We've all heard of the Disderi Robot 3, with it's quirky triple sampled images. The Robot has siblings, one with four lenses and one with two. Though it gets far less attention than the Robot, the Disderi four-lensed camera still provides some great lomographic storytelling. 1...2...3...4...check it out.
I was walking down the street in Bangkok minding my own business, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a small white camera with a bright blue star pointing at me from a small shop.
It was the Disderi 4-lens camera and the price was right (less than $20 U.S.) so I picked it up.
The controls of this point-and-shoot are very simple. There’s a shutter release, film advance wheel, film rewind crank, viewfinder and exposure counter.
This camera shoots 35mm film. It has four lenses that open sequentially when you push the shutter release; producing four sequential images on each 35mm frame. Like most plastic-lensed cameras, the Disderi 4-lens needs plenty of light.
You can get different types of images by using different speed (ISO) films. Using a lower ISO, like 100 or 200, you can get more blurred shots showing the chaos or direction of the motion in your photo. Using a higher speed like 400 or 800, you get a sharper set of images showing the progression of a scene.
The Disderi 4-lens’ focal distance is about 1 meter (3 feet). The viewfinder is one of this camera’s best elements. It’s just a plastic frame with no glass mounted on the top of the camera; don’t think of it as a highly-accurate viewfinder telling you exactly what the lenses are seeing, think of it more as a general guide to what might be in your photo. It actually folds down, so you can choose to use it or not.
It’s fun to take this camera out to either shoot some planned-out story sequences or some carefree experiments with shooting from the hip.
The other cool thing about this camera is it’s size. It’s only about 10cm (4 in) wide. With the viewfinder flipped down, it can be carried in your pocket or bag.
It’s also a fun camera for shooting on the street. The cartoonish design with it’s bright-colored star tends to make people smile rather than become self-conscious; though the instruction sheet comes with a rather serious warning, “This camera is not a toy.”
The only actual problems I’ve run into so far are having the exposure counter get stuck once (though the film continued to advance like normal) and having my finger block one of the lenses by accident.
Be careful if you have advanced the film, but not taken a shot. If you put the camera in your pocket or a bag it’s quite easy for the shutter release to get bumped and take a dark photo.
There are a few drawbacks with this camera for the experimental lomographer. First, there’s no hotshoe for a flash; it’s shooting in the daylight or nothing. It would be cooler if there was a way to hook a strobe or something to it for night shooting.
The other thing is the coupled shutter release and film advance. After you take a shot, you have to advance the film in order to take another photo. This means no multiple exposures. =( If I find a way to bypass this and rig it to take multiple exposures, stay tuned for a tipster.