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..