Crappy Old Cameras

When I used to send Teru Kuwayama out on assignment I would marvel at the amazing images he would coerce out of a piece-of-shit Holga and how he was never afraid to rely on it for some of the most important shots in the story. And, I’ve always been a fan of imperfection in photography so when I find a photographer who does their primary work with old, unique and sometimes crap cameras I make a note of it because they always seem to bring something interesting to the page.

Here’s a site (Andreas Wolkerstorfer :: cameras) where the photographer runs film through all types of cameras so you can see what kind of pictures they take and although the general theme seems to be vignette with the older cameras, I still enjoy seeing images that aren’t perfect.

Of course, boring subjects still make for boring pictures no matter what camera you’re using.

There Are 26 Comments On This Article.

  1. I love Teru’s work.
    Thank You for the link with all the cameras pics.

    But I do not agree that boring subjects always make boring pictures. I do think in most boring subjects there is always one point of view that can be interesting. It just depends on the ability of the photographer to make it happen.

    That said a great point of view on a boring subject is generally not as good as a great point of view in a amazing subject….. but that is lapalissian!

  2. True. Making an interesting picture out of a boring subject takes a great photographer. I guess I’m saying that an interesting camera can’t help you there.

  3. I too love the crappy cameras and some of my favorite images were produced with them. Current standouts were produced with disposable cameras after taking a lighter to the plastic lens.

    Key to them working is making certain that they don’t look like someone just Photoshopped em up.

  4. Here’s a fascinating character, Miroslav Tichý. This pretty much takes it to the extreme.

    His images:

    http://www.tichyocean.ch/Documentations/Works

    The artist and the camera:

    http://www.tichyocean.ch/Documentations/The_Artist

    I had fun making my own lenses, years ago. I’d recommend it to anyone; it’s a rewarding process. Here’s the timeline, starting in about 1999, and going to 2007, when it petered out. Brian Smith in Miami owns it now, maybe he’ll take it further.

    http://www.marktucker.com/plungercam/

  5. Ah, love the Holga. It’s my toy camera of choice and comes on every assignment I do (except maybe studio portraits…). However, when showing work in New York and even more so, publications based elsewhere, I’ve noticed that Holga shots scare the crap out of some people, so I’ve really scaled back the amount of Holga in my portfolios. That being said, I am embarking on a single book (perhaps via Blurb) of only Holga travel and portraiture images…

    Here’s the project that got it all started for me–grabbing a Holga was how I fell in love with photography again… http://www.aaronfallon.com/honk.html

  6. All film related “defects” (even shot through the sharpest summicron) have a certain appeal, a certain soul… Now digital dust spots?? ewwww!…

  7. Interesting collection to look through.

    But it’s too easy to get stuck with technical details and lose the focus on the photograph. No vintage camera effect or defect will help me to take better photographs. But I appreciate if a photographer knows why he uses a certain camera well for a certain subject. In the end it’s all about the photograph, and that’s where my thoughts are.

  8. I have a mess of old Canon thread mount lenses that I shoot with Neopan 400 and my M4 Leica. My two favorites are the Canon 50mm f/1.2 from the sixties and a “Made in Occupied Japan” 35mm f/3.2.

    They are nowhere near as sharp as my Leica glass but they have a smooth look to them that is very sweet in high contrast locations. I’ve also tried some of the inexpensive Russian thread mount lenses and wide-open that vignette specials. Kinda fun to play around with.

  9. I think it was Gary Winogrand who said to me once that “You can take a good picture of anything”

    ~ William Eggleston

  10. Sure,
    Teru’s images do look good, but crappy camera is only one element in the aesthetic. He captures moment, gestures, composition, etc…

    Teru is an exception. Usually people use this kind of camera just as a shortcut to interesting images. I HATE that. As Garry Winogrand said there is no special way how a good picture should look like and extremely wide lenses (and crappy cameras too) are making picture look in a special way…

    B5

  11. interesting cameras are the thing most lacking from digital. Everything is to perfect and photoshop never achieves the wonderful randomness of crappy cameras. Lately I’ve been getting cheap uv filters and abusing them I stick them on my dslr and get pretty close. Maybe I should start selling them.

  12. I adore crappy old cameras…the stuff I’ve been shooting w/ my 50 year old Yashica C and Kowa SIX MM and Fuji Neopan Acros 120/100ISO film has done nothing but made me feel good once again about film.

  13. “No vintage camera effect or defect will help me to take better photographs.”

    Maybe yes, maybe no. One reason some people start working with toy and vintage cameras is to take a lot of control away from the photographer. By no longer being in control of focus, aperture, shutter speed, light leaks, consistent film transport, double exposures, etc., etc., much is left to chance and a creative POV. This can be freeing for some and challenging for others. Either way, it can be a charge to one’s photographic vision — something we all need now and then.

  14. These cameras have been in a storage spot for years. Can you tell me if they are worth anything

    1. Kodak Colorburst 100
    2. Kodak Instamatic 104
    3. Kodak Instamatic 174
    4. Time Kinetic Optical
    5. Marksman 120 Zenith Camera Corp metal body.
    6. Bell & HowellDirect Series Zoomatic
    7. Kodak Brownie 8mm movie camera
    8. Clix De Luxe Metropolitan industries
    9 .Argus seventy five
    10. Kodak Duaflex II
    11. Autographic Brownie #2 Folding Kodak ball bearing shutter Says use Autographic Film No A-120
    12. Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera flash model
    13. Polaroid Prontor -svs. 110A
    14. Polaroid Land Camera Model 95
    15. Vista View Deluxe 110

  15. Just found this on Google. I wan’t to add that all old cameras or lenses are not “crappy”. To me, most old lenses I use is very good at the soft part as well as the sharp. They have different properties and suite my style. I’ve sold all my modern lenses and now only use manual lenses.

    The modern lenses concentrate to much on the sharpness only (and crappy bokeh, ugly flares), because sharpness is all many new DSLR-owners care about and notice.