So, the big question is will the Oktomat cure my ambivalence by making me either love or hate multi lens cameras or will it simply widen the gulf between my feelings? (See what I did there? Left you on a real cliffhanger!)
I, like most people, often use the word ambivalent in the wrong way. It is used to mean not being really bothered, uncaring, apathetic almost. This however is wrong, the word for this is indifferent. Ambivalent actually means being in a state of conflict due to having conflicting desires (ambi meaning both and valeō meaning strength) i.e. loving and hating something at the same time. For example; I am ambivalent about the film Independence Day, on the one hand I hate it because it is a rubbish, cheesy ridiculous film. Yet for the same reasons I also love it. The reason for this preamble is because this is how I feel about multi lens cameras. Ambivalent. So, the big question is will the Oktomat cure my ambivalence by making me either love or hate multi lens cameras or will it simply widen the gulf between my feelings? (See what I did there? Left you on a real cliffhanger!)
OKTOMAT! Such a great word you can’t whisper it, it has to be announced like a super hero might announce their arrival: OKTOMAT! “Oh no who can save the world from this menace?” a young panicked Lichtensteinesque lady might enquire “Have no fear OKTOMAT IS HERE!” (sorry this has nothing to do with the review I just got carried away).
As always when the camera arrived I spent a good time looking at the box. I love the packaging the cameras come in, partially because I really like the semi nostalgic indie pop culture design, but also because there is a good chance that one of the pictures on the box has been taken by a friend from the community. After this I took the camera out of the box. One of the things I have always liked about this camera was its bold colour (like a super hero’s outfit OKTOMAT!) but I had never noticed that each of the lens’ has a different analogously coloured square around it, so looks wise this camera is cool. It is of course light, being made of plastic and all and has handy little bumps in the lower left corner on the front so you know your fingers are not covering a lens.
Before I loaded the film I wanted to check everything, a sort of pre flight check if you will. The winding mechanism is well placed and I like the longer handle, it allows for quick decisive winding on. I could hear all the cogs and gizmos inside winding and whirring into place. I opened the back so I could see the shutters to check they all worked. I pressed the shutter release and they all flicked away like a Mexican wave. However the noise was a little off putting as the mechanism unwinds its starts as a strong buzzing and clicking but toward the end the noise seemed to go a little weak and labored like the camera had given up. Like OKTOMAT, after having saved the lady from the truck just couldn’t be bothered any more and dropped them. As for everything else it all felt pretty good, a little rickety, a feeling of if you put too much force behind it you might break it, but I like that in a toy camera. It has a pop up view finder on the top which I enjoyed opening and closing but found it a redundant feature when shooting. A flash would have been a much more useful and worthwhile addition, allowing shooting in more environments, though having 8 little flashes going off might be crazy (but a great weapon for OKTOMAT “shield your eyes citizens while I pound this bad guy with the OKTOBLAST” powpowpowpowpowpowpowpow and the bad guy rolls round having a seizure).
The Oktomat is a very tough, fun piece of plastic but after shooting with it for a coupe of days I can’t help but feel that the novelty has worn off (though when the pictures came back from the lab the novelty was in full swing again!). However: My niece, Laura, took a shine to this camera and really put it through its paces! She, my son (Lukas, in case you didn’t know by now!) and I took the camera on a trampoline where it was thrown, bounced, dropped, kicked, smacked, battered and beaten and not only is the camera still working, the shots were pretty cool to. I think the camera is in good hands with her because I look at it as a camera and she looks at is a toy, which ultimately it is. A great toy camera and a great toy. So; has all this cured my ambivalence? Well…yes actually (but I am not going to tell you how – that’s what OKTOMAT 2: “This Time He’s Cross” is for!)