Guide to Toy Cameras . Photography

January 5, 2012 separator Photography

via Smashing Magazine, edited

Have you heard about “toy cameras” and thought they were the Fisher Price version of your point-and-shoot? Well, they’re actually really fun, easy-to-use film cameras for grownups. I’m excited to have Rhianne of For the easily distracted… guest posting a toy camera guide today! -Lindsay

Hey all, my name is Rhianne and I am a (mainly) analogue photographer. My heart and soul goes into photography and my cameras of choice are toy cameras, so I am delighted to be here as part of Lindsay’s Photography Week sharing some helpful tips for using 35mm toy cameras.
First, before you even start to take photos…

1.   Do a bit of research. Like all cameras, each toy camera is different with different functions and different results, consider your options, have a look at the style of photos that you like and then pick a camera that suits you and what you want from it.

2.   Learn about and get to know your camera. Some cameras like the Superheadz Wide and Slim are relatively simple, with just a shutter button but Lomography cameras have more attributes like a focus and bulb setting, if these are on the wrong setting it can ruin your photos.

Superheadz via Japan Trend Shop

3.   Consider your film choices. Your choice in film will contribute further to the results from your camera – to start with I usually suggest an ISO 200 colour negative film which will work well with most cameras and give you an idea of how the camera works with film. From there you can experiment further with films and develop your knowledge.

Now that you are ready to take photos…

1.   Keep it simple. One of the first mistakes that people make with toy cameras is trying every function and technique in one go and normally that results in a messy film where you’re not sure how you created each image or how you can recreate them again. Take your time and enjoy trying out your possibilies.

2.   Expect your first roll to be bad. Then you won’t be disappointed and you might even be pleasantly surprised if it isn’t.

Even after taking 12 rolls with my holga I made stupid mistakes with my diana mini’s first roll and it was awful. It’s ok though, you need to get to know your camera and now you know what definitely doesn’t work with it… learn from your mistakes.

3.   Remember F.A.S.T. A simple checklist for checking your settings before you take your photo.

Focus – Aperture – Shutter – Take Photo

This mainly applies to Lomography cameras, which have manual focuses, varying aperture for sunny or cloudy days, and a bulb shutter setting. 

4.   Always double check the shutter button. This button is your worst enemy (and sometimes your best friend) and the one button that should always be checked!  I’ll admit, I forget to do this and I always regret it afterward especially as my Diana mini shutter button seems to have a mind of its own recently. N not B. N not B.

5.  Expect the unexpected. Of course the joy of film cameras is that even the best laid plans get unexpected results and the fact that you can take so much care when setting up a photo makes these surprises even more exciting. I think that this is what captivates most film photographers as well… Sometimes things just don’t work out how you expect them to, no matter how well you prepare.

Rhianne & For the easily distracted… elsewhere
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Don’t forget to check out the other Photography Month topics for more help and advice! Guide to Photoshop ActionsSelf Portrait Photography GuideFree Photoshop Actions


  1. There is a remedy if, for instance, you need to change the background of your images but are having problems locating a suitable and effective software to do so. Regarding information about it, I found a fantastic article at this link . There, I discovered a lengthy list of programs that can be useful in this situation and that the writers have already tried. I suggest it.

  2. Linh – For double-exposures, you need a camera that won’t wind the film automatically after a shot. Take your first picture; don’t advance the film; and then take your second picture. Done!

    Anon – That picture isn’t ours. The source is linked below us. Unfortunately I’m not sure what they used.

  3. Great post! I was just wondering what kind of camera you used for the amazing double-exposure photo above?

  4. I just thrifted a Ricoh AF2 today and I’m thinking it’ll fit in the toy camera category. I really can’t wait to try it out. Just wondering how do I work with double exposures and such?

  5. This is perfect! 😉 Just had my first film camera – a superheadz uws at that. 😉 I still have to finish my first roll though. 😉 I’m using a film w/ iso 200. 😉 Hoping to finish my roll soon! ♥

  6. Great post, Rhianne. I’m picking up a roll tonight…crossing my fingers that the double exposures worked out half as nicely as the photo above.

  7. I love the article Rhianne. Definitely will send a link to this article next time I get beginner questions. 🙂

  8. All – Isn’t Rhianne fantastic?! I’ve been following her blog for ages and just love her photography style and how down-to-earth and approachable she is. I’m thrilled that I hooked her into writing this up for everybody! 😀

    – Lindsay

  9. Thanks for posting this! I’ve seen this everywhere and wondered “HUH? What am I supposed to do with these?”

  10. i adore rhianne – and loved this post! toy cameras are super fun – and her collection of cameras inspire me!!

  11. i adore rhianne – and loved this post! toy cameras are super fun – and her collection of cameras inspire me!!

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