So you think you need an expensive camera to get good photographs?  Crappy camera = crappy photos?  Does your old, cheap camera have you convinced you can’t pursue photography with the passion and talent you know you harbor?

If so, you’re a victim of the cheap camera myth. Please read on.

The photo below on the Li River near Guilin China was taken with a $50 camera called a Diana. The Diana is a medium format film camera (now available with a 35 mm back) with a plastic body AND plastic lens. That’s right PLASTIC. Not Zeiss. The vignetting is inherent. The photo is SOOC – straight out of the camera — as in no Photoshop.

I liken the Diana to Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get! Every photo is a surprise — I like that. While dependability is critical when you need to count on the outcome, the point here is that even with a $50 camera, the potential exists.

Li River with a Diana

Your camera has nothing to do with your ability to LEARN photography. So if you read no further, arm yourself with your cheap camera and get out there!

P.S. this is more of a Rah! Rah! session than a lesson. Sometimes motivation is the required prerequisite.

I don’t consider any of my equipment “cheap”. Although much of it was inexpensive (some even free), every camera in the SRT arsenal is capable of taking great photos, even artistic photos. And who says you have to have new?  All my equipment has been purchased USED or given to me by friends in lieu of a garage sale death.

The cameras are different, with results that span the photographic spectrum from the full framed digital workhorse, the Canon 5D I bought last year, to the dreamy, you-must-be-high-on-something appreciation that comes out of the Polaroid SX-70 land camera. That’s right, an instamatic film camera that was introduced in 1972 as the first “instant SLR”. And great fun at parties!

A cheap camera, an old camera, an outdated camera, an outdated cheap old camera is NO reason to not pursue your interest in photography.  More visual aids, please!

Xinjiang China with a Diana camera

Peace signs with a Diana

The two above were taken with the Diana. Inherent light leaks and vignetting mean unpredictable results — a  beautiful thing if you’ll just cut the tethers to the digital it-must-be-exactly-as-presented-in-real-life standard now gripping us all.

So you say I had exceptional scenery/characters for the photographs with the Diana?  Here’s one taken over July 4th with the Polaroid SX-70.

July 4th with a Polaroid SX-70

Stepping up in price range, the Sony DSC-T100 Cyber-shot at $400 is my favorite camera for trips to the grocery store, and for macro shots. With a Zeiss lens, the photos it produces are hard to beat for everyday photography. After viewing this photo again, the results are hard to beat. Period.

Liquid Light

If you’re still unconvinced photography can’t be pursued with a cheap camera, shoot with one for 2-3 weeks and report back.  Sometimes it’s the simple exercise of carrying the camera around and tripping the shutter that overcomes our excuses.

Check out the Lomography website if you’re interested in exploring film cameras.  And “Lomo” is simply a term for experimental analogue photography — nothing more exotic than that. The prices range from $50 for the Diana, to $350+ for the Lubitel 166+.  If you’ve fallen for the “cheap camera myth”, start with the $50 Diana.