counter. • Fixed focus, 5 feet to inﬁnity? • Flash model synched for bulbs • No tripod socket. • Curved ﬁlm plane. • Slightly soft focus throughout the frame, no noticeable edge distortion • No noticeable vignetting • No light leaks unless camera body is chipped around the seams • Suggested ﬁlm speed: ISO 100
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Camera Use Tips:
Like many 127 Kodaks, loading ﬁlm can be rather ﬁddly. Make sure ﬁlm is ﬂat against ﬁlm plane. Viewﬁnder is fairly accurate.
A User’s Story:
This user-friendly camera is a good companion on any day trip. Images have a graceful, airy quality. Something about the lens’ focal length — coupled with an almost panoramic format — gives the photographs a calm, spacious feeling. The viewﬁnder is fairly accurate on the sides, but you sometimes get more than planned on the top and bottom. Since I like to crop in-camera as much as possible, I recommend standing a bit closer (perhaps 3 feet) than the viewﬁnder would indicate. Good results are very possible with this camera, but you should tape the side clips—their seal can be iffy, and should they slide loose during shooting the ﬁlm edges may fog, especially with color ﬁlm. Also make sure to tape any chips in the body as well as the frame counter window to prevent unwanted light leaks.
NEHA N. LUHAR
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Coronet 4-4 Mark II
Handstands, May 2004 26
Spain, January 2005
Coronet 4-4 Mark II
Coronet Ltd, 308-310 Summer Lane, Birmingham, UK Made during the 1950’s, there were several versions of the 4-4; all with slight design/feature variations. 4x4cm on 127 ﬁlm between £1 and £5 (approx $2 - $10) A beautiful UK-made, small, all-plastic toy camera originally marketed towards women. • Single aperture • Fixed shutter speed • Plastic lens • Red window on back of camera • Fixed focus • No ﬂash options on the standard 4-4. • No tripod mount • Very slightly curved ﬁlm plane. • Reasonably sharp middle with subtle distortion radiating out from the centre to produce a slight feeling of motion. • Subtle vignetting • Rare to ﬁnd light leaks on a 4-4, but tape over the red ﬁlm counter in bright conditions. • 127 ﬁlm speeds are usually limited to 100ASA.
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Camera Use Tips:
Go easy on the ﬁlm winder. It was designed for a woman’s hand.
A User’s Story:
This camera looks wonderful and when you get a good example it feels good too. The winder seems to be an area of slight concern with most problems stemming from that feature, but the camera is easy to take apart and tinker with. As pretty as it looks however, the 4-4 is deﬁnitely a camera for bright conditions only so leave it at home on dull days and don’t bother using it indoors. Getting the best out of one deﬁnitely takes a few goes, but once you work it out you’ll be delighted. Keep everything at least a metre away from you and shoot subjects that don’t require a lot of detail.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
as most popularly known. also used for larger family of “clones”
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay:
Great Wall Plastic Co. (unveriﬁed) 1960s-1970s 4x4 cm on 120 ﬁlm (spin off variations on 620, 127 & 126 ﬁlm) A “Diana” camera can go as high as USD $100 due to the popularity in that name. However, numerous clones can ﬂuctuate between USD $10-$25 (as seen on eBay.com) Plastic body, plastic lens, 16 4x4 cm using 120 ﬁlm • 1/50-1/100 • f11, f13 (middle), f19 (smallest) • plastic lens • red-window opening in back of camera • focus steps: 4-6ft, 6-12ft, 12-inf (European models uses meters) • various ﬂash models were produced • no tripod mount • bulb setting on most Dianas • General softness in all Diana photos is common • Center of frame can be in focus (not necessarily sharp, but detail can be captured) with gradual blurring towards edges • Some photographs can have soft gradual vignetting, while others can be very sharp fall-off. Best vignetting is achieved with wide-open aperture. • 400 ISO ﬁlm recommended for most Dianas that have a tight shutter spring for cloudy, partial cloudy days. An ND ﬁlter can be used in full sun if ﬁlm is loaded. • Good results and details can be achieved with 125 ISO in full sun conditions, OR with shutters whose shutter spring has worn down (1/50 or lower, comparison with other Dianas is key to determining this).
Summary: Technical Details:
Camera Use Tips:
Light-leaks are common with most Diana cameras. Use “Gaffer’s” or common hockey tape to cover all seams, particularly on the back of the camera. Vintage Kodak Series VI ﬁlters and adapter ring ﬁt on focus knob. Shoot with aperture on full open to maximize vignetting, control exposure with ﬁlters. The viewﬁnder lies, as subjects get closer to you, expect more parallax error, for subjects 6ft or less, compensate by raising camera slightly.
A User’s Story:
Headless Horses: This photo was taken with one of my ﬁrst Diana cameras. It was an overcast day during a work outing to a ‘team building’ event. One of the events was going for a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh. I pulled out my trusty Diana camera, focused on the closest setting (4-6ft) and took the shot. Often people ask me if I was crazy for getting this close to these horses, but in actual fact, this particular Diana camera had an accident with the lens that creates a bit of a telescopic modiﬁcation. The lens somehow got pushed in, perhaps just an eighth of an inch. This seems to cause a telescopic feature, perhaps equivalent to a 1.4x lens.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
This photo was one of those really lucky shots that had great density and contrast to the exposure, and continues to be one of my favorites, and one that generates the most feedback.
Platform Guard 30
Fuji Photo Film Company, Tokyo. Built 1957 to 1963. One million sold. For young children and students. Not exported from Japan commercially. 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Normal gray Fujipet – ¥5000 to ¥8000 ($45 - $70 USD). Colored Fujipet – from ¥10,000 ($90 USD). EE versions are similarly priced. A sturdy build, fun & very easy to use camera with subtle toycamera effects. • 1/50 and ‘B’ • f11, f16, f22 • Single element plastic lens • Red-window frame counter • Focus free • External ﬂash sync • Tripod mount • Extendable lens hood • Available in a variety of colors (brown, green, red, blue & yellow - gray most common) • Curved ﬁlm plane • Sharp center with soft edges • Good color rendition with slight period tint • Soft vignette • Small light leaks are present sometimes • Suggested ﬁlm speed: ISO400
Format: Expect To Pay:
Summary: Technical Details:
Camera Use Tips:
You must cock the Fujipet’s shutter manually for each photograph. Lens and shutter-plate are easily accessible by removing the front lens screw-ring. The lens hood is also removed this way. Lenses are readily interchangeable as a result. Swap a sharp lens for a blurry one… The ﬁlm tension springs in both chambers work well, with only the occasional loose wound spool. Although very toy-like in appearance & operation, the Fujipet is a moderately competent camera. It is well made, with a number of metal parts, and high quality plastics. Though all are at least 40 years old, most have aged well.
A User’ Story:
I carry a camera with me every day, and I ﬁnd the Fujipet is a nice compromise between my Diana and my Holga. It is sturdy, easy to load in the ﬁeld, and has subtle toycamera results. I also think the ‘Thunderbird’ looks of the Fujipet really cool. Wide-adapters also work well. The small amount of aperture & shutter speed control allow me some level of effect over my results too. With my early Holga, much was left to chance. Although I miss the super quirky lens and light leaks of my Diana, I enjoy the more solid feel of the Fujipet.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Note ‘B’ function in ‘Platform Guard’ – about 1s, and the effect of the ﬁxed focus in ‘Carousel’. Both photographs show the subtle Fujipet vignette, and the slightly curved ﬁlm plane.
also available as Holga 120N (no ﬂash), Holga 120GFN (glass lens) and formerly Holga 120S & Holga 120SF
Central, Hong Kong 32
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
Universal Electronics Industries Ltd. (Hong Kong) Modiﬁed from Holga 120SF series in 2004 6x4.5cm or 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm $17-$21 (Brand new) Made in China, plastic lens and housing • 1/100 and ‘B’ • f8, f11 • Single element plastic lens • Red counter window with frame number pointer. (#12 for 6x6 ﬁlm mask, #16 for 6x4.5 ﬁlm mask) • Focus ranges 1. Symbol of one person = 1m 2. Symbol of three persons = 2m 3. Symbol of several persons = 6m 4. Symbol of mountains = 10m • Built-in ﬂash • Tripod mount • Polaroid back available (optional) • Other models: 120N – hot shot model without built-in ﬂash; 120CFN – color ﬁlter function for built-in ﬂash • Loose ﬁlm plane • Sharp center with relatively soft edges • Good for B/W, some color shifts on color ﬁlm • Soft vignette • Some light leaks • Suggested ﬁlm speed: ISO400
Camera Use Tips:
Switch for apertures of f8 and f11 has no real function - there is no such mechanism inside the lens. It is always in f8. This can be modiﬁed to two real apertures.
A User’s Story:
A simple and reliable plastic toy camera with ‘B’ mode and tripod mount after the modiﬁcation. It could be disassembled by users easily, add or modify custom functions. Such as pinhole Holga, using 135 ﬁlm instead of 120 ﬁlm in a second. It is still in production, price is very competitive. Lens is somehow sharper than another Hong Kong built camera, the famous Diana toy camera.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Imperial Mark XII
includes Imperial Mark XII Flash, Debonair, Savoy and others.
Pipe & Wire 34
Varick at Spring
Imperial Mark XII
Herbert-George Co. - Chicago, IL The Herbert-George Co. made many items besides cameras, exclusively employing the “material of the future” - plastic. According to information on the Internet, The Imperial Mark XII and Savoy were re-badged as the “Ofﬁcial” Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Brownies cameras. Even Roy Rogers had his own branded Imperial camera. The company was purchased in 1961 by the Imerial Camera Co. and seems to have disappeared soon thereafter. 6x6cm on 620 ﬁlm $5 - $20 depending on condition and accessories Made in the U.S.A., this very basic box camera was produced in mass quantities and was the “point and shoot” of its day. • Single shutter speed of approx. 1/30 - 1/60 • Unknown aperture - assumed to be approximately f11 • Single element plastic lens • Knob-wind with red counter window • Fixed focus: 6ft - inﬁnity • Some models have attachable ﬂashbulb unit • Available in a wide range of colors - seafoam green, gray, red, brown, and tan. • Uses 620 only, 120 reels do not ﬁt • Lens is relatively sharp but doesn’t cover ﬁlm area resulting in minor vignetting. • Large opening behind lens results in negative larger than 6x6cm. • Lens seems mildly wide-angle, perhaps 65-70mm • Boxy design and placement of shutter release make for awkward usage • Viewﬁnder covers less than actual capture
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Camera Use Tips:
I have placed the hook side of the velcro around the red window after cutting a proper size hole, then the loop side I use as a ﬂap to keep it covered outdoors. Also, if you use this camera frequently, make sure that the two-piece design stays together ﬁrmly, as the single metal tab on the botton that supposedly “locks” the body shut can wear out, causing drastic light leaking and ﬁlm loosening. Rubber bands should ﬁx this nicely.
A User’s Story:
My ﬁrst Imperial (the Mark XII pictured) was purchased at the Chelsea Flea Market in Manhattan, which is notoriously overpriced, for around $15. I considered it a bargain, however, because it came with its original box, ﬂash attachment, a box of ﬂashbulbs, instructions and 4 extra 620 reels! Upon receiving the ﬁrst roll back from the lab, I was pleased with the results. The plastic lens provides the classic sharp centers with distorted and vignetted edges. Not Diana-league, considerably sharper in general, but nonetheless a very distinctive toy camera look. One caveat - the respooled ﬁlm I purchased was an extremely tight ﬁt when winding to a 620 reel and resulted in some scratching of the negatives. The Debonair that I purchased doesn’t seem to have this problem...
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Lomo Compact Automat
Eiffel at Liberty Island
Lomo Compact Automat
Lomo PLC, St Petersburg, Russia In production since 1983 but production numbers fell sharply after a few years. In 1992 Lomo PLC was convinced to begin full production again by the newly established Lomographic society based in Vienna. Most LCA’s after this time were produced only for the Lomographic society and as such “Lomography” was born. The specs of the cameras have never changed but given their cult status, customised models are now starting to appear. (Snakeskin coverings etc) 24x36mm on 135 ﬁlm Brand new from Lomo the cost is roughly £135/$200. There are a few legitimate dealers where they can be a little cheaper, or of course you can expect to pick one on Ebay for as little as £50 from a reputable dealer. The main question has to be “Is the LCA a toy?” At over £100 for a new piece and made of metal with a quality glass lens - it doesn’t look like one, but deep down I think all those that own an LCA see it as a toy, you play with an LCA you don’t intend to take serious photos with it! That’s not to say its not capable of producing stunning images - the LCA is a beauty of a camera, the Minitar lens bursts with colour & a style all of its own. • Shutter Speeds:1/500 to 2 seconds The electromechanical program shutter is controlled with an electronic exposure meter, this means that the shutter will stay open as long as it needs to expose the image. • Aperture: Fixed Aperture of f2.8 • Lens: Professor Radinov’s Minitar 1, 28mm wide angle • Focusing range: 0.8m to Inﬁnity • Flash: Hot shoe Standard Mount • The lens can be pin sharp, with that unmistakable “LCA” look • Vignetting is a common occurrence • The LCA can handle a good range of ﬁlm speeds and given a pair of steady hands will perform well in low light situations. • Simple and easy to use • Lomography.com offers a massive range of accessories, a guarantee on the units they sell, and also a good free hosting facility to display your lomographs.
Format: Expect To Pay:
Camera Use Tips:
Don’t expect amazing results with your ﬁrst ﬁlm, I did and was seriously let down! The LCA is an unusual beast, it needs to be loved and cared for, then when you get to know it, it’s the camera that keeps on giving! There are a thousand different tips and tricks to learn with the LCA, and that’s where the fun lies.
A User’s Story:
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
When I’m going out to take photographs or on holiday the LCA is the ﬁrst one in the bag. In my opinion it’s consistent. Given the 35mm format it’s not as ﬁddly to load as a Holga or Diana, there’s no tape needed, it’s a pretty quality unit. But then its not a 120 format camera, its not even your typical “Toy” camera. As explained before it’s a plaything! During the day it can be used to capture robust images and then later on, whack the ﬂash on and you’re ready to go again.
Untitled, 2005 38
Lomo Factory, Soviet Union and Russia The Lubitel 166 Universal (or Lubitel 166U) twin lens reﬂex camera was produced from 1984 through 1998 however, earlier versions of the Lubitel date back to 1949. 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm A used Lubitel can sell for anywhere from $25 (obviously used and possibly in need of extensive cleaning) to $100 (mint or like-new). A Lubitel 166U in mint or like-new condition should also come with accessories such as the limiting gate, leather-like case, lens cap, strap, clear protective ﬁlter, shutter release cable, and original box and manual. Ultimately, price will vary based on the condition of the camera and how popular the Lubitels are at the time you are looking to purchase. Plastic body, glass lens (both objective and viewﬁnder lens), 12 exposures (or 16 exposures with 4.5x6cm limiting gate installed). • Aperture Settings: f4.5 to f22 (objective lens) • Shutter Speed Settings: 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, Bulb • Relative Aperture: f4.5 for objective lens and f2.8 for viewﬁnder lens • Self Timer: 7-15 seconds • Filter Size: 40.5mm (primary lens) • Focal Length: 7.5cm
Format: Expect To Pay:
Camera Use Tips:
• To prevent light leaks, make sure that the ﬁlm compartment latch is tight. • Follow the suggestion in the manual and load and unload ﬁlm in subdued light (or better yet, in a darkened room). This isn’t Soviet propaganda, 120 ﬁlm is susceptible to light striking the ﬁlm from the edges near the spool ends. • The top-down viewﬁnder takes some getting used to but will yield accurate compositions. Just remember that if you move the camera to the left, the image in the viewﬁnder will move to the right (and vice-a-versa). • Because you will normally hold your camera at waist level (while using the waist-level viewﬁnder), remember that your subjects should look into your camera and not at your face (which is the norm for most through-the-lens or digital cameras). • For a revised edition of the original Lubitel manual in English (PDF format), visit: http:// home.earthlink.net/~pgiguere/toycamera.html
A User’s Story:
At a recent science ﬁction convention, I took my Lubitel with me and snapped some photos. I got a lot of curious stares. A small group of young convention attendees stopped me and asked what kind of camera I was using. I told them it was a Russian-made plastic camera called a Lubitel and that it uses 120 medium format ﬁlm. One guy asked if he could hold it and take a look, so with the viewﬁnder open, I handed him the camera and he proceeded to compose images around him by looking down into the camera. After a minute he handed the camera back and said, “Dude, this is one bitching camera! The LCD resolution is awesome but something is wrong with it because the image keeps moving in the opposite PHOTOS AND TEXT BY direction.” What could I do but smile politely and take his picture?
Nickelodeon Photo Blaster
Seaside Heights, NJ #1
Seaside Heights, NJ #2
Nickelodeon Photo Blaster
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
Long Hall Technologies Made in China 1997 for Nickelodeon Television Network 4 images in 24x35mm frame on 135 ﬁlm $20 - $50 US Multi Frame Style Camera- 4 Shots to a Frame • Fixed Shutter • Fixed Aperture • Dual Plastic Lens • Film counter • Focus 4 ft- Inﬁnity • Built In Flash • No Tripod Socket • Built In Flash Sensor • Uses 2 AA Batteries • Modestly Sharp Lens • Flash Fires When Needed With Sensor • Slight Flair In Strong Backlight • No Vignetting • No Light Leaks • ISO 200-400 Recommended
Camera Use Tips:
Camera allows 4 single shots to be taken on one frame of ﬁlm.
A User’ Story:
This camera gets quite a few looks when out shooting. The bright colorful accents and twin lenses are quite funky. The ﬁlm door has a lock to prevent accidental openings by younger users. Flash range is 4-10 ft. with ISO 200 ﬁlm and 4-12 ft. with ISO 400. Camera shuts itself off when the lens door is left open for longer than a minute. Close and reopen door to turn back on. For best results and consistent looking photos, I’d suggest avoiding mixed lighting. Also pay attention to ﬁlm loading on this camera. If ﬁlm is not properly loaded, you can’t advance the ﬁlm or take photos.
C. GARY MOYER
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Polaroid Land Camera
Under the Tracks
Polaroid Land Camera
(1970 Color Pack III featured)
Polaroid Corporation, Waltham MA. USA. Built from 1968 to the late 1970s, the non-folding cameras from Polaroid were intended as their ‘entry level’ range. 600-series ‘peel apart’ pack-ﬁlm. The bottom of the Polaroid heap – pay no more than $10 for a mint example Cheap cameras, expensive ﬁlm, unique operation and instant results. • 114mm plastic lens • 1/500 to 10s (electronic timed) • f9.2 and f60 • Manual focus • Flash bulb mount • No tripod mount • Most cameras of this type are black (red, white, blue & green can be found.) • A variety of ﬁlms are available (see www.polaroid.com) • Electric eye adjustment (sensitivity) varies shutter speeds. • Plastic lens, and often difﬁcult to focus accurately results in soft photographs. Low-light un-controllable shutter speeds contribute. • Soft color rendition, often with curious effects (on cold days etc). • No vignette or light leaks evident. • Suggested ﬁlm speed: any pack-ﬁlm (ISO75, 80, 100 or 3000). • Little parallax error at close range.
Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
Camera Use Tips:
When buying, try to ﬁnd one equipped with the ISO70/3000 switch. As well as normal speed ﬁlm (ISO75/80/100), the switch also allows high-speed ISO3000 to be used at f60 (inﬁnite DoF, no need to focus), and at f9.2 in near dark conditions, manually timed. Some models are also equipped with both development self-timer, and a basic gravity-based focus aid. Other models can accommodate both square format 80-series ﬁlm and rectangular format 600-series ﬁlm. Check battery compartment for corrosion when buying. Everything is practically bulletproof. Black photographs? Replace batteries.
A User’s Story:
The Polaroid Land Camera is a truly marvelous device - brilliant in conception and great fun to use. The wide range of color and B&W ﬁlms still available means you can explore a myriad of technical as well as artistic variations. Emulsion transfers, distressed positives (manipulations), mis-cleaned negatives and other techniques can also be used. The hard-case cameras may lack the street-cred of an SX-70, but have far more capability and variable control (SX-70 ﬁlm is only available in one type). Do not clean your rollers or spreader bars if you want to ‘enhance’ your photographs with artifacts from lack of development spreading. ISO3000 shot at ISO75 gives marvelous grain effects.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Also known as; Big Shot (as used by Andy Warhol), Clincher, Square Shooter, Zip, Memory Maker, and Swingers.
also known translated as Shkolnik, Shkolnic, Skolnic
Papiertiger, Linz 44
Haarhaus Riegler, Linz
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay: Summary: Technical Details:
MMZ (now Belomo), USSR Made from 1962 to 1969, about 500,000 pieces made 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm I was able to get mine from a friend who got it in Hungary for 7 Euros Camera body made from bakelite. The name means “pupil”, or “student” • Simple shutter (1/60) and B • f8, f11, f16 • plastic lens 75mm • red-window on the back • ﬁxed focus • no ﬂash • tripod mount • cable release • honest viewﬁnder • weight: 275 grams • The Skolnik is sharp from about 1.5 meters to inﬁnity • It has less vignetting than other comparable cameras with plastic lenses • No light leaks, although ﬁlm counter window should be taped to be sure • 400 ISO (cloudy), 100 ISO (sunny)
Camera Use Tips:
As the Skolnik was built for young amateurs you don’t have to think much about shutter or aperture settings. The only thing you have to decide is the speed of ﬁlm - 400 ISO for overcast days and 100 ISO for sunny days. The interesting design is a result of the one-piece “bucket” style body molding.
A User’s Story:
The Skolnik is a reliable, lightweight travel companion, with a perfect shutter (compared to the Diana family for example), and an extraordinary design – I call it “Skolnik, the carp”.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Flying Frog 46
Manufacturer: History: Format: Expect To Pay: Summary:
Spartus Camera Corporation Produced from 1948 to 1960s. Most popular of the Spartus line of cameras. 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Usually between $5-$10. Some prime examples with boxes can go higher. Bakelite, pseudo TLR style camera with plastic lens. An often-overlooked toy camera. • 1/60? and “Time” • f11? f16? Who knows? • Single element plastic lens • Red window plastic frame counter • Focus free • External Flash synch • No tripod socket • Art Deco aluminum faceplate, bakelite only. • Flat ﬁlm plane. • Lenses are usually pretty soft. • Sharp center, very soft edges. • Usually has some nice vignetting. • Usually light tight. • Use ISO200 or ISO400 ﬁlm.
Camera Use Tips:
Hold camera steady, shutter trigger has long throw. Use ISO 400 ﬁlm, can easily overexpose ﬁlm.
A User’s Story:
Often overlooked toy camera. Produces spectacularly bad photographs. One of the many fake TLR style cameras from the post-war era. Early models were pretty rugged with heavy bakelite and had a nice heft to them. Later models feel lighter, cheaper. Basically a small box-camera with a TLR style view ﬁnder on top and a really bad plastic lens. Only one shutter speed that I guesstimate around 1/60 and a ‘Time’ (bulb) selection. These cameras usually hold up pretty well due to their rugged construction. One common problem is a bad mirror in the viewﬁnder, but can usually be cleaned or replaced. Easy to take apart and ﬁx if necessary.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Manufacturer: Bilora (Germany) Year: 1955 - 1958 Format: 6x4.5cm on 127 ﬁlm Body: metal Lens: glass Achromat 1:8 Shutter: 1/50 (sync), 1/100 & B Apertures: “Bright” (f11) & “Dull” (f8) Focus: Scale - 3.5’ to inﬁnity Note: Many variations - “44” shoots square format, Ansco Lancer is U.S. version. Hot shoe or PC sync.
Bilora Bella 3c Bilora Bella 66
Manufacturer: Bilora (Germany) Year: 1959-1960 Format: 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: metal Lens: glass Rodenstock Achromat 1:8 Shutter: 1/50 (sync), 1/100 & B Apertures: f8 & f16 Focus: Scale - 5’ to inﬁnity Note: Interlock prevents double-exposure after shutter release. PC socket for sync. Cold shoe.
Manufacturer: Made in Hong Kong Year: ? Format: 127 ﬁlm takes 16 photos Body: plastic Lens: plastic Shutter: ﬁxed Aperture: ﬁxed Focus: ﬁxed
Churchies Spy Cam
Manufacturer: Druopta (Prague Czechoslovakia) Year: ? Format: 120 ﬁlm Body: Bakelite Lens: Glass Shutter: B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/75 Aperture: F11, F16 Focus: 3 stop zone
Manufacturer: WZFO (Poland) Year: 1950 Format: 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: Bakelite Lens: Plastic Shutter: 1/60 & B, with ﬂash sync on Synchro version Aperture: f8 & f16 Focus: Fixed Note: the shutter only works when lens tube is extended.
Druh & Druh Synchro
Manufacturer: MMZ (Russia) Year: 1969 Format: 6x4.5cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: 1/60 & B Aperture: f11, f16 & f22 Focus: Fixed
Manufacturer: Ferrania (Italy) Year: 1959 Format: 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: Plastic, some parts aluminium Lens: Glass Shutter: ﬁxed, +/- 1/50 sec. Aperture: f8, f12 Focus: 2m-inﬁnity
Manufacturer: Fisher Price (China) Year: 1993 Format: 110 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: Fixed Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Manufacturer: Hamaphot (Germany) Year: 1952 Format: 6x6cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: Bakelite Lens: Plastic (3-element) Shutter: 1/60 with ﬂash sync Aperture: Sunny & Cloudy Focus: Fixed Note: the shutter only works when the lens is extended and the viewﬁnder only shows 2/3 of exposed frame.
Manufacturer: Made in Hong Kong Year: ? Format: 126 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: Fixed Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Hi-Speed Insta Load
Manufacturer: Made in China Year: current Format: 135 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic 8 total Shutter: Rotating Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Manufacturer: Made in China Year: ? Format: 135 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic 4 total Shutter: Rotating Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Lomo Action Sampler
Manufacturer: Made in China Year: current Format: 135 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic 4 total Shutter: Fixed Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Lomo Super Sampler
Manufacturer: Made in China Year: ? Format: 110 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: Fixed Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Manufacturer: Neo-Phot (Denmark) Year: 1946 Format: 6x4.5cm Body: Bakelite Lens: Plastic Shutter: 1/30 & B Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Neo-Phot Photax Blindé
Manufacturer: M.I.O.M. (France) Year: circa 1938 Format: 6x9cm on 620 ﬁlm Body: Bakelite Lens: glass “Boyer Series VIII” Shutter: 1/25, 1/100 & T Aperture: marked 1 and 2 Focus: Fixed (~10’ to inﬁnity) Notes: “1” is the larger aperture for cloudy days and “2” is the smaller, sunny day, setting. Use 100-200 ASA only!
Manufacturer: Polaroid Year: ? Format: i-Zone Polaroid ﬁlm ( 1”x1.5” ) Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: Automatic Aperture: Indoor, Sunny, Cloudy Focus: Fixed
Polaroid i-Zone Spy Kids 110
Manufactured: for McDonalds under license from Miramax Films Year: 2001 Format: 110 ﬁlm Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: unknown (ﬁxed) Aperture: unknown (ﬁxed) Focus: Fixed (4ft - inﬁnity) Note: Viewﬁnder shows considerably less than the lens captures.
Manufacturer: Pho-Tak Corp. Year: c. 1950’s Format: 6x9cm on 120 ﬁlm Body: Metal Lens: Glass Shutter: B, I Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
Time Traveler 120 Wild Planet Wrist Cam
Manufacturer: Wild Planet Toys ( China ) Year: 2003 Format: 135 ﬁlm half frame Body: Plastic Lens: Plastic Shutter: Fixed Aperture: Fixed Focus: Fixed
“Parkway Bowl” by C. Gary Moyer
Tweaking Your Toy Camera
he beauty of toy cameras is their simplistic nature. They have very few settings to choose from and are basically just boxes that hold ﬁlm. Using a toy camera the way it was intentionally designed is often more than enough to enjoy the virtues of toy camera photography. But then again, is it? Enter the world of toy camera modding. Tweaking your camera for maximum output, and pushing it beyond its design limits. Working within your camera’s limitations is not always welcomed and sometimes we need to excel where our cameras fail us. What will you do when you need one more second of exposure, the ability to grab that close-up, or something to keep this darn ﬁlter from falling off? In this chapter, you will learn how to get the most out of your toy camera. You’ll ﬁnd everything from simple ﬁxes to more elaborate cutting and tweaking of your precious plastics. Tried and tested, these mods are only the tip of the iceberg, and clever mixing and matching of the techniques laid down here can turn that shelf-sitting toy into a real shooter.
BUT FIRST... THE BASIC MODS
You’ve ﬁnally picked up your ﬁrst toy camera and now your ready to give it a whirl. The ﬁrst thing you want to do is carefully go over it checking all the basics. Test the shutter to make sure it doesn’t stick, try to open and close the ﬁlm door to make sure it ﬁts properly. Test your focus and aperture settings if they are available. Make sure you know how to load the ﬁlm properly for your make of camera (see p. 57 for Holga ﬁlm loading). Getting familiar with your camera is one of the most important steps you need to take from the very beginning. Your next logical step is making a ﬁlm choice. Color? Black and white? Slow ﬁlm, fast ﬁlm? The choices are many. Use our ﬁlm guide in this book (pp. 80-81) for some good tips and decide what conditions you plan to shoot under. After selecting and loading your ﬁlm, you’re ready to start your ﬁrst foray into the world of toy camera photography. Before you make ANY modiﬁcations to your camera, shoot a roll of ﬁlm through it. It’s always good to have a baseline idea of your camera’s “features” before you paint, tape, cut and otherwise modify your toy. The following tips are the most basic things you can do to various brands of cameras and are simply a jumping-off point to the more advanced techniques discussed later. 1. Taping your camera up is the easiest way to prevent ﬁlm fogging and light leaks. We recommend Gaffer’s tape as it leaves no residue on your camera and is opqaue and black. Tape all the seams and a make sure to put a small piece across the red ﬁlm counter window if your camera has one. If you fold the tape under to create a small tab, you can easily lift the ﬁlm window piece when you want to advance your ﬁlm. 2. Gaffer’s tape can also be used to tape ﬁlters onto your lens if you cannot ﬁnd a correct size to ﬁt. 3. A 1/4-20 nut can be epoxied to the bottom of your camera to connect to a tripod head. 4. The insides of many plastic cameras are often very shiny and mildly reﬂective.
You can use ﬂat black paint to dull that shine and prevent unwanted reﬂections of light. Be careful to tape the lens and shutter area before spraying. You do not want the shutter getting stuck, and even though we love our crappy plastic lenses, black paint on the rear element is not our idea of fun. 5. Trimming your camera’s ﬁlm mask can allow you to make your own format size. Use an exacto knife and carefully cut away the inside ﬁlm mask. A lot of toy camera shooters love a square ﬁlm format. 6. When shooting 120 ﬁlm, you may ﬁnd that the ﬁlm spool is loose in the camera. There are many ways to tighten a loose spool, depending on your craft skills: • You can use a simple piece of cardboard from your ﬁlm box to slide under the spool to keep it nice and tight. • If you’re a Velcro fan, try adhering the soft (loop) side of a piece under your spool. But be careful because tight going in means tight coming out, so be sure to keep a solid grip on the roll so it doesn’t unspool and ruin the roll. • More industrious users opt for a metal spring. Simply snip a short piece of metal to width and length - then fold it into a V-shape with plyers and epoxy one side to the bottom of the ﬁlm chamber. Test it a bit with an empty spool before you commit to the epoxy. 7. Gluing a thin piece of foam, or applying well-placed strips of the soft half of Velcro on the back door of your camera will keep the ﬁlm nice and ﬂat. Be cautious with this however, because ﬁlm that is too tight can pick up scratches from running across the mask. 8. If your camera does not have a bulb setting, you can build up exposure time by several clicks of the shutter. Make as many shutter releases as necessary on a tripod to get the correct exposure. Those users who are handy with tools might opt to modify the shutter to include a bulb setting. See the Resources section at the back of this book for links to tutorials on this procedure. 9. Most toy cameras lack what is commonly called a “shutter interlock” to prevent multiple exposures. Which means that if you forget to wind your ﬁlm, you’ll just keep exposing and exposing on the same frame. Embrace this feature! Multiple exposures can offer some great effects. Just trip the shutter as many times as desired without advancing the ﬁlm.
C. GARY MOYER & DAVE BIAS
Loading ﬁlm in your Holga
No Toy Camera Handbook would be complete without a basic primer on loading and unloading your ﬁlm. Before mods, before tweaks and pinholes and zone plates, it’s always a good idea to run a roll through your toy to assess it’s particular “features.” This particular tutorial refers to the Holga speciﬁcally, but these basic principles could easily be adjusted to work with just about any toy camera mentioned in this book.
1. Remove the camera back. 2. Take roll of ﬁlm and break off seal. 3. Load ﬁlm onto left side of camera (ﬁg. 1). 4. Pull ﬁlm leader across to the take up spool side. Place tapered end of ﬁlm into take up spool slot. (ﬁg. 2) A good tip is to bend the end of the ﬁlm leader about a half inch long and keep pressure on the ﬁlm roll to keep any slack from forming. 5. Hold some light pressure with your thumb on the take up spool reel and turn the ﬁlm advance knob a few turns to advance the ﬁlm. Make sure you have no slack. (ﬁg. 3) 6. You may need to put a small piece of cardboard, for example, a ﬂap from a ﬁlm box, to keep the spool from being loose. 7. Replace the camera back and advance the ﬁlm using the ﬁlm advance knob. Watch for the number one to show up in the red ﬁlm counter window. (ﬁg. 4) You’re now ready to shoot.
fig. 2 fig. 1
1. When you shoot your last frame, continue winding the ﬁlm onto the take up spool. You can shoot either 12 or 16 frames with your Holga depending on which ﬁlm mask you use. (12 with 6x6 mask, 16 with 6x4.5 mask) 2. Open camera back, and carefully remove ﬁlm. Hold tightly to keep from unraveling. Tuck ﬁlm leader corner under and afﬁx seal. 3. You can now move the empty spool into place on the left side. *** It is always best to load and unload ﬁlm in the shade or under subdued light. Keep exposed rolls in a camera bag or out of direct sunlight.
C. GARY MOYER
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
A Pin-Holga Odyssey
When I decided to convert one of my Holgas into a pin-Holga, it made me nervous at ﬁrst. Almost everything I had read gave formulas for different sized holes, distances and ﬁlm speeds to use in everything from a homely oatmeal box to a custom built beauty made of wood that cost more than my ﬁrst car. It was quite simply more trouble and calculation than I wanted to be bothered with. Besides, toycam photography is about fun and not precision. I wanted to a simple way to have some fun and try pinhole photography. I just wanted to take off the lens of my Holga, drill a hole in some metal, tape it back on where the lens had been and go make magical photos. So, that’s exactly what I did.
REMOVING THE LENS
The lens assembly comes off easily enough; just two tiny screws hold it on. If you attempt this, put the screws in a small cup or other container so they don’t wander off. They are very small and easy to misplace.
MAKING THE PINHOLE
Unless a pre-made pinhole is purchased to use, hand drilling one takes up the most time for this project. You can drill a hole by hand with a sewing needle through a cut out piece of metal, preferably aluminum since it is thin. (Soft drink can aluminum is perfect for this). Hand drilling the hole is time consuming and tedious, but worth it in the end. About the time you think no progress is being made at all, viola! The needle point pokes through the metal and into your ﬁnger! Purchasing thin brass shim stock to drill a hole through from a hobby shop is another option, and ready made laser pinholes are also available for sale online, but I simply wanted to use materials that were already on hand collecting dust around the house My ﬁrst pinhole was hand drilled through a piece of metal cut from the bottom of a peanut can. It was just sitting on a shelf waiting to be part of the magic in this pinholga odyssey. First I cut the piece of peanut can metal into a square just a bit larger than the opening where the lens had been and then placed it over that opening. Next I traced the outline of the opening from the inside of the camera on the metal piece. An X marked on the metal piece going diagonally from corner to corner determined the center. The X marked the spot where the pinhole would be drilled. ** Cutting stiff metal from something like a peanut can requires metal shears made for cutting thicker metal stock. Cutting softer aluminum is easier, and can be done with a pair of cheap household scissors. The metal edges are very sharp so use caution. As I said before, drilling the hole takes the most time. Holding a sewing needle and twisting it by hand to make the pinhole was tedious. Some people stick the needle in a cork from a wine bottle to hold it for easier drilling. I tried that, but could never get the needle to stop twisting in the cork and not the metal. That method was quickly abandoned in favor of just toughing it out and doing it all by hand. Having an open bottle of wine on hand to enjoy while drilling the tiny hole added to the magic. After the hole was drilled and my ﬁnger was bandaged, I used 600 grit paper to lightly sand and remove any tiny burrs left around the edge of the hole and to make it perfectly round. It took a couple of light sandings on each side and inspections with a 10x loupe to get it nice
and clean. Rough edges will cause less than ideal photos. I made a second pinhole from a piece of soda can. The thin aluminum was much easier and faster to drill. The tiny leftover burrs from drilling also sanded off cleaner than the ﬁrst one did so this is the pinhole I taped inside my Holga. If curiosity gets the best of you and you want to know the size of your pinhole just scan it at the highest resolution possible on a ﬂatbed scanner then use Photoshop to measure its diameter. Once you know the hole size, it’s easy to ﬁnd exposure tables and distances needed from the ﬁlm plane to achieve the best results online.
REPLACING THE LENS WITH THE PINHOLE
Finally it was time to tape the pinhole on the Holga where the lens had been and continue the odyssey. I carefully lined up the traced outline of the square with the inside of the camera so the pinhole would be centered, then taped it securely with black tape.
Black photo tape also served as my shutter. Peeling it off to start an exposure, then sticking it back over the hole to stop the exposure worked just ﬁne. Before loading the camera and taking your ﬁrst exposure, try peeling the tape off then re-sticking it over the pinhole to get a feel for how it works. Make sure no debris such as lint or dust adheres to the tape as this could adversely affect the light seal over the hole.
A STURDY MOUNT
Mounting the camera to a tripod or some other type of ﬁrm support to avoid unnecessary movement while the long exposures are being made will help keep photos sharp. There are many ways to make a mount. I used a small homemade L-shaped wooden holder with a tripod adapter nut that the camera sits on and was secured with rubber bands. Yes, it was ugly. Especially sitting on top of a very sleek Italian-made Manfrotto tripod. Something as simple as a bean bag or a folded jacket will work as a support in a pinch.
The ﬁnal results were surprisingly decent for what little effort was expended on modifying my Holga. I know if I had ordered a laser pinhole, or ﬁgured precisely how far away from the ﬁlm the hole needed to be I could have made pinholga photos that were tack sharp, but this was about fun and dreamy, out of focus, wonderland type photos. I had a lot of fun, and you can too. I experimented with a few exposure times and arrived at the following table for 400-speed ﬁlm. Outdoors: Sun Clouds Shade Indoors: normal light 15-20 seconds 20-30 seconds 30-45 seconds 30 minutes
If you know the exact size of your pinhole, more accurate exposure times can be calculated. This website - www.pinhole. cz/en/pinholedesigner - has a guide. The most fun about this was not knowing exactly what was going to be captured on ﬁlm. The mystery of it all and the magic feeling of how a tiny hole drilled in a piece of leftover metal creates amazing photos was immensely gratifying.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Up Close and Personal
Most toy cameras were not built for extreme close ups. Yet there are so many subjects that cry out for that macro treatment. Given that you have paid very little for your camera, you may be unwilling to spend a fortune on a closeup lens. Perhaps you’re not ready for extensive surgery on your precious piece of plastic. So what are your other options? Both diopters and magnifying glasses provide a removable and cheap solution to all your magniﬁcation problems. However, you can use many different types of magnifying materials. Instead of the conventional methods, try plastic magnifying sheets used for close-up reading. You can buy them at most bookstores or pharmacies. Or buy a Sniff by Susan Burnstine number of those inexpensive magnifying reading glasses at thepharmacy. Pop the lenses out and stack them atop of each other. You’ll have to use the mathematical formula (below) to ﬁgure out correct distances. To calculate the new distances you’ll need: • camera with a “b” or “time” setting • magnifying glass or diopter of any sort • piece of parchment, waxed, tracing or vellum paper cut to the camera’s ﬁlm width • tape • candle • loupe • measuring tape 1. Open up the camera and tape a piece of translucent paper across the back of the camera inside where the ﬁlm would normally be. 2. Set up a candle in a dark or darkened room. Bathrooms or any windowless room will do. 3. Place the camera in front of the lit candle with the magnifying glass taped to the front (ﬂat against it). I taped it because I couldn’t hold that and do all the other steps simultaneously. If you don’t want to cosmetically damage your camera, ﬁnd an assistant. Be sure that the camera lens is level with the candle ﬂame. 4. Hold a loupe ﬂat against the wax paper. Set your camera shutter to the “b” or “time” setting in order to keep the shutter open and look at the wax paper with your loupe. You should be able to see a faint image of the candle ﬂame upside down on the wax paper. 5. Next move the camera forwards and backwards slowly; continuously looking through the loupe until you ﬁnd the point at which the candle ﬂame (focus on the wick if that helps) is focussed.
6. Finally, using a measuring tape, measure the distance from the lamp to the lens. If you accurately use this distance when taking photos, your images should always be focussed. For those more technically minded among us there is a mathematical formula: The Power (the unit of the diopter) is the inverse of the focal length in metres. 1x = 1/1m, the focal length is 1m, or 1000mm. (f=1000mm) 2x = 1/0.5m, focal length is 0.5m 3x : f = 333mm 1+3x = 4x : f= 250mm Focus a close-up lens on an object at its focal length. To tell if an object is at the focal length of the close-up lens move the lens back towards you, you’ll see that the image gets larger; until the image of the object is biggest and still clear (and still upright), the object is at the focal length. Put your camera, focused at inﬁnity, to it, and you are focused! So with an 1x close-up lens, with the camera focused at inﬁnity, the object needs to be at the focal length of the close-up lens, which is 1 meter (~3ft); with 2x: 0.5m (~20in); with 3x: (~1ft)... After computing the distances of every diopter, magnifying glass or close up lens set-up you plan to use, pull out your tape measure and make marks on your hands and arms which correspond to the distances. That way, you can just hold your hand or arm out to estimate distances instead of having to stop the ﬂow of your shoot and pull a tape measurer out. Sounds silly, but it will save you loads of time and frustration. Generally you will ﬁnd that using a diopter will give you greater resolution, i.e. the image will be sharper. The higher the magniﬁcation the less the plane of focus, so your measurements will need to be more accurate if there is something in particular you want to focus on. Take the long view and use a telescope to take some close-ups of far distant objects. There is a deﬁnite science to close up work. But my best advice is just keep doing it over and over again until you get the feel for it. Once you ﬁnd a rhythm, measuring tapes or marking your arm tends to be unnecessary, since you get to a point where you just sense the distance. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun!
Alium by Janet Penny
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
JANET PENNY, SUSAN BURNSTINE, GAYLA TRAIL & JARVI WEN
Holga makes a panorama camera?!!! What?! Where?!! Well, actually no, they don’t. But you can make your Holga take ‘panorama’ pictures! We have outlined various techniques below, as attempted by toycamera.com members Melisa Taylor and Skorj.
First try by Melisa…
I was in New Orleans taking tons of pictures with my Holga and my Diana when I was inspired to try something new. I had previously seen a ‘Holga Panorama’ online, but it was 3 different scenes joined…When I got to New Orleans and saw how all the buildings are ‘joined’ together, and all the life and art on the streets, I knew I wanted to give this a go. The ﬁrst thing I had to ﬁgure out was how I was going to make the picture ‘join’ together in exposure. On a previous roll, I watched the arrow on the advance knob (see image 1), at the same time I watched the numbers in the red window. I had determined that from one number to the next, it was one complete turn of the advance knob and a couple clicks between each number. During all of this, make sure your lens is always at the same distance and ‘aperture’ to keep the image consistent. I took the ﬁrst picture, and made sure to step sideways without changing my distance to the subject and made sure the ground was still even (now dubbed “The Ambrosia Shufﬂe” - see ﬁgure 4 below). Then I got to the next section and took the next picture, repeating the steps I took four exposures total (actually ﬁve, but that one had to be cut off because the ground level and the angle changed). When I was done, I had 4 joined and slightly overlapped exposures. (see image- “French Market Place”). I found this to be a very simple way to do it and was very pleased to see that my ﬁrst try had been so successful!
French Market Place by Melisa Taylor
It never occurred to me to walk sideways when taking my panoramas. After seeing Melisa’s fantastic work, I grabbed my Holga and stood in the one spot. Pivoting from frame-left to -right, where I was standing, exposing each frame in turn. After a few attempts I have arrived at the following exposure technique. In summary, it places four exposures in the space of three normal frames. Figure 1 shows the normal non-panorama exposure sequence, measured by conventional use of the ﬁlm-back counter in the little red window. Holga 120 set as 6x6.
Figure 1: Normal exposure sequence
Figure 2: Panorama exposure sequence
Figure 2 is an attempt to show how four exposures are squeezed into the space previously used by three normal exposures. I have offset the exposures vertically to show the overlap clearly. Normally these run horizontal as in Figure 1. The results of this technique should be clearly visible in this study of Tokyo Bay’s ‘Rainbow Bridge’:
“Rainbow Bridge” by Skorj
By under-cranking, it is easy to achieve an accurate amount of overlap. How to measure the under-cranking too is relatively easy. My technique involves remembering the position of the wind knob’s direction arrow. Using the drawing at right (Figure 3 supposed to look like a Holga 120), let’s assume Exposure One has just been taken, and your wind direction arrow is in position ‘A’. To overlap, turn the wind direction arrow so that the arrow head is positioned at point ‘B’ - the point previously occupied by the tail of the arrow-head. You are now ready to make Exposure Two. Repeat as necessary.
Figure 3: Holga winding knob
There is nothing stopping you from ﬁlling an entire 220 like this. Using my technique it would be pretty boring as you would be going around & around on the same spot for 32 exposures onto a 24 exposure roll. Using Melisa’s technique, you could walk a whole street and capture a vast piece of art. Crazies here in Japan use real panorama cameras to take photographs of whole trains like this.
Remember too you will need to decide how much subject is required in each exposure. I call
this the ‘framing-overlap’, and varying this produces the greatest variation in your ﬁnished results. Framing-overlap (red segment marked ‘f’ on Figures 4, and 5 below) results in the same part of the subject being exposed to the ﬁlm twice - once on the right-hand-side of the ﬁrst exposure, and once on the left-hand-side of the second exposure. No framing-overlap means no part of your subject appears anywhere more than once. The ‘Rainbow Bridge’ sequence above was made with very little framing-overlap. ‘Shibuya Crossing’ below was made with lots of framing-overlap. The resulting difference should be obvious:
“Shibuya Crossing” by Skorj
Four-into-three, from frame-left to -right is a good start for conceptualizing the technical process of getting the images into the ﬁlm. Varying this concept; measuring differently, and changing your framing-overlap will all result in changes in the ﬁnished product. I’ll be shopping my Shibuya Crossing around to try and see the print lab results too. Watch the Forums for results.
Figure 4: “The Ambrosia Shuffle”
[Ambrosia] This technique has not been fully tested by me or Skorj, yet. I have tried it, but haven’t gotten the results back yet (see forum for updates). A friend of mine (goes by the name “Spacenuke”) tried this out and got good results. Shoot the Holga set up for 6x6 images, but Figure 5: “The Pivot” change the frame counter window set for shooting 6x4.5 images (move the slider to show ‘16’ instead of ‘12’) , thus doing the overlap without having to think too much about it. It will automatically overlap for you. You can even set the slider in between ‘12’ and ‘16’ , for ease of switching back to take a ‘normal’ exposure in between panoramas.
There are many ways to do this depending on what end product you want. When doing
what Skorj calls “The Ambrosia Shufﬂe” (described in my experiences) you don’t have to ‘shufﬂe’ or walk in a straight line, depending on subject, and artistic intent. It all comes down to what you want your ‘panorama’ to look like. (See diagrams below)
After the image is taken...
Now that you have taken your ﬁrst ‘Holga Panoramic’, you might be wondering how you’re going to print your image(s). This part can be tricky, as your negative will probably be too long for even a 4 x 5 inch negative carrier (I believe the only way you will be able to do this is by limiting your exposures to 3, but even then you are cutting it close and you won’t know until you keep trying and check the results).
Having a lab print it...
You can have a custom pro-lab do it digitally, by scanning your negative and printing it onto a long sheet of photo paper. This is how I had to get it done. I admit I didn’t have time to ‘shop around’ and ﬁnd other ways at other labs, so there might be other ways they can do it. It may be hard to control yourself once you realize just HOW big Photo-labs can print. I went up to 5 feet! I recommend having them try a smaller one ﬁrst so you verify print quality before you spend the big bucks on a really big one.
Printing it yourself digitally...
If you have the right type of negative scanner, photo-quality digital printer, and paper you can do this at home, although you will probably be limited on the size. I don’t have these options yet, so I have no way of testing it (again, keep checking the forums for updates… someone is bound to try it).
Using other ‘Toy Cameras’...
Although I’ve only used a Holga for this, I intend to try it with a Diana. I believe this can be done. Just try doing it the same way I described my ﬁrst experience. I can’t ﬁgure out a reason why it wouldn’t work. The most important thing to remember when trying this technique is to HAVE FUN!
MELISA “AMBROSIA” TAYLOR & SKORJ
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
The Holga Scale
So you want to transform your Holga into a precise focusing instrument? No problem. Here’s what you’ll need: • one Holga of any variety • one piece of rope or string • measuring tape • computer and printer • Photoshop or similar program • paper and scotch tape (or) a white self adhesive ink jet address label Lazy? Can’t be bothered with all that measuring and cutting?
1. Scan or copy the sample below. 2. Cut it out and tape it on your Holga. 3. Presto! Plastic precision! Feet to scale (kind of)
Metric to scale (sort of)
So you’d prefer another font? Or you just feel like taking the initiative to design your own personal Holga scale? Okay. Let’s get to it. 1. Cut a piece of string. Line it up on your focusing knob from the single person symbol to the mountain symbol. Cut the string and tape it onto the focus ring. 2. With a pen or Sharpie, indicate where the symbols are on the string. Draw a line, dot, X or whatever suits your fancy. 3. Remove the string from the focusing ring and line it up next to a measuring tape to obtain exact measurements. Write these numbers down or remember them. 4. Open a new ﬁle in Photoshop that’s approximately 2 inches by at least 1 inch. Make sure the RULER option is on. 5. You will now recreate the focus scale background. Select the rectangle marquee and replicate the exact length of the string measurement, then for width make it around 1/4 of an inch. You can and will cut this down later. 6. Select the EDIT pull down menu, then select FILL color. Select CONTENTS. 7. For your background color, you can select either BLACK or WHITE background from the CONTENTS pull down menu. If you’d prefer a different color, select COLOR from the contents menu and proceed to pick out the color of your choice from the palette. 8. Select a type font and color you like (I suggest using bold), then transfer the correlating numbers in feet or meters to the scale. Save the ﬁle. 9. Print the scale. You can print it on regular paper and tape it above the symbols on the focus scale or print it on a self-adhesive ink jet address label and stick it on. Hint: Make sure the ﬁrst number (3 ft) is lined up in the middle of the single ﬁgure’s head. 10. Presto! Personalized plastic precision!
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
Zone Plates and Toy Cameras: A Perfect Match
Toy camera users frequently express how much they enjoy the creative freedom a toy camera gives them. By abandoning many of the complexities of today’s modern and highly technical cameras, toy camera photographers ﬁnd they can concentrate less on the camera’s operation and more on seeing their world anew through the imperfections inherent in these cheap, plastic boxes. Never knowing what you will get with a toy camera is one of the joys of using these cameras in the ﬁrst place. This type of creative freedom is not just the domain of toy camera photographers though; pinhole photographers have known for many years just how fun more primitive forms of photography can be. Many people who are familiar with photography, even if all they have ever done is shoot snapshots, have heard of pinhole photography. A signiﬁcant number of photographers have experimented with pinhole photography either by using a pinhole kit or by creating their own pinhole camera using various enclosures such as shoeboxes or oatmeal canisters. Zone plates fall into the same category as pinholes but they are fundamentally different. A pinhole is nothing more than a hole of a certain size which is dependent on the focal length of the camera you are using it on (the distance from the ﬁlm to where the pinhole will be mounted) that is drilled into a certain kind of material such as opaque material (brass for example). Photographs taken with a pinhole camera will usually yield a wide-angle image with variations on the wide-angle effect determined by the size of the ﬁlm you are using. A smaller ﬁlm (4x5in.for example) will yield a normal image while a larger ﬁlm size will have a more pronounced wide-angle effect. With pinhole photography, there is usually an optimal pinhole diameter for the focal length of the camera you are using in order to achieve a normal angle image. This pinhole is then mounted in the camera and essentially functions as your lens (although technically your camera is now lens-less). A zone plate on the other hand is an image that is usually printed on ﬁlm or acetate and consists of a series of concentric circles (see Figure 1). The zone plate basically diffracts light. Where there is a clear ring, light will pass through and will strike the ﬁlm in the camera. The result is usually a soft focus effect with varying levels of medium to strong contrast. Unlike pinholes, zone plates are technically lenses (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Actual Zone Plate
Figure 1: Example of a zone plate image
USING A ZONE PLATE IN A HOLGA & LUBITEL
Because the zone plate allows much more light into the camera than a typical pinhole, exposure times are much less. A typical pinhole will have an aperture of f128 to f295 or so while a zone plate typically has an aperture that ranges from f40 to f75. A zone plate actually has to be focused. In other words, you need to mount the correct zone plate Figure 3: Modified “Pinhole Holga” diameter and focal length to the focal length of the with zone plate. camera body you are using. Because the exposure times for zone plate cameras are much less than for pinhole photography, it also helps to have a camera that has a mechanical shutter control (or at least a bulb setting). The Holga 120S and Lubitel 166U cameras are ideal toy cameras for this purpose. The Holga 120S shown above (see Figure 3) is actually a modiﬁed “Pinhole Holga” made by Randy Smith (www.holgamods.com) which comes with a shutter release cable and a tripod socket and sells for about $60 USD. For a zone plate, I ordered a custom printed zone plate from Guillermo Peñate, an expert on pinhole and zone plate photography, for $25 USD. Using Randy’s modiﬁed Holga, the optimal size is a 40mm zone plate (which equates to an aperture of f45 plus half stops). Randy replaced his pinhole with Peñate’s zone plate. Below is an example (see Figure 4) of a photo taken with the modiﬁed “Zone Plate Holga” using a Polaroid back.
Figure 4: (© Paul Giguere, Playroom, modified Holga 120S camera with 40mm zone plate & Polaroid 87 3200 ISO film, 2005)
The Russian-made Lubitel 166U (see Figure 5 below) is also a great toy camera for zone plate photography because it is a twin lens reﬂex camera which allows you to compose your photographs using the through-the-top viewﬁnder. Also, the Lubitel allows you to more accurately set your shutter speed than is possible using a shutter release cable (although you can also using a cable with the Lubitel in bulb mode). Although Lubitel 166 cameras
are no longer made, you can still ﬁnd them used through Ebay for around $25-$50 or so depending on the condition of the cameras. Keep in mind that when looking to purchase a Lubitel for conversion to a zone plate, the quality of the primary lens does not matter because it must be removed in order to install the zone plate. In short, buy a less than perfect Lubitel and save yourself some money. Because I’m not mechanically inclined, I sent a fully operational Lubitel 166U to Eric Renner at the Pinhole Resource (www.pinholeresource. com). After removing the primary lens, Eric added a 75mm zone plate to the camera (which equates to an aperture of f65). The total cost for the modiﬁcation and zone plate came to $80 USD. Below is an example (see Figure 6) of a photo taken with the modiﬁed Lubitel 166U with a zone plate.
Figure 5: Modified Lubitel 166U with zone plate
Figure 6: (© Paul Giguere, Untitled, modified Lubitel 166U camera with 75mm zone plate & Kodak TMAX 400 film, 2005)
TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS USING A ZONE PLATE
Although many toy camera aﬁcionados will bristle at the thought of using a light meter, I highly recommend keeping one handy due to the fact that it can be difﬁcult to guess the correct exposure time in different lighting situations for your zone plate camera. I have also found David Balihar’s “PinholeDesigner” program (http://www.pinhole.cz/en/index.php) to be excellent for creating accurate exposure charts. Below are charts (Figures 7 and 8) for my modiﬁed Lubitel and Holga cameras (mentioned in the prior section) using Kodak TMAX400 ﬁlm.
Exposure Times - Lubitel f number: 65 Exposure factor for f number 22: 8.7 x Including reciprocity failure for ﬁlm: Kodak T-MAX 400 Time for f 22 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1s 2s 4s 8s 15 s 30 s 1m 2m Resulting time 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1s 3s 6s 13 s 28 s 1m 3m 8m 25 m 1h 5h
Exposure Times - Holga f number: 45 Exposure factor for f number 22: 4.2 x Including reciprocity failure for ﬁlm: Kodak T-MAX 400 Time for f 22 1/1000 1/500 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1s 2s 4s 8s 15 s 30 s 1m 2m Resulting time 1/250 1/125 1/60 1/30 1/15 1/8 1/4 1/2 1s 3s 6s 12 s 27 s 1m 2m 7m 23 m 1h
Created by PinholeDesigner 2.0, ﬁlm database v1 (9. 6. 2003) Copyright © David Balihar, 2001-2003 Figure 7: Exposure chart for modified Lubitel 166U zone plate camera
Created by PinholeDesigner 2.0, ﬁlm database v1 (9. 6. 2003) Copyright © David Balihar, 2001-2003 Figure 8: Exposure chart for modified Holga 120S zone plate camera
To use these charts, set your light meter to f22 and take a reading. Find the resulting shutter speed in the left hand column and read the value to the right of it for the resulting time. For instance, if my light meter tells me I must use a value of one second at f22, I know that the exposure time for my zone plate Holga (using Kodak T-MAX400 ﬁlm) will be six seconds. The tricky part is when I’m shooting in bright daylight. If my reading says 1/8 of a second, it might be difﬁcult to ﬁre the shutter using the shutter cable for exactly half a second using my Holga. This is where the Lubitel with its’ more advanced shutter settings comes in handy.
Knowing what zone plates are and how they work is all ﬁne and can help you get started, but the idea here is to experiment and have fun. This article has presented a lot of technical information and a detailed explanation regarding zone plates and how to use them in your toy camera but you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that using a zone plate can also be a way to help you achieve your vision (whatever that might be) or just maybe, zone plates help you discover a new path to greater creativity.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
(See the Resources section for more Zone Plate info) 71
Shooting 35mm Film in Your Holga
Shooting 35mm ﬁlm in a Holga is a fairly easy adventure and you’ll get some wonderful looking negatives also. Some people call it sprocket hole or panoramic photography. When I say sprocket hole, you can see why in the example photo. The entire ﬁlm piece, including the sprocket holes, is exposed.
Variety Gas by C. Gary Moyer
The easiest way to get started is to ﬁnd some foam pieces to keep the ﬁlm canister from moving. Place one piece above and one below to keep the ﬁlm can from moving. Pull the ﬁlm leader over to the 120 spool on the take up side and wind onto the spool. You need to tape up the ﬁlm window on your Holga back door with some gaffers tape to prevent light leaks. Remember, 120 ﬁlm has a paper backing, 35mm doesn’t. Its very important to get a good light seal on the back door. I also use a thin layer of foam on the inside of the back door to keep the ﬁlm ﬂatly in place. Put your door back on the camera and advance your ﬁlm approximately 2 revolutions on the take up wheel. You may also want to tape up your camera’s seams at this time, as most Holgas are prone to light leaks. You’re now ready to shoot. After each exposure, you can advance the ﬁlm by turning the ﬁlm advance wheel. If you don’t want your exposures to overlap, you need to turn it at least 1.5 times. I personally like to use at least 1.75 turns for the ﬁrst 4 frames, then I go to 1.5 for the rest of the roll. The reason for this is the spacing will change, as the ﬁlm gets thicker on the take up spool. The ﬁrst 4 frames need a little more advancement than the rest of the roll. You can get anywhere from 12-16 exposures, depending on the ﬁlm winding. Make sure to feel the ﬁlm tension, as you get closer to the end of the roll. You do not want to rip the ﬁlm out of the 35mm canister. When you’re done shooting, it’s now time to remove your ﬁlm. This is the tricky part; you need to do this in total darkness. If you have access to a darkroom, that’s ﬁne. If not, you must use a ﬁlm-changing bag. Place the camera inside the bag, remove the back and pull both the take spool and ﬁlm can out of the camera. You now must wind the ﬁlm back into the 35mm can by turning the spool that sticks out of the 35mm canister. Make sure the ﬁlm is all the way back inside of the can before removing from the changing-bag. You can get changing-bags at any decent camera shop, online camera store, or my favorite place – eBay. Now you can take your ﬁnished roll to your local lab or develop yourself if you prefer. If using a local lab, make sure to tell them not to cut your negatives. Their machines are not set up for the frame size that will be produced inside the Holga. Your exposed image on the negative will be about 2.25 inches long. I usually have the lab develop only, and then I scan
the negs at home. You may get a pro lab that can handle the larger negative length, but your local WalMart, etc. will have a hard time ﬁguring it out. I scan using a ﬂatbed that has a backlight that allows you to scan negs and slides, along with prints. Just use the medium format ﬁlm mask, to hold the ﬁlm during the scan. This is the fun part , you will now see that the ﬁlms sprocket holes are very much apart of your photo.
MODIFYING YOUR HOLGA, TO REWIND FILM, “IN CAMERA”
A few more simple modiﬁcations, can allow you to wind your ﬁlm in the camera without the need for a darkroom or changing bag. This is especially helpful when shooting plenty of ﬁlm when out in the ﬁeld. First thing you will need to do is grind down the two raised spool guides in the back of the camera. They are located on the bottom of the ﬁlm supply side (left side). You want this area to be ﬂat. You will need to buy a small piece of PVC SCH 40 (schedule 40) pipe. I bought mine at Home Depot, but any good hardware/ home center will carry this. You are only going to need a 5/8” piece of this pipe but you will probably have to buy a stock sized piece of several feet. Don’t worry though; the cost is under 3.00 for a 10 foot long section. Cut off the end of the pipe, a 5/8” long piece and sand down the edges so make it nice and smooth. Make sure you cut it nice and square. You want the piece to sit ﬂat and level in the camera. Now we can ﬁt the pipe piece into the camera. Place it on the left side and place a roll of 35mm ﬁlm with its outer spool side down onto the pipe. Take a piece of dense foam and wedge it on top of the 35mm ﬁlm can (see ﬁg. 1). Now you should have a nit tight ﬁt. Go ahead and use a pencil to mark around the pipe where it sits on the bottom of the camera. Remove the foam, ﬁlm, and pipe piece at this time. Where you made your pencil mark, is where you will glue the pipe. You can paint your PVC pipe piece at this point, ﬂat black, preferably. After the paint fig. 1 is dry, glue the pipe into place using a good expoxy made for plastics. After the glue is good and dry, go ahead and place the roll of ﬁlm back in to verify that all ﬁts well. We still need to drill a small hole in the bottom of the camera to allow a medium sized Phillips head screwdriver to ﬁt in. This needs to be drilled in the bottom of the Holga, so it comes right up thru the center of the glued in pipe piece. After you drill the hole, place a piece of black gaffers tape over it while shooting. The ﬁlm supply side of the camera is now complete. The next issue is going to be the ﬁlm advance wheel on the top of your Holga. There is a piece of spring steel inside of it that makes it click every time you advance the ﬁlm. What this does is keeps the wheel from turning backwards. If we want to rewind our ﬁlm we need to have this wheel loose enough to spin both ways. What I did here, was just to apply pressure and turn the ﬁlm wheel clockwise. Keep alternating the wheels direction, and soon you will loosen the spring steel inside. It may take a little time, but it will eventually free up to turn both ways. Once this is done, you can take a small piece of Velcro, the fuzzy side piece and place it in the bottom of the take up spool side (right side). This will keep an empty 120 roll spool in place and keep it from being loose. You could do the old trick of putting a piece of folded ﬁlm carton under the spool, but the adhesive backed Velcro piece is a better permanent solution. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, weather you rewind your ﬁlm in the camera or
do it in a changing bag, you have to seal the Holgas red ﬁlm window. I used black gaffers tape on the inside and outside of ﬁlm indicator ( red ) window. It also helps to place a small thin piece of foam on the inside back door to keep the ﬁlm tensioned properly (ﬁg. 2). Your camera is now ready to load. Place your 35mm ﬁlm can in place with its exposed spool side into the pipe. Put your top foam piece in place and make sure you have a snug ﬁt. Pull your ﬁlm leader over to the take up spool side (ﬁg. 3). It helps to bend the end of leader, maybe about a half inch worth of ﬁlm to a 90-degree angle. This will help when advancing the ﬁlm onto the spool at start up. Once the ﬁlm is started and looks good on the take up spool, close the ﬁlm back door. Tape up your Holga as you normally would at this time. Advance the ﬁlm wheel 2 turns and you are now ready to shoot. Advancing to the next picture is the same as pointed out in the begging of the article. Make sure you keep track and rotate the ﬁlm wheel at least 1.5 turns unless you want to make a continuous panorama or double exposure type photo. After you feel the tension of the ﬁlm is at the end of the ﬁlm can, its time to rewind.
To rewind your camera, you need to peel open the gaffers tape over the rewind hole in the cameras bottom. As always, you should do this in the shade or subdued light. This is common practice for any camera ﬁlm loading procedure. Place the Phillips head screw driver into the hole and engage the ﬁlm reel (ﬁg. 4). Rotate the screwdriver along with the ﬁlm advance wheel counter clockwise simultaneously. fig. 4 You will feel the ﬁlm moving back towards the can. Try to maintain the rewind of the screwdriver, and the ﬁlm wheel at the same pace. You do not want to rip your ﬁlm. When the ﬁlm is all the way back inside its can, you can now remove it from the camera. Process as normal or use a local lab. It is best to try a small stubby phillips head screwdriver on the ﬁlm can prior to loading, this will help you to understand how it ﬁts and works better. You could use a small wood dowel to rewind with also, if you notch the end of it to ﬁt the 35mm spool end.
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
C. GARY MOYER
When shooting without a meter, it’s handy to know the “sunny 16” rule of thumb: in bright sunlight, with the aperture set at f/16, the shutter speed should be the inverse of the ﬁlm speed for a “proper” exposure. For example, f/16 at 1/100 second should give good shadow and highlight detail with ASA 100 ﬁlm if the scene is sunny with distinct shadows. If there’s less light, you could increase the aperture a stop to f/11 (letting more light in), or decrease the shutter speed a stop to 1/50 (increasing the exposure time), or use ASA 200 ﬁlm (which exposes a stop faster). Toy cameras have limited apertures and shutter speed choices; they can vary from camera to camera and even shot to shot. Many toycameras have a tendency to underexpose by a stop or two, so it’s a good thing that negative (print) ﬁlms have a wide exposure latitude—they do pretty well even when under or overexposed a little. Sunny 16 is just an anchor point to match exposure settings to light conditions. A chart like the one below can help you guess how a shot may turn out in different lighting conditions. At the top choose an aperture and shutter speed combination (whichever is closest to what you can ﬁnd out about your toycam). Each ﬁlm speed in that column should work well in the lighting condition at the left. Adjust as needed.
Apertures f/8 f/5.6 f/4 Lighting conditions lit indoors, city lights (EV 6) stage, arena (EV 7) ﬁrelight, bright indoors (EV 8) neon lights, deep forest (EV 9) deep shade, sunsets (EV 10) dark overcast (EV 11) overcast, no shadows (EV 12) cloudy, soft shadows (EV 13) hazy bright (EV 14) bright sunny (EV 15) bright snow/sand (EV 16) Bright studio lighting (EV 17) 3200 1600 800 400 200 100 50 25 3200 1600 800 400 200 100 50 25 f/11 f/8 f/5.6 f/16 f/11 f/8 f/22 f/16 f/11 f/32 f/22 f/16
Shutter speed 1/30 1/60 1/125
3200 1600 800 400 200 100 50 25
3200 1600 800 400 200 100 50 25
3200 1600 800 400 200 100 50 25
The “EV” in the table refers to Exposure Value, which is a measure of light given to all combinations of camera shutter speed and aperture that give the same exposure.
CHART AND TEXT BY
Filters on Your Toys
Many toy cameras can beneﬁt from the use of ﬁlters, especially for black & white photography. The chart below is a list of the most common of available ﬁlters, their effect on the image, and the “ﬁlter factor” - or the amount of exposure you must add when using the listed ﬁlter. By consulting this chart and the estimation chart on the previous page, you can quickly and easily calculate a given ﬁlter’s effect on the exposure. Filter No.
#6 (K1) #8 (K2) #9 (K3) #12 #15 (G) #21 #11 (X1) #13 #58
+2/3 stop +2/3 - +1 stop +1 stop +1 1/3 stops +1 1/3 stops +2 1/3 stops +1 2/3 stops +2 1/3 stops +2 2/3 stops
Comments (for black & white ﬁlm unless noted)
Yellow ﬁlters darken blue skies and shadows illuminated by blue skylight. The #8 ﬁlter is generally considered to be a correction ﬁlter, providing a “normal” rendition of colors on b&w ﬁlms, especially in scenes with dominating blues, like bright days and marine scenes. Deeper yellow ﬁlters are also called “minus blue” ﬁlters and will progressively lessen blue light striking the ﬁlm resulting in much darker skies, and sky-lit shadows. For “black water” effect, try a #15, which also absorbs a small amount of green light. Yellow-green to green ﬁlters darken skies and blue as well as red subjects and in turn lighten foliage somewhat. Try a #11 ﬁlter on outdoor portraits to deliver naturalistic skin tones. The #11 is also considered a correction ﬁlter for b&w ﬁlms under tungsten light. The #58 ﬁlter will lighten foliage - not quite the “white leaf” effect of infrared ﬁlms, but as close as you’re likely to get on normal b&w ﬁlms. These yellowish-orange ﬁlters are used to correct the blue cast of tungsten ﬁlms used when used in daylight situations. Red ﬁlters signiﬁcantly darken blue skies (try a #29 for almost black) and sky-lit scenes, as well as reducing haze in landscape scenes. The #25 and #29 especially produce very strong contrast effects. Blue ﬁlters lighten skies and darkens green foliage and trees, as well as exaggerating atmospheric effects like haze. To correct for daylight color ﬁlm under tungsten light, use the #80A or #80B depending on the amount of correction required. Polarizers eliminate reﬂections from water and nonmetallic surfaces, and depending on the angle of the sun, can also darken skies. Especially useful when ﬁlter can be held to eye and rotated to optimize effect. ND ﬁlters reduce light based on their density. Available in .1 increments, each .1 reduces exposure by 1/3 stop. The .3 = 1 stop, .6 = 2 stops, etc. Extremely useful to toy camera users who are continually forced to deal with numerous lighting situations, one ﬁlm speed and limited shutter speeds. For example, 800 ASA ﬁlm loaded for evening shooting can be used in bright daylight with the use of a .6 ND ﬁlter
#81B #85B #23a #25 (A) #29 (F) #47 (C5) #47B #80A #80B Polarizer
+2/3 stop +2/3 stop +2 2/3 stops +3 stops +4 stops +2 2/3 stops +3 stops +1 1/3 stops +1 stop +1 1/3 stops
Neutral Density Filters
Filters are available in a wide range of sizes, and with stepping rings and adapters, or even the clever application of a little adhesive, it is likely you can ﬁnd a workable solution for your camera. If you have a Holga, for example, you can attach a 46mm adapter or stepping ring right to the barrel of the lens simply by screwing it into the plastic barrel. Toycamera.com member “FarmerSteve” notes that vintage Polaroid slip-on ﬁlters slip right onto a Diana as if they were made for that purpose! And toycamera.com’s Mike Barnes notes that Kodak Series VI push-on adapters can readily ﬁt the Diana lens.
CHART AND TEXT BY
“Deep Fried Mushrooms” by Stephanie Parke
Yes, ﬁlm! These days, with the deluge of pocket-sized, umpteen megapixel, obsolete-onpurchase, digital point-and-shoots, it’s easy to forget that ﬁlm has been around since the 1880s. It’s possibly even more difﬁcult for some to believe that ﬁlm is still manufactured in some volume, and, in fact, NEW types of ﬁlm are being produced every year. Sure, ﬁlm companies have been experiencing the pinch of digital over the past couple of years, but digital technology has yet to kill things like pencils, pens and paint - so we toy camera fans rest easy with the conﬁdence that ﬁlm will be manufactured well into the future. If you’re new to toy cameras, you might be shocked to learn that many toys shoot ﬁlms other than that Kodak 400 Gold that you can get at your local convenience store. But after reading the helpful articles in this chapter, you’ll be speaking in numbers like many of us have been doing for years – 120, 127, 620. These are numbers you’re bound to become very familiar with as you get deeper into toys. Many shooters live in parts of the world where these ﬁlms may be hard to ﬁnd, but with the Internet at our disposal, buying even the most esoteric brands and sizes is but a few clicks away. However, unlike our digital photographer counterparts, we can’t just pop out a roll of ﬁlm and stick it in a card reader to transfer the photos to our computers for tweaking and sharing. We have to get it processed. Some of us go straight to our local lab, while others prefer to get our hands dirty (and smelly) processing our own. Processed ﬁlm is still a few steps away from actual photos. If you have a darkroom, bless you and your extra space – you can print your own. Or maybe you are a digital hybrid, shooting ﬁlm and scanning the negatives. Regardless of your knowledge of all of these processes, this chapter is here to help. Everything is laid out for you – from choosing ﬁlm, to processing and printing, and ﬁnally, a short primer on scanning for best results. Read on! And smile knowingly the next time your friend tries to check the back of your Holga to see what you just shot.
Chart of Available Films
COST: $2.50 & up PROS: • easy loading • fog prevention • many inexpensive cameras available • exaggerated grain NEG SIZE: 13mm x 17mm CONS: • exaggerated grain • harder to ﬁnd • limited emulsions • tiny neg size SHORT FACTS: 110 was created in 1972 to ﬁt Kodak’s new “pocket” instamatic cameras. Though ﬁlm is still in production, it is a dying breed
COST: $0.99 & up PROS: • cheap • any/all emulsions available • process anywhere
NEG SIZE: 24mm x 36mm CONS: • smaller negs • technical errors magniﬁed • laziness SHORT FACTS: Originally created in 1889 by Edison as movie ﬁlm by splitting 70mm stock and adding 4 round perforations per frame.
COST: $4.50 & up
NEG SIZE: 28mm x 28mm (26.5mm x 26.5mm processed) CONS: • smaller negs • only one emulsion currently manufactured • often must be special-ordered SHORT FACTS: 126 is the ugly twin of 828-Bantam ﬁlm which used spools instead of cartridges. It is the same width as 35mm ﬁlm.
PROS: • easy loading • fog prevention • many cheap cameras to ﬁnd, some very high quality
COST: $5.00 & up PROS: • medium neg size • can be used with many “high end” cameras • SUPERSLIDES!
NEG SIZE: 40mm x 30mm, 40mm or 65mm CONS: • few emulsions available unless you want to cut & respool your favorite ﬁlm SHORT FACTS: 127 was created as a cheaper alternative to 120 and 35mm. Millions of 127 cameras were made between 1912 and the mid-60s.
COST: $3.00 & up PROS: • over twice the ﬁlm size of 35mm • many emulsions, commonly available • local processing possible
NEG SIZE: 60mm x 45mm, 60mm, 70mm, 90mm & up CONS: • requires careful handling to prevent fogging at ﬁlm edge SHORT FACTS: 620 is the same as 120 except for smaller spools. Some 620 cameras can accept 120 ﬁlm without respooling
While shopping for classic toy cameras it’s easy to ﬁnd some cool vintage cameras as well. You’ll ﬁnd that many of these cameras use readily available 35mm or 120 ﬁlms, but if you ﬁnd a camera you really like and don’t recognize the ﬁlm it accepts, the here are the basics: Larger than 120 ﬁlms like 116, 118, 122, & 123 are common sizes seen. Many of these cameras can be modiﬁed to take 120 ﬁlm to make single image panoramics. Agfa Rapid: This is a 35mm reloadable ﬁlm casette. You will need 2 in your camera to make it work. Disc: Remember these?? Don’t bother. The only ﬁlm available is OLD and very costly to develop. BUYING FILM If your toy camera accepts 35mm or 110 ﬁlm, you’re in luck, because despite the popular trends, these types of ﬁlms are still made and you can often buy the type of emulsion you desire at your local drug store or big-box retailer. 120 ﬁlms are typically only found in camera shops and “pro” labs, but are readily available from camera superstores like B&H, Adorama, Sammy’s and the like. A quick online scan reveals that 110, 127, 620 and 828 are still being manufactured by companies like Fujiﬁlm and Kodak and are readily available. Further searching reveals several “boutique” companies are still importing and/or producing a wide range of “odd” ﬁlms. In the United States, three companies in particular maintain active websites and provide a number of sizes and emulsions to ﬁt your toy camera: • J and C Photographic: www.jandcphoto.com • Film for Classics: www.ﬁlmforclassics.com • The Frugal Photographer: www.frugalphotographer.com PROCESSING FILM If you have trouble convincing your local lab to process your ﬁlm, especially the odd sized ﬁlm, you’ll ﬁnd that the websites listed above either process ﬁlm themselves, or have labs that they will refer you to for easy processing (even disc ﬁlm!). Real toy camera purists process their own B&W ﬁlms. Read on for easy-to-follow tips for home processing. It saves tons of money, and many folks report that it’s extremely rewarding!
ERIKA CHISHOLM & DAVE BIAS
CHART AND TEXT BY
A Conspectus Of Heterogeneous Thermoplastic Resins Coated With Various Photosensitive Emulsions
So you’ve decided on a Holga. An excellent choice to start with. But if you are accustomed to the consumer driven market of 35mm ﬁlm, then now is a excellent time to consider your choices of ﬁlm to start shooting with. Basically, you can’t just run to the drug store and mindlessly pick up a roll of Storebrand Super 200 because it’s cheap and quick (...well you can with some mods, but that’s another article). Since many toy cameras have limited or no aperature and shutter settings then your choice of ﬁlm is a main variable that you can control. With speeds ranging from 25 to 3200, how could one go wrong? Hmm... Well, actually, it’s pretty easy to blunder it up. Shooting in deep shade with 100 speed ﬁlm barely showed up on my negs... Heck, I forgot about a shot until used a loupe. So, while there is no perfect ﬁlm speed for your new toy a good starting point for your ﬁrst test run would probably be 400 speed ﬁlm. The old rule of thumb used to be, “the faster the ﬁlm speed, the larger the grain would be”. Since much of this remains true it doesn’t have to be the case, even with a fast ﬁlm like ISO 400. “Why?” you may ask. Tubular grain technology. Ever since Kodak introduced it’s line of T grained ﬁlms in 1988 ﬁlm manufacturers have been been trying to reduce the amount of grain while increasing ﬁlm speed. While this may seem like a win/win scenario, using these ﬁlms sacrﬁces tonal gradiations and highlight detail. The truth is, the reason why we love toy cameras, is the amount of experimenting involved to make our shots look good. It’s best to buy a few differnt rolls and have F.U.N. Here is a short list of ﬁlms worth trying: Kodak Tri-X: This forgiving emulsion is great for beginers learning how to develop their own ﬁlm. It is not as adversely affected to developmental changes such as time and temperature as T-grained ﬁlms. Lucky: Even though Kodak had tinkered with the original emulsion, Lucky ﬁlms are still produced on a clear base and can provide interesting results. Efke: This is single layer silver rich emulsion based on the old Adox formulas of years past. These ﬁlms are reputed to have better exposure latitude and can easily push twice or quaduple their stated ISO. Care must be used however, with pyro (staining) developers so that one doesn’t get developmental fog. Fuji Acros: This ﬁlm has an unusually low reprocity failure and can be used in low lighting or night photography without having to multiply exposure time until 30 sec. Kodak HIE: This Infrared ﬁlm can “see” a greater amount of the infrared spectrum than any other. Remember to load and unload in total darkness, and to tape your camera like heck. Kodak UC: This ﬁlm has even more saturation than the Portra VC line and has the people who use color ﬁlm all giddy. So, what are you going to buy??
Introduction To Development and Printing
Glossary of Negative Development Terms
Latent Image This is the ‘negative’ image you have recorded invisibly upon your ﬁlm when a picture is taken. The ‘latent’ image will form image silver when developed, but otherwise there is no perceptible change. Portions of ﬁlm exposed to a lot of light, (highlight areas or ‘overexposed’ areas). Portions of ﬁlm exposed to small amounts of light, (shadow areas or ‘underexposed’ areas). Examination of a negative with a magniﬁer reveals an image composed of grains; this grain structure varies from ﬁlm-to-ﬁlm and with different developers (but typically the slower ﬁlms have ﬁner grain, and the faster ﬁlms have larger grain).
High Density Areas Low Density Areas Grain Size
Negative Developing Overview
Before we start, it is good to realize that roughly the same chemical processes are applied to the processing of both negatives and prints. The variety of ﬁlms and developers are staggering, so the best way to learn is to stick with one ﬁlm type and one developer for a while until your results are consistent and satisfactory. Then try a faster ﬁlm or a slower ﬁlm with the same developer and you should see differences in the contrast and grain, etc. Then maybe change your developer and see how the results differ, and so on. Through these learning & development stages, you should keep notes to assist in being able to duplicate what was successful, and to avoid what was not. When you are ready to develop your negatives, they have to be handled in a ‘dry area’, with complete darkness. This means you need a little practice on how to load your ﬁlm into a developing tank in the dark. A practice roll, loaded in daylight a few times, is recommended.
Glossary of Tank Handling Terms
Stock Solution Working Solution Agitation Under-ﬁx Your chemicals before they have been diluted for use in developing, ﬁxing, etc. The stuff straight from the bottle or bag. Chemistry that has been prepared (diluted etc.) to proper strength for developing, ﬁxing, etc. The proper manner of handling chemistry during development and ﬁxing, etc. To use a ﬁxer that has been ‘exhausted’ by overuse, or to not ﬁx properly. This means your negatives will deteriorate over time. A few years later and your negatives will be showing stains or fading, which is a sad thing.
To start, you will need: • Your exposed ﬁlm (or one to practice with) • Developing tank and reels • Completely dark room or light-safe bag
• Can opener • Scissors Plastic tanks are sometimes viewed as easier to use than stainless-steel tanks, and they are also cheaper. Though stainless is often considered more robust, it costs considerably more. Plastic is therefore a great way to start into the process, without the higher costs. Once your negatives are loaded into the developing tank you will head to the ‘wet area’, somewhere where there is running water. When the negatives are safely in the tank, to process them will need: • Negative developer • Stop bath • Fixer • Hypoclear (or Permawash) • Photoﬂo To assist in the processing, tools you will also need include: • Thermometer • At least two graduated containers • Negative washer • Timer Check your chosen developer speciﬁcations for recommended temperature, and development times. These will vary depending on your materials, and desired results. After bringing your working developer to the proper temperature and setting the timer, you will then need to have each chemical prepared and checked in advance of the appropriate step, because timing is critical during developer, stop, and ﬁxing stages.
Step One - Quickly pour developer into tank, replace cap, start timer, and agitate irregularly for the ﬁrst 30 seconds, knock tank ﬁrmly down (to remove possible bubbles), and watch your timer. For the remainder of the development time, set tank down for 25 seconds, agitate for ﬁve seconds. Repeat this short sequence until the developing time is up, and then quickly pour the developer out into an appropriate container, and move to Step Two. This step is where the latent image is brought into existence on the negative. Step Two - Quickly pour working stop bath, replace cap, and agitate continuously for 30 seconds, quickly pour into appropriate container and move to Step Three. The stop bath arrests the further development of the negatives. Step Three - Quickly pour working ﬁx solution, replace cap, agitate continuously for recommended times. Generally three to ﬁve minutes is sufﬁcient for most ﬁlms, and six to eight minutes for Kodak’s T-Max series ﬁlms. Pour ﬁxer out into appropriate container and move onto Step Four. The ﬁxing process is designed to ensure the negatives are stabilized for handling and long life. Step Four - The negatives can now be safely handled under normal light!!! Open developing tank, and wash negative under running water or in negative washer for approximately one minute. Step Five - Pour working Hypoclear solution (or Permawash) into developing tank, replace cap, agitate continuously one to two minutes (as recommended) empty solution into
appropriate container. Step Six - Return to running water, and wash for approximately ﬁve minutes. Prepare Photoﬂo working solution. Step Seven - Pour Photoﬂo working solution into tank, you need only agitate a little, after 30 seconds drain the ﬁlm over the sink or onto paper towels. The last steps are designed to put a ﬁnal ﬁnish on your negatives, and minimize things like spots and watermarks. Step Eight - Carefully take negatives off the roll and hang to dry in space provided, preferably warm, dry and dust free. Allow ﬁlm to completely dry (probably three to ﬁve hours) before cutting your negatives into strips and putting them into the negative sleeves available from photographic supply stores. These steps will all become second nature to you after developing a few rolls of ﬁlm, so have no worries if it didn’t work out perfectly the ﬁrst time. Try, try again, and remember to keep taking pictures. All the time.
Glossary of Paper Terms
Resin Coated (RC) Paper Fiber Paper is a low-cost petroleum-based photo paper.
is a more expensive, high quality, paper-based photo paper. Often used for archival, higher cost prints for galleries or sales.
Summary: RC paper is best for contact sheets and prints until you are doing ﬁne printing. Once you begin to make prints that will be important to you, you may choose to use ﬁber-paper because it is more archival, meaning it will last longer without fading or any noticeable change in the image, additionally it also has some other subtler advantages, such as enhanced tones and contrast.
Printing to Paper Overview
Once your negatives have been dried thoroughly and you have cut them into strips, and placed the negatives into sleeves you are ready to move into the darkroom... To set up a home darkroom, you will require a unique solution depending on what kind of space you have to work with. Ideally, you will be able to outﬁt your darkroom with a large shallow sink and some dry counter space, or tables for your enlarger and supplies to rest on. Assuming you have a darkroom, we can then get into printing our negatives. Or interrupt the wet processes here, and move onto scanning and the digital process. But who wants that? Point One - Take a look at the sink, trays and tongs and clean if necessary. Always better to be safe and rinse the trays and tongs because any contamination can possibly stain your prints. Point Two - Set out four clean trays. And set up chemicals running A, B, C, D away from the enlarger. These should be: A - Paper developer (not negative developer) B - Stop bath C - Fixer D - Fresh water (preferably running water) Remember!! One set of clean tongs for each of the different trays, as mixing the tongs and processes can result in unsightly chemical marks on your prints. Black-and-white photo paper is not sensitive to the red or amber spectrum of light so you
will need to have a safelight on in the darkroom. You will also need your negatives in their sleeve, one piece of printing paper, a piece of glass or a contact printer. Get to know your enlarger and timer, etc. Turn on the lamp and raise the head so the light covers enough area on the base of the enlarger to cover a sheet of 8x10 paper then turn off the lamp.
Step One - Take out one sheet of paper and close your paper package securely, place the sheet of paper inside the area where the light from the enlarger will fall, place your negatives directly on top of the paper and then place the clean glass directly on top of the negatives. Step Two - Set the aperture on the enlarger to f11 and the timer to 10 seconds (this recommendation is simply a guess, but a decent guess and you can make adjustments if the contact sheet is too light or too dark) and using the timer, expose the paper. Step Three - After exposure, place the paper into the developer continuously agitating the contact sheet using the tongs provided. Your images should appear after 20 or 30 seconds but the idea is to let the paper develop for up to two minutes or longer so the blacks get good and black. Then carefully pick up the print using tongs and allow the excess developer to run back into the developer tray and move the print into the stop bath. Step Four - In the stop bath, use tongs to agitate for at least 30 seconds, remove, drain excess and place print into the ﬁxer. Step Five - Using tongs, agitate in the ﬁxer for three minutes, remove, drain excess and place into the fresh water tray. Remember to agitate your prints and contact sheets while they are in the ﬁxer. At the end of your darkroom session you will want to thoroughly wash your contact sheets and/or prints for at least ﬁve minutes. Prepare a Hypoclear bath and agitate the contact sheets and prints all at once for at least two minutes and then a second wash of ﬁve minutes are recommended for RC papers, but a longer wash for ﬁber based papers is necessary. Squeegee the print and place on a drying rack or hang to dry. Then clean up after yourself.
Photographic Printing Worksheet
Comment on Contrast. There are two types of photo paper generally available. 1) Variable Contrast paper is recommended initially, which can be both high-contrast and low-contrast and this is determined by use of ﬁlters (available in the studio darkroom), and 2) Graded Paper, which comes in grades typically from 1-5 (1 is the lowest contrast and 5 is the highest). If you are using a condenser enlarger with a conventional tungsten bulb and condenser optics, the light is sharply focused providing an accurate print exposure with sharp focus and normal to high-normal contrast. Another common enlarger system you may encounter elsewhere is the diffuser enlarger or cold light system where the light source is behind a diffusion screen or ﬁlter. The diffused light in this system tends to have a softer more even effect on your printing, with slightly lower contrast. The differences will seem fairly subtle to you initially but one day you may have a preference. What you will need to print: • Enlarger
• Negative carrier • Trays, tongs, etc Tools you will need to assist you include: • Dust brush or compressed air • Printing easel • Grain focuser Pick a darkroom and set up your trays and chemistry just as you have for printing contact sheets: developer, stop, ﬁxer and fresh or running water. And again, always better to be safe and rinse the trays and tongs before and after use because contamination will stain your prints. After you have examined your contact sheet and negatives to determine which image you want to print. Take the negative strip out of the negative sleeve, handling it by the edges as always and place it in the negative carrier so the correct viewing side faces upward. You will notice that the image will be upside down on the platen. Before putting the negative carrier into the enlarger, give it a quick glance close up to see if there is dust and use the small airbrush to gently remove dust, eyelashes, etc. because those little specks become big specks in your print. You will be able to ‘spot’ or retouch dust specks in your ﬁnished prints but it is easier all the way around if you clean the negative as well as possible before printing. And you are ready to go: • Place the negative carrier into the enlarger. • Place the printing easel on the base of enlarger. • Turn out the lights. • Put the timer on ‘focus’ or ‘f’. • Adjust height of the enlarger so that the image size is about the size you want. • Place the grain focuser on the printing easel to aid with focusing your picture. This takes a little practice but as you adjust the focus knob you should be able to see the grain move in and out of focus through the grain focuser. It is a helpful tool and only a little tricky. • Once the image is focused and centered on the easel. Turn the timer off of focus, and back to ‘timer’ or ‘t’ which shuts off the light until you are ready to expose your test strip • Take one sheet of photo paper from the package and tear it or cut it into smaller squares. Quarters or sixths will do nicely. Place on strip on the easel and return the other to your paper package and close it securely. • My recommendation for the test strip exposure is again simply a guess and you may want to change your guess as you get used to the enlarger: • Use a #2 ﬁlter for average exposure. • aperture of f11. • timer set to 10 secs. • Expose your test strip and then place it into the developer continuously agitating using tongs. Your image should appear after 20 or 30 seconds but the idea is to let the paper develop for one to two minutes so the blacks get good and black. • Stop bath for 30 seconds, agitating throughout. • Fixer for at least three minutes but after one minute you may turn on the lights and take a look at your test print. Assessing Your Test Strip: • If your test strip is too dark, you can either shorten your exposure time or go to a smaller aperture. • If your test strip is too light you may increase your exposure time or go to a larger aperture. • If your strip appears to have too much contrast then you can use a lower number ﬁlter.
• If your strip appears to have too little contrast then you can use a higher number ﬁlter. CAUTION: When you change ﬁlters you are likely going to change your correct exposure time so while you are getting used to printing it makes sense to make your contrast corrections ﬁrst and then make another test strip for exposure time. Okay, it may take two, three or more test strips before your strip looks really good to you but once you have something you like then you use the same ﬁlter and exposure time to make your ﬁrst print. This print will probably not be perfect but you should only have to make small adjustments to get a print that you’ll like. But keep at it, as this is really the good part. And remember, test strips and bad prints make great postcards or journal stuff. At the end of your darkroom session you will want to thoroughly wash your contact sheets and/or prints for at least ﬁve minutes. Prepare a Hypoclear bath and agitate the contact sheets and prints all at once for at least two minutes and then a second wash of ﬁve minutes are recommended for RC papers, but a longer wash for ﬁber based papers is necessary (up to 30 minutes or longer). There are archival washers available, which may be used instead of washing, rinsing, interleaving prints by hand. Squeegee the print and place on a drying rack or hang to dry. Then clean up after yourself.
A Nickel’s Worth of Knowledge
Okay... you have the basic ﬁlm developing and darkroom skills... So, here are a few extras, which will surely be of use at some time, if not the too distant future Burning - A printing technique whereby added exposure is given to certain area of the print so that a highlight might be made printable, or a gray area darker, etc. (sort of the opposite of dodging). Dodging - A printing technique whereby less exposure is given to a certain area of the print so that a shadow area might be lightened, or a gray area lighter, etc. (sort of the opposite of burning). You can do some of your burning and dodging by just using your hands but you can also make tools from cardboard or wire with a little piece of tape or paper. It doesn’t matter so long as it works for you. There are kits too, but it is really not necessary to buy what can so easily be made. Archival - A term given to a photographic print that has been developed & processed to archival standards. Properly handled and washed thoroughly, a print should last for hundreds of years. ‘Incomplete ﬁxing’ is a common cause for deterioration. If the ﬁxer has become exhausted or a print was not agitated thoroughly in the ﬁx then silver halides will be left in the emulsion and these will eventually discolor. A ﬁber print has to be washed in an archival washer for as long as forty minutes or by continuously interleaving the prints in fresh running water for the same amount of time in order to meet archival standards. Selenium toning is recommended by some to ensure more archival results. Follow the directions accompanying the toner. A subtle shift in the color of the print will take place as well. A drawback is that selenium is a heavy metal and quite toxic to water systems and ecosystems. Toners - Selenium toner does have the advantage of stabilizing the print but it is only one
option and certainly not the most dramatic toner in terms of color shift. Sepia toner is another popular toner and creates an old ‘antique’ feeling photograph with warm brown tones. It is a two part toner that requires a bleach bath (Part A) and a toner bath (Part B). Note: Always Hypoclear and wash your prints thoroughly before toning because the extra steps and different chemistry will inevitably stain your pictures if not handled properly. Also, ﬁber prints will generally tone with better results than RC paper. Berg toners are available in a variety of different colors. They should be handled according to manufacturer’s recommendations but you may be able to tone your prints blue, red, brown, silver, etc. Split toning occurs sometimes with variable contrast paper or when you only tone your prints slightly. This split occurs when the highlights respond to the toning while the darker areas do not, or vice versa, giving two different colors to the ﬁnal print. Otherwise, the most important thing is practice. You will gain more control over printing and handling the contrast of prints with time. And there are different developers and papers, which will all have different effects upon your ﬁnished print. So, keep at it.
Here are a few small items that will compliment the materials already mentioned: Cooperation - Sharing a darkroom with other students and various nomads is an often challenging undertaking... Sometimes prints can walk off or get stained, torn, stuck together or otherwise mishandled. There is no need to be paranoid, but remember to take care of your stuff, take care of ﬁlm or pictures soon after they have dried and be careful with the work of others, etc. Compressed Air - For blowing the dust off of your negatives (there are a couple of varieties out there, available at most professional photo supply stores). Negative Cleaner - or Film Cleaner, should be obvious. Anti Static Cloth - or Non Scratch Cloth, to be used with the ﬁlm cleaner to take stains and stubborn dust off your negatives. Spotting Brush - A very ﬁne ﬁber brush. Spotone - In the color that matches your photographs. There are an endless number of things you could fool around with, time and money allowing. You might consider trying a variety of paper developer and toners. There are some interesting developers to play with which can yield results ranging from subtle to dramatic. You can get developers, which offer lower contrast, warmer tones, etc. Good reference material for further learning include: Photography, by Barbara London & John Upton. Darkroom Handbook, by Michael Langsford. Three books from Ansel Adams are excellent for technical and practical information: The Camera The Negative The Print All of these are widely available, and in many libraries.
Developing to Get the Best From Your Toy Camera Negatives
With limited and often unpredictable shutter speeds and extremely limited aperture options, getting exposure right with toycameras can be a seemingly impossible task. If you are planning to make quality prints or scans from your toycamera shots, a negative that gives you correct contrast and detail from shadows to highlights is deﬁnitely called for, but how do you get this when using uncontrollable beasts like the holga or coronet 4x4 mkII? Choosing the correct ﬁlm is a good starting point – but it might not be practical for the toycamerateer-about-town to carry 3 or 4 different cameras to use in different light conditions. Therefore, we are left with proper development as a method of control. By increasing or decreasing development times, we can increase or decrease the contrast of the negative image. But, with different shots taken in different lighting conditions on each roll, what helps the low light shot could ruin the bright day light shot by blowing out all the highlights. So, what can be done? Compensation is the key. Developers work very vigorously in the highlights (densest areas of the negative) and much more slowly in the shadows (thinnest or lightest areas). Somehow we want to compensate this activity this so that both develop to their full potential for all shots on the roll. I suggest two methods of compensation in this guide. There are others including “waterbath” and “two bath” techniques, and a quick websearch will turn up a bounty of information on these if you wish to learn more about them.
Option 1: Dilute Developer and Stand Methods
Heavily diluting the developer forces it to run out of steam in the highlights too early, yet it carries on working hard in the shadow areas, so contrasty negatives are brought under control. You must be careful to agitate the ﬁlm just enough to keep development going, but not too much to overdevelop the highlights with this method. Also, development times are quite long and you’ll have to work these out for yourself – a good starting point is to add 20 - 30% more time for every time you halve the strength. Developers that work well with this are Ilford Perceptol (only go as far as 1:3 though) and Agfa Rodinal (which can be used at up to 1:100 and beyond). Stand method describes using long development times and very little or no agitation. This can be done using normal strengths or in combination with dilute developers and times often go beyond an hour. This is extremely useful for taming extremely contrasty negs (ideal for fast ﬁlms shot in very bright light). You will have to experiment for yourself as to what times and strengths to use.
Option 2: Using Tanning and Staining Developers
Now we are really into the esoteric world of magic potions, alchemy and the dark arts. In addition to reacting with the silver in ﬁlm, tanning developers also interact with ﬁlm’s gelatin base, hardening or “tanning” it. The harder these developers work on the ﬁlm emulsion, the more they harden the light sensitive emulsion, preventing further developer from getting in. This automatically inhibits overdevelopment in the highlight values during development and
allows the less active shadow areas to continue developing. In addition to this, the developer also stains the negative a brown to yellow-green colour. Like the tanning, this stain is greater where the developer works hardest so is more prominent in the highlights. The stain becomes an image forming density in the negative and this seems to hold much more detail in highlights than normal ﬁlm developers. Many of these developers were developed for large format photography and are too grainy and ﬁddly to use on smaller ﬁlm formats. Although they require a greater amount of care and precision than “standard” developers, there are several modern tanning and staining developers available now that are perfect for the job: 1. Pyrocat HD (available in USA from www.photoformulary.com and in Europe from www. lotusviewcamera.at ) 2. Prescyscol (available from www.monochromephotography.com) 3. DiXactol Ultra and Exactol Lux (available from www.monochromephotography.com or www.photoformualry.com)
So there you have it. Whether you test the effects of dilution and standing development or delve into the more mystical world of tanning and staining developers, you now have more control over your toycamera negatives and can reward yourself with some truly stellar results. I know this all sounds like LOADS of extra work but it really is worth the effort.
Before you begin...
• Make sure you keep your negs in archival quality negative sleeves in protective binders away from heat and other nasties. • Have at least a good lint-free lens cloth and possibly a can of compressed air. • Do not touch your negs or the glass of a ﬂatbed scanner with your ﬁngers, & save the powdered doughnut for later! • If working with Photoshop have your working color settings set up by selecting Edit>Color Settings. Check the advanced mode box. Set your RGB color space to “Adobe RGB 1998” and in the conversion options box have the engine set to “Adobe” and intent set to “perceptual”.
You might want to...
• Wipe down the scanning glass with your lens cloth and blow away any dust from the negative carrier and your negative or print. • Scan your negs directly into your image editing software by selecting File>Import>(your scanner). • Select the appropriate type of scanning mode with the largest available preview. Selecting a “thumbnail” or “quick” preview may prevent you from scanning those beautiful edges. • Many people scan the largest available resolution possible. While your computer may not be able to handle such a large ﬁle size, scan at least the largest size and resolution that you will be printing. • While not ultra necessary, it helps to have your scanner calibrated to scan with closest color to match your printer. • Keep an original unretouched scan as well as your retouched color corrected scan as backup copies.
• Familiarize yourself with your scanning and image editing software. This could save you from future headaches and redos. • Use your image editing software to prduce optimum prints just as you would in a conventional darkroom.
• Use your image editing software for evil by using heavy manipulations and claiming it to be a genuine (or unaltered) toy photograph.
Thinking in Pixels
“At what dpi should I scan?” “At what percentage?” “My software says ppi and not dpi, what’s that mean?” “What is screen resolution?” “What is print resolution?” “How do I make the best scan?” These are questions I’ve heard many times. And while there’s no deﬁnitive, completely foolproof answer - I hope that this article will at least clarify many of the terms and provide you some tips so that you can use your scanner to its fullest. For any of you out there that already have your own way of scanning and resizing your images, I encourage you to quit reading and keep using whatever method you’ve developed that works for you. But for those of you who are just a tad perplexed by the various settings in your scanning software, and even more so once you have the ﬁle in Photoshop, I offer the following tips that may help you to “think in pixels.” In addition, I offer some tips about your scanning software and Photoshop that will help you achieve the best-possible scan from your negatives or prints. DPI/PPI: There are two abbreviations that are used interchangeably these days - DPI and PPI. DPI, or dots per inch, and PPI, or pixels per inch, are for all intents and purposes the exact same thing with respect to your digitally scanned image. Both DPI and PPI are a measure of density. The higher the number, the greater density of information in your ﬁle. But please note: don’t let your printer’s DPI rating throw you. Your printer’s dots are different than a scanned ﬁle’s dots. In other words, scanning a ﬁle at 2400dpi and printing it on your 4800dpi printer simply does not mean anything - they’re apples and oranges, so to speak. PERCENTAGE: Most scanner software offers various percentages at which you can scan your ﬁle. Percentage in this case is a measure of the “physical” size of the ﬁnal scan. For example, at 100%, a Holga neg would scan in at roughly 2.25”x2.25” (6x6cm). A 35mm negative scanned at 100% would be 36mm by 24mm. As I’ll explain further, I recommend you set this at 100% and forget about it. RESOLUTION: This is probably the most difﬁcult term to nail down, because the same term is often used to describe a number of different things. Your screen resolution, your printer resolution, the resolution of that .jpg ﬁle you posted... But when you’re talking about scanned images, resolution is for all practical purposes the same as the dpi/ppi measurement. SCREEN/PRINT RESOLUTION: Screen resolution for most personal computer monitors, TVs and other video devices is 72dpi. Some PC users may cry foul and say, “Mine is 96dpi!” and while that is true for the output from the video card, if you’re using a CRT, the resolution is 72dpi... For many “consumer” inkjet printers, a perfectly acceptible print can be made from a ﬁle that is 150dpi, although 200-400dpi may be best for your speciﬁc printer. For example, the Epson 2200 makes the best prints from 360dpi ﬁles (thanks Susan B!). And ﬁnally, for most professional printers of magazines, packaging and books - commonly called offset printing - 300dpi is the standard resolution of a ﬁle that is acceptible. There are exceptions to all of these - for example, ﬁne art books and prints are often made at 400+ dpi for offset printing - so please consider these numbers as a rule of thumb, and not the gospel truth. DPI/PPI and PERCENT size are related in that together they determine the TOTAL NUMBER OF PIXELS in your ﬁnal scan. So in order to make sense of this chaos, it is quite simply easiest to think in terms of number of pixels. The total number of pixels in your ﬁle determines how it can best be presented - on the web, inkjet printed or offset printed.
To illustrate the inter-relationship between DPI, percentage and the various resolutions, I offer this example (please pardon my American usage of inches): If you scan a 2.25” square negative at 100% and 72dpi - you get a 162px by 162px image (2.25 inches multiplied by 72 pixels per inch). Scan the same neg at 100% and 3200dpi, you get a 7200px square image (2.25x3200). Photoshop will report both images at 2.25x2.25in. (because they were scanned at 100%), but the the pixel sizes are obviously drastically different. In this example, the ﬁrst image would be best utilized on the web, and would not make a very good inkjet or offset print. However, your 7200x7200px image would be would be more than adequate for 300dpi offset printing. In fact, it would print at 24” square at a professional outputter (7200/300=24). Further, your 7200px scan is going to be inkjet printed at 36” square if you size the ﬁle to 200dpi (7200/200=36), or a whopping 48” square when sized at 150dpi (7200/150=48). In this example, I hope that you can clearly see the relationship between total number of pixels and the physical size at which your image will print in various media. If you can do this relatively easy math, you’ll never be in the dark again about what size your ﬁnal image will be, because now you’re thinking in pixels.
YOUR SCANNER SOFTWARE
So what are the best settings to use when I make a scan? When you scan a ﬁle on MOST scanners, go with the highest resolution at which the hardware (not the software) is rated - say 2400 or 4000 dpi - and keep the percentage at 100%. This is typically the best-possible scan... If you scan at a dpi setting higher than your scanner is rated, OR at the highest hardware dpi AND a percentage higher than 100%, the scanner will resort to software to “make up” (interpolate) the information. This can often result in a lack of sharpness since the software is making up extra info by implementing a scaling algorithm. However, some software packages are better than others, so some experimentation with this would be prudent.
SPEAKING OF PHOTOSHOP...
Armed with your new knowledge, the Image Size menu item in Photoshop takes on a whole new meaning. It makes “doing the math” unnecessary when resizing your images. This is due to one feature that many people ignore - the check box for “Resample Image.” By checking and unchecking this box it’s easy to manipulate both the pixel and physical size of your image. Unchecking “Resample Image” leaves the total pixels unaffected and changes only the physical size - the pixel size is actually locked against change. This is useful to scale your 2.25” Holga negative scanned at 3200dpi to a much larger ﬁle for printing. Simply input your printer’s preferred dpi and the image will “scale” to this size without affecting the actual pixels. If, however, you leave “Resample Image” checked, you will change the pixel dimensions. This is useful to scale your hi-rez image for publishing on the web. The same 7200px Holga neg would take quite a while to upload - so changing it to 72dpi will drop a hefty amount of the pixel information and give you a 2.25” image that is appropriate for the screen. It is my hope that this article illuminates for you a method by which you can dispel your confusion and begin to think in pixels, so that you may perpare your images for the various media we all now use to publish our work.
“Caterpillar” by Erika Chisholm
Toy Camera Musings
Interviews collected by Susan Burnstine
Toy camera user: 3 years Member of tc.com: 3 years What motivated you to start shooting toys initially? My original inspiration came from seeing photographs taken with Diana cameras - I was searching for images that would give a vintage, timeless quality about them, the crappiness was an added bonus. Inspiration for continuing is sharing philosophy, comradery, and enthusiasm from other tc shooters. Was there a photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Don Brice Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Dominic Turner... Tread... Gordon Do you have a favorite toy camera? Dories/Diana clone - warps images, signiﬁcant outer blur, challenging - love/hate relationship Do you have any personal words of plastic wisdom you can share with us? Get close, then get closer. Eliminate the crap. If in doubt tape it up. Know your camera. Don’t give up. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Taking photos with a toy camera at ﬁrst can be like searching for a pearl amongst a sea of oysters. Get to know your camera, and be selective with your shooting, but don’t think too much. When you go for a shoot, load your camera, and ﬁnish the roll, don’t let it sit. Sometimes those “end of the roll” shots tend to be the best. Anything else you’d like to add? HAVE FUN. Don’t expect to be taken seriously from super sharp obsessed photographers. Do it for yourself.
Toy camera user: I had to drag out the old neg ﬁles and discovered my ﬁrst ever Diana roll was dated 1992. Member of tc.com: I started snooping around the internet for other plastic addicts in about ‘98 and hit the jackpot ﬁnding tc.com the following year. The site has had both busy and quiet phases since then, but is enjoying a huge inﬂux of new visitors in the last 12 months What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? I used to lie awake nights trying to think of ways to diffuse and distort Hasselblad images and create an impressionistic look I liked. Damn, if only I’d found a Diana ﬁrst! It’s a good antidote to the restrictions of commercial photography, and the
perfection of digital photography. It’s become a bit of signature thing in my life, so why change now? Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? I saw the occasional shot that I loved at Photographic Industry Awards and competitions, years ago, but sadly the highly skilled photographers who produced them treated the Plastic as a bit of a novelty and went back to their glass lenses and motor drives. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? I’m still inspired by the pioneering vision of Nancy Rexroth, the sensual work of Emil Schildt, or the mystical side of Mark Sink. Also the toycamera.com contributors still amaze me with new work every week. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? My ﬁrst. It’s a Diana-F. I have taken so many special shots with this one camera it has almost become superstitious. Each camera is slightly different and so, what if I used a different camera and an otherwise lovely image didn’t have just the “right” amount of vignette??? Akk! Do you have any personal words of plastic wisdom you can share with us? Keep it simple. Eliminate unwanted things from the shot, take lots of frames to cover for the surprises that blurry imprecise plastic cameras throw at you. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Have fun, try anything, you’ll be surprised what works.
Toy camera user: 1 year Member of tc.com: June 2004
What motivated you to start shooting toy cameras? What continues to inspire you? I hit a creative wall in my professional photography life about a year ago. That’s when a fellow photographer gave me a Holga in hopes that it would shake me out of my funk. It worked. What continues to inspire me? I never tire or looking at a great toy camera shot. And toy cameras have proven to be the best vehicles to convey my inner quirks, thoughts, dreams and fears in my photography. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Keith Carter and Nancy Rexroth initially. Then I happened up Don Brice’s work and that led me to tc.com, where a number of photographers continue to inspire me. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? It is and will always my second Diana 151. To date, I’ve taken most of my best toy shots with that camera. But don’t tell Ms. 151… I currently have a few clones that are really inspiring me. Do you have a favorite technique or any personal words of plastic wisdom you can share with us? I spent months obsessively perfecting techniques for close-ups. Now I’m tinkering with various techniques I’ve not seen used in the toy world, such as zone plates and sieves. Words of Wisdom? Don’t over think it. Feel the picture. Then snap. I’ve also learned that if you let an unprocessed roll sit in the camera too long, it loses ﬂavor. So try and ﬁnish the roll in one shoot, before the magic spoils. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Read everything you can on the tc.com boards and articles. Soak it up. Ask questions. Then go out
and shoot. And keep shooting. Oh, and don’t forget to take the lens cap off. And never, ever, ever, ever trust the viewﬁnder.
Toy camera user: About 3 years Member of tc.com: 3 years What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? To me it’s the simplicity of it all. With a toycam, I can spend more time working on composition instead of fussing with camera controls. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Actually in a round about way, Keith Carter led me to the path of toy cameras. I loved an image that he did, titled “Radio Flyer” I loved the surreal look of the shot and asked another photographer friend how he thought the image was made. He replied he wasn’t sure, but he bet you could do something similar with a Holga. After some Google searching, I was hooked. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Mark Sink, and I am inspired and always amazed at the crew of photographers from toycamera.com. Do you have a favorite toy camera? My newly purchased Fujipet. It is such a cool looking camera with a great little cyclops view ﬁnder on it. I am also very fond of my ﬁrst Diana camera. She has never let me down yet. Do you have a favorite technique or modification you can share with us? Probably my favorite technique at the moment that I’m enjoying is macro toy work. I really get stoked when I see some nice close up work. Tinkering with toy cams is also a lot of fun. I’m almost done with a Holga mod that will allow me to shoot 35mm ﬁlm and rewind it in the Holga. No need to do it in darkroom or changing bag. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Start with a cheap Holga. Buy lots of ﬁlm and shoot, shoot, shoot. Anything else you’d like to add? Never trust your viewﬁnder ;)
Toy camera user: When I was nine I won a 110 Coca-Cola Can camera and loved it for its novelty factor and the strange looks I got when using it. 22 years later I bought a Holga in the summer of 2002 and dived back into the toy camera world. Member of tc.com: February 2003 What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? I’ve always been fascinated by MF cameras, having borrowed my Dad’s Yashicamat TLR from an early age, so when I discovered that the Holga was an incredibly cheap and simple way to take medium format photos there was no stopping me. My ﬁrst colour Holga ﬁlm was full of heavily saturated colours and lots of blur, while my
ﬁrst Black and White was all mood and greyness. I was hooked. I’m not sure that I have ever revisited the dizzy heights of my ﬁrst few ﬁlms, but every now and again an image rises to the surface that surprises me. In my mind, every photo I take still has that potential. I walk around the place framing pictures in my head, I see things differently now, I have a new vision. Not bad for less than a tenner eh? Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Robert Vizzini’s images of Cuba, A Land Baked In Time (http://www.sightphoto.com/sightphoto/story/cuba/cuba. html), shot with a Diana, were the ﬁrst toy camera photos I encountered and I still love them. His website encouraged me to go in search of a Holga. Since then I have come across many great toy camera photographers and most of them are on the ToyCamera forum. This sounds pretty cringe-worthy I know, but TC has introduced me to so many fantastic and enthusiastic fellow shooters whose images make me jealous and inspired at the same time, I couldn’t hope to name them all here without missing someone out. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? I’m pretty ﬁckle but my current favourite is a British-made Coronet Mark II. It’s all plastic and fantastically grey and chunky. If it was any more British it would be wearing a knitted cardigan and smoking a pipe. I love the images it makes - not many light leaks but lots of blur at the edges. It also has an incredible trick of taking fantastically clear and crisp shots on a bright day and moody, shaky, blurred ones when it rains. Is that possible? Do you have a favorite technique, approach or modification? Approach: Point and shoot does it for me. The whole reason for having a toy camera is that it stops you becoming obsessed with the technical details of photography and allows you to focus (or not, as you wish) on the light. Technique: I have had great fun using a variety of ways to get close-ups - starting with a magnifying glass and moving on to several diopter lenses. Modiﬁcation: Having always had grand ideas about the various mods I want to inﬂict on my cameras, the only thing I’ve actually ever done istape my Holga up to avoid too much light leakage. All my other cameras are used as they were intended to be. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Don’t forget to remove the lens cap. Forget focus. Experiment with a variety of ﬁlms, you will probably ﬁnd one or two that work well for you. Beware, toy cameras are addictive, especially once you start looking at other people’s shots and thinking “I’d love a camera with that much blurring/vignetting/light leakage”...
Toy camera user: I had an old adobe red colored Imperial Mark XII when I was 5, but I’m not sure that counts. Member of tc.com: 3 years What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? My professional life is very orderly, I like the chaos of toy cameras. A person needs a little chaos to be balanced in life. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? My Aunt Mary when we were on a trip to Disneyland when I was younger. She had a waist level Kodak that pure magic came out of. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Not really, I like to see creativity bloom when a ﬁrst time user gets bitten by the bug though and just hits the streets and shoots like they are going to need substance abuse counseling afterward.
Do you have a favorite toy camera? My favorite toy is the ﬁrst Holga I bought about 3 years ago and promptly modiﬁed before I knew that was the thing to do. It’s reliably good in a bad kind of way. Do you have any personal words of plastic wisdom you share with us? “Fear no Plastic”. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? I would advise newbies to just concentrate on the fun ﬁrst, and not to worry about all that artsy crap, because the artsy stuff will happen on its own. Anything else you’d like to add? Ordinary things can be extraordinary in the right light.
Toy camera user: November 2002 Member of tc.com: March 2003, after the site was revamped. I began snooping around in the fall of 2002. What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? Conceptually I’ve always liked pinhole cameras, but I’ve never been able to stick with them to get it all working properly. I ﬁnally made my ﬁrst pinhole camera in 2002. It was a simple 110 ﬁlm size thing and the photos were awful and not much besides blurs of color. While researching pinholes, I discovered the ladies Diana & Holga and the TC website. While visiting Tucson I found a HOLGA and have shot with toys since. It’s become a hobby that I tend to every day, and I’m sure the TC community has much to do with that. Plus, I like to tinker. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? My friends Warren Padula & Elaine McKay are pinholers. They sparked my interest in pinholes back in the mid 90s. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you? Jonathan Bailey. Do you have a favorite toy camera? Nothing in particular. However, my Ansco Panda is a real cutie. The lens is a bit too sharp and he’s a bakelite box, which I don’t truly consider a toy. I could be swayed (about the toy-ness) if I knew who the target consumer was for the loveable Panda. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Shoot more rolls, develop your ﬁlm and get into the chemistry of making a print. At least that’s my own personal plan.
Toy camera user: 3 years. Got bitten by the Lomo bug after meeting Mr Ed Wenn. I couldn’t afford a Lomo, so brought a Holga! Never looked back since. Member of tc.com: 3 years What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? I always had a ﬂeeting interest in photography, more to compensate for a bad memory and as a tool to record various outings with the band I was in. The toy aspect allowed me to develop (with varying degrees of success) the artistic & creative
side of that. I think being around bands a lot,in that whole D.I.Y Punk scene , the plastic cameras thing was a perfect combination. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? The ﬁrst toy cam shots I saw were on Mike Barnes Diana site which included a gallery of his work and galleries by Don Brice & Gordon Stettinus. All of those people inspired me and still do! Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Waaaaaaaaay too many. That’s the cool thing about TC.com. Its chock full of people with a quality attitude and quality output. There’s no real sense of competition or snobbery. Just a good bunch of people with a shared love of plastic! Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Persevere! My ﬁrst few rolls were very disappointing. But very soon, you learn the quirks, your eye gets better. Before you know it, you get that elusive roll where every picture is a winner. Then you’re hooked!
Toy camera user: As a kid, my brother and I fought over his Diana F - it was 1969. Does that count? Member of tc.com: Since early 2004 What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? I bought my ﬁrst digital camera (a Sony Mavica) in 1997. Emboldened by its promiscuity, was inspired to start photography again. I was then caught in the false mega-pixel race. I rebelled by not using my hot technology, but my original gritty Mavica. A photographer friend gave me a Holga and told me to get on with making real photographs. I swapped my digital for a Polaroid, grabbed a Diana from a junk store in Melbourne, and found a Fujipet in Nagano. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? Charles Sheeler, OWL, Daido Moriyama and Araki form the core of my non-toy inspiration. The toy camera came second. I am still trying to develop and exploit them for my own message. There are a number of toy camera photographers that inspire me now - you know who you are. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? My toy camera list is small. A Fujipet, a Diana, a Holga and a Color Pack. I enjoy each differently; while the Fujipet is easy & fun to use, the Diana can really surprise. The Polaroid is just impressive - size, operation, noise and output. Do you have a favorite technique? Or any personal words of plastic wisdom you can elaborate upon and share with us? My favorite technique is the pan/blur - capturing the feeling of movement on an otherwise static medium. I also enjoy wide-angle and panoramic work. My only words of wisdom for plastic photography are to not take it too seriously. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Recognize what your camera can do, and try to exploit this.
Toy camera user: 14 years Member of tc.com: A little over a year What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? As a student, I tried all kinds of cameras and at some point I purchased a Holga just to see what it could do. Borrowed a Diana camera for a little while about the same time. So, I was just looking for something a little different and these were cheap experiments. The style of images and the incidental characteristics really worked for me. I liked the awkward cropping and light leaks. Basically these cameras seemed prone to a casual grace. Things look good and the living is easy. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? I learned of Nancy Rexroth’s work very early on and that struck me as signiﬁcant on a couple of levels, both personally and by the fact her work is received as a serious photographic body of work. It helped me realize that the view cameras and zone systems were not necessary to articulate an idea. Emotions don’t need fancy language. As far as contemporary photographers... There are a number of photographers whose work turns me on. But I don’t know how many of these sometime users would think of themselves as toy camera photographers. Anyway... too many to name. I will say that there is a lot of good work posted regularly on tc.com and this is a great source of inspiration. Do you have a favorite toy camera? Diana for daylight; Holga for situations requiring a ﬂash. Do you have a favorite technique or modification? I have been messing around with modiﬁcations for the year or so I have been hanging out at toycamera.com but the jury is still out on these newer images. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? I’m sure that someone has already suggested ‘Shoot a lot of ﬁlm‘ and ‘Buy yourself some Gaffer’s Tape‘ so I will bravely and originally suggest ‘Look at a lot of photographs.’ All the time.
Toy camera user: about 2 years Member of tc.com: About 1 year What motivated you to start shooting toys initially? I bought my ﬁrst Holga after seeing some pics on another web forum and liking the results. When I printed my 1st toycam prints,I was hooked. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? No particular person started me off, but all toycamera shooters inspire me to keep going . Do you have a favorite toy camera? I only really use a Holga - I don’t like the new Holga lenses though. Whenever I get a new Holga, I swap the lens for my old one. The new lenses are too good. Do you have a favorite technique? With the Holga, my advice is to do the wide lens aperture
mod so it overexposes 400 ﬁlm, then control highlights through development. That way a good detailed neg is achieved and a great starting point for printing. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Don’t take it too seriously, enjoy it for what it is, just a piece of badly made plastic Anything else you’d like to add? Yes.
Toy camera user: Since late 2003 when I discovered my beloved Diana at a thrift store for $3.75. Member of tc.com: June of 2003 What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? The beautiful vignetting and blurring of the images...then and now. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? A fellow Toy Camera photographer by the name of Don Brice inspired me to start shooting toys initially, he continues to be an inspiration. Now my boyfriend, Robin, shoots toy cameras as well, and we inspire each other to keep shooting. Do you have a favorite toy camera? My Diana F is my favorite. It has better blurring and vignetting than my other toy cameras. Holga is a close second, though. Do you have a favorite technique? Or any personal words of plastic wisdom you can share with us? My favorite technique is the Holga Panorama, of course! As for words of plastic wisdom? Skorj and I wrote an article on how to do the Holga Panorama. Other words of plastic wisdom would be: Have fun! Don’t take it too seriously. Shoot more than one if it’s a special shot (trying slightly different angles), since you never REALLY know what the lens is seeing. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Have patience, and have fun, try something new and different! There’s always someone at Toycamera.com that can answer your questions if you need help! Anything else you’d like to add? Thanks to Mike for his hard work at Toycamera.com . And thanks to the many wonderful people who post there and continue to inspire me on a daily basis!
Toy camera user: Off and on about 13 years. But recently 80% of what I shoot for “me” is shot with some form of a toy camera. Member of tc.com: Sept. 8, 2004 What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you? I was sort of a photo dork in the early 80s, a teen and was hungry of anything I could get my hands on to read about photography. About 1985, I was helping a friend’s dad load some books for a outdoor booksellers swap meet of sorts when I saw The Diana Show by David Featherston. Within a week I found a Diana but rarely used it because
it seemed less than serious and I was caught up in male-type equipment hoarding, Nikons, bah, money, being thrown about and on my budget it was ridiculous. I won’t bore with the trials and tribulations of trying to become a “serious photographer” only to become a punk rock singer, talk radio host, graphic designer who came back to photography only because of toy cameras. toy cameras free up the notion “serious” and “important” and usually allow the pictures to do the talking. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Everyone who has touched a Diana has probably seen Nancy Rexroth’s work, it is inspirational but more than that it is proof that these camera can make beautiful images. But I’ve found the images of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Henri Cartier Bresson and Man Ray all to carry strong elements of what I consider a toy camera image. More importantly they just represent good photography to me and that it doesn’t really matter what equipment you are using if you take time to learn your craft and your tool’s idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? All of them, and I mean that, every time I see a toy image that I like, the cogs spin for me, the how, when, what and why of the images I absorb make me want to shoot more myself. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? I have 2 that stand out in my collection. My Holga, my Mark L Diana Clone. The Holga just works right, the mods are mine, not perfect but the lens is a good addition to my somewhat skewed vision. The Mark L, I bought from a TC.com member and for whatever reason, I keep it loaded and with me more than any other Diana camera. I have 6 now. I haven’t done any tests as to which one is the “best.” But the Mark L has “done good,” as we say her in the sticks. Do you have any personal words of plastic wisdom you can elaborate upon and share with us? Pretty basic insight, use the same ﬁlms, get used to them and what they do in your toys and stick with them if you ﬁnd your “satisfactory zone.” If there is one takeaway message from me it’s just the simple advice to “shoot.” I’m trying to follow my own advice. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Buy a camera from HolgaMods.com. Load it and run out on a nice afternoon and shoot the stuff in you hometown that you love. Your toy camera will probably reinforce why you love what you love. You’ll be hooked then move at your own pace, read, learn, look .and again, shoot. Anything else you’d like to add? The only thing “toy” about toy camera photography is the camera. Wear yours with pride in a group of digiteri knowing you are the only one in on the secret.
Toy camera user: 4 years Member of tc.com: 3 years
What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? My initial motivation was an extension of my graphic design work where I was trying to make dull and boring pictures look good. This led me to seek out new and novel ways of producing photographic images. Toy cameras give me an degree non sophistication that allow for more unpredictable and sometimes exciting images. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? I saw some of Don Brice’s pictures on the internet and was taken with their mood. I’m
inﬂuenced by many photographers who employ any number of techniques, not just toy. Toy cameras are just a means to an end. At the end of the day it is the image that impresses me the most, not the process by which it is achieved. Do you have a favorite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favorite? The Diana. The original and the best! Any personal words of plastic wisdom you can elaborate upon and share with us? Don’t leave home without a (toy)camera. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? I ﬁnd that toy cameras suit some subjects better than others and I force myself to make a call on that every time I take a picture. I ﬁnd this process useful in trying to better my good as to bad ratio per ﬁlm.
Toy camera user: I used a fair few toy cameras when I was a kid (Polaroids and 110 instamatics mainly), but as a consenting adult I’ve only been abusing cheap plastic since 2000 when I got back into using Polaroid iZone and Joycam cameras and also found a Lomo Action Sampler cheap in NYC. Next I got hold of a plastic 3D camera and a Lomo Super Sampler for trips to Australia and the South West of the USA. This would have been 2002. From there it was a short leap to a Lomo LC-A; not a toycam I’ll admit, but my ﬁrst fun ﬁlm camera. Within days of Jacqui giving me the LC-A for my birthday, Damion had mentioned something called a Holga and my curiosity was piqued. 120 sounded like a fun thing to do. Member of tc.com: I was formally baptized into the Toy Camera World Collective (London Chapter) on 29th October 2003. I haven’t revealed the secret handshake to anyone since then. What motivated you to start shooting toys initially and what continues to inspire you to shoot them over and over again? In the toy camera world what I’m about to say is a wellworn cliché, but for me it’s all about having fun. I also enjoy the knowledge that when I take a picture I only have a certain amount of control over what’s going to end up on the ﬁlm. It’s an abdication of responsibility that I ﬁnd suits my ‘hapless adventurer’ style of shooting. When a photo comes out really well I can shrug and praise the camera. When a photo just plain sucks I can shrug and blame the camera; either way it’s only about 50% to do with my mad skillz behind the lens. I’m a slack bastard, so I like that. Also, I’ve said this before, but I really dig the way that toy camera output (especially black and whites) can be a short cut to a certain type of photographic aesthetic or style. On a whole other level using a toy camera is also about sticking two ﬁngers up at the insanity of today’s consumer society by re-using stuff that other people have thrown out. OK, so anyone who owns 45 cameras can’t get too high and mighty about the state of the consumer society, but the fact that whole lot cost less than my last digital camera salves my conscience slightly. Was there a particular photographer that inspired you to shoot toy cameras? My friend, Bert Queiroz, is a published photographer from DC/NYC and along with his regular equipment he’s had a Diana or a Holga on and off since I’ve known him; even though I didn’t know that’s what they were until quite recently. I’ve always been inspired by his stuff and the fact that he took great photos some of my favorite bands. Is there a particular toy camera photographer that inspires you now? The toycamera.com
crew is a source of constant inspiration. There are maybe 5 regulars on toycamera.com who consistently produce great photographs and I’ve learnt an awful lot from hanging out with them in person or online over the last couple of years. It’s a very supportive and inspirational place (man). Aside from the toycamera.com crew there are loads of people who have galleries online who I stumble across and draw inspiration from, but not in an “I’m not worthy” sort of way. For me it’s like punk rock. You can go and see some really inspiring, passionate music and come away buzzing, but you never think “How did they do that?” you just think, “Damn that was great! I’m going to do that.” Do you have a favourite toy camera? What is it and why is it your favourite? I don’t really have a favourite one. Most of mine are only good at doing one thing so I tend to use different ones depending on what I’m looking for on a particular day. Do you have a favourite technique? Approach? Modification? Or any personal words of plastic wisdom you can elaborate upon and share with us? One of my fave techniques is using the Ansco Pix Panorama to take multiple images and then ‘stitch’ them together. I’m a big fan of this because I thought it up by myself, because it’s fun and because the results continually surprise me no matter how often I try the technique. Obviously the idea of stitching multiple images together has been around forever and I’d never claim to have come up with that by myself - my ﬁrst conscious exposure to the technique in serious art was via David Hockney’s photo collages - but I like the extra weirdness of using a panoramicstyle toy camera with its inherent distortion to create the collages. Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with toy cameras? Hmm, I suppose I’d say what most other people would; use faster ﬁlm than you would do normally. Don’t trust the viewﬁnder too much, but don’t completely disregard it. Get nearer to the subject than you think you should. Don’t be discouraged by your ﬁrst few results; keep shooting because you WILL get better. Unless you’re lucky your local lab won’t do good prints from 120 ﬁlm so buy a scanner and scan the negatives yourself or go old school and try for a darkroom.
Buying Cameras & Film (US) Freestyle Photographic Supplies - www.freestylephoto.biz B&H Photo & Video - www.bhphotovideo.com Adorama - www.adorama.com J and C Photo - www.jandcphoto.com The Frugal Photographer - www.frugalphotographer.com Film for Classics - www.ﬁlmforclassics.com Buying Cameras & Film (Japan) Nihon Hasshoku - www.nhh.co.jp Buying Cameras & Film (Europe) Holga.net - www.holga.net Unsaleable.com - www.unsaleable.com Worldwide info on many photo retailers is available at www.acecam.com/abroad.html Tips & Mods Toycamera.com - www.toycamera.com (duh!) Holgamods by Randy Smith - www.holgamods.com The Authoritative Guild to Holga Tune-up and Modiﬁcations by Mark Hahn - www.geocities. com/markhahn2000/holga_mods.html Pinhole Designer Software by David Balihar - www.pinhole.cz/en/index.php Pinhole Resource by Eric and Nancy Renner - pinholeresource.com/ Zone Plate: A Quasi Scientiﬁc Explanation by Guillermo Peñate - ca.geocities.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org/zoneplate.html Tools for Photographers - www.ﬁneart-photography.com/tools.html The Ultimate Exposure Computer - www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm The Land List - www.landlist.org Magazines Light Leaks Magazine - www.lightleaks.org Plastic Fantastic Magazine - www.plasticfantasticonline.com JPG Magazine - www.jpgmag.com SHOTS Magazine - www.shotsmag.com Other Sites We Love Holga! - www.meltingpop.it/holga/index.htm Film Rescue - www.ﬁlmrescue.com The Lomographic Society International - www.lomography.com 127 Photography - www.onetwoseven.org.uk
This list is kept fully up-to-date at www.toycamerahandbook.com/links.html
BOOKS & PERIODICALS:
Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique, 3rd Edition by Eric Renner – Focal Press, 2005 Some Twenty Odd Visions: A Book of Twenty-four Unique Ways of Seeing the World Assembled and edited by Blue Sky Gallery, 1978. Collection of toy and other black and white photos.
Nonﬁction by Christopher Anderson - de.MO, 2004. Collection of color Holga photographs. The Diana Show: Pictures Through a Plastic Lens by The Friends of Photography. David Featherstone, ed - Untitled 21, 1980. Angels at the Arno by Eric Lindbloom - Imago Mundi, 1994. Black and white Diana photos of Florence, Italy. Iowa by Nancy Rexroth - Violet Press, 1977.The Classic Diana book The Creative Camera by Nancy Howell-Koehler. Davis Publications, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1989 Photography How-To Guide, A Popular Photography Publication, Fall 1977. Don Cyr, “Visions of Diana: How to use a plastic camera as your window on the world”Arnold Gassan, “Diana Derivations: A Portfolio by Arnold Gassan” Vintage toy camera read. SHOTS Magazine, No. 12, 1988 “Toy Camera Work” SHOTS Magazine, No. 53, 1996, “Toy Camera Work II” Jonathon Bailey, Mark Sink, Gordon Stettinius + lots more SHOTS Magazine, No. 65, 1996, “Where Has Everyone Gone?” Interview with Nancy Rexroth by Russell Joslin SHOTS Magazine, No. 68, 2000, “Toy Camera Work 2000” Jonathon Bailey, Eric Lindbloom, Mary Ann Lynch, Nancy Rexroth, Mark Sink, Gordon Stettinius + lots more SHOTS Magazine, No. 70, 2000. Interview with Gordon Stettinius by Russell Joslin SHOTS Magazine, No. 88, 2005, Skorj Black & White Photography, GMC Publications, July 2004 Issue 35 “Plastic Fantastic.” Technical article by one of our own hot shots, Leon Taylor. Plastic Fantastic, Vol. 1 2005. Toy-centric B&W photo magazine. Interviews with photographers Leon Taylor, Sharky Senesac & Wally Haley, plus a conversation with Holga re-tooler Randy Smith of holgamods.com.
OTHER TOYCAMERA.COM PUBLICATIONS:
toycamera by toycamera.com contributors - Light Leak Press, 2004. Self published collection of black and white photos and portraits of toy cameras by the folks who brought you the toycamera handbook. Please visit www.toycamera.com/book/purchase.html for purchase information. Light Leaks - Light Leak Press, periodical. A magazine for toy camera users containing themed photo galleries, special features, interviews, regular columns, tips, tricks, techniques and a comprehensive listings section for all your toy camera needs. For more information, visit www.lightleaks.org toycamera annual calendar - See www.lulu.com/toycamera for purchase information.
Candido Baldacchino | www.candidobaldacchino.it | toycamera.com handle “holghino” Candido lives in Torino, Northern Italy, where he deveoped a respectable photographic career prior to eloping with a Holga 120 S (painted red). Mike Barnes | www.mtbstudios.com | toycamera.com handle “mike barnes” Mike hails from Ottawa, Canada, where he works as a product designer for the federal government. Toy camera photography is a favourite hobby. Dave Bias | www.davebias.org | toycamera.com handle “davebias” Dave is a graphic designer and photographer based in New York City. He loves kitties and enjoys saying words over and over until they lose their meaning. Don Brice | www.donbrice.com | toycamera.com handle “db” Don is a commercial photographer in Australia. He loves photography, wine, and coffee. Since drinking coffee out of plastic really sucks, he decided to take photos with something plastic instead. Silas de Bruijn | www.newobjekts.com | toycamera.com handle “silas” Silas lives in the Netherlands where he studies social work. He usually wastes his time with photography and music. He likes toy cameras because of the way they look, feel, smell and taste. Susan Burnstine | www.susanburnstine.com & www.outafocus.com | toycamera.com handle “Susan B.” Susan’s current base is Los Angeles, California, where she works primarily as a photographer. Erika Chisholm | email@example.com | toycamera.com handle “yola10go” Erika does digital retouching and custom restoration for a local photography company. Yo La Tengo is her favorite band and wishes that they would visit Tampa more often. Eric ChudzinskI | toycamera.com handle “ChicagoRic” Eric is a wedding and freelance photographer in Marengo, IL. Paul Giguere | www.paulgiguere.com | toycamera.com handle “paulg” Paul is an education researcher from the Boston, Massachusetts area. He loves using his toy cameras to try out new ideas. Deborah Kac | toycamera.com handle “Hawkeye Gal” For the past twenty years, Deborah has worked for a major research univeristy on the west coast of the USA. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives in a tiny Los Angeles bungalow, where she is busy collecting new cats and old cameras. Tony Lim | holga.com.hk/gallery | toycamera.com handle “tonylim” Tony is a designer and photographer based in Hong Kong, China. He loves and enjoys his toys. Neha Luhar | toycamera.com handle “nluhar” Neha is a working photographer who recently migrated from Chicago to Alabama. She believes in light leaks, expired ﬁlm, and photogs who share their vision with the world. C. Gary Moyer | scab-lab.deviantart.com | toycamera.com handle “Gary M” Gary believes that everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don’t have ﬁlm. Steph B. Parke | www.sparkephoto.blogspot.com | toycamera.com handle “PatchyfogSteph” Steph lives in northern Utah where she spends all her free time making photos, shopping on the internet and playing outside. She’s looking forward to a visit from the tooth fairy’s cousin, the kayak elf. Janet Penny | www.mymonthinplastic.com | toycamera.com handle “Janet_p” Janet is from the UK and has developed an interest in toy cameras over the last 4 years; starting very innocently with a Holga and spiralling dangerously quickly towards a 110 keyring camera and various charity shop bought junk. Becky Ramotowski | inﬁnity.my-expressions.com | toycamera.com handle “BeckyR” Becky is an artist and avid amateur astronomer based in New Mexico. Her photos and writing have been published in “Sky & Telescope” and “nightsky” magazines.
John Reeves | toycamera.com handle “reeveso” John is not yet an architect in Lawrence, Kansas. Damion Rice | www.this-is-rice.co.uk | toycamera.com handle “damionkillerest” Damion lives in Birmingham, England with the Wife and the Cat. He plays in a Punk band and works a boring job. He has been involved in the seedy world of toy cameras for about three years now. Francisco Mata Rosas | www.artistswithoutfrontiers.com/fmrosas/ | toycamera.com handle “fmata” Francisco lives in Mexico City with three women, his wife and two lovely teenagers. He works in documentary photography and has three books, Sabado de Gloria, Litorales and Mexico Tenochtitlan. Skorj | www.tinyurl.com/58LYO | toycamera.com handle “skorj” Skorj is a Tokyo based designer, haikyo otaku and toycamera photographer. Steve Snyder | www.pbase.com/grapegeek | toycamera.com handle “farmersteve” Steve is a former database engineer and now spends his time raising his two sons, growing grapes and making wine near Seattle, WA. Toy cameras are just an obsession. Arlen Speights | asiftosay.com | toycamera.com handle “derevaun” Arlen is a designer and teacher living in Olympia, Washington. Most of his stuff is broken. Leon Taylor | www.leontaylor-photo.co.uk | toycamera handle “leon” Leon is currently living out a rural idyll in the South-East of England and practices both Glass and Plastic photography. Melisa Taylor | www.elvissoutherndeathcult.com/phoblography.html | toycamera.com handle “Ambrosia” Melisa is from Tampa, Florida and is a ofﬁce slave by day, and photographer by...err...whenever she’s not working. Toy camera photography is her favorite kind of photography. Gayla Trail | www.makinghappy.com | toycamera.com handle “MakingHappy” Gayla Trail is a designer, author, and artist based in Toronto, Canada. She prefers square pictures and ﬁdgety cameras. Tread | www.brainsonﬁlm.com/gotreadgo | toycamera.com handle “tread” Christopher W. Trice | toycamera.com handle “rolleipollei” Chris currently ﬁnds himself back in Birmingham, Alabama, where he teaches photography on the college level. Among other things, he is an unapologetic traditionalist photogeek. Dominic Turner | www.multimediaoddjobsman.com | toycamera.com handle “DPT” Dominic Turner is a freelance multimedia designer and photographer based in Dublin, Ireland. He maintains an ever growing family of “quality challenged” cameras. Kirsty vander Voort | lalune.500ml.org | toycamera.com handle “lunaizar” Kirsty was begotten in the small cheese country (the Netherlands) and moved to the big cheese country (France) because of her love for French men and, incidentally, photography. Ed Wenn | www.persistentvision.co.uk | toycamera.com handle “ed.wenn” Ed is a musician and reluctant computer geek who lives in London and is part of a rocking little three-piece called The Wenn Family. He’s currently re-evaluating his work/life balance. Jarvi Wen | jarvi.uchicago.edu | toycamera.com handle “jarviw” Jarvi is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago. He loves animals and hates mean things. He wants to quit school one day. Andreas Wolkerstorfer | www.wolkerstorfer.at | toycamera.com handle “Andreas Wolkerstorfer” Andreas picks up cameras from A - as in Argus - to Z - as in Zorki - and most of the time, uses them with expired ﬁlm. He is also a fan of Holga.
“Flower” by Michael Barnes