Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Creative Photography: Why Photographers Love The Plastic "Toy Camera"


The first blog entry I've ever written for H & B Digital was on The Lomography Oktomat camera, “The Oktomat is a super cute 35mm camera made for the spontaneous photographer who loves capturing outdoor, action shots and whose style embodies a simple yet experimental approach…” 

This modern-day camera falls under the increasing popular “toy camera” category that originated in the 1960s and 1980s, with cameras like the Holga and the Diana, at a time when photography was just starting to be accepted in the academic and fine-arts world. However, these days, I've noticed that these “fantastic plastic” cameras are being explored by ALL types of photographers …

So why are these plastic cameras, that ignore all the features found in today’s DSLRs, becoming a big hit in the photography community?

Aside from their colorful & retro designs, there are a few others reasons actually, some that might even spark your interest into giving them a try as well…

Vignetting – In modern-day plastic Holgas, the image circle that the lens creates isn’t quite big enough to cover the full 6x6 cm area evenly. Therefore, images get dark and blurry towards the corners, an effect known as vignetting. You can use an insert or crop the negative to reduce this effect but many photographers find this quality appealing by darkening and softening detail around the edges of the frame.

Vignette 01
Vignette 02

Vignette 03
Vignette 04 - Photo Taken by Photojournalist For LIFE Magazine

Twin-Lens Reflex Holga
Discretion – Twin-lens reflex Holgas (introduced fairly recently) allows photographers to view and compose their images by looking down at a shaded horizontal viewfinder screen that shows the image formed by a similar lens that sits above the main lens. This design allows you to shoot more discreetly, without having to raise the camera to your eye. This gives photographers the ability to shoot subjects that they normally have trouble capturing.
Horizontal Viewfinder

Shooting w/ Twin-Lens Reflex

Light Leaks – Original Holgas and Dianas have delicate bodies that often times, when their seams are not completely taped, create images that have fogginess or light streaks throughout them. Although this can leave a considerable amount of unused film on each roll, this effect gives photos a creative and interesting look by creating a mixture of an array of patterns overtop of the pictures.

Example of Light Leaks
Flare – Plastic cameras do not have antireflective coated lenses, so they are highly susceptible to flare. However, like light leaks, flare can be used for creative purposes as well. Flares cause an overall reduction of contrast and seemingly random, interestingly shaped light areas in the image. This can add an element of drama to your photos. 

Flare 01

Flare 02
Flare 03

Even if you do decide to invest in a “toy camera,” there are easy ways to prevent these effects from occurring. But if you'd like to stick to your trusty DSLR but enjoy the physical “look” of a toy camera, there is an alternative I found in the trendy gadget magazine STUFF  if you can get your hands on it…

The Pentax K-r Korejanal Robo

This is a DSLR that’s outside looks like a Lego man in Technicolor. On the inside, it is identical to a standard K-r, with a 12.4 MP sensor and HD video shooting. However, the outside gets a 35mm f/2.4 lens with a robot head in the hot shoe and a wacky Fisher-Price paint job. It brings whole new meaning to entry-level style used in professional photography.

No comments:

Post a Comment