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 🙂

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 🙂

 

 

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” 🙂

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 that might 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 of  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 NISHIKA 

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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!

 

Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor 🙂

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol 🙂

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said 😊
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! 🙂

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLR and mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! 🙂

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! 😎👍🏻

***TOP SELLING DSLR & MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ON SALE!***

Canon T6i Kit

Nikon D850

Nikon D750

Sony A7III

Olympus OM-D EM-10 MKIII Kit

Olympus OM-D EM1X Ultimate Olympus!

Photo Of The Day: “Quiet Town” Contax T3

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“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! 🙂

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. 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… 🙂

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! 🙂

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

Happy shooting folks!

Five Reasons Why You DON’T Need The CONTAX T2…Though You May Want It! 😀

The CONTAX T2 is one of the most famous cameras in the world, maybe more today than in its heyday in the 1990s.

It is arguably one of the greatest point and shoot cameras of all time. Heck, even I asked in my 2016 review of this camera “Is It The Greatest Point And Shoot camera of all time?”

Today I want to offer a counterpoint so you might consider this an addendum to our original review. My admiration for this little gem of a camera hasn’t changed but due to recent and dramatic increases in price things should be seen in that context.

The T2 has, if anything, become more popular, desired, and expensive on the used market since the last time I wrote about it here. Prices are reaching what I consider ridiculous levels!

The T2 is a great camera, no doubt. But just like a rock star who passes away, its reputation only gets bigger with age and mythology begins to cloud reality.

As part of my “community service” to my fellow camera lovers, I have decided to buck the trend in this article. Instead of continually glorifying a camera that doesn’t need any more glorifying, I’m going to give you FIVE REASONS why you DON’T need a CONTAX T2!

It might seem hypocritical that someone who owns the T2 is writing this but it actually makes more sense that you should hear this from someone who owns and uses the T2 don’t you think? 😊

WHY HAVE THE PRICES GONE NUTS ON THE T2?!

The CONTAX T2 prices are trending as of today at $700-1200 USD more or less, depending on model, condition, package, etc, etc. In comparison, when our review came out in the fall of 2016, it was around $500.

And in comparison to that, I picked up my current T2 in 2013 for around $300. Can’t remember exactly, but it was the low $300’s.

“Nice!” 2018. CONTAX T2, Kodak Gold 200. We can all agree that the CONTAX T2 is awesomely “nice” but at today’s prices, do you actually need it? 🙂

The CONTAX T2 was already popular and “hip” for years with camera lovers and hipsters alike. It’s been said that the recent upsurge in prices of the past couple of years is perhaps due to celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Chris Hemsworth using and flaunting their possession of the T2 on social media.

Hemsworth has apparently declared he had gone “total hipster” with the T2 and shooting film.

I can’t blame the celebrities for wanting to shoot the T2. Don’t we all? And the more film shooters, the better it is for all of us who want to keep film alive.

However, the T2 was hip and cool long before Jenner or Helmsworth picked it up! In fact, it’s very likely that they picked up the T2 because they knew how cool, hip, and iconic it has become. And their social media presence may have caused a spike in interest in this camera and film photography. Not necessarily a bad thing.

What we didn’t need was a spike in prices because celebrities are shooting it! Come on now, really? Why is it that this society worships celebrities so much?

I also think it’s the crazy collectors stockpiling on this camera that’s raising its prices as well. And of course, the shysters on eBay trying to take advantage of the situation.

In any event, the prices on this camera are getting to the point where I don’t think it’s such a good value any more. Don’t forget, one of the main things I touted as a positive in my 2016 review was the fact that it was much easier to find and MUCH cheaper than the T3. But now it is approaching T3 prices, and that’s in only two years!!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

In my longest (15 minutes!) and most candid video yet, I talk about why you really DON’T need the CONTAX T2…though you may want one! 🙂

There’s a lot of information in the video that did not make it here. I like the use of captions to help my viewers scan through parts if they need to, I know no one has 15 minutes to look at the whole video! 🙂

I also offer a few good alternatives for your money and there’s actually many more alternatives that could’ve been talked about but no one has that much time to put in the video and YouTube has a time limit!

Frankly, if you listen to the reasons, it’s all pretty much matter of fact, common sense. No one really NEEDS the T2, not even I! We just want it! 🙂

CONTAX T2 FOR SALE IF YOU WANT IT!

PERSONAL NOTE

I know there are a lot of “Crazy Passionate” people, as I always say, to whom anything sounding remotely negative will set them off so as a warning, I do say some things in this article (and related video) that might sound negative but understand this…

The things I am writing and saying are from a person who has used CONTAX and Yashica since the 1990s. I’ve used all the cameras in the T Series and currently still use a T2 and T3 for my personal family pictures. Needless to say I LOVE the CONTAX brand!

But that doesn’t mean these cameras can do no wrong. And I have no vested interest in selling cameras or anything so I’m just telling it as I see it. It’s just my own experience with these cameras, your experience may vary! And of course, it’s just my opinion and as an unnamed actor once said to me about himself “I ain’t nobody!” Ah, a lesson in humility that I’ve never forgotten 🙂

So without further ado…

Reason #5: Everybody & Their Mother Wants The T2!

Since it seems everybody and their mother wants the T2, what could be more unhip and uncool than doing what everybody else is doing? 😀

Get yourself a cheap, lesser known camera and make it famous! Now if Kendall Jenner or Chris Hemsworth had done that, THAT would’ve been really cool!

Don’t do something or buy something just because everybody else wants the same. And don’t, in heaven’s name, get it just because some celebrity shoots it!

Reason #4: The Contax T2 Is Made By Yashica/Kyocera

This is the part that might bother some “crazy passionate” people but if you’re paying up to $1000 for this camera, you’re buying a Yashica not a Leica.

I’m no brand loyalist or camera elitist I’d probably take a Yashica over a Leica any day because I could get them cheaper but just like cars, just like watches, there’s such a thing as prestige and brand reputation in the camera world too. Sometimes it’s perceived and sometimes it’s real.

The Yashica Family Tree. From left is the Yashica 230-AF (1987), the CONTAX T2 (1990), and the Yashica 300 Autofocus (1993). Yashica could make awesome AND not so awesome cameras 🙂

A CONTAX might be a better cut of Yashica, but it’s still made by Yashica. Please refer to the video for a better explanation of this.

Reason #3: It’s A Near Thirty Year Old Electronic Camera

All electronics are prone to failure as they age. The Contax T2 is no exception. The problem here is that the T2 is MUCH more expensive than your typical point and shoot film camera, even great ones like the Olympus Stylus Epic, the Konica Hexar, or the Ricoh GR-1. They’re all going up, but not so much as the T2 has.

There is only one place I know of that will officially repair them. It’s in Nippon Photo Clinic in New York City. Their contact information is:

Nippon Photo Clinic, 37 W 39th St #401, New York, NY 10018 (212) 982-3177

I spoke to them a few months back and they confirmed at that time that they work on Contax T series cameras.

Now here’s the thing. If it’s something simple, a competent repair shop can fix it, but if it’s something specific, ie, circuits, etc, you may be out of luck and have an expensive paper weight.

REASON #2: Not A Good Value At Current Prices

As the prices continue to go up, the T2 is really not a good value for money. But you didn’t need me to tell you that! You know it! You just want it! 😀

There are many options on how to get more camera for the same $700-1200 that you might pay for a T2.

Again, I am myself a CONTAX fan and I say you could possibly swing a CONTAX G2, maybe with a lens for the same money. I also give a few other options, please refer to the video for that.

REASON #1: It’s Too Damned Expensive These Days For What It Is!

And what is it? It’s a nearly 30 year old point and shoot film camera that relies on electronics. It has moving parts and could potentially fail on you at any time. It’s quite a gamble really!

The Sony RX1III: A Modern Day T2?
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PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF YASHICA/CONTAX ELECTRONIC ISSUES

Just for folks who may think my warnings/hesitation about Contax/Yashica electronics are baseless I have included this as a reference.

It may have been a quality control thing but some folks claim to never have had a problem with their Yashica and/or Contax cameras. And others report they are unreliable. I’ve experienced more than my fair share of Contax glitches and here are a few:

Contax AX: Two cameras. Focus problems. Shutter siezed right at the end of my CONTAX AX YouTube video review!

Contax T: Loose screws from prolonged use. Bad meter.

Contax T2: Lens won’t retract. Camera won’t fire. Loud motor. Focus issues. Batteries were new. Removing batteries remedy most problems but they happened again.

Contax T3: Camera freezing up when least expected. Lens wont retract. Batteries were new. Removing battery remedies the problems but they return unpredictably.

Contax TVS Original: Died in the middle of first roll! Fatal! Returned for refund.

Contax N Digital: Sensor died on camera I reviewed. Fatal! Friend reports it’s not repairable and now an expensive paperweight!

It’s not that the T2 is unreliable. It has been one of their more durable and reliable models, I give them credit for that. But I’ve had two T2’s at different times in my life and experienced glitches with both of them.

You have to understand an electronic glitch doesn’t always mean an electronic failure. But it could lead to that!

I find that I can use CONTAX cameras comfortably, within reason. Mindful that something could go awry when I least expect it, thus I’m gentler on them than I would be to say, my Canon or Nikons.

Thankfully nothing fatal has happened to my only T2 now but I always get the feeling something’s about to give. Knock on wood hope not! 😀

BOTTOM LINE

I hope this article (and video) help some of you who are on the fence about the T2. Maybe it has the side effect of making you want it more! Wouldn’t be surprised, such is human nature 🙂

As I said at the end of my video…Hey it’s just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt and do as you wish! And I can’t blame you for wanting to shoot the T2, I really can’t! Whatever you do, I’d love to hear from you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Canon EOS M 18mp (Original) Images

With the recent release of the Canon EOS R system, and the Nikon Z6/Z7 just before that, it seems that these big two Camera Legends have finally embraced the mirrorless camera segment.

Fans and critics (myself included) have complained that the big two did not give it their all when entering this market back around 2012.

Instead, their initial offerings, Canon’s 18mp EOS M and Nikon’s 10mp V1 and J1 respectively, seemed more like an appeasement to their base and to those who might otherwise have been enticed by mirrorless pioneers Olympus, Panasonic and/or giants like Sony. But this criticism seems to have been rectified with the new full frame mirrorless releases.

Today, we will look at some images from the EOS M, Canon’s first foray into the mirrorless camera segment.

The 18mp EOS M was praised for its APS-C sized sensor and image quality but criticized for its slow, subpar AF. Not what Canon fans expected.

As mentioned before on this site, I’ve had my EOS M since 2013. I only got one when they were having a close out sale which included body and the 22mm f/2 STM lens for under $300.

I’ve used it sparingly over the years. Somehow, I never sold it. The turtle slow AF was reason enough to sell it but I think it’s the camera’s image quality when combined with that superb 22mm f/2 STM that made it a keeper for me. All pics here, unless otherwise noted, were made with the M and 22mm f/2 lens.

Looking on these pics now, it does make me think quite hard about how I might acquire one of the new full frame mirrorless bodies from either Canon or Nikon 😊

But don’t sweat it folks. I stand by my statements that I no longer crave the latest and greatest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider the new cameras once the prices come down 😀

There is something great about the older EOS M and you know what that is? Despite its slowish AF, the camera is capable of excellent images and…It can be found on the used market for MUCH cheaper than the new EOS R! Have a great day good peeps!

“Kiss” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Funnel” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. I’m not a huge fan of “state fair” type food, including funnel cake, but the light on that plate was delicious 🙂

“Ride” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Note, the EOS M gives images that at first glance are reminiscent (in a good way) to photos from the latest generation iPhones, such as the iPhone X., in terms of color and sharpness. Of course, with an 18mp APS-C sensor, it also offers higher detail retention and resolution.

“Hey You!” 2014. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. This photo was shot using the built in “Miniature” Creative Filter. The filters can be fun if used sparingly.

“AMC” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Elmwood” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 18mp EOS M is capable of excellent night shots, low noise and good retention of details.

“Turbulence” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. In my opinion, the EOS M original is not well suited to action shots due to its turtle slow AF. But a shot like this is easy for the M 🙂

“Boy Wonder” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 22mm f/2 STM is capable of nice portraits with good bokeh, provided your get in close and your subject can stay still for the shot 🙂

“Primates” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines.

“What You Want?” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.using the EOS M’s Grainy B&W Filter.

“Ghetto Blaster” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Many people rave about the Olympus B&W art filters, but to me the Grainy B&W filter on the EOS M is better!

“Flower” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The versatile 22mm f/2 STM is capable of “florals with bokeh” as well as street work.

“Bottled Water” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines. They sure love their purified water in this country and in hindsight they were ahead of the game on this! But a lot has to to with not wanting to get sick from that tap water 🙂

“Twisted Sister” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Farmingdale, NY. The pic says it all 🙂

“AutM Leaves” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Hello, Goodbye” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

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Manila In B&W With The Ricoh GR-1 Film Camera

“Hotel City” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. There are so many hotels in this city! And so many beautiful hotels at that. This one is the Rizal Hotel near Manila Bay. I was very close to the building and despite having the GR-1 with its 28mm lens, I wish I had a wider lens. Yes, there is such a thing as not wide enough! 🙂

Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a fascinating, lively, and colorful place that in my opinion is better suited to color photography than it is for black and white photography.

“Mall Town” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Mall culture is alive and well in the Philippines. They love their malls! I hate to admit it, but I frequented many malls during my visit and they were all great. They take their malls seriously in Manila! 😊[[[[[[[[[[[[

However, as a B&W fanatic, you and I both know that everything looks good in B&W anyway 😀

With that in mind, I couldn’t help but take my Ricoh GR1 along for this recent trip.

Now you may or may not recall, but in the last post I mentioned bringing along two of the greatest point and shoot film cameras along for this trip.

I used those cameras with color film so that means the GR-1 was NOT one of those two cameras, despite the fact that it could easily be in that same list of “greatest.” So what does this mean? It means I hope you’ll stay tuned as I have more goodies and surprises coming your way!

This article will show some photos taken with the GR-1 and Kentmere 400 B&W film. I developed this roll in D76.

Looking back on the photos, I wished I had shot more than one roll with the GR-1. That’s the problem with taking too many cameras 😊 In fact, I could’ve easily used it as my only film camera and I would’ve been happy with that.

Here are just some photos from the trip. Not meant to be an artistic showcase, just the things I saw in Manila and some thoughts on them. Where I can, I will try to give you some commentary.

“Intramuros” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. This is the famous walled city at the heart of old historic Manila. I shot this through a dirty window using both the iPhone X and the Ricoh GR1. I was surprised at how much detail came through from both! The detail here is really limited mostly due to the film grain when compared to the iPhone photos.

“SALE” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. I love fashion photography but mannequins are as close as I usually get to fashion models 🙂

“BGC” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. A scene from Manila’s vibrant “BGC” district, a hip financial and social center.

“Manila Floods” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. It rained nearly every day of the two and a half weeks I spent there. They don’t call it the “rainy season” for nothing.

“OOMA Sushi” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Had a good meal here. Not sure why the man is smiling, but I certainly don’t know him! I just took a quick grab shot 🙂

“Lucban Church” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Heading out a couple of hours southeast from Manila, I visited the small municipality of Lucban in the province of Quezon where I saw this beautiful and historic church that dates back hundreds of years. This is the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church otherwise know as “Lucban Church.”

“Free Fall” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76. Youngsters having fun at this man made waterfall at the Vila Escudero, a resort about an hour away from Metro Manila.

“Night Lights” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 developer. The lights on the open air rooftop at the SM Aura mall in Manila. Considering this is ISO 400 film, I think the Ricoh GR1 did pretty good with this shot.

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GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

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“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

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“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

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“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

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“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

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“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

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“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

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