#87. Adventures in Toy Camera land

By pascaljappy | News

Feb 18

UPDATE : A summary of all this website’s reviews of the Sony NEX-5n and NEX-7 is now available.

sunlit clouds at sunset over dark hills, Sony NEX-5N & Leica Elmarit-M 90

Smoky Clouds, Black Hills. Sony NEX-5N & Leica Elmarit-M 90

Serious reviewers and serious shoots scoff at the gimmicky “creative settings” on today’s little digital cameras. And, sometimes, they’re right. But not always 🙂

A children's cabin photographed in Toy Camera mode with the Sony NEX-5N and Leicam Elmarit-M 90/2.8

Toy Cabin

The top 3 reasons to like the Toy Camera mode are : it’s fun, it’s fun, it’s fun 🙂

A magenta sunset accentuated by the Toy Cameramode on the Sony NEX-5N. Imaged with the Elmarit-M 90/2.8 Leica lens

Toy Sunset

The viewer’s eye is immediately attracted to the brightest most contrasty part of a picture. So vignetting, like selective focus is a way of guiding the eye in a picture that would otherwise have no intuitive reading.

Light rays through the clouds over the Sainte Baume in Provence. Toy Camera mode on the Sony NEX-5N with a Leica M Elmarit 90/2.8 lens

But Toy Camera is simply so overboard that I’d never even think of processing a picture like that. The beauty with an electronic viewfinder or live view rear-screen is that you can adjust exposure on the fly for the desired effect. Get it dark for a brooding atmosphere.

Black clouds over the hills of Provence. Leica Elmarit-M 90/2.8 on Sony NEX-5N

Toy Stormy Weather

It’s best not to underexpose as correcting this is tougher than accentuating it, though. Set it light for a high key effect that doesn’t let the eye leave the frame too quickly.

Islands on a lake in blanc and white. Sony NEX-5N camera with a leica lens : 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M

Toy Lake

Of course, you can always do exactly the same by hand by adding vignetting to your picture and ajusting exposure and white balance to taste as done in the HDR picture below.

Two Dragon statues inside the Walled City Park in Hong Kong

The Dragon Guards

I think this is a wonderful little feature for experimentation, particularly for beginners who want to try to escape the strait rendition of most point and shoot cameras. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if you do nothing else, but a few tries always produce some unexpected results and pleasant surprises (as well as dreadful horrors ;))

White houses against dark clouds in front of a river. Leica M 90mm f/2.8 elmarit lens on a Sony NEX-5N camera. Toy Camera modeToy

Toy River

Simulating is never as pleasant as the real thing (now then ;)) so using an old Lubitel or the fashionable Holga revival jobs probably feels a bit more authentic than tooling around with the menu on what looks like a fat iPod. But given the unashamed success on trick artsy sites such as Instagram, I see no reason to hide my pleasure with this fun mode !

White tulips

Toy Tulips

I’ll leave you with a before/after shot and a final gallery from Western Australia. Have fun with your Toy Camera 🙂

King's Park (before)

Toy King's Park (Toy Camera mode)

  • I love your shots. Very cool. Keep up the great work.

  • […] the set of filters encourages experimenting, it rapidly tends to be repetitive. It’s like the Toy Camera mode on my beloved NEX-5n, but always on. Yes, you can use the ‘unaltered’ version of the picture with the Normal […]

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