Cheap Cameras (2)

JD continues his thesis that a cheap camera is as good as any:

The picture to the right is of my key ring camera. The key ring itself is more robust than the flimsy plastic box on the other end of the chain. When I saw it in the shop I thought it was just a novelty but I was assured that it was a real digital camera and it worked. So for £12 I had myself yet another camera (current count is eight I think) and I set about seeing what it would do.

Because it was so cheap I didn’t mind when this very friendly horse, curious to know what I was up to, stuck its nose over the wall and snorted into the lens. As you can see this toy of a camera produces good pictures.

Two other photographs show that it is good for bold colours and strong shapes and patterns.

pillar box


Pinhole Camera

It’s back to basics with the pinhole camera shown on the left. Can’t remember where I bought it but they are available in the USA from here

Just fold the cardboard, assemble all the other bits and pieces, glue it together and you are ready to go. It takes 120 roll film and gives eight pictures per roll. With digital photography having almost completely taken over it is difficult to find anywhere that does 120 film processing now. So that and a lack of time means I haven’t fully explored its potential.

But this self portrait sitting outside my little hovel shows what can be achieved

Those two cameras could be described as Toy Cameras and if you search the internet for Toy Cameras you will discover a whole sub-culture of reactionary enthusiasts dedicated to their Lomo, Holga, Diana or Seagull cameras. (Unfortunately Lomo and Seagull have exploited this enthusiasm and their products are not as cheap as they ought to be.)

And if anybody knows of anywhere that still processes films for my Nimslo 3D camera then I might be able to use it again.


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11 comments for “Cheap Cameras (2)

  1. opsimath
    October 7, 2010 at 17:40

    The old 126 ‘Instamatic’ cartridges were great for making pinhole cameras – I made loads back in the early 70s. The construction of the cartridge made it possible to just build out a light-tight box for the pin-hole, which was best made using kitchen foil and a very fine needle. Everything else was contained in the cartridge itself.

    Happy days – long exposure times! Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    I quite took a shine to Seagull cameras in the early 80s, too – nice bits of kit with decent optics and built like T-34 tanks!

  2. October 7, 2010 at 19:10

    That horse picture is one of the best photos of anything I have seen in a long time JD. Marvellous.

    Your shadow on the wall looks a bit menacing.

    Your “skylight” isn’t looking up through the Japanese water sculpture at Macarthur Glen in Livingston, Scotland by any chance? Looks like it could be.

    This all reminds me of the Box Brownie of my childhood which produced such seemingly magical results. We take so much amazing stuff for granted nowadays.

  3. October 7, 2010 at 20:54

    Excellent results! I love the skylight photo. I must see if I can get a pinhol camera myself

  4. October 7, 2010 at 21:31

    Built a pinhole camera in Photo class. I would intentionally bend the photographic paper in its slot to get some odd distorted images. I should dig those up.

  5. October 7, 2010 at 21:43

    Pinhole cameras are easy to make.

  6. October 7, 2010 at 23:54

    You certainly got some great images with that tiny camera.

  7. October 8, 2010 at 00:19

    That is the most awesome £12 that anybody has ever spent? What kind of film does it use?

  8. October 8, 2010 at 00:24

    Mark: “…a real digital camera and it worked. So for £12…”

    “Digital”… Film?

  9. October 8, 2010 at 00:43

    Oh… unless you mean the Nimslo 3D camera JD refers to at the end; but that is just normal 35mm apparently, but perhaps with a specific printing process. I have looked at these £12 digital things for a while. Now I think I’ll buy one tomorrow and set off to find a horse’s nose.

  10. October 8, 2010 at 05:38

    “Now I think I’ll buy one tomorrow and set off to find a horse’s nose.”

    Depending on where you go (especially if politicians are involved), you might find the other end to be more common.

  11. JD
    October 8, 2010 at 09:51

    thank you for those kind words Andrew
    my shadow can frighten me sometimes but my reality is quite benign

    the Nimslo takes normal 35mm film and the 3D processing used to be done in France. Results are very good but they do not reproduce on a flat computer screen; I’ll have to wait for 3D scanners and 3D internet.

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