In August of last year a group of former Holga camera employees from Hong Kong decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to launch a digital version of the beloved asian toy camera. The original Holga debuted in 1982, and has since become a favorite of many artists due to the lack of complexity and flexibility. Their goal was to get the $50,000 dollars needed to begin production, but demand was so great that they exceeded that goal in just 4 days. Ultimately the project exceeded $300,000 and more than 2500 backers during the 60 days it was active on Kickstarter and they continue to get orders via Indiegogo here.
The camera is as low tech as a digital camera can get, owing very much to its roots as a toy camera. With a manual shutter lever, exposure time is as flexible as possible and hard to gauge. In addition, the only selections possible are a switch on the bottom to toggle between BW and Color modes, and the power dial on top allowing you to select between simulating 135 or 120 film. You additionally have the option of attaching the flash or not via the hot shoe on top. Everything else is done by feel and experience alone. As you can see from the sample images below even with very little automatic control the camera provides decent quality and good dynamic range.
The second camera I received is the Lytro Illum, an extremely advanced camera using what is called Light Field imaging to capture all of the available light in each pixel. This not only provides superior dynamic range, but allows for what Lytro calls "living pictures" because by capturing all of the light in the lenses field of view you have the ability to change the depth of field and point of focus after acquiring the image data. In addition, the technology allows the camera to export 3D images. With manual focus, 8x optical zoom, and dynamic range equivalent to 80-3200ISO it is perhaps the most advanced still camera ever built with a single lens.
As you can see from the linked pictures below, you can share images that the viewer can choose a point of focus in on demand, a feature unique to Light Field technology. At an MSRP of $1300 this is an amazingly expensive camera, but incredibly fun to use. If it could shoot video as well it could be the perfect all around camera. Fortunately, Lytro has moved on to trying to change cinematography and as result the camera can be found on Amazon for $387 dollars from some vendors.