Absolutely yonks ago, before I got into professional photography, I spent muchos hours and pennies shooting toy cameras, even covering Bestival for Lomography UK and writing monthly articles for their Cityslicker program. After I took up digital cameras for professional work I found it very hard to find my way back to film toy cameras, even though I was craving the easy one-button-press-shoot-without-care experience, I couldn’t justify the cost of film. I hadn’t touched film in years and I was mostly after the freedom to shoot without the intensity or necessity of my professional work, a chance to explore my own creativity etc. but I wasn’t too bothered about the long waiting time and development process of film. After a bit of internet crawling, I eventually found a potential solution- there’s a small but growing market for digital toy cameras that emulate film looks and the first one I encountered was the Harinezumi camera.
A lot of the tech details can be found here so I won’t go into example shots of the modes for the Harinezumi 3. The original looks like this:
Whereas the 3 and 4 they moved the hedgehog to the back like this:
Everyone who sees my Harinezumi camera asks me what it is! It copies the appearance of the old 110 film spy cameras, but inside it can do a range of filters (model 2 and later only), two ISOs (100 and 800), video at 30fps, super 8 and stop motion (1 fps), and the latest model ( Harinezumi camera 4) can do double exposures! Now the confusing thing is, when I tried to find out information on the various models and their differences, there isn’t a lot of clear info out there on the web, and I had to piece it together based on various Flickr groups and youtube videos.
The main thing I gathered quickly is that:
- The Harinezumi camera original model has a different chip to all the other models. It only has one colour mode, and one video mode. People often say the original was closest to film and had the nicest look. This is true, I think it’s such a shame that they never kept that original chip in because the photos from the remaining models just aren’t on the same beaute level at all. I find it sharper than the photos processed by the 3. In a dream world I’d have the original Harinezumi camera model with a live screen.
- This takes me to my next discovery. The original, when shooting a still shot, has no live preview screen, so effectively you have to shoot it blind and see it after you’ve taken the shot to adjust any composition issues- it’s literally guesswork before then.
- They all have a macro mode but this changed from 3cm to 10cm in later models.
- I have the Harinezumi camera original and the Harinezumi camera 3. The reason why I opted for the 3 over the 4, was that although as everyone says, the rechargeable CR2 batteries burn through very quickly, I can technically keep going with the 3 for as long as my battery stash is large. The only difference between the 3 and the 4 is that the 4 has a usb charging cable and multiple exposure mode- I would have liked the latter but I decided the battery life was my priority.
- From the Harinzumi camera 2 onwards, there’s a range of black and white filters and different colour options. Personally I prefer the colour of the original, or the vivid in 3 (reminds me of cross processing slide film) or the hard monochrome in 3 (it either doesn’t work, or really bloody does).
All in all, I absolutely love my Harinezumi camera, it’s small enough to carry around everywhere and I have an Instagram built just for my snaps When Hari Met Mari without the professional obligation to hashtag. I definitely recommend this cult favourite for serious photographers who want a break from being serious. The inability to see what you’re shooting and all the technical imperfections really releases you and makes you more inclined to shoot for the hell of it, without needing real reason or rhyme!
After the Harinezumi camera got me a little addicted to digital lo-fi, I bought both a Holga digital and invested in the Yashica digifilm Kickstarter, which I’ll be reviewing when I receive it in April!