Toy cameras
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Toy cameras

Most toy cameras aren’t actually toys, but rather inexpensive consumer-grade cameras that typically originated in Eastern and Soviet-bloc markets. These cameras started to make their way to Western countries in the 1990s and quickly became popular for their artistic effects: Their cheap plastic lenses and inconsistent construction quality (and resulting light leaks) introduced a random element to photography that expensive, high-end cameras could not replicate. Most took either 35mm or 120-size medium-format film. Popular toy cameras include the Holta, Diana, and the Lomo LC-A, which inspired the Lomography corporation.

Toy cameras today

For today’s film photographers, toy cameras have much the same appeal as they did in the 1990s, and they’re good fun if you want a level of unpredictability in your photos. While many take 120-size film, don’t think of them as entry-level medium-format cameras, as they cannot reliably produce the high-quality images for which medium format is best known.

Photo: Garry Knight