The Nippon AR-4392FH: A Plastic Friend


This is the story of the king of phony cameras that no one can resist purchasing. So fake, yet so attractive.. It’s professional and serious, but it’s childish and cheap. What do you think?

One day, I stumbled into a little antique shop. There was quite a large woman behind the counter who eyed me suspiciously, but me being the sixteen year old boy that I am have grown used to such suspicious looks and have learned to shove my hands into my pockets and touch nothing. She immediately looked relieved. I was on a camera hunt, with 45 bucks in my back pocket, so I quickly (but cautiously) turned to the glass cabinet which contained a treasury of old metal-bodied Soviet cams. Lubitels and Kievs and FEDs and Zenits peered back at me from behind the counter. However, this WAS an antique store and the tags on these beautiful cameras exceeded my 45 dollar limit. My smile vanished and I sulked peering at these beautiful friends that I wouldn’t get acquainted with.

I noticed a little black camera tucked behind the Soviet cams. “Nippon AR-4392FH” I read. 30 dollars. I exalted and grabbed the camera from the shelf. Then I laughed hysterically. The camera felt as if it would blow away in my hands if I coughed to hard! Honestly, this “SLR” weighed maybe less than a quarter of a pound! I noticed the aperture settings. They were situated were the focusing should be, to give the lens a reason for turning. I noticed you could set the camera to a total of 4 settings: cloud; half-cloud; half-sunshine; sunshine. I laughed even harder, and politely put the camera back. I wasn’t spending 30 dollars on a camera that quite possibly could disintegrate on the walk home!

A few months later, while walking through town a dirty old man who obviously lacking vodka money was sitting on the ground with a Nippon “SLR” placed at his feet. 3 dollars I walked home with my new friend, the Nippon. Supposedly, these little guys are built in a factory in China by little kids, then shipped to all the tourist attractions in the world. Tourists will by anything. It didn’t fall apart on the walk home, in fact I managed to run three rolls of 35mm film through it and it’s still ticking! Obviously, a three dollar camera with sunshine settings isn’t expected to perform beautifully, but my friends, for three dollars the camera performs well. All the unexpected flaws which make film photography fun are equipped.

The “New Optical Color Lens” which of course is just a thin piece of plastic, gives the photos a wonderful soft hazy look. While getting the perfect picture is difficult, due to the settings, for three dollars it is worth the fun! Not a camera I would recommend putting all your trusted family vacation photos into, but definitely one for experimenting and bringing around places too dangerous to take your metal-bodied cameras.

Fellow toy camera photographers, this Nippon is a plastic gem, and I recommend jumping at getting one if the opportunity appears. As long as it’s being sold for less than ten dollars..

written by taylor-nose on 2010-03-30 #gear #plastic #35mm #review #toy #cheap #made-in-china #nippon-ar-4392fh #toy-slr #ha


  1. dirklancer
    dirklancer ·

    I just picked one of these up for $5 and was planning on writing a review myself :)
    Nice review of a crappy camera ;)

  2. stouf
    stouf ·

    Nicely written adventure ! And for 3 bucks that's a great deal for sure !

  3. spiltink
    spiltink ·

    These are beautiful, nostalgic photos. I really want to find one of these cameras now. Excellent review.

  4. kutshie
    kutshie ·

    I saw once one of those here in Chile at $60 dollars,and i can't avoid the laugh when the woman who was selling the camera told me that "it's a cheaper SLR nikon" hahahaha! great review!

  5. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    great find!! i found a similarly designed crap cam in the thrift store for a buck. it's got the greatest fuzziness to the pictures.

  6. mcrstar
    mcrstar ·

    new COLOR oprical lens... OH YEAH!!!
    I have this camera too. Nice review!

  7. rexhibitionist
    rexhibitionist ·

    Love the fireworks shot, nice!

  8. lisipisi
    lisipisi ·

    ooh, i really like it! the pictures are very nostalgic! love shots #1, 4 and 5.

  9. bravopires
    bravopires ·

    your text is a gem and the pics too

  10. panelomo
    panelomo ·

    now where can i find one of these? i need to visit more flea

  11. paramir
    paramir ·

    nice story! and a funny camera...

  12. pagodas
    pagodas ·

    nice! i have a camera, somewhat similar called a nikanon, found it at a value village for $5.

  13. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    if you unscrew the bottom plate of the camera you'll find an "heavy" surprise for sure!

  14. nation_of_pomation
    nation_of_pomation ·

    I just bought two faux-SLRs myself and reviewed one, and will do the same for the other once I get more film through it. A very good find, sir!

  15. taylor-nose
    taylor-nose ·

    Holy smokes! I just realized that this was published! Ha, thanks all for having a read and for commenting! I read somewhere that tourists are faked out all the time in the streets of New York thinking these are cheap Nikons.. 60 - 100 bucks. That's crazy stuff.

  16. chapeface
    chapeface ·

    Just found this thread, and this camera. £5 for the camera and two fims. Wasn't expecting much but these pictures look pretty retro and funky. Fingers crossed for mine!

  17. turbonova
    turbonova ·

    I just picked one up at our local thrift store for 2,50 euros, new in box with manual, Flash, strap and bag! I still feel ripped off, it is one serious piece of crap. The box says in caps lock offcourse: IT'S ALL HERE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING YOU NEED! TAKE PROFESSIONAL QUALITY, CLEAR COLOUR PRINTS OR SLIDES, MAKE FUZZY OR OUT-OF-FOCUS PICTURES A THING OF THE PAST" Haha let's see and find out....

  18. nia_ffm
    nia_ffm ·

    I just got one for 1,99 euros, and now I'm verx excited what's gonna happen!

  19. odlm
    odlm ·

    First post here!
    This little review has encouraged me to shell out all of...£1....on one of these little beauties.
    Can't wait to get my hands on it and have some plastic fun!

  20. lynnie24
    lynnie24 ·

    Thanks for all your posts. My husband received a mailing claiming he won a 35mm Nippon if he would send $13.78 shipping and $3.00 for shipping insurance. I found your post and realized he won nothing and would be over paying for the camera!!! FUNNY STUFF!!! I was wondering how he won a contest he didn't enter!! Thanks Folks!!

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