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Not a signature Dragonball move, but the coolest thing to happen to amateur photography
I?VE ALWAYS BEEN IN SEARCH of the perfect toy camera to fit my lifestyle. Nothing that uses film, I?ve been spoiled by the digital age too much. Nothing so bulky and big that I?d end up leaving it at home because it?s a hassle to bring out and too heavy to have it in my handbag all the time.
Enter Digital Harinezumi. It sounds like a signature Dragonball move, but it?s actually the coolest thing to happen to toy cameras. This little gizmo curves snugly against the palm of your hand and is small enough to pass as a spy camera.
The best part? It?s digital, baby. It marries retro and modern seamlessly, capturing dreamy, slightly out-of-focus color-saturated images in a digital body that promises instant gratification for the impatient.
Not only that, but it takes video too, in old-school 8 mm quality home movie style, complete with the hissing, crackling sound inherent to them.
The settings are limited but just right. Using a CR2 battery and a 2 to 4 GB micro SD card (approx 3,000 still images on 4GB), image sizes range from either 1600x1200/320x240 and video at 640x480 (saved as .avi), making it ideal for on-the-go uploading to your photo/video sharing site of choice.
Upload your photos as is and play around with your videos on iMovie to add music or change transitions to indulge the amateur filmmaker in you.
I?ve only had it for less than a week, and it?s already become a constant companion, a leaky light pen that writes down my adventures in pictures. There are two ISO settings for indoor & outdoor conditions, and even a macro switch underneath when you want to get up close. The screen doesn?t work for taking still photos, which adds a charming mystery to composing your photos rather than annoyance. I?m always pleasantly surprised when seeing the end result of what I took, like a friend showing me how he sees the world through different-tinted glasses.
It already has a cult following, with Flickr groups and other toy camera enthusiasts. This isn?t a gadget exclusively for those deeply entrenched in the toy camera society, it?s for anyone who likes quirky and different.
I should know, it?s what officially won me over to the dark side of toy cameras.
A YEAR AGO MY FATHER-IN-law brought out his dusty Super 8 projector from storage. He showed us reels of trips while he narrated what was going on. He presented dinner parties in the 1970?s and videos from my wife Karen?s 7th birthday. Every few minutes, he would poke the reel to ensure that it wouldn?t get stuck. This kept the projector?s hot bulb from burning and destroying the film. I was captivated by the images dancing in front of me while the whirring and clacking of the film reel added to the old world feel.
It is this feature that attracted me to the Digital Harinezumi. This little toy camera takes photos and videos reminiscent of old-style movie cameras. In the week or so that I?ve had it, I?ve taken it to the cemetery, a fun run, a friend?s wedding, and a photo shoot. I shot pictures and footage and created mini-movies using my Mac. Here?s what I like about the Digi Hari:
a) Silent, home-movie type of videos?a fixed lens with a focal distance of 1 meter to infinity allows this (though in macro mode focal distance is at about 10cm). Exposure and white-balance are automatic and somehow the light sensor adjusts for backlighting. Depending on how bright the scene is, you can switch between two settings: ISO 100 for sunny, well-lit lighting; or ISO 800 for low-light situations. With a 2-mega-pixel image sensor, it provides video quality just a notch above mid-level camera phones. What you get are warm, grainy, soft-focus pictures and scenes. If you?re looking for bright, crisp, sharp images?this is not the camera for you.
b) Handy, simple, easy-to-use?the Digi Hari?s body is fashioned after the 110 film cartridges and is just about the same size. The buttons and switches are few, though they carry multiple functions. Without reading the manual, I learned how to use it. The only time I had to refer to the manual was when I wanted to delete some photos from the memory card.
c) Seemingly endless space?the photos and videos take up so little space, you can probably shoot a feature film (albeit silent). Mine was loaded with a 4GB micro-SD, more than enough for the JPEG and AVI files.
However, I do have a couple of issues which I hope Superheadz (the ones who developed the camera) can consider for future releases:
a) Start-up takes about two seconds?for quick captures, this may not be fast enough. In a rush, I would mistake the power button for the shutter button. Rather than taking a snapshot, I end up switching the camera off.
b) The viewfinder is useless?forget about framing using the flip up guide. Here?s a tip: when taking a photo, first go to video mode (which provides a preview of your shot) then toggle to photo mode and take the shot. It takes a bit of getting used to but it will improve your composition tremendously.
c) Taking the micro-SD card for data transfer and downloading is a bit of a challenge. Personally, I found that the slot for the memory card was too close to the battery door. With my not-so dainty fingers, I had a bit of a hard time taking the card out.
Despite these minor concerns, I love the Digi Hari. As much as I can, I document scenes and events that move me and this simple camera allows me to capture them. Years from now I can tell my children some good stories via my home movies.
Digital Harinezumi is available at ohshootlomo.multiply.com and at Oh Shoot! Toy Camera Shop, Loft Area, Unit G-B Murphy Center, 187 Boni Serrano Road, QC.