Nishika N8000 First Impressions


he Nishika N8000 is a 35mm, quadra lens 3D camera, that originally sold in 1989 for $200 US dollars. Thirty years ago when you wanted to buy one of these, you wouldn’t be able to find one at the shop. In fact, one of the only ways to get it was to hear a knock at your door. The company that produced this camera did everything they could to make the n8000 seem like the next stage of evolution in regards to photography. Even though it’s a fairly unique concept, it was far from a refined product.

A few years ago I came across an n8000 while at a flea market and it came with the box and some extra materials like the warranty, and mail in envelopes. Unfortunately it was not operational and I put it up on eBay and no one wanted it there either. Sometimes broken cameras sell, but not in this case.

Fast forward to a year or so ago and I find out these cameras are trending and going for an ungodly amount of money, broken or not, for what is essentially a plastic toy. So I keep my eyes peeled and a few weeks ago I get an email from an old friend who is downsizing and wants to know if I want some of his old cameras, including this one. Of course I couldn’t say no. Neil, thanks so much for the generous donation, you’ve definitely provided some content here!

So what the hell is this thing and what does it do? Well, back in the day this was being promoted as a 3D camera that used regular ‘ol 35mm film. It accomplished this by taking four photos at the same time, with four separate lenses. You mail in your film and get these cool lenticular 3D prints.

I’d love to dive into the history of what happened in a future video, and let me know in the comments if you want to see that, but the short version is this thing was a giant dumpster fire. The company went under and everyone forgot all about these until a few years ago, when it tickled someone’s nostalgic funny bone, and seemingly overnight, these things are $500 a piece now.

You may be asking how we are supposed to see these 3D images now that we can’t mail away for special lenticular prints. The answer is by photoshopping them into gifs.

There is a great, easy to follow tutorial by Edwardo Pavez, but basically you scan your four images, chop them into individual pieces, align them and convert to a gif using timeline in Photoshop. There are other ways but I have found Edwardo’s the most straight forward.

Taking nifty photos is a simple matter of making sure that something is in the foreground and background, ensuring your subject is in the vicinity of 6 to 14 feet away, and that the light is good. Being animated and tossing stuff into the air adds to that dimensional effect. It’s like an itty bitty matrix maker.

So is this thing as fun as it looks? Absolutely. Is it worth the money? LOL, not even close.

Just like those Olympus point and shoot cameras, it’s a fad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a super neat camera, it’s just not car payment neat.

Everything about the look of this camera is designed to make you think you are getting more camera than you are. The pentaprism-like housing at the top? Empty, the LCD panel? Fake. The grip makes it seem like there’s a motor drive. They even added a metal weight to the bottom so it feels legit. Also, two of these three hot shoe contacts are also fake.

None the less the n8000 is the accumulation of 100 patents and the results are pretty cool. I had to think really outside the box when using one and I was admittedly a little giddy when I saw my negatives turned out.

If you’ve just bought one of these or are determined to own one, I’m going to give you my personal pros and cons, as well as some tips, but first, here are a few shots I took with my N8000, and please keep in mind I had no idea if this thing was going to work, so I shot some really random stuff to test it, you’ll see.

Okay, I hope you were entertained by those, I actually had a great time making them. Let’s talk about some pros and cons. First, the pros.

This might be obvious, maybe not, but man, this is a fun camera. It’s pretty easy to see how things are going to end up once you look at a few examples online and it definitely gets the creative juices flowing.

Despite the deceptive nature of some of the so called features on this camera, it does have a spot for a cable release.

And now the cons.

There are a whole bunch of limitations to this camera, but rather than picking them out one by one I will try and group them together. First are the lenses, at a fixed focal length of 30mm, and fixed focus with a minimum usable distance of about six feet and a maximum aperture of f8.

Of course we need to acknowledge this totally fake LCD panel at the top which is just a best practices chart for distancing from your subject, and everything else I mentioned before like the metal plate at the bottom, and even this sticker imitating the Japan Camera Industry Institute stickers.

The biggest one for me was how time consuming it was scanning the negatives, then cropping and stacking them in Photoshop to convert to a gif. They are sliiightly too big to cut into sections of three, especially since spacing is inconsistent, so you are going to need two pages to sleeve your negatives.

Lastly, you will be limited to portrait oriented photos.

I do have some tips for you in case you already have one or are determined to own one.

Tip #1 is make sure you buy one with a money back guarantee. Easiest way to do that is through eBay or at least Paypal.

Tip #2 is the apertures represented by these pictograms here, translate to f8, f11 and f19, the shutter speed is 1/60.

Tip #3 is use film speed to plan ahead. Don’t load the camera, if you can help it, until you know the conditions.

Tip #4 is bring a light meter, and chase the light you need for a proper exposure.

Tip #5 is keep a flash handy. I have a Vivitar 285 HV and at 6ft on 1/4 power, I get just about the perfect exposure I need. I’d recommend finding a flash and using your meter to figure what power you need. Any flash should work.

And those are my tips. I hope it makes you more prepared if you decide to take the leap, or save your money. Keep an eye out for them though because as more of them are used, more will break, and the price will probably go up until we all move onto the next relic.