favorite toy cameras - The Dainty Squid

favorite toy cameras

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I recently shared my favorite camera gear and thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite "toy cameras." Toy cameras are those that are simple, inexpensive (uh, sometimes) and mostly just for fun. You're not going to get the same quality photos you'd take with a fancypants camera but the results are almost always super interesting.

I'll start with my favorite first, the split-cam. The split-cam's "claim to fame" is that you're able to to take two pictures and fuse them together, perhaps putting the dog's head on your friend's body. It's actually quite tricky to pull it off perfectly but that doesn't mean the camera still isn't tons of fun. It takes 35mm film.
Below are four of my favorites that I've shot with the split-cam. Two are just double exposures and the other two are taken using half and half method the camera is all about. Like I mentioned above, it's actually incredibly hard to actually pull off the whole wrong head on the body photo. In all the rolls I've shot I've only managed to do it once, but it still makes me laugh hysterically every time I see it.

Instax mini is perhaps one of the most popular toy cameras out there right now, most likely because of the sheer thrill of instant photos. I own three instax mini cameras, the 50S, the 7S, the 8. My first, the Instax mini 7S is my favorite. It's a chunky little camera that, in my opinion, isn't very reliable. Does that stop me from continuing to shoot with it? Nope because when the pictures turn out even remotely like I pictured, they're amazing! Since you can't adjust or turn off the flash it can sometimes blow out photos which is why I found it does best outdoors on sunny days instead of in the house.
Some examples of instax mini photos I've taken are below...

Though it's twice the width of the instax mini, the instax wide is still fairly similar. It performs best outside on sunny days. It's not reliable indoors, so much so that I've come to avoid ever taking any pictures indoors. Back in 2010, shortly after I bought the camera, I wrote a little review on it. Despite the review's age I still basically feel the same way about it. 
Some instax wide examples...

La Sardina was a fun little camera to shoot with. I've since sold it due to the fact it was collecting dust but that doesn't mean I still didn't enjoy it while I had it. La Sardina shoots 35mm film, and comes in a variety of different patterns and colors.
Here are some examples of photos I've taken with La Sardina...

I may have originally bought TIM because he's the cutest little camera but he quickly ended up becoming one of my favorites. With TIM you can shoot two half frame exposures at the same time with both of his eyes open or one after the other by closing one eye, opening the other for one shot then switching which eye is open for the next shot.
 Some TIM photo examples. The first was taken outside on an overcast day, the second was taken under the same conditions but the film accidentally took a dip in Lake Erie before being developed and the third was taken inside using the flash.

In the past I've also played around with a few others including the Diana mini, Diana with instant back, and the quad cam, but they didn't compare to the ones mentioned above. What are some of your favorite toy cameras?

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27 thoughts

  1. I love toy cameras! I just got a fisheye lens for my Diana F+ and am planning a photo adventure with it today. I probably already have too many toy cameras, but I'm going to Korea in a few weeks and on top of my to buy list is more toy cameras. Can't wait!

  2. Great post! I love toy cameras, it's always great to use real film every now and then. Lomography cameras are some of my favorites. I have the fish eye camera and the action sampler. You just reminded me I need to dig them out and play some more :)


  3. Oh I just loooooove toy cameras. I've only got a Diana and a Fisheye 2, but I looooove 'em!

    The Splitcam DOES look really tricky! Still wouldn't mind having one one day, though ;D

    Elyse @ Cuddly as a Cactus

  4. I had the same frustration with my instax wide on inside shots until I placed a piece of washi tape over the flash. The tape I use is mostly white and just acts as a diffuser but really makes a ton of difference on inside shots.

    I also love the Superheadz Wide and Slim. So light and cute it fits in my purse and is never in the way but always there when I need it.

  5. Oh gosh, the split-cam photos are hilarious! And how I would love to have an Instax one day. Photojojo brought them to my attention once upon a time and I haven't stopped wishing for one since!

  6. The split-cam is still a camera I really want to get. TIM would be another one I want to play around with too. I remember when the La Sardina came out everyone made a big deal about it and I never understood why...
    For me, my faves are instax mini, fisheye, actionsampler and juice box. Actionsampler and juice box are useless inside though but I love using them in the summer time.

  7. I have the Instax Wide and have trouble with it indoors, but like you, the outdoors shots are fine. I recently picked up the Diana Mini in the UO sale and am excited to get my first roll back.

  8. The La Sardina *_* so pretty. I'm dying to get my mitts on an Instax!


  9. I've gotten some really cool double exposures with my Holga, come to think of it I should share them on my blog. They're really cool.

  10. I bought the TIM after seeing it on your blog when you first got it and I absolutely love it. I often forget to use it, I'm trying to make an effort to use it more as I'm always so pleased with the photos when I do!

  11. Oh my gosh. TIM is pretty much the cutest camera I have ever seen. How fun!

  12. I quite like my Pop 9 camera as it's particularly good at creating patterns by the monotony of having the same image in 9 squares side-by-side.

    I used to have a split-cam, but soon lost patience with it and ended up just donating it to goodwill.

    A good website that does lots of camera reviews and posts photos taken with the various cameras is: http://junkstorecameras.com/

  13. You could cover up the flash with your finger or opaque tape to reduce/cancel the blow out effect.

  14. Very interesting post. I've been looking for some good toy cameras to play around with. TIM is just the cutest! I've been looking into getting the Diana mini. What specifically didn't you like about it?

  15. I think of the two random kiddy cameras I had when I was younger and am now kicking myself for yard salein' em late 90's.

  16. I'm surprised you've never fiddled with a Nishika N9000! It's a quadrascopic camera, but instead of being more novelty like the Quad-Cam, it takes four exposures at the same time and you can "animate" them into a GIF. (They've been around since the late 80s and you could send the film off and they'd send you back a lenticular print of your photos.)

    They're super finnicky, though. I only shot one roll on mine and the results were okay.

  17. This post gave me lots of smiles. And that is the best split cam photo everrrrrrrrrrr!

  18. I love your camera reviews! I am looking to expand my camera collection so it's great to read about other people's experiences with them. :) I am definitely intrigued by that split cam!

  19. ahhhh! this makes me want to go shoot with my lomo cameras again! i wanna exploreeee.

    the ones i have starting with the favorites:
    split cam, supersampler (i think i need a new one - it scratches the film and not in a cool way), colorsplash, 360, la sardina (same pattern as yours!), holga, fisheye, action cam, pop9

  20. really love this post! ive wanted an instax camera for ages and you've really made me want one even more!
    Lauren | OhHay Blogs!

  21. This is such a great post!
    I'm definitely putting the split cam on a wish list :)


  22. This post made me smile a lot thinking on the fun I've had and will still have with my Holga which I love so much! my next one will be an Instax without a doubt.

  23. I want that purple TIM Camera! And I've always like the Sardine camera.

  24. Love LOVE that split cam! I've been looking around for one for a while!

  25. Nick Click! Duhhh (I actually still have mine. I don't have the accessories to use it though.)

  26. I'm really new to the world of non-digital cameras, but I've been DYING to get my hands on an instax! Also, does anybody know where I could get film for one for cheap? Thanks.

  27. You're so lucky to have these cameras ! I wish I had an Instax *.* My brother has a Sardine camera so I think I will borrow it from him once ! :D


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