Back to Basics
Over the past few years, I would run a roll of film through my trusty Pentax K1000, but not on a regular basis. With a camera like that, you have a decent amount of control of shutter speed, aperture, focus and have a built in light meter that helps you determine your exposure based on the film speed. It is far from automatic, but you have the ability to get the image you want based on those variables.
Enter the toy camera. I had heard of Holga and Diana cameras in the past, but didn't start playing with one until recently. For the uninitiated, these are cameras of shoddy quality that are manufactured in China out of injection molded plastic. On the most part, these use plastic lenses instead of glass and are very simple in construction. It turns out that the same shoddy design can make for some incredible pictures (as well as many horrible ones). They operate as rangefinders, so you don't see through the same lens that the picture is taken through, so it is easy to leave the lens cap on (as well as bad parallax issues at close range). On the Holga you have a limited amount of focus settings: 3 feet, 6 feet, 9 feet, and infinity as well as one as one shutter speed: 1/100th of a second. Due to the lack of control, it takes a good manipulation of environment and the proper knowledge of film speed to get the effects you want. The plastic lens lends itself to soft images that seem somewhat otherworldly.
With that lack of control, you really have to start thinking about how you will set up a shot. You have to mentally focus on all the variables involved in capturing that moment. I feel more comfortable with a camera like a SLR because you can see what you are focusing on and know that your exposure is going to be correct for your condition. But sometimes when you move outside your comfort zone, you can take some excellent photos. Even if your photos don't come out the way that you wanted, it is relaxing to focus on something and connect with it through a crappy plastic box. Crappy cameras are not just for hipsters trying to be ironic or retro. The most important thing is to have fun.
Here are a few pictures I've taken with this camera: