Cult Camera Collection: A Look Back At The Nimslo & Nishika 3D Cameras

Today, in a world of virtual reality, it can be argued that 3D or stereoscopic photography is a thing of the past. And it is! The first documented stereoscopic “3D” photo can be traced as far back as 1839.

3D photography, in its best intentions, blends two or more photos together in an attempt to emulate the way we see dimensions in the real world, giving the viewer a sense or illusion of depth and movement.

That sounds so amazingly awesome you would think that 3D photography would have caught on having been around since 1839 but it hasn’t. It never did.

Yet every few years, now maybe every decade or so, someone, somebody, some company attempts to reignite the 3D flame by reintroducing it to the public. This has happened not only in photography but in the movies as well. Hollywood knows it!

The results are usually the same: initial excitement which then fades quickly into oblivion.

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

I just wanted to note that this article is NOT about how to make 3D photos using these two cameras. That would take a whole other article! Plus while I have done a few 3D photos, I still do not feel that I am all that proficient at it.

Below is a quick shot I did with the Nishika N8000, Kodak Gold 200, and flash. Just to show how a 3D image can transform an everyday picture into something different πŸ™‚

This was from last year and looking back now, I’m not even sure how I did it! I don’t think I remember all the steps needed in Photoshop and when I think of putting in that work for just a few seconds of fun, well, I’m glad I did it once or twice and I’m glad I bought this camera basically for my collection!

I did process the image with a retro VHS effect and added some music to give it that extra funk πŸ™‚

 

 

Making the GIF files from these cameras require some savvy Photoshop skills. In 2004 or 2005, as a younger man who enjoyed Photoshopping all my photos, I would’ve been all over this! But in 2019, as a family man, I neither have the time nor the inclination to do it.

Ok maybe in all fairness, it’s not all that hard if you are Photoshop savvy and have a lot of time on your hands. I may give it another try should I be bored or looking for something different one weekend!

If a tutorial on how to make 3D GIFs from your negatives is what you’re looking for, you are better served seeking out the fine articles already on the web or on YouTube.

This article is strictly about the cameras themselves, some history, and my impressions of them, from the viewpoint of a camera fanatic, collector, and sometimes historian.

A lot of this stuff is available on the internet, if you scour and search. I’m putting the information all in one page for you guys!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer a more dynamic video experience, here’s our video review on the Nimslo and Nishika 3D cameras. In this video, I get you guys as close as possible to these cameras without actually touching them. Basically, “camera porn” πŸ™‚

Also in this video, we go around the world for an exclusive preview of upcoming videos and then by the end of the video I became “unhinged” lol which is my favorite part of the video! But I don’t know, you tell me!

I didn’t think I’d make another video, but you guys inspired me to do it so thanks!

THE NIMSLO 3D CAMERA

The Nimslo is a quadrascopic stereo camera introduced in 1982 by Nimstec, which was a part of the Nimslo Corporation of Atlanta, which was a subsidiary of Nimslo which was based in Bermuda. The origins of the company goes back to Hong Kong! Confusing right? It’s all business folks. You know how businesses and corporations work!

The Nimslo 3D camera with box. What a flashback to the 1980s!

The exact year of introduction is a little vague online. Wikipedia says the camera was “introduced in the 1980s” which is technically correct but not specific.

My research and my own memory points me to 1982 as the year the Nimslo 3D camera became available to the public, at least here in the USA. In fact, a quote from an NY Times article that I’ve included below pretty much confirms it. The actual camera may have been around since 1980 and the concept before that. I may even have a magazine with the early ads…if I can find it!

I still can recall seeing this camera in the magazines and being excited by it back then, even as a kid. 1982 was also the year my favorite game console, the ColecoVision became available to the public.

The Nimslo is a quadrascopic camera. It has four lenses and takes four half-frame images at once. That is, on a single frame of 35mm film, the Nimslo takes two half frame images and with each shot it does so on two 35mm frames for a total of four half frame images. Sounds a little confusing right?

In actuality it’s not, it’s just mathematics! Just remember: two 35mm frames, four half frame images. Anyway you would get 18 photos on a 36 exposure roll or 12 on a 24 exposure roll.

The Nimslo a is a fixed focus camera with an automatic exposure system. It uses glass for its four triplet type lenses. The aperture range is f/5.6-f/22 and shutter speeds range from 1/30-1/500. The camera uses three Eveready 386 1.5 volt batteries.

“Nimslo” is not just a cool nonsensical name they thought of out of thin air. It’s the name of the cameras two creators, Jerry Nims and Allen Lo.

Although the two men are often cited as the camera’s co-creators, multiple sources point to Mr. Lo as the actual inventor. Mr. Nims appeared to have been the salesman, pitchman, “marketing genius” behind the camera.

In fact, I remember reading somewhere that Mr. Lo was quoted as saying Mr. Nims “insisted” he should also have his name (Nims) on the camera too. Whatever the case, the camera will link these two forever.

Another interesting tidbit is that the actual cameras were originally manufactured for Nimslo by Timex Corporation in Dundee, Scotland. But a workers strike there caused Nimslo to miss their delivery dates during the crucial first batch of deliveries. Talk about bad timing!

This caused Nimslo to cancel their contract with Timex and they contracted Sunpak in Japan to produce the cameras thereafter. That’s why you may have read that there’s two versions of the camera. Mine is the built in Japan version.

Despite the build up and the hype, the Nimslo never really caught on. Looking back now it’s easy to see why, but maybe back then it wasn’t, as I’ll explain later. Here’s a quote from the NY Times:

Demand for its unusual camera system, which produces the illusion of a three-dimensional image on flat paper, has never lived up to expectations. The product was first offered to consumers last fall, with the company anticipating sales of 500,000 units for the last quarter of 1982. In reality, however, only 50,000 units were sold.” Source: NY Times, September 1, 1983.

At the time, Nimslo was touted as perhaps the next Polaroid in the photography business. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that their target audience was a small, niche market at best. And in my opinion, I believe it’s been proven that the 3D photography market will always be a small niche market.

But back then, in a world without digital photography, it’s also easy to see how one could dream big! So I give the company and its creators credit for having the vision, will, and guts to put their camera on the market. It was really something unique and different. But unique and different usually means it’s not for everybody, which means once again, a limited market.

Both the Nimslo and Nishika were originally intended to be used in conjunction with lenticular printing, which produces prints with the “illusion of depth” (as quoted from Wiki; I couldn’t have said it better!). At that time in the 1980s, only Nimslo could and would develop and print your images through their “secret” process. It seemed like a sure fire money maker!

But waiting for the prints, which could take weeks and by some accounts, months to return to the consumer was a red flag. People may not have been living in the “I want it now” era that we live in today, but even back then waiting that long for prints is a sure fire way for one to lose interest.

Today, these cameras are sought by people who will primarily want to turn their images into 3D GIF files. You have to understand, these cameras were introduced before we knew anything about GIFs or JPEG files!

As far as I can tell, no one out there today has either the machinery or the will to do the traditional lenticular prints for you. That is not to say you couldn’t find a company thatΒ mightΒ do it, but probably at a price that’s not worth it.

THE NISHIKA N8000

The Nishika N8000 is also a quadroscopic stereo camera aka 3D camera introduced in 1989 by Nishika Corporation of Nevada. The actual cameras were made in Hong Kong by Nishika Optical Systems. A little confusing? It’s a business thing remember!

The Nishika N8000 in all its glory. The icons next to the lenses are your three aperture control settings.

Though they appear quite different in many ways, they are in fact “blood relatives” if you will. Nishika Corporation acquired part ofΒ  the Nimslo company, as well as their parts and patents, and the N8000 was in many ways a continuation of the Nimslo experiment.

As a camera, the Nishika uses four plastic lenses (vs the glass lenses on the Nimslo) and has a fixed mechanical shutter speed of 1/60. The aperture range is f/8, f11, and f/19 which can be selected by the user via a dedicated aperture lever. The camera runs on two AA batteries which is used for the light meter.

The Nishika may not seem to have the same interesting background as the Nimslo but as a family member, the story of Nimslo is the story of Nishika and the Nishika is seen by many as the continuation of the Nimslo project.

“Nishika” sounds Japanese but the Nevada company apparently was not Japanese at all, just named to sound like it! Which probably to this day makes some people think it’s a Japanese camera when it’s actually made in China for a company based in the USA -)

I won’t get deep into this, but there was apparently some kind of scam involving the company marketing the Nishika, where people were duped into sending hundreds of dollars only to receive this camera as their “prize.” Look it up!

Needless to say, both the Nimslo and Nishika companies folded and went out of business.

IMPRESSIONS OF THE NIMSLO AND NISHIKAΒ 

The Nimslo is the smaller of the two cameras but appears to be better built. Not much better, but better. A disclaimer should be made right now:

I bought my Nimslo, new old stock from a seller who made it clear that it was for parts and “not working” and indeed it’s not working so I’ve never shot it. That is fine with me because I only wanted it for my collection and for $30 dollars, it’s perfect for that!

The Nishika N8000 and Nimslo 3D camera side by side.

The Nishika is much larger and its build quality is placticky but once you hold it in your hands, it feels decent at first. By “at first” I mean, first impressions. But after you use if for a while, you begin to feel like this thing could fall apart after extended use.

Certain parts feel fragile to me. The film advance lever, for example, feels like it should be handled with care, like it might break off if I advance too vigorously. The film advance started feeling “rough” not smooth after using it for a couple of rolls.

On the other hand, in a sort of complementary way, the Nishika build reminds me a little of the Minolta Maxxum 7000. If any of you have both cameras on hand, put them together to see what I mean!

Some of you might remember that I did mention this on my Maxxum YouTube video. But Minolta lovers take heart, the Maxxum is much better built and needless to say, a much better camera! They’re not even comparable actually.

The Nishika is cheaper looking and more plasticky. Yet it’s also heftier and heavier than it looks and doesn’t feel so bad in the hands. Apparently, there’s a lead or metal bar inside the camera which gives it the added weight! Some people think this makes the camera unnecessarily heavy while others think this helps stabilize the camera. And some even think this was done to give the impression of “quality” to the camera. Talk about deception!

The Nishika to me looks a lot like those horrible “fake” cameras that I saw selling in those shady electronics shop near 34th street in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The picture below illustrates what I am talking about.

The Nishika reminds me a lot of the faux “pro” cameras that were selling in shady electronic stores in NYC back in the late 80s and 1990s. Note that the “LCD” is not an LCD at all but some kind of sticker or something printed to look like an LCD. Go Nishika! πŸ™‚

GLASS VS PLASTIC OPTICS

The Nimslo uses glass for its lenses, the Nishika uses plastic.

Now some of you may remember me talking about telescopes and how very high tolerances are needed to make a quality telescope. And of course I’ve used many camera lenses, good and not so good, over the years in pursuit of optical perfection (I haven’t found it!). I’m an optics guy.

But you don’t have to be an “optics guy” to know that, lens for lens, a glass lens is going to be better than a plastic lens!

So it might surprise some when I say that I see very little difference between the Nishika N8000 and the Nimslo based on my own results with the Nishika N8000 and the Nimslo samples that I have seen online. In fact, I read a Popular Photography article which came to pretty much the same conclusion.

Now why is this the case if a glass lens is usually always better than an equivalent plastic lens?

There are three possible reasons I can think of; One, the lenses on both the Nimslo and Nishika are slow to begin with. The Nimslo start at f/5.6, the Nishika start at f/8. Because these cameras are fixed focus this maximizes the chances of a sharper image from the get go. And because of the slow lenses you often have to resort to using flash with these cameras, again maximizing chances of getting sharp images.

Two, these lenses are creating four half frame images in any one shot. That is smaller than an already smallish 35mm image. And three to see any difference the glass elements on the Nimslo might make, you’d have to enlarge the images to a certain degree.

The problem is that nobody is going to be enlarging the GIF files people make with these cameras. A GIF file is basically a short animated video. And I’ve never seen a large 3D print from these cameras. Nothing larger than 4×6 or 5×7.

Now if you have HUGE prints, 8×10 or larger from these cameras I’d love to hear from you!

ISSUES

It’s easier to find a working Nishika than a working Nimslo. That’s because the Nishika has a mechanical shutter that works without batteries. The battery is only needed for the light meter. The Nimslo relies on the batteries for its shutter.

If you have a working model of either camera, it’s possible that it may serve you well but both the Nimslo and Nishika are prone to possible failure.

The Nimslo is well known for not working after extended periods of non-use. The culprit is usually (but not always) an issue with a lever or levers that controls the shutter. Apparently, it’s an easy fix but it does require taking the camera apart. I may try to repair mine myself, and if I do, I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

The Nishika’s most common problem seem to be shutter failure or the film advance getting stuck. While it’s cool that it has a mechanical shutter, you have to remember it’s probably not the world’s most high quality shutter!

These are not Nikon or Leica folks. They were not intended to be. These cameras should be handled with care. And if so, they can be fun to use.

PRICES & AVAILABILITY

The Nimslo & Nishika 3D cameras can be easily found, especially on your favorite auction site. but their prices vary greatly.

The Nimslo is trending at $30 for a parts/repair camera to $250 for a working model. The average prices people seem to be paying are between $150-225.

The Nishika is trending at $80-200 with an average of over $100.

I bought my Nimslo as mentioned before, for $30 as a parts/repair camera. I got my Nishika for $50.

Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for any of these cameras (and I didn’t!). In some ways, I feel like I paid too much! I mean, if you really think 3D photography is your thing, and you don’t mind paying over $100 for a working sample, by all means do it!

But once you have it, and the initial excitement is over, you’ll know what I mean. That plus the work required to make these GIF files is enough to kill your enthusiasm. Don’t pay a lot for these cameras guys!

As someone who is holding both of them as we speak, I just don’t think it’s worth it. But what do I know? I’m just a peon so take whatever I say with a grain of salt and do as you wish! πŸ™‚

If you have one of these cameras, I’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment with your experiences.

BOTTOM LINE

Stereo cameras have been around for a long time, and while there are much higher quality stereo cameras, for example the David White Stereo Realist, it can be argued that none has left the lasting impression that the Nimslo 3D and Nishika N8000 from the 1980s have done.

Certainly, few have the interesting and somewhat controversial history of the Nimslo and Nishika cameras.

They brought the promise and excitement of 3D photography to a whole new generation and continue to do so, based on the popularity of these cameras with people seeking 3D film cameras today.

In my opinion, these two are crap cameras at worst and decent cameras at best. Why do I call them crap cameras? Think about it; when was the last time you got excited by a 35mm camera that starts with an aperture of f/5.6 (Nimslo) or f/8 (Nishika)? When was the last time you thought a camera with plastic lenses (Nishika) and a fake lcd was a great camera? When was the last time you thought cameras with spotty reliability were awesome?

Probably never! But these are specialty cameras without a lot of competition. That’s why their prices stay relatively high compared to their low quality. Their calling card is 3D photography.

And despite the fact that 3D photography has never caught the general public’s adoration nor has it been able to live up to that promise of being the next big thing in photography, it can be argued that while not the highest quality cameras, the Nimslo and Nishika can be considered Camera Legends (though maybe not true Camera Legends) in their own right because they continue to bring that 3D fascination to a segment of the population, however small that segment may be.

If you can find them at a good price, and in working condition, then you may end up with some mighty fun cameras and certainly something different from anything you’re using today. Heck, they may even savvy up your Photoshop skills!

 

Hasselblad X-Pan Video Review

Good day guys! Here’s our latest YouTube video review on the Hasselblad X-Pan and 45mm f/4 lens. I had an article almost finished but since I’m taking a little trip, I couldn’t put the finishing touches so that will have to wait a little. Of course, it will have a lot more information than the video but the video is probably more entertaining.

I wasn’t happy with all of the aspects of the video, despite trying new techniques but it’s a work in progress.

Anyway, the Hassleblad X-Pan is an amazing camera that will make you rethink the way you compose your pictures. See you guys on the road, and thanks for your support!

Flashback Friday: My Very First EOS Camera the EOS-10s 1995

Continuing on my “cheap cameras” theme for this week…

If some of your best photographic memories come from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, then you’ve probably followed the same photographic path that I have.

This is the story of the days when your host and author here used nothing more than one camera and two lenses. I know it’s hard to believe after all the cameras profiled here, but yes there was a time when that was all I needed πŸ™‚

Perhaps you too have gone through that period. Do you ever wish you could go back to a simpler set of gear and just focus on photography?

THE CANON EOS-10s

My original Canon EOS-10s in black with my consumer grade Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens. On the left is my most recent “60th Anniversary” EOS-10QD which I got for $17 dollars!

The camera for today’s subject is the Canon EOS-10s.

The EOS-10s is a 35mm autofocus SLR film camera introduced by Canon in 1990. It is also known as the EOS-10 or 10QD elsewhere around the world.

Quick specs include your standard P/S/A/M modes, flash synch at 1/125 and a shutter speed range from 1/30 to 1/4000 which puts it in the amateur/enthusiast category. It also had a unique and gimmicky bar code reader thing. Not worth mentioning, just Google it if you’re interested in that!

This story is NOT about the Canon 10D digital camera! If you came here by accident because of the 10D, I’m telling you now so you won’t waste your time. And yes, I’ve used the 10D too but it’s a topic for another day πŸ™‚

While a humble looking camera, the EOS-10s included a major innovation at that time which Canon called Multi-Basis AF which was a fancy way of saying that the camera had more than just one AF point 😊

It had three in fact! Apparently the three AF points could “pass off” the subject it tracked from one AF point to another. This was major back in 1990! And just one of the many things that made Canon so respected as an innovator in the camera world.

CANON EOS-10s IMPRESSIONS

I got this camera in 1994. I was a poor student and while waiting for friends at a college library, I spent an afternoon reading almost all Β of the library’s Popular Photography magazine! Big mistake because that’s how the second wave of my camera obsession came about πŸ™‚

I had just about given up on my Minolta X-700 which I had used since 1985. It had developed a battery drain problem and even though I sent it in for Minolta to repair, the problem came back within a few months.

I was basically without a camera, except for my crappy Vivitar PS-20 point and shoot. I came across a review about the Canon EOS-10s and was fascinated by the (then) new Multi-Basis AF.

My friends showed up hours later, but I was quite content to read all that photography stuff! I was also several hundred dollars poorer because I knew I had to have that EOS-10s that I did not yet have the money for πŸ™‚

Anyway, a few months and several paychecks later, the EOS-10s arrived and I held in my hands my very first Canon EOS camera. What a feeling it was back then!

Obviously a camera is useless without a lens, so I went around to several local camera shops (and there were more local shops around back then) and I came back with what today may be seen as a very cheap lens: the Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 UC. I think I spent around $70 for it. I also eventually got a telephoto, and I settled for a cheap Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM first version.

As you can see folks, I started out with a humble two lens kit like everyone else! I cut my teeth learning the craft on cheap lenses. I should’ve just learned from my X-700 days and gotten a 50mm f/1.8 lens from the start but I wanted something different.

The EOS-10s felt good in my hands. I knew nothing of pro bodies at the time. I mean I read about them but didn’t think of getting one, nor could I afford one till much later.

While this is not a full out review, I can tell you that I never had a problem with the autofocus. It almost always delivered the goods. The fact that they AF points lit up in RED was a revelation at that time! Exposures were almost always spot on.

Below are some photos from circa 1995. Most of the photos are from a trip to Thailand in 1995. It is a beautiful and fascinating place to photograph! If you have the opportunity, do so. You will never run out of photo ops! I was quite content with my cheap camera and two lenses. All I wanted to do then was to take photos!

PHOTOS

Here are some photos from the Canon EOS-10s and my two “cheap” lenses. Where ever possible, I will state in the captions what I observed and what I may have done differently now that I can look back 24 years later.

“Working Monkeys” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, film unrecorded. I’m an advocate for developing your eye for interesting sites, but this one was easy! I caught these working moneys riding the back of a Toyota in Thailand. The monkeys are used to climb coconut trees and have been taught to get the best picks.

“Ten Buddhas” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 UC lens, film unrecorded. Here’s an example of how I might have shot this different today. Looking back I probably should have used a large aperture lens, angle it differently and get one Buddha in focus while the rest are out of focus. Hmm, or is that perhaps too trite, to cliched a shot? πŸ™‚

“Sleeping Beauty” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens. Not sure who this “Pretty Boy” is but he sure loved a good nap πŸ™‚

“Float On” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Fujichrome Velvia. The joy of floral photography in upstate New York, and yes I do shoot flowers sometimes πŸ™‚

“Big Mouth” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektar 25. The hippo opens his big mouth at the Bangkok Zoo. At that time the now long discontinued Kodak Ektar 25 was touted as the “sharpest print film in the world” and my 13×19 prints confirmed this. What I learned is that even consumer grade lenses can be very sharp when stopped down, something we all know but kind of downplay today so we can keep buying expensive lenses right? Β πŸ™‚ Of course, the the Ektar 25 no doubt film helped the sharpness!

 

“Wat Phra Keo” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektachrome. One of the many magnificent structures at Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok, the most famous of Thailand’s many temples.

“Bangkok Traffic” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektar 25. The traffic in Bangkok was famous for being ridiculous and based on what I saw the last time I was there in 2016, it still is! But maybe not as bad as this:-)

“Koh Samui” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6, film unrecorded. Just one of many beautiful views on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. The trees and the hill may give a sense of scale. I used a telephoto because this was actually farther out than it looks.

It’s the 1990s again with my old Canon EOS-10s from 1994 and the “Fubu” shirt! πŸ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

The Canon EOS-10s doesn’t get a lot of love in today’s world. It seems to be viewed as an evolutionary camera, as far as Canon’s camera order goes, but it could and should also be considered revolutionary considering the advanced technology that was implemented into the camera.

The three MULTI-BASIS autofocus points that light up in red may seem like nothing today, but it was an amazing and useful feature that pushed forward the complexity and accuracy of autofocus cameras.

In today’s world of cameras with hundreds of tiny and precise AF points, using a camera like the EOS-10s with its three “large” AF points, right in the middle of the viewfinder , is a refreshing experience.

In fact, to this day, I’m so old school I still prefer using the center point AF in every autofocus camera I own!

The Canon EOS-10s may never be considered a true Camera Legend as it is overshadowed by so many other cameras, Canon and non Canon. However, when you consider how it helped push autofocus cameras forward, you can’t help but have a little respect for its place in camera history. That plus the fact that it was my first EOS camera! πŸ™‚

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Canon EOS-10s is dirt cheap and under-appreciated in today’s used camera market making it a great buy for the budding film photographer, or a seasoned pro wanting a cheap entry back into film.

Main problem or weak point might be the mode dial. They may wear out over time, but mine never did and I used it a lot back in the 1990s. The A2E that I also used later on has the same problem and I can attest that the dial on mine broke after a few years.

If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $10-40 USD. I wouldn’t pay more than $15-25 dollars. If it’s working you have a nice, if unassuming camera, that will deliver the goods!

The lenses, ah, probably not worth mentioning but you can find both of them anywhere from $5 to $35 or even better, FREE! Just keep looking! But any similar budget lenses will do, don’t knock yourself out over these lenses!

Happy shooting folks!

 

Film Beginner’s Guide To The Benefits Of A Cheap Camera Part I: Vivitar V3800N

Good morning you guys! A friend recently asked me to recommend him a good film camera but before I could give any recommendations, he asked me “Should I get a Leica? Contax? Nikon?”

That got me thinking. In all honestly, especially for the beginner in film photography, I really don’t think you need an expensive camera!

So that’s how today’s article came about! Keep in mind, this is a lighthearted article. Part humor and part reality 😊

THE VIVITAR V3800N

The Vivitar V3800N is a 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) film camera. The lens mount is Pentax K. The actual year of its release is uncertain, but based on my research it appears to have been introduced and marketed by Vivitar in 2009.

The camera itself was apparently made by Cosina of Japan. To me, Cosina is the Yashica of today in that they can produce cameras and lenses of any type for any budget. From the very high end modern Zeiss Ikon (not to be confused with the original Zeiss Ikon of Germany) cameras to the Vivitar V3800N!

I am unsure however if Cosina made the 50mm f/1.7 Vivitar lens or if it was produced by a Chinese manufacturer. Cosina makes some very high quality Voigtlander branded lenses which are popular with the Leica community.

BUT…

While the Vivitar V3800N is the star of today’s article, it is really NOT about the Vivitar specifically. It could be about any cheap camera!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For you folks who prefer videos, here’s my YouTube video on the subject. It’s about 6 minutes, much easier to view and much better for my sanity!

I’m doing it today on my new happy place, a place I call the “Lazy Couch” πŸ™‚

Got tired of that old backdrop, so while waiting for a new backdrop I’m on the Lazy Couch! Somewhere in this video I accidentally dropped the F… Bomb πŸ˜‚ Sorry about that!

OK, THE BENEFITS OF A CHEAP CAMERA!

  1. It’s Cheap! The Vivitar V3800N cost me $30 for both camera and lens! But again, it doesn’t have to be a Vivitar
  2. It’s a good conversation starter! Let’s say at a photo meetup your friends pull out their Leicas, Contaxes, Nikons, etc, etc, and you pull this out? Conversation starter!
  3. You can say you’re a student! The Vivitar V3800N is a camera that was used by many photography students in high schools and colleges.
  4. The V3800N doesn’t rely on batteries, except for the meter.
  5. If you use a 50mm lens, which I heartily recommend, and you stop the lens down a couple of stops, you may be quite surprised with your results. And your friends might be surprised too!
  6. And if you lose or damage the camera/lens or get it stolen, you will be out a bit of change but your Leica, Contax, or Hasselblad shooting friends will be out thousands!

PRICE, AVAILABILITY & OPTIONS

As I mentioned, I got the Vivitar V3800N plus 50mm f/1.7 lens for $30. You could find it for that price if you’re lucky or patient. More likely it will cost you $50-60 for both, still not bad.

The “ultimate” cheap camera to me, used to be the Pentax K1000. It was the original 35mm students camera but now prices have gone up quite a bit. Still, if you want higher quality than the Vivitar and all the benefits of the Pentax K mount, try to find one for under $100 with lens.Β Old Chinon cameras that use the Pentax K mount are also a good option.

As a fan of the Olympus OM series, the Olympus OM-1 can still sometimes be found for under $60. Get the 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko and you’ll get excellent results! That was one of my my favorite carry around combos when I shot OM exclusively for a while in the mid 90s.

A Nikon EM with old Nikon lenses are also a good bet! You know, the more I write this, the more I realize I could write a whole book with the options I could recommend so to cut this short I’ll say this…

It doesn’t matter what manufacturer you choose. Just try to choose these factors: 1) Purely manual camera, no need for batteries 2) Get a 50mm f/1.7 f/1.8 or f/2 lens 3) Make sure all this will not cost over $100 USD! Often, it should be far lower than that!

I hope this helps, especially for beginners or those wanting to try film. You DO NOT need to spend a lot of money to get started with film photography!

Feel free to leave a comment should you have an opinion on this! Thanks for reading and happy shooting folks!

CONTAX T2 FOR SALE IF YOU WANT IT!

Sale On The Vivitar V3800N!

Save On Film!

RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM LensRF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens$2699BUY NOWAdorama

If link is broken try this:

https://www.adorama.com/car8512.html?utm_source=rflaid912556

Camera Legend Camera Style :-)

On Instagram, “Camera Style” postings are seemingly very popular. In case you’re unfamiliar with what that is, it’s just shots of people with their cameras around town in cities and countries around the world. I’m not sure who started this trend, but I think it started with Tokyo Camera Style.

It’s a great idea actually, a win-win especially for views I guess. It’s basically “Camera Porn” and “Lens Porn” or  “Eye Candy” for a more softcore word! And what camera gear lover wouldn’t want to look at more cameras and lenses? πŸ™‚

So in the spirit of Tokyo Camera Style and all the other “Camera Style” accounts out there, here’s mine…

Above…

Today I spotted in the light NYC rain, a woman in Central Park, NYC, shooting with the original Canon EOS-1Ds, 11mp monster from 2001! A true digital Camera Legend. And on top of that, she had the delicious Super PHAT 85mm f/1.2L πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

I said that’s awesome kid! You’re right down my alley with that gear! 😍 I know a lot of you guys and gals shoot with the older stuff like I do, but I’ve not met too many in the real world who’s shooting with a digital camera this old. Everyone wants the latest and greatest. I said ROCK ON girl!

Above…

Here’s what I shot with yesterday. Film was Fuji C200 color print film. The camera is the Olympus OM-3 that you may have seen before but what you have NOT seen until now is my favorite manual focus zoom lens and it’s the Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8 😍

I got the lens like ten years ago. These lenses go for over $1000 but mine was under $300 😊

Why? It was the most optically β€œugly” lens I’d ever seen! Inside looks like fungus, coatings deterioration, flakes inside the lens 😒

I was so bummed out when I got it. But even with all those flaws, this is the sharpest manual focus zoom I’ve ever used!! Praise the Zuiko gods! πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»

Why did I shoot it this weekend? Hopefully to do a review for you guys! πŸ˜€

Hope you guys enjoyed this little bit of “Camera Style.” Maybe there will be more to come. Happy Tuesday folks! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“·πŸ˜˜βœŒπŸ»

 

Photo Of The Day: “Quiet Town” Contax T3

000477240007

“Quiet Town” 2018. Incheon, Seoul, South Korea. Contax T3, Kodak Gold 200

The businesses and buildings of Incheon are amazingly colorful. Yet, for some reason this part of town was very quiet even during midday. I believe this was a Saturday, though I’m not 100 percent on it. All I know is that most restaurants were closed and it was already past noon. Very few people were out. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! πŸ™‚

If any of you guys out there know exactly where this area and why it was so quiet here, feel free to drop a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

This was shot last July as I wandered through this outskirt of Seoul, South Korea, on an unplanned layover due to airline delays. The camera in my hand was the Contax T3, loaded with Kodak Gold 200.

It’s funny, whenever I’m here in the States my preferred film stock is usually at ISO 400 or above but whenever I’m on an overseas trip, I prefer a film like Kodak Gold 200. The main reason is that I anticipate doing a lot of outdoor shooting in hot and sunny weather whenever I’m in Asia.Β In New York, I prefer shooting indoors or when the Sun goes down. It all makes sense!

I’d love to explore Seoul again, this time for an extended period. I want to try more of the food and photograph more of the sites, especially at night.

On the camera side of this article, which I know you guys have come to expect… πŸ™‚

You guys know how I feel about the Contax T2 especially in light of the dramatic price increases. I used to recommend the T2 over the T3 because only three years ago you could find the T2 for $300-500 but today, the prices for the T2 have gone so sky high that it is approaching T3 prices which is anywhere from $1500-1900.

At these prices I no longer recommend either. That’s mostly due to the potential electronic issues these cameras have demonstrated, both personally on my copies and from other accounts. The prices are too high now for such a risky buy!

But, if you have your heart set on a T2 or T3, today I will say that if you could find a T3 for not much more than a T2, get the T3! Why? Much sharper optics. Less finicky focusing.

Sure, I remember in my 2016 review, I stated that I liked the T2 better because even though the lens is softer than the T3, it was sharp enough and has “character.” Yes, I said that but it was more charming when the camera was like $300-500! πŸ™‚

At the prices the T2 commands these days, you might as well go for broke and get the T3 if youΒ mustΒ have one of these Contax cult cameras.

Happy shooting folks!

Sunday Shooter: Sony A7r & 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon Samples

Somebody asked me the other day if I still shoot digital and I said of course Daddy! I always take both a film camera and a digital camera with me almost everywhere I go!

If you’ll note most reviewers in my age bracket who grew up on film and were young enough to appreciate digital when it came out, we have no problem shooting both. It’s mostly the hipster kids who shoot film exclusively even though they were not around during the film era. Kinda funny I think! 😊

Below are some examples from the original Sony A7r 36mp and the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon in Contax RF mount. Please forgive the funky colors in some of these shots I just posted them as is for you to check out. The only ones I processed were the black and whites.

“Cold Cold World” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF.

The Sony A7r was my last major digital purchase. I use it to test vintage lenses. For the past couple of months it’s been the Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon.

All I can say is what I’ve told you guys before…the 35mm f/2.8 of any make is such a boring lens that I’d never consider buying one, except for the Zeiss Biogon of course!

Besides It’s the only decent normal/wide angle I can get for the Contax RF and fairly cheap. But optically, I’m not sure it’s any more exciting than any other 35mm f/2.8 lens πŸ™‚

“JuJu 13” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. Some of you who remember me from the photo forums might remember this kid. It’s my nephew JuJu! And he’s no longer a baby, he’s 13! πŸ™‚

“Wheels Up” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. A good dude raises a toast πŸ™‚

“Brave Bull” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. Something about alcohol knocked “Brave Bull” out πŸ™‚

“Razor’s Edge” 2018. Sony A7r, 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon for Contax RF. You need to get pretty close to induce some bokeh out of the Biogon but the bokeh is fairly neutral and though not full of character, it’s not distracting either at least to my eyes.

“Funky Town” 2018. Sony A7r with Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon Contax RF mount. The kids said “Papa, take me to Funky Town!” πŸ™‚

This is not my final verdict on the lens by any means. I still need to see how it does on film. This is an old lens that was made for film.

As for the A7r I don’t see myself upgrading to any of the latest and greatest. They can try to sell me all the #bs about why the newer models are better but honestly my only complaint about the old A7r is poor performance with ultra wide lenses which I don’t use much on this camera. And I’ve yet to get a native AF lens for the camera.

Otherwise this camera gets the job done! What’s your Sunday shooter? Happy Sunday good peeps! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“·πŸ˜˜βœŒπŸ»