I found the Meikai 4353 SSN sitting, still shrink wrapped, in a bin at my local thrift store. It even had the little half-sheet of directions that originally came with it, and it looked both funny and promising with its seemingly random hot shoe thrown onto the thing, so at $3 I couldn’t say no.
First, what I learned from both the slightly inaccurate instruction “booklet” and some searching online: the camera is of a common vein of fake-SLR cameras that were often given away as prizes and such things. The camera has apertures f/6.3 (though the booklet says it is f/5.6), f/8, f/11, and f/16, which are set by rotating the camera as if you were focusing a real SLR. The aperture settings don’t lock and are very touchy, so I suppose one could have any variance of aperture size within that range if they desired, since the aperture mechanism is like a circle with a gradually larger hole as you rotate it to the left.
The camera also has little sun/sun behind cloud/cloud/flash on the other side of the barrel, too, in case you don’t know how to count. I assumed it had a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second and after doing my test while using a light meter, it seems to be around that. The camera also has a handy chart on the back that seems to indicate something about how the distance at which everything is in focus changes when you change the aperture, similar to the charts you see on the back of flashes indicating the distance of their effectiveness, since the camera is fixed focus. Also of interest might be that the camera has a plastic tripod socket, and there’s no bulb mode to speak of.
My personal experience with the camera was quite liberating, in that, having learned the ropes of Lomography with my trusty Holga, it was nice to be able to stop rangefinding and do a little pointing and shooting. I decided to take the Meikai on a tour of my backyard as it started to get late in the afternoon with a roll of Kodak 400CN loaded up inside. I was generally pleased with the pictures it took, especially some of its excessive light leaking, though I made the mistake of thinking it was properly loaded when it wasn’t and had to shoot twice.
What ruined the camera for me was, upon rewinding the film, the camera tore some of the sprocket holes, requiring pictures to be ruined as I tried to salvage what was left of the roll. This happened again when I lent it to someone else, so the plastic insides require some serious attention with a file. Otherwise, despite need maintenance, this is a perfectly good “bad” camera, and anyone looking for a crappy camera that spots this in a thrift store may want to try it.