Aperture 3’s Toy Camera Preset – A Visual Essay

by Mike on April 28, 2010

When I first heard about Aperture 3’s toy camera preset, visions of reliving shooting that s0litary roll of 120mm film with a Diana F+ danced through my head. Best of all – I wouldn’t have to spend money on film and processing!

In Aperture 3, the Toy Camera preset turns up the definition, saturation, vibrancy, and shadow controls while adding vignetting to simulate the look of a vintage toy camera like a Diana or Holga.

Before we get to the Toy Camera Visual Feast of 2010, let me give you a quick tutorial on how to use it.

As with applying all other presets, it’s a snap. Go to the Adjustments tab on the Inspector, click on presets, and select Toy Camera from the Color menu:

And yes, this is a statue of a dog peeing on Michael Vick’s jersey.

Did you really expect anything better? I’m not Ansel f*cking Adams.

For the sake of comparison, here’s the before picture:

And the after:

Blech. I’m not impressed by this – I don’t think this preset likes dynamic range all that much – it just looks fuzzy and digital.

Here are a few more:

This is a jar of mustard. I eat mustard and ketchup on my burgers. I kind of like what the vignetting and saturation due to the background.

This is a jazz bassist and I apologize to her for this. It’s just horrible how digital this looks.

Ah, the poor pitbull! Hmmm, not bad.

This is Plum Beach in Brooklyn – this would look cool in a small print.

And this is the Apple store on West 14th Street in Manhattan. I like shooting into reflective surfaces.

Right here, there should be a picture of a crying baby, but the toy camera preset made him look so old and wrinkled that I scratched it.

Most of those shots were taken with a Canon Rebel t1i sporting the cheap-ass Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. The beach landscape was taken with the kit lens.

But what happens when I apply the Toy Camera preset to shots from a cell-phone camera? Let’s take a look at a bunch of photos taken with the BlackBerry Pearl’s camera, and processed in Aperture 3 with the Toy Camera preset enabled:

Sorry I forgot to label this post NSFW. Yes, this is a Care Bear holding a bottle of wine while receiving oral pleasure from a teddy bear. I swear on my life that I did not set this up – if I did, may God force me to use a Windows PC again.

This ad is definitely dirty. But I love the ethnic diversity – it’s kind of like a McDonald’s commercial.

I found this face in Coates Island, Vermont. I think it’s supposed to be Teddy Roosevelt.

Yes, Boba Fett in the house! With an accordian!

Nobody loves this kitty. That’s why it’s homeless.

This is a toilet.

This is the door to the Iron Door Saloon in Grove City, California just outside of Yosemite.


The toy camera effect is good for the occasional funky effect, and if you’re willing to tweak, you may find a twist on it that you really like. I’m going to play around with it, especially on cell phone pics that can otherwise look kind of flat. You know I love Aperture, but I’m not super-wowed by this particular preset – especially when people’s faces are involved.

If you want the real deal with toy cameras, go with the decidedly undigital and unpredictable Holga or Diana F+.

Just don’t forget your film!

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