The Beauty of Cheap Photography

“The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.”
-Ernst Haas

As Haas says, any camera can capture the scene in front of you. The challenge is to capture a scene worth repeating.

Among artists, photographers are pretty unique. To put it mildly, many of us are total dorks. We do tests, and chemistry, and take temperatures. I’ve never seen a painter use a machine to calibrate the mixture of their paints.

If you go to any photography store you can easily see cameras that sell for more than most people’s cars!

There are photographers who have put away (or sold) their expensive cameras and have gone to a variety of homemade or ultracheap cameras. I’ve put together a small list of resources for anyone who might be interested in getting into photography for cheap, building some cheap adaptations to their cameras, or buidling their own entire camera.

For a better explanation than I can give of pinhole photography and making pinholes (their links are excellent):

For how to make a pinhole adapter for your 35mm film or D-SLR camera (even though his images suck):

This site has tons of DIYs and some camera mods:

A cheap studio set up at home:

Some wild and crazy hacks of digital cameras:

The iconic holga cameras:

The famous dirkon paper camera (requires serious patience to complete.):

Well, its a start anyway. Just go out and make some cool pictures on the cheap. And give that guy at the camera store who told you you needed a $3000 camera the finger.

Also, many of the sites have galleries on them, so check them out because it is amazing the quality of work you can produce from a throwaway camera.


The best pictures I’ve ever taken have been on my old cell phone. I shoot on a cheap ol’ powershot s2 is, which replaced my old beater f60. I would kill for an entry level dslr, but they aren’t cheap :frowning: That being said, if I could afford film any more (the internet and good quality cat food are my only luxuries these days), I would invest in an old lomo in a heartbeat.

Very nice primer on cameras. I’ll read it more thoroughly tomorrow. I have a pretty nice (by entry level standards) Panasonic 5 MP digital with an 8x optical zoom. Pretty good resolution and about as many useful features as I could ask for without adding clutter than would make it harder to use. Eventually I’d like to get a digital SLR, but only if I get back into photography a bit more seriously (I did photography for the yearbook in HS, but that was close to 20 years ago now).

I’ve been a semi-serious photography person most of my life. (no glass plate jokes!) I managed to have every sort of inexpensive camera right up to the most expensive professional toys. A Kodak Brownie plastic box to the latest Nikon toys with ALL the assesories and lenses made. I’ve made some semi-acceptable photographs over the years and and it is true that learning to see is more important than the camera. One caveat: It’s a little difficult to pull a 16x20 gallery print off the old 110 film format shot through a plastic lens… :laughing:

Digital cameras really were disappointing to me. It was like shooting a black powder rifle. Pull the trigger and wait 2 or three seconds for the bang.

A couple of months ago I finally broke down and bought a Nikon D70. As soon as I take the semester long college course on how to use the thing I may be able to make a few photographs again. :unamused:

But it is still all about seeing. The images have to appear in our head first. Anyone can click a shutter.

Good post gemty. Thanks.

If we can get more people into photography, we can take this place over and rename ILP, ILovePhotography.

Tent, I know exactly where you’re coming from. :cry:


i’ve always love black and white pinhole with reeeealllly long exposure time

always a blast

Thank you, Gemty, can’t wait to try this out.