A 2-Megapixel Buzz Lightyear Camera in the Hands of a Pro Photographer

Give James Bond, Jack Bauer or Chuck Norris a spork, and they’ll figure out a way to overpower bad guys wielding guns. What happens when you give a seasoned photographer a cheap digital camera designed for toddlers?

That’s what Kai Wong and DigitalRev did recently. They flew in David Hobby of Strobist and gave him a 2-megapixel Buzz Lightyear camera and three cheapo flash units. Hobby was then tasked with shooting 5 challenges in 5 locations of 5 subjects, using his resourcefulness to make the best images he could with the uber-low-end gear.

The video above shows what went down. Here’s the camera Hobby used (it costs less than $20 at children’s toy stores):


Here are some of the photographs that resulted from the challenge:







Hobby has published a blog post with his thoughts on the experience. This challenge was actually the season finale of DigitalRev’s “Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera” series, which has featured a number of pros and cheapo cameras.

Image credits: Photographs by David Hobby and used with permission

  • Duke Shin

    To infinity…

    “Family Jewels” flash for the win

  • Samcornwell

    One would be forgiven for mistaking Michael Zhang of PetaPixel for Mr DigitalRev himself! Really enjoyed the video – happy new year mate!

  • Syuaip

    Audi Quattro?… ZFTW!

    Happy new year!!! #D

  • alvin nivla

    …so it’s really not camera but the person behind the camera.

  • Simon Pollock

    Egg Fried Rice…. booom

  • jerry

    The boots were not like todays but Garincha was the master of the banana kick. The singer not the song.

  • Robin Mitchell

    pretty average images, to be honest.

  • Alok Mishra

    I am not sure what I was more amazed about- David’s skills with light painting or how nice he was. Excellent video showing mad McGuiver skills (I will carry black tape around on a card), technical skills (gotta have that FUQ6 flash – not) and people skills (it is humbling to see him bow)

  • Jim

    What will this do to the mentality of people who believe you have to
    have the latest, greatest, zillion megapixel DSLR with ISO 1 billion and
    a 3,000 frame per second burst rate in order to be a “pro”?

  • Stan

    I was wondering if I was the only one left unimpressed. Plus, the head in the last photo looks ‘shopped.

  • DrKnow

    I think it will prove their point.

  • Barry Eric Barnard

    All these images prove is that its worth spending money on a decent camera.

  • Jeffrey Penafiel

    if all got same camera and accessories skills and techniques kick and and he got it…. @stoyanov:disqus did you watched the video? i bet you cant even think the things that he did and how resourceful he is

  • Duke Shin

    Better gear helps.

  • ietion

    very nice idea and challenge!! very very decent and interesting pics for the gear he had!

  • Cameron Bashaw

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One could say the camera imparted the effect someone might be looking for. and hey, i’ve seen worse.. try a 1st gen camera phone ;)

  • Alex Szecsi

    I never understand whats the point this videos!These pictures are very average.

  • 9inchnail

    The point is that most people (including you) would propably shoot way below average photos with this kind of camera.

  • Alex Szecsi

    So! The major catch this video is the 2MP because you and i probably use a 20 MP LCD screen and 2MP is so carppy its impossible made a nice shot.
    Fact: My first digital camera a canon was had 2MP sensor and made wonderful pictures in 2003!

  • ga1n

    Quite impressed. Of all the images, the car is the best shot of them all. He lit that very well.

    I think it proves the classic point the best camera is the one in your hand.

  • DrKnow

    These images are “way below average” themselves, unless your standards are below average too.

  • brandon

    i think they should show these shots next to the exact same shot without a hobby light tweaked version. hobby is the man. I’ve read nearly every word on his blog, and I’ve learned nearly everything that i know about lighting from him, and once the basics are known, you are free to tweak things to your own style.

  • Duke Shin

    It’s the slow shutter speed with the flash that adds the surreal effect.
    Lern 2 family jewelz, n00b

  • William Zhang

    You have a 20MP LCD screen? How impossible! Let calculate, 2560×1440 = oh 3.7MP! What’s the resolution of your screen again?

  • Dario Alvarez

    Those are terrible pictures. Thanks for proving camera DOES matter.

  • Matt

    Actually, I think the problem is with the “challenges” they kind of make the photos average. I’m sure if the photographer had a little more freedom to express himself, rather than to perform, the photos would be better.
    I love that camera tech is evolving quickly and really like high mega pixels, to a fault. But, I’m also aware that art can be done with pin hole cameras and I can be envious of phone photos.
    One thing is for sure, would not have to worry about someone stealing the camera. At least not anyone that could not be sent to their room.

  • Mansgame

    I wish they would do a new photographer/pro camera challenge. Maybe give them a D4/24-70 f/2.8 lens put it on P, Auto ISO, and Auto Focus and see what they can do? let them try shooting some portraits, then put on the 300mm f/2.8 lens and see how they do with sports.

  • Luis Cardona

    All this proves is that 2013 is the year to block out the haters and pick up our goddamn cameras. Average images from a ‘Buzz’ camera and FUQ Flashes that don’t sync equals A for effort. Besides, David, Kai, Digitla Rev, Strobist, YouTube, etc… just made money from you. Average is good enough in this FUN and entertaining exercise, no?

  • tiredofit123

    The one Kung-Fu pose is actually pretty cool. Maybe this will be the start of a new trend–where we had Holgas for film we have toy digital cameras for the “serendipity” look. Actually most photographers could benefit from practicing with or using such limited equipment as they can focus on refining their technique and style–what they want to see on screen, as opposed to fiddling with menus and settings.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    I’m all for using low-end gear to create high-end, creative images, but these are just really boring and uninspired photos. It has nothing to do with the camera used, there is just nothing interesting in these photos

  • cheap shots for real

    what the world needs is a genuine digital holga, a lo-fi approach medium format sensor camera with decent low light capabilites and cheap lenses capable of capturing proper shallow DOF. the ultimately high megapixels nor the other latest digital bells and whistless are not that important after all. cameras should be more fun than fancy.

  • Darius

    Yes, pretty much.