Why have one lens on your camera when you can have four!

I saw some really cool and intriguing images on the web a couple of years back and couldn’t figure out how they were created. It was kind of a retro 3D animation of a still image! After lots of digging and research on the internet I discovered that the technique involved some 1980’s analogue technology combined with some up-to-date digital PhotoShop jiggery-pokery.

I discovered that to achieve the same look I was going to have to buy a old 1980’s Nimslo 3D 35mm camera. The camera is no longer manufactured as I discovered, however there was a steady flow of secondhand Nimslo cameras coming up on eBay. It was then down to a waiting game to see when a suitable, working and in good order camera came on offer. It took a while but eventually I managed to place a successful bid and waited with anticipation for it to arrive.

It’s pretty funky looking mostly down to the fact that there are four lenses on the front of the body as apposed to the normal one as you can see in the image below. Basic and simple to use, the camera’s lenses are fixed focused, takes 35mm film and you have the option of choosing 100 ISO or 400 ISO film speeds. Although there are four lenses, the viewfinder is perfectly normal to use and compose your shot in the normal way. With the camera I also also got the Nimslo flash which really comes in handy for indoor work and helps to ad more 3D depth to the pictures.

So now I had half of the puzzle and the hardware part was taken care of, I now needed to find out how to create the funky intriguing digital aspect of the picture. More internet research and I came across a variety of sites giving various bits of information. After a bit of Sherlock Holmes and lots of piecing together I managed to figure it out!

Now it was down to putting the analogue piece together with the digital piece with lots of fun, trial and error.

My son became my muse for most of my picture taking, much to his bemusement and somewhat annoyance. I used a 35mm, 400 ISO 36 exposure film for my experiments. Once the film was used I had it developed (I didn’t need any hard copy Lenticular prints) and then the film electronically scanned onto CD. I then downloaded the files onto my computer and took the images into PhotoShop. Once in PhotoShop I separated the four images (which produce one 3D image) into four seperate layers making sure they aligned correctly. Once this was done I created a simple animated timeline of the four layers to rotate one after the other.

Hey presto alakazam, by joves I had it! This was cool, I managed to replicate the look and effect I was after. I was delighted with the outcome and excited to take and make more 3D animated still images. The camera is not for everyone or for all occasion. It’s the sort of camera best used with a bit of forward planning and knowing in advance the type of picture that will suite this specialist camera.

Right, where’s my son, I need him for a special 3D photographic project i’ll be working on, wait until I tell him – he’ll love it!

The Shortbread Shed-Nimslo 3d cameraThe Nimslo is a 35 mm film camera which captures four pictures at exactly the same time. The four lenses are slightly offset horizontally from one another which when printed, using a Lenticular printing technique produces 3D pictures. These pictures can be viewed without the need for any specialist glasses giving a 3D look to the image.
It was first introduced in the 1980’s by Nimstec in the USA and manufactured by Timex in Dundee, Scotland.
The Nimslo has four fixed focus lenses, when the shutter is pressed it takes four images from slightly different viewing angles simultaneously which is how it achieves the 3d look.


film strip

An example of an exposed 35mm film. This is one exposure which produces four images. Each of the images is horizontally offset by a couple of centimeters which helps give the final combined picture that funky 3D look.


Below are a few examples of my first attempts at taking and making 3D images using the Nimsol camera and a bit of PhotoShop comping to create the final images.

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