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View Full Version : Never shot with a toy camera...what should I expect? Tips?



LowriderS10
08-12-2010, 12:57 PM
I picked up this Biauma B-1 for 50 cents from a local thrift shop just for the heck of it...basically to add to my collection of oddball cameras, never meant to actually shoot it.

However, I just bought a lot of almost 50 rolls of film...so might as well dedicate one to the little guy...

I've NEVER shot with a toy camera before...it only has three settings... f6.3 f11 and f16. That's it. I'm guessing it has a single shutter speed (1/500-ish?) so I'll have to use f11 most of the time with a 200 speed film on a sunny summer day...

But...that's just me guessing...does anyone have any tips as to the usage of this camera? Any hints as to what the outcome is going to be?

Thanks,
Tamas

bsdunek
08-12-2010, 01:44 PM
Look forward to some fun! My 'little yellow plastic camera from St. Vincent dePaul' only has one aperature and one shutter speed. Probably about f8.0 at 1/75th. I use Ilford HP5 and it works pretty good. I load up 12 exp. rolls so I can have photos sooner.
Basically, just point and shoot, and show us your results.

LowriderS10
08-12-2010, 10:31 PM
Thanks! I'll load it up ASAP...I'm shooting with too many cameras right now! haha...but I'm really curious...

Denverdad
08-12-2010, 11:57 PM
I had to Google a picture of one of these little guys to see what they were. Hmm, with 3 shutter speeds, a flash shoe, and what looks like a release cable receptacle on the shutter button, its almost sophisticated compared to some toy cameras! Congratulations on your purchase, and have fun with it! :)

What to expect? Well the images will likely be on the blurry side nearer the edges but could be surprisingly sharp nearer the center, especially at f/16 which is probably it's sharpest aperture. At f/6.3 the image may be somewhat more challenged for detail everywhere in the frame. Vignetting (darkening around the edges) could be anywhere from very strong (and beautiful!), to almost nonexistent, depending on the camera design. Light leaks are a strong possibility too. Another thing to expect is that the viewfinder may may give you a substantially narrower view than what appears on the film. And as for focus - if the camera allows you to focus at all - don't expect any distance markings to be especially accurate.

As for the shutter speed, 1/50th second would probably be a better guess than 1/500. At least that is more typical of most of the toy cameras I have heard of or used. It could be considerably slower too since the shutter springs tend to lose their tension over time. If so, controlling blur due to hand-shake may be challenging. If you can get a handle on what the shutter speed actually is, you may want to choose a film speed so that the smallest aperture (f/16) is appropriate for sunny conditions, thus maximizing how dark the conditions are you can still shot in before having to go with faster film.

You might want to make a quick check of the camera first and see if the aperture settings really change anything, and also verify that the shutter works and isn't sticking open or closed. Not that everything has to be perfect mind you, but it is disappointing and not so much fun, to have an entire roll come out blank.

bvy
08-13-2010, 06:49 AM
This looks like a Lavec cameras from the 1980's. Lavec made the Time Magazine camera that was part of a wildly successful subscription offer 25 years or more ago, and they branded hundreds of others. What makes yours a little different is the 40mm lens (most had a 50). But the telltale trademarks are the multiple stop settings and typically some nonsense printed around the lens barrel -- "color optical lens" or some such. Made in Taiwan, right?

I enjoy shooting with mine. It's needlessly large and heavy (there's a paperweight of sorts in the camera to give it heft), but it feels good in the hands. The best thing is the feedback you get from releasing the shutter -- like a little charge of electricity. P'tang!

As far as light leaks, I occasionally (and joyfully) get a light leak pattern on one side of the frame. They look like repeating triangles, sometimes faint, sometimes very prominent.

I tested mine with a homemade shutter speed tester, and measured a shutter speed of about 1/80. I would load it with 200 or 400 speed color film and shoot at f/16. You'll get the best results in good sunshine.

LowriderS10
08-13-2010, 11:27 AM
Thanks for all the replies...

Turning the aperture settings does nothing visible...dummy dial?

It's not heavy at all...in fact it's ridiculously light...but, it was made in Taiwan...maybe they took out the paperweight for the non-Time Magazine editions?

2F/2F
08-13-2010, 11:33 AM
It has more control than most. Expect shitty photographs that can be used to make good pictures in the end if everything happens to have come together right.

I am sure that the shutter does not fire at '500, unless it is a very unique toy camera. It is probably in the neighborhood of '60 to '125.

Have fun.

Denverdad
08-13-2010, 08:56 PM
Thanks for all the replies...
Turning the aperture settings does nothing visible...dummy dial?


The aperture stop is probably behind the shutter, so you would have to fire the shutter to see anything. This is when no film is loaded obviously! If it is too dark in there to see much then what you can do is open up the back (or remove it - I don't know how you load film on this camera), and look through the camera at a light while pressing the shutter. You should be able to see a circle of light whose size varies depending on what aperture is set.

Hopefully, it is not like most of the Holgas, in which case you will not see a difference (Because there is really only one aperture!).

paulfish4570
08-14-2010, 07:39 AM
Rest the camera on something solid for at least a few frames to get an idea of what the lens is capable of. My 99-cent Sears Tower No. 1 is actually "sharp" in the middle 3/4ths or so of the frame if rested ...

bvy
08-14-2010, 08:28 PM
The aperture control should move a slotted blade across a circular diaphragm as you stop down. This is how they all seem to work. Very high tech.

Focus No. 9
08-14-2010, 09:52 PM
This is/was my toy camera. was able to run one roll through. rewind, then pulled up on the crank and it snapped out of the plastic. I did manage to pull up the film crank housing which is what I should of done instead of pulling the crank. It has the sun/clouds,scene icons and is a 50mm "new color optical lens" and apertures that coincided with the icons when twisting the ring. Anyway, don't get caught up in it..just enjoy.

mhcfires
08-16-2010, 02:49 PM
I have looked at the overpriced Holga and Diana cameras. They are really poorly made. My Brownie Target Six-20 is a much better camera. If you want 6x6 negatives, a Brownie Hawkeye is a great camera, only costs ten to twenty bucks and works like a charm. I paid about fifteen for mine. It takes a 120 spool as long as you have a 620 spool for take up. be sure to ask the lab for your spool back if you have to send out for color processing.

markbarendt
08-16-2010, 08:57 PM
I have looked at the overpriced Holga and Diana cameras. They are really poorly made. My Brownie Target Six-20 is a much better camera. If you want 6x6 negatives, a Brownie Hawkeye is a great camera, only costs ten to twenty bucks and works like a charm. I paid about fifteen for mine. It takes a 120 spool as long as you have a 620 spool for take up. be sure to ask the lab for your spool back if you have to send out for color processing.

Much of the joy of the toy cameras is their lack of quality.

mhcfires
08-17-2010, 10:03 AM
Much of the joy of the toy cameras is their lack of quality.

Lack of quality would not be such an issue if it weren't for the price. The cheapest Holga is still around $35 for a 6x6 camera of dubious quality. I know that people "prize?" the light leaks and weird happenings on the film as a result of the poor quality of the camera, but why pay so much for such clunky junque? My 100+ year old Kodak Panoram #1 is better built. It has a light leak, I have to keep one joint covered with gaffer's tape, but it is really one cool camera. I'm not trying to start a war, just making a few comments. The best thing about this Holga revolution, if you can call it that, is that people are rediscovering that you can do very creative things with film that you just can't do with a digital camera.:) :) :)

2F/2F
08-17-2010, 06:17 PM
They are $35 because people pay $35. If people weren't paying it, they couldn't charge it and have success with the product.

So, wait for a deal and/or get a used one, which is what we all do when some piece of camera equipment is too expensive new.

I agree that they are overpriced. However, that is mainly because I don't think they are a very interesting tool. I can certainly see paying $35 for one of them if I was in in love with the pictures they let me make.

However, I am in the $5 to $10 120 Brownie camp, myself. I very much like the technical qualities of the images that come from these guys.

I also like the images from the BBF very much. As I said earlier, I feel that I got my $80 worth; and I felt that way within a few rolls of shooting with it.