Permanent Collections: Ryan's Cameras | Varyer

Ryan's Cameras

I’ve always seen photography as an outlet as I move through life, rather than a professional skill. I find the photos that are dearest to me come from spontaneity over thoughtfulness; instinct over craft. Or perhaps, just a bizarre fascination for capturing and collecting moments that one day I will seek nostalgia from. That being said, I’ve worked in the moving picture biz as a director, editor, and colorist for the last decade or so and have immense respect for those that call photography a profession — I’d just rather set the record straight before the internet jury of my standing as more of a for-the-helluva-it kinda shooter. So, take this recipe for camera fun with a grain of salt (or lemon pepper, rather) and long live rock n’ roll, etc.

Here we are with a list of several cameras and a few fun techniques that I’ll take to the grave (alongside my VHS collection & ‘79 Puch Maxi Moped).

Numero uno: Yashica 35 Electro GSN 35mm Rangefinder

Why did I buy? The name is fun, the camera itself is a piece of art & I wanted to try out a rangefinder. Upon purchase, I realized the rangefinder focusing element was broken, but alas the camera was still a true gem. The model I found my hands on has a fixed 45mm 1.7 lens — super fast and the ideal length for general shooting. I had to scrape off some old mercury from the battery well & jerry rig some aluminum foil to make more modern camera batteries (CR123’s perhaps?) work, but all worth it in the end. Originally (and still), I had wanted to try a Canonet G-III QL17 rangefinder from Canon, but this camera seemed comparable, a little weirder, and half the price tag.

RR (Ryan rating) 8.3/10


II: Canon AE-1 35mm SLR

Why did I buy? I did not! The camera was gifted to me from my Ma’s best friend. My sweet Ma told me “don’t lose this” — and years later it is still found. A very simple, but wonderful camera with full manual control for experimenting through the roof. Plus, I love how sturdy the camera feels, nice and heavy like a bucket of fried chicken.

RR: 7.7/10


Three is me: Fisher-Price PXL-2000 (mod)

Why did I buy this? For obvious reasons that I don’t think need to be stated. This camera is actually a video camera made for children... by a toy company. It originally recorded video somewhere under 240p resolution onto an audio cassette tape. Not wild enough for you, yet? Still want to shoot 4k videos on your iPhone, bigshot? Well, ol’ Richard Linklater (known for the best film of all time, Dazed & Confused), featured this piece of plastic in his debut flick, Slacker. Pretty neat-o, I’d say.

Nowadays, it’s easier to find modded versions of these toy cams that come with a few additional knobs and outputs, allowing the user to bypass recording onto an audiotape and capture the image onto an external recorder via composite out cables, along with controlling the contrast/brightness a bit better. End of the day, this will never leave my collection, and I hope to keep it in semi-consistent rotation with film work.

RR: 8.8/10


4: Sony Mavica MVC-FD91

Why did I buy this? Well, the camera records imagery (and even a few seconds of video) onto a floppy disk. So, yeah, that’s why. Super cheap to find online and a ton of fun. This camera is the most recent purchase of mine in the photographic gear world and it quite frankly reinvigorated a love for taking a camera out for a walk and shooting. Hot tip for the absurdists out there, forcibly pull the floppy disk from the capture deck while importing to your computer for some wild glitch/scan issues if you can time it right. Grab yourself a cheap Floppy Disk to USB capture deck, some old Floppy’s (just don’t wipe your copy of Ski Free) and hit the town, Charlie Brown.

RR: 9/10


FIVE ALIVE: Any disposable camera
You may have seen this coming… but this is the real permanent piece, because once one goes, another comes along. They’re cheap (consider breaking apart the disposable camera housing prior to development and just send the lab the actual film roll, as for some reason, labs seem to charge extra for disposables), and you can find em’ anywhere from eBay (grab an expired batch) or Disney World’s gift shops.

RR: 10/10


A few fun things maybe you’ll consider adding to the pot next time you’re in the photo kitchen…

  • Take a shot roll of film out in a bathroom/light tight zone and get the roll a lil’ dirty, put some of your dog’s hair on it, scratch it with a marker, etc. — the results may be good, bad and likely ugly — but I insist this is ~*better*~ than trying to make your iPhone pics look vintage & cool & old.

  • Cheap/weird/old screw on filters from eBay or garage sales are always fun. Anything from a color filter to a gradient sky to a softener. Or just smear vaseline on the edges of the lens (with caution, my friends).

  • If shooting film, try high ISO film, like my fav 3200 b&w. Super nice for low light and real fine and extra present grain! Or try some expired batch or just something nice, like Portra.

Anywho, thanks for reading and I hope you will study this for the midterm. You can find my motion picture work alongside my partners at or more about me, myself & Irene at — Cheers!