Ciao, digital. Hello, unpredictable art.

From comes this article about the 2010 International Juried Plastic Camera Show at Rayko Photo in Francisco.

"Old Oak," a black-and-white photo by Robert Holmgren of Menlo Park, won the 2010 International Juried Plastic Camera Show's Best of Show award.

Plastic cameras are cheap, prone to light leaks and unpredictable. Which is why a lot of photographers are drawn to them in the digital age of pixel counts, precision focus and Photoshop.

“You don’t know how the image is going to turn out when you shoot with a plastic camera. The unpredictability is a big part of the draw,” says San Francisco photographer Carlos Arietta, one of the many artists whose work is on view in the RayKo Photo Center’s 2010 International Juried Plastic Camera Show.

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Signpost. Mystery toy camera, expired fuji superia reala 100 film.

Recently, I’ve been shot most of my street candids portrait-style. I don’t know where this is coming from, maybe I should buy a square-frame medium format camera to cure myself of this? Or am I just looking for an excuse to buy a Holga, Diana or a Lubitel?

Does anyone have a favorite, obscure medium format toy camera I don’t know about? Let me know.


This pic came off the first test roll from my Vivitar IC 100, a $1 plastic camera I picked up recently. It’s pretty standard looking. The insides could come from a LOMO Colorsplash or any number of unremarkable cameras. A simple lens, shutter speed and aperture fixed at 1/100th sec and f/5.6, and cheap enough to take anywhere (and not worry about it)…

Jazz Jelly camera, revisited

My fixation with LOMO LC-As and film photography began in 2000. About that time, I started collecting toy film cameras. I like the aesthetic, I like the disconnect from technical frippery that a plastic lensed, single aperture, single shutter speed gives. I like vignetting. I like chromatic aberration. I like soft focus.

One of the cameras I loved was the Jazz Jelly. It looks like a $5 Olympus Stylus, with its dove bar shape, built-in flash and sliding lens cover. The 28mm lens is simply designed – if it has more than 2 elements I would be shocked. It’s light, and it’s disarming. People don’t concern themselves with someone taking their picture with a see-through purple, red, or green camera.

The Jelly has a panorama setting. It crops the top and bottom of the photo, and some film processors can crop that onto a wide print. I think back in the APS days this was more common, but most places will probably print on 4×3 paper and print the borders, like a letterbox DVD.

Since the Lomographic Society has brought the Diana back from the dead and renewed interest in the Holga, I’ve rediscovered toy cameras. 35mm toy cameras are getting hard to find! Cameras like these used to be available at Wal-MART, drug stores, convenience stores and even office supply stores. Cheap film cameras have all but gone from retail, and I’m afraid they were so cheap that they may have all ended up in landfill.

I’ve combed the junk shops hoping to find that Diana in mint condition, but alas, have never been that lucky.

I found a Jelly on Amazon for a reasonable price ($7.99 with a battery and 200 speed film!) and will throw it in my bag, see what I can do with it.

Crank up the contrast in PS and it looks a little LOMO-like!