Rewind ’99: The Nikon F100 Review 1999-2019

Hello there camera lovers! Now even though my postings all have a twinge of nostalgia in them, every now and then I like doing a post like this where I look back on the gear that I used at a specific point in time.

As 2019 is rapidly drawing to a close, I thought I’d go back in time and look at a some of cameras I used twenty years ago in 1999! There’s going to be about two or three of them and we’ll go through them one by one until the year is done.

PHOTOGRAPHY IN 1999

1999 can be seen as a pivotal year in photography. Film was holding strong, but digital was rising fast. As in really fast!

In 1999 the vast majority of the world were still shooting film. That’s right folks! Even though the digital photography market was making inroads in a big way, the cameras sold to the general public were 1 to 3 megapixel cameras and they were expensive so for most of the world, film was still ruler of the day. But its days were numbered.

Now it might be hard for you youngsters and hipsters who find shooting film cool and different to realize that at one time, not that long ago, film was a format that was used by their “unhip” fathers, mothers, uncles, aunties, grandparents, and heck everyone! If everyone were using it, how unhip is that? πŸ™‚

Now if you were born in 1999, you may feel “old” but really you’re not! You’re still a baby in many ways, and I say that in the best of terms. Be happy about it! I wish I were twenty years younger! πŸ™‚

That’s why I say 1999 was not that long ago even though sometimes it feels like it! And yet sometimes it doesn’t.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who are YouTube fanatics, and admittedly there are millions out there, here’s our video companion video. I’m trying to get these videos out sooner for you guys!

MY GEAR BAG IN 1999

Not that anyone would or should care what I was using in 1999, but I use my gear only as a reference point. I’d love to know what YOU were using back then? πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

Now believe it or not, in 1999 I did not even get my first digital camera yet! That would happen a year later in 2000. That means all photography I did up to the year 2000 was only done on film. That’s even hard for me today imagine living in the digital world of 2019!

And while I’m sure I had other cameras, today I am talking about what I considered to be my main camera in 1999 and that camera is the Nikon F100. There will be more to come!

THE NIKON F100

The Nikon F100 is an autofocus 35mm film SLR that was introduced in 1999 by Nikon. It was born of the legendary Nikon F5 of 1996 and indeed has the same Multi-Cam 1300 AF system.

The Nikon F100 has a shutter speed range of 30 secs to 1/8000th of a second. It has the standard P/S/A/M modes. It relies on four AA batteries.

F100 vs F5

The F5 was introduced in 1996 and in 1999, it was still the top camera in the Nikon family. The F5 and F100 both share the Nikon Multi-Cam 1300 AF module and five AF points so their AF should be similar except that the F5 can track up to 8 frames per second while the F100 can go up to 4.5fps by itself or up to 5fps with battery pack MB-15.

What it does better than the F5 is the inclusion of the familiar red AF points that the F5 did not have. Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading back then that this was due to patent issues.

The F5, as the pro model, offers interchangeable viewfinder prisms, and can offer up to 100% viewfinder coverage depending on the prism. The F100 offers a 96 percent coverage and the prism is not removable.

The F5 has a mirror lock-up option, the F100 does not. In 1999, this mattered more to people than it might today. Check the video for a better explanation of this.

The F5 employs 1005 pixel RGB sensor for its 3D Color Matrix Metering. The F100 uses Nikon’s “exclusive” 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering.

Now I’ve never mentioned this, but (surprise!) yes I have used an F5 as well! And in all honesty, I never saw a difference. Both cameras produced near perfect exposures in all but the most extreme lighting situations. In fact the only Nikon that I felt I had exposure issues with was the N90s. But I used only one body so I feel that could’ve just been my copy of the camera.

The F100 came in at a much lower price ($1400) than the F5 ($3000 original price!) which made it an instant hit among the photography crowd. I remember reading forums like Photo.net where folks couldn’t wait to get their hands on the camera.

In some ways, it was like a pre Nikon D3 vs D700 magic! Two cameras. One pro model, one enthusiast model. Same AF system. One much more expensive, one much less.

Note: By the way, the Nikon F100 has 22 Custom Functions and if you’re interested in them, look it up! I only ever used one function which is to leave the film leader out πŸ™‚

F100 vs F6

I can’t comment on this because (surprise!) I have NOT used an F6. I have no doubt the F6 is the more technically capable camera but as far as results, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that, with the same lenses, same film, results will look identical πŸ™‚

F100 AS A MAIN SHOOTER IN 1999 VS 2019 PERSPECTIVE

In 1999, even though I had other cameras, the F100 was my main shooter. In a 2019 perspective, that’s the equivalent of someone using say a Nikon D750 or D850 for example. But unlike today where you’d use a D750 and maybe have an F100 as a secondary camera for film, the F100 was my main camera in 1999.

I’m not sure who this guy is, but he looks like a little bit of a nut πŸ™‚

That means that I used it for almost everything! I go to a party, I bring my F100. I go to restaurant, I bring the F100. I go to the beach, I bring my F100. I go to church, I bring my F100. Ok, well sometimes I brought my Pentax IQ Zoom point and shoot but you get the idea. I used the F100 the same way I use my iPhone today. That means even my lamest pictures were taken with the F100 πŸ™‚

Any of you remember the cool and handy Magic Lantern guides? I didn’t buy too many of them but I did for the F100. I thought I might need it to learn all of the cameras advanced functions. As it turns out, I never really needed the book because for basic shooting the F100 is easy to figure out!

We are so spoiled for choices today and unless you lived in a pre digital world you might not fully understand the profound effect digital photography has made on our lives, for better or worse.

I had another film body as a backup but in 1999 there were no digital backups for me! Simply because there weren’t any real digital cameras at the time capable to even delivering close to what film cameras can and even the 1 to 3 megapixel digicams were expensive!

Today, I carry a digital camera and still carry a film camera no matter where I go. Old habits die hard. Living in a world where I carry digital cameras more than capable of replacing film, it’s an amazing thought that the roles are reversed and that I’m only carrying a film camera because I love film and because it’s going to give me results that are different, maybe more artistic, moody, etc but certainly not technically better than my best digital camera bodies.

PICS

I have a lot of personally memorable images with the Nikon F100 but the majority of them are in the old school photo albums that need to be scanned.

And unless I’m showing a photo that demonstrates its autofocus in action I really don’t think it matters much because, for the most part, for example, a Nikon F100 or N80 with the same lens, same film would take the same pictures. But here are a few pictures for the sake of this article and for nostalgia 😘

“Legends” Circa 1999. Nikon F100, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. In 1999, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were still standing.

“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens, Kodak Tri-X in HC-110. The F100 is capable of working with a modern Nikon lens, even digital lenses such as the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens used for this shot!

Here’s a shot I’ve never posted anywhere. How much did I love the F100? So much that I used it at my Dad’s funeral in 2011. RIP Dad, God Bless.

HOW I CAME ACROSS THE F100

I’m not usually an early adopter but I was able to get one only because a photo forum member had bought one and sold it at a pretty steep discount. I had the money and I jumped on it. As I said in one of my videos, just like that Steve Winwood song says “While you see a chance, take it!”

Back in 1999 there weren’t as many photo forums so I’m thinking it was on photo.net but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I loved the camera  then and I still do today! The build was and is superb. It’s not as bulky as the F5 yet not small in any way, especially when compared to today’s mirrorless cameras.

F100 IMPRESSIONS

The camera feels perfect in the hands. The build quality is superb. The magnesium alloy body keeps it strong yet light. Even though it is second tier to the Nikon F5, the F100 is weather sealed like a pro oriented body should be.

All the controls are where you would expect them to be, but if there’s anything that confuses you, read the manual! It is an electronic camera after all with all the complications that might go with that.

The 5 point AF is speedy and accurate. It can run on 4 AA batteries that last a long time. The shutter speed range is 30 secs up to 1/8000th of a second which is always a sign of a top camera. Even though its position was secondary to the F5 which makes it the “prosumer” or “enthusiast” model, it was also marketed to and loved by professionals.

I remember the lenses I used most with the F100 were my ever trusty Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D and the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D Zoom. That’s a very good general purpose zoom for film and full frame cameras.

I sold the F100 maybe two years later because I either needed the money or wanted to upgrade. Can’t remember now, but that’s usually my reasons for selling!

I must’ve gone through about three of these and my current one was bought in 2011. I still hang on to it, despite not using it as much as I should.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens available for PRE-ORDER NOW

ISSUES

As much as I’ve been enthusiastic about the F100, it doesn’t mean the camera is flawless. No camera is. More attention should be paid to potential problems when the cameras are electronic in nature.

One area to keep an eye on is the rear Focus Area Selector. It’s that thing that looks like a pad from a video game controller. The controls may malfunction or not be as responsive over time. The possible culprit could be that the electrical contacts underneath may be effected by oxidation or wear out from use, just like a video game joystick. Some people try electrical spray or resetting the camera. Since I have not faced the problem, I do not have the solution. I’m just giving you leads to help you to find your own answers.

The rear focus area selector is a potential problem area.

Another thing to watch for is “ERR” or error messages from the camera. Many times it’s just the batteries or the electrical contacts may need cleaning but other times, you don’t know! Try changing the batteries first. Clean the electrical contacts on the lens mount. Try a reset. If nothing works, get a repair estimate. You might find it cheaper just picking up another F100!

The last thing I found on two of the three F100 cameras that I have used is that the rubber grip becomes sticky with time. This is due to the sweat, moisture, humidity, water, etc that wear it down over the years. This doesn’t happen with all cameras so that means whatever material Nikon used for the F100 (and F5) grips do not wear well over time. The digital Nikon D70 has become infamous for this problem!

Though she looks beautiful right here, keep an eye for sticky grip surfaces on the Nikon F100. Or “Surface Sticky” as a famous used camera dealer calls it!

If you ever looked at used camera dealer descriptions, this is what they call “Surface Sticky” as I often see at KEH Camera.

For usability, it’s a non issue, but you might want to keep an eye on it. Some possible remedies are to use an isopropyl alcohol rub, hand sanitizer, or even baby wipes! It’s really a process of experimentation and these remedies do not work for every camera.

I’ve never tried to fix the sticky surface on my F100 because it’s not that bad yet, but I have used a combination of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and baby powder to cure the sticky surface of my other cameras.

Keep in mind you may end up doing more damage so if it’s not that bad leave it alone!

BOTTOM LINE

The Nikon F100 is a modern classic and a true Camera Legend. It took the legend of the Nikon F5 to the masses. It’s a perfect Nikon camera in my opinion!

Many people consider it Nikon’s second or third best AF film camera, behind the F5 and F6 respectively. Technically, I may agree with that but in the context of being the best choice for “the people” which is 95 percent of the world, I’d say the Nikon F100 is the BEST! And not just “for your money” but because it is a very capable camera!

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed this ride back in time. What’s next? Find out in my YouTube video!

But more importantly, I’d love to know: What camera/lenses were YOU using in 1999? And if you weren’t around in 1999, then what gear has been most endearing to you on your photographic journey?

I’d love to know so leave a comment! Thank you πŸ™‚

PRICE & AVAILIBILITY

The Nikon F100 is plentiful on the used market. Because it runs second to the F5 in the Nikon hierarchy, it’s prices have been stable over the years. And today, maybe more so because big SLR cameras in general are seen as almost passe, I hate to say it!

Prices for the F100 are trending at $150-300 USD which makes it a bargain. And indeed, when we talk about cameras like the Contax T2 (which I’ve talked about a lot) and the inflated prices for that camera, $150-300 to me is a STEAL for a camera like the F100!

If you have one or get one, I’d love to hear from you!

Get Your Nikom F100 Here!

The Contax T2 Revisited

Good day you camera lovers! Today’s special episode was brought to you by YOU the people! πŸ™‚

For while I have tried to move on, to bring new cameras to review for you, it would seem you good camera loving folks want more on the Contax T2. And I’m going to give it to you!

THE CONTAX T2 REVISITED

In my latest video, I address some things that may not have been clear on my first Contax T2 video from 2018. Also on this video, I develop one roll of film, and then we look at the results!

A WORD ON YOUTUBE AND BLOGGING TOGETHER

I kind of put myself in a hole when I dedicated myself to making YouTube videos to accompany my articles. That’s why my blogging has slowed down quite a bit. It’s just a lot of extra work to make these YouTube videos and if you have a decent blog, and you’re in the same predicament, wondering whether or not you should make a YouTube channel, my advice is…DON’T DO IT!!

But hopefully I have enough written articles on enough cameras to keep people reading for some time.

But in this game, just as with almost anything, you’re only as good as your last post it seems so I’m not resting on my laurels πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

THE “INFAMOUS” YOUTUBE VIDEO

Now the funny thing is that while the subscriber count is low, the views on certain videos are decently high. Now “high” is subjective. For a guy with a million subscribers, a thousand views is nothing. So I see it in that perspective. The video below on the Contax T2 has at this moment 8K views and counting, which for a guy with 198 subscribers I’d say is decent. It’s really all about the topic, in this case the T2.

In this video posted nearly a year ago, I had the “balls” or as some may say, the GALL to say things that sounded negative about the almighty Contax T2 point and shoot camera! And some people really don’t like that! πŸ™‚

I’m proud to say that I was among the first to buck the trend of glorifying this already highly praised camera, and maybe over-hyped camera to give people “Five Reasons Why You DON’T Need The Contax T2.”

In this video, I stated that the prices for this camera has gone too high and came to the conclusion that a nearly 30 year old electronic camera with a high potential for failure or reliability problems is too much a gamble at its current inflated prices.

While I received some flack for that, it seems the majority of the folks agree with my reasoning because there’s a much higher percentage of “likes” vs “dislikes” on that video. I’ve always said my audience are the most educated people on YouTube! But I don’t mind if you disagree with me. We live in a democracy and I like it that way! However, I do find it a little funny when people are “disgusted” enough to click that dislike symbol!

I used to be sensitive to “dislikes” but now I realize the more views you get the more dislikes you will get so it’s a necessary evil I guess πŸ™‚

A CONTAX SUPER-FAN

For folks to understand where I was coming from in that video and am coming from today, I think it would be good for the audience to know my Contax past.

I consider myself a Contax “Super-Fan.” After years of using Minolta, then Canon and Nikon, I discovered Contax.

I started with the Contax T original, the tiny manual focus rangefinder around 1996 or 1997 and I’ve worked my way to all of the T series cameras. In addition, I’ve also used the G1 and G2 and a myriad of other Contax cameras and lenses. I speak from 20 plus years of experience with Contax equipment. If you want to talk about Contax SLRs, I love to talk about them too! But one thing at a time, today we are talking about the Contax T2 πŸ™‚

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING

A lot of the folks who want this camera today, and arguably the ones who helped raise its prices are young people, twenty somethings, millennials. Since I started using the Contax brand in my twenties, I totally understand the feeling of awe and amazement when using a camera like the T2.

But today, and after more than twenty years of using Contax, I still love the brand but am now much more aware of what it is and what its potential shortcomings are. What is it? It’s a rebranded Yashica!! You may know this, but you won’t know where I’m coming from until youΒ feelΒ it.

I humbly say I’m a Contax “O.G.” which is a word the kids like using these days for someone older or an “Original Gangsta!” Basically, what that means is I’m one of the few “original” folks you’ll find on YouTube who actually used the gear in its heyday of the 1990s. There are quite a lot of us actually, happily shooting Contax still, but just not many of us on YouTube.

Now I’m NOT saying, oh be impressed cause I’ve using Contax gear for twenty plus years. What I am saying is, those twenty plus years and the experience count for something and what it counts for is perspective.

I was in my twenties when I started using Contax or shall I say Contax/Yashica. It was an amazing feeling when I got my first Contax, the Contax T. So I know how you youngsters might feel when holding or dreaming of the Contax T2.

I’m repeating myself but today, more than twenty years later, while I still get a kick out of using my T2 or any Contax gear, I see things in a different perspective. I see it as a glorified Yashica camera, which in and of itself is not a bad thing. Yashica was a great camera manufacturer and if they were still making the T2 it would totally be worth the $1000 or whatever they might be asking for it.

But the reality is Yashica of the Contax/Yashica era is out of business of making cameras and the T2 is a nearly thirty year old point and shoot camera with no more support should something go wrong with it. And only one place I know will even attempt to repair them.

Thirty years is risky for any electronic camera, but the main problem is that the T2’s prices have inflated to where it is MUCH costlier than other electronic point and shoots of its era, thus making it much more of a gamble these days.

THE CONTAX T2 REVISITED YOUTUBE VIDEO

So today in this article and on our latest video, we will look at my latest batch of photos from the Contax T2. I took extra care to pay very close attention to making sure I got the best photos I could out of it. For example, paying attention to the focusing, the settings, etc, and even how steady I was holding the camera.

The video may actually profile the images better because as many of you know, I can no longer post full sized photos here on WordPress. Perhaps I should post the set of larger pics on Flickr?

MY LATEST ROLL OF FILM SHOT WITH THE T2

Below are photos from my last roll of film with the Contax T2. All of these photos are from my vacation to Thailand and the Philippines in August. The film was Kentmere 400 developed in Ilford ID-11 which is pretty much the same as Kodak D76. Extra information is included in the captions, where applicable.

imgT2Buddhas019

“Buddha Brain” 2019. Bangkok, Thailand. Contax T2, Kentmere 400 in Ilford ID-11 Developer.

imgT2WatPhraK012

“Wat Phra Kaew” 2019. Bangkok, Thailand. You probably can’t see it at this resolution, but the image is very crisp and speaks well of the T2.

Resolution Test: This was one of the frames damaged during the development process but it is a crop of a wider image and is still able to show the crisp detail captured by the T2’s 38mm Zeiss Sonnar lens. When the lens is on, it’s on!

imgT2WatPh1018.jpg

The giant reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand. I focused on the Buddha’s face and the T2 did a superb job achieving focus on this shot.

imgT2WatPhraK013

“Sitting Buddha” at Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand. The statues and architecture at Wat Phra Kaew were amazing and the Contax T2 did a great job capturing the intricate details.

imgt2wpkyak016.jpg

“Yaks” are “giants” that guard this structure at Bangkok’s Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn.

imgt2floatman025.jpg

“The Float Man” Bangkok, Thailand. I’m always looking for charactersand this man at one of Bangkok’s famous floating markets had character written all over his face!

imgT2Marindu021

Marinduque Island in the Philippines is a beautiful and still rather undeveloped destination.

imgT2CampNetanya023

This looks like Santorini or somewhere in Greece, but it is in fact a spot in the resort town of Batangas, Philippines.

imgT2ZZC022

The kiddies enjoying the pool in Laguna, Philippines. The Contax T2 is a great companion for life’s special moments.

imgzoezaydat3003.jpg

The kiddies finally get to chill out at the end of another long Contax T2 debate! πŸ™‚

AND SOME COLOR PHOTOS…

“Jesus On A Hill” 2018. Lucban, Philippines.

“Sweet Sugar” 2018. Contax T2, Kodak Gold 200. The T2 excels as a point and shoot, some people forget that! By the way, in today’s overly sensitive world, people may frown if you call someone by nicknames, etc, but if I know you and I know you well, would it be ok if I called you “Sweet Sugar?” πŸ™‚

“Nice!” 2018. Contax T2, Kodak Gold 200. The Contax T2 is a very nice camera, very nice. But at a price! πŸ™‚

CONCLUSION

What do you think? For me this was one of my most satisfying rolls with the Contax T2 in recent memory, even with some of my errors in film development. There are still lots of photos that I haven’t posted but I can say that the T2 performed nicely on this trip. I don’t know why but when I shoot b&w film, I always feel inspired to get better results.

Did I still have the focus issues that I have mentioned in the past? Yes, yes I did but by and large, the images were in focus. But that’s not to say that my particular T2 doesn’t have focus issues. If you’ll notice, the vast majority of my sharp shots are shots where the subject or subjects are far off in the distance. So infinity focus is not a problem. That, I’ve always known. My problem has always been achieving critical focus when the subjects are closer, ie, anywhere from 5 to 50 feet let’s say. Anyway, that’s a subject I will explore in future postings!

Needless to say, the Contax T2 is an awesome camera that takes great pictures. But it’s pictures aren’t great enough to justify the three-fold increase in price in only two or three years. Thus, my conclusion is the same today as it was last year when I posted my “Five Reasons…” video: The Contax T2 is a great camera with a great lens, but its prices have climbed too high and it is too much of a gamble due to its nearly 30 year old electronics that only one place will repair. I guess my opinion hasn’t changed much!

But if you have $700-1200 to blow on a T2 by all means get it! It’s the Contax T2 baby, gotta have it! πŸ™‚

If you have the T2 or an opinion on it, feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

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WANT A DIGITAL T2 EQUIVALENT?

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HOW ABOUT NEW CANON GEAR?

Here’s a whole new bunch of hot photography gear from Canon!

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G Series – $129

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!

 

Photo Of The Day: Wat Arun β€œTemple Of Dawn” Bangkok

Good day folks! A strange thing happened when I got back from vacation a couple of weeks ago.

I expected the jet lag and it did last about a week or so. What I didn’t expect was to feel worse than before I went on the trip!

All of a sudden I was unable to sleep again but this time it was worse than my usual few hours. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep at all. Taking sleeping aids got me all groggy and depressed during the work day.

What does this have to do with the above picture? Nothing! Just being transparent with you guys for my lack of activity. I only feel like I’m coming out of it now. For the past two weeks I didn’t even want to pick up a camera let alone look at the pictures I took during my trip. That’s how bad it was. Safe to say, I got issues man πŸ˜€

Anyway the above photo is from Wat Arun, aka the “Temple Of Dawn” in Bangkok.

If you’ll forgive me, I took this shot with my trusty and now old iPhone 6s Plus. I also shot it with my film cameras but those photos have yet to be developed.

I started thinking however…what would those cameras give me that I didn’t capture with the phone?! πŸ˜€

I’m an old school fool as you know but I’m also realistic. It doesn’t matter if it’s your phone, DSLR or film camera. Just use the best tool you have at the moment. Catch y’all soon! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“ΈπŸ˜˜πŸ‘πŸ»

Hello from…

Good morning you guys! I know I have been away far too long this time even by my standards but I was gone for about a month and took the opportunity to not only take photos but also to take a digital detox. Didn’t sign on to WordPress once during my trip, sorry to say!

I went to Thailand and the Philippines. Two very colorful countries that appear similar on the surface but couldn’t be more different culturally. The one thing that ties them together really are the wonderful, friendly people.

I was almost always on the move. But on the positive side, I got a lot of rest at night. More sleep than I’ve had in months! On the negative side, I now have bad jet lag and my whole system is all messed up.

On this trip, I brought with me the Hasselblad X-Pan that you saw on the most recent video review. Just because I reviewed a camera doesn’t mean I stop using it! I also brought a couple other film cameras, including an Olympus Stylus Epic and Contax cameras. But which Contax? πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ»

On the digital side I brought my Ricoh GR 16mp. I’ve never really warmed up to this camera simply because I’ve always been partial to my beloved original GRD 8.1mp but I took the GR to “break it in” even though I’ve had it for a few years.

A crab found on the beach in Marinduque Island, Philippines. Of course, it was set free afterwards πŸ™‚

Well, I don’t have any of the film developed yet so it will take some time. All of these photos are either from my iPhone or Ricoh. I just haven’t had the time to sort them out.

Guardians at one of the many spectacular temples in Thailand’s Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

The amazingly funky Mahanakhon building in Bangkok.

I searched for film cameras and film and found them in the Quiapo section of Manila, one of the very few places where you can find film or film cameras in the Philippines!

A simple and undeveloped, unspoiled beach on Marinduque Island, Philippines.

No need for a title, but if I were to give this photo a title, I guess you could figure out what it would be πŸ™‚

Surely there’s a lot of work left to do but I hope these photos give you a glimpse of where I’ve been and hopefully there’s more to come. And definitely, there’s a lot of catching up to do!

Hope you all are doing well, and catch you guys again soon! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“ΈπŸ‘πŸ»

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!

Reflecting On The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Fifty years ago today, July 20th, 1969, NASA achieved what many still consider mankind’s greatest achievement; landing a man on the moon.

Now, trying not to give away my age, all I can say is I don’t remember the actual lunar landing πŸ™‚

However, as a geeky kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, astronomy was always a passion even as a child. And it remains so today.

So if you grew up in the same era as I did, I’m sure you can agree with me that almost nothing makes you feel as old as knowing it’s been fifty years since that first moon landing! I still remember watching the nightly news when it was the twentieth anniversary! Damn man 😦

CAMERAS USED ON APOLLO 11

The above photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at prime focus on a Meade 90mm f/11 ETX Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. But what were the cameras used on that first historic lunar landing?

According to NASA itself, the cameras used were three Hasselblad 500EL cameras. One was used in the command module Columbia, and the other two were taken to the moon on the Eagle lunar module.

These had special modifications to minimize what the astronauts had to do. Basically, they made it as “point and shoot” as possible. The lenses from what I have read were the 80mm f/2.8 Planar and the 60mm f/5.6 Zeiss Biogon. A Kodak Stereo Camera was also used for close ups of the lunar surface.

The film was a specially formulated Kodak 70mm film. I’ve often wondered what the ISO rating was for the film, and it seems like there are a lot of educated guesses but nothing official. I guess only us geeky photo nuts would be interested in knowing this πŸ˜€

At any rate, many skeptics over the years have mentioned how could the astronauts have possibly taken such fine photographs in their bulky cumbersome spacesuits.

The only thing I can say is…hey, in addition to the cameras being modified for ease of use, don’t you think they worked all that out? Practiced countless times?

This was not just a trip of a lifetime, it was a trip for the ages!

HOW FIFTY YEARS CAN CHANGE YOUR VIEWS

Can you believe that something so technologically astounding and complex as landing a man on the moon was something that was done fifty years ago? Are you kidding me?!

And can you believe that after that series of Apollo moon landings that I believe ended in 1972 with astronaut Eugene Cernan as the last man on the moon, we’ve done nothing ever since!

Of course, I’m speaking tongue in cheek but you know what I’m trying to say. When Neil Armstrong  said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he became the first man to step foot on the moon, I think we all can relate to that statement even today.

Yes, I know that out of space technology we have so many things that have helped humanity. Lasers, GPS, microwaves, and many more things we probably don’t even know about.

But what I’m talking about when I say we’ve done “nothing” since, is this; where are the colonies on the moon? Where is the promised man on Mars?

Yes, I know putting a man on Mars has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years. The way they’re talking, it seems it will happen in the next decade. But the older I get the more skeptical I’ve become. Sadly, I now feel I won’t see a man on Mars in my lifetime.

But even more than that, I now wonder why would we even bother getting a man to Mars? Let me explain further. As a child with endless fascination, and all throughout my young adult years I would have been all for a manned Mars mission.

But now, with all the probes that NASA and other space agencies have sent to Mars, I think it’s very clear that there is no significant life there. Note, I didn’t say there is no life on Mars. I wouldn’t rule that out. But based on all I have seen, Mars is as barren a world as you can imagine.

There is no hint of an ancient civilization. No buildings. No drawings. No artifacts. No animals. No vegetation. No nothing. Just a cold, barren world with a very thin atmosphere not suitable for human beings.

I am a man of science at heart so I marvel at all the discoveries they have made on Mars. Yet at the same time, I believe all the Mars missions have done is to finally take away the romanticism of Mars.

The Martian “canals” of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell, the notion of desperate Martians building a canal system to save their planet, all just imagination. The invading Martians of H.G. Wells, just imagination.

They talk about terraforming Mars. To terraform the planet would take centuries, and would humans be able to survive even with all our best laid plans?

A trip to Mars will be a one way trip and most people who want to go there know this. They may know it, but how many would actually be able to deal with this frightening reality once the spacecraft heads off to Mars?

Anyway, I’m drifting too far off! What I say is, if they plan to go to Mars, they probably should start first with the Lunar colonies. The Moon is a lot closer than Mars. If an issue or emergency arises, it’s possible with our technology today to do something about it.

If an emergency arises on Mars, or on the way to Mars, forget about it!

THE LUNAR LEGACY

All my skepticism about Mars aside, I just want to say that it still amazes me to this day, whenever I look up at the moon and get lost in deep thought. I say to myself, wow, people actually walked up there!

Now even though neither I nor anyone I know personally has walked the moon, the fact that those brave men walked the moon, I think it makes us all united. They didn’t just walk the moon for themselves. It really was an achievement for all mankind.

And it helps to make an otherwise totally alien world seem a little more friendly. More than just a moon that happens to be locked in orbit with our home planet the Earth.

In a time today when celebrities are paid millions for just looking good, the brave men and women (in Mission Control) of the Apollo missions are to be admired.

Can you imagine dealing with the discomforts of doing in outer space, even the simple things such as eating, going to the bathroom (in their spacesuits I think!) and facing such unknowns, not knowing if you’ll ever make it home?

These astronauts and the people who worked behind the scenes are heroes for making one of mankind’s oldest dreams come true. As I said, they are to be admired, respected, remembered. Not just then, but now, and for always.

If you lived through that first historic Apollo 11 mission, I’d love to hear from you!