Employing and Enjoying the Toy Camera Effect

by | Aug 31, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

These days almost all cameras, whether they’re DSLR or mirrorless, seem to have some kind of built-in Toy Camera special effect filter. Even the full-frame Pentax K-1 Mark II I tested for Shutterbug, once upon a time, has a Toy Camera Filter available, in addition to filters for Extract Color, Replace Color, Retro, High Contrast, Shading, Invert Color, Unicolor Bold and Bold Monochrome.

Another way you can add this effect is by applying it later in the digital darkroom by using a Photoshop-compatible Plug-in or Photoshop Action such as Dave Ward’s “Old Toy Camera” Photoshop Action. Dave’s action gives image files a look that similar to film photographs made using a Diana, Holga or some kind of antique camera. Dave Ward’s .ATN file also includes two additional Actions that imitate the borders and edges produced by vintage and toy cameras.

Tip: Photoshop’s actions palette lets you record a sequence of image editing steps that can be saved, then applied again at a future time. An action can be applied to a selection in an image, another image file or in a batch operation to hundreds of different files. One of action’s most useful features is that they can be saved and shared with others. This is made easier by the fact that actions are cross-platform and Mac OS or Windows actions both use the “.ATN” extension.

How I Made this shot: The above photograph was made when Mary and I were on a driving tour in San Diego that was sponsored by the Antique Automobile Club of America. The image was originally captured in color using a Canon EOS 50D (before I converted it to for IR capture and later sold) with the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens that I still own. Exposure was 1/80 sec at f/7.1 at ISO 250. It was a cool morning in San Diego and was overcast from a light rain that had stopped just moments before I made the photograph. The “Old Toy Camera” Action adds some of the general elements that make photos captured with toy and antique cameras so beautiful.


New copies of my book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is available from Amazon for $22.79, while used copies are a bargain starting at a little more than two bucks! No Kindle versions are currently available, sorry.