In a world where the masses carry high quality digital camera technology and there is an obsession with super crisp imagery it’s nice to shoot film using a simple camera obscura without distracting bells and whistles. All the better if the body is plastic and the lens is made of simple meniscus plastic.
Le Camera Plastique. An all-embracing term for lo-fi cameras like the Holga (designed in 1981) and its variants, the Diana and its more than fifty clones from the 70s, the newer revitalised Diana F+ and products sold by the lomo crowd and similar cheaply acquired photographic equipment that offer lens distortions, light leaks and film advance winders that sound like children’s toys. Often called toy cameras.
The go-to book on the subject is Plastic Cameras: Toying with creativity second edition by Michelle Bates but I’d also point you to read Pinhole Photography: From historic technique to digital application fourth edition by Eric Renner to fill out your understanding of simple photographic principles. And mostly because it’s also just a good book on photography in general.
We have three Holgas in the house (two 120N and a 120 PAN), but haven’t yet acquired any nice old Dianas or clones. However, as far as le camera plastique goes I think you’d have to agree the Polaroid Super Shooter Land Camera gifted to me by the ever-generous Film Photography Project meets the plastic camera definition. It doesn’t come more lo-fi than the Super Shooter and if you’ve ever had one in your hands you would understand exactly what I’m talking about – solid plastic body, plastic viewfinder, plastic lens & minimal (if any) real user controls. It takes Fujifilm pack film.
Some people will never like the abandonment that comes with shooting le camera plastique. But I’m one of the many who enjoy it immensely. For good examples you can look to Tim Hixson’s The Beach series or the beautiful Holga images of Michael Kenna.
If you’re really crazy about le camera plastique you can take these cheap cameras & mod them like the Holgaroid or turn them into pinholes. Le camera plastique is open to your own interpretation. That’s just another reason why it’s so much fun to get out there shooting lo-fi photography. Hell, make your own camera from scratch! Forget the rules.