Category Archives: toy camera

How to get to Camera Cabaret Toy Camera store in Tokyo

How to find that store? Camera Cabaret is the main shop of SuperHeadz, a Japanese manufacturer of toy cameras. The craze about these cameras is largely fueled by Lomography and SuperHeadz. While they both try to create cameras that are beloved by their owners because of the camera’s deficiencies, Lomo is strictly analogue, while SuperHeadz has various digital cameras (Digital Harinezumi and others). SuperHeadz also takes a more creative approach when it comes to the design of the camera.

I’ve been to their main store in Shibuya before which is not very easy to find. It’s on the same side of the street as the Apple Store and in a small side street 100-200 meters after the Apple Store. The store’s sign is not very intrusive and the shop is on the second floor. Important rule in Japan: Don’t just look straight ahead, look up! Many interesting stores and restaurants are not on the first floor.

Shibuya Impressions  Tokyo  06

After a while, I found the Camera Cabaret store again and found out that it has been turned into a Lisa Larson store. But it’s still a SuperHeadz store! There is a connection between the Swedish artist and the toy camera manufacturer: She designed the Necono Digital Camera which is SuperHeadz’s first original digital camera after the Harinezumi. The Necono is even tinier and looks less like a camera than the Harinezumi and doesn’t even have a display. Magnets at the feet of the cat allow for creative shots without a tripod. The camera is very expensive (15750 Yen) and image quality seems to be similar to the Harinezumi 2 – rubbish in any situation other than sunlight. The Necono was the only camera that the old store sold besides various ceramics by Lisa Larson.

The “real” store is now somewhere else… Read the rest of this entry

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Lomography Japan Happy Bag

Because of rainy season, they sold a happy bag (fukubukuro, lucky bag) with Lomography goods. I guess I was the perfect customer for that bag because I didn’t own a single Lomo camera. There were two types of bags, one selling for 10000 and the other for 20000 Yen. Both contained two cameras.

I bought the cheaper one. Watch me unwrapping the happy bag!

The Diana F+ with Flash alone is almost as expensive as the happy bag. The other two cameras are the Fisheye camera and a disposable camera. I’m happy!

Lomography Party in Tokyo: La Sardina


Rainy season is in full swing and June is not the month with many festivals. But there’s still lots of things happening in Tokyo! Today I went to the release party of a new Lomography camera at their gallery store in Shibuya. Lomography is one of the major companies producing toy cameras. Unlike Superheadz (the other big company), they specialize on film cameras and have a great range of unique if a bit pricey cameras. I’m not a Lomo shooter although I do own film cameras: A Fujifilm Instax instant film camera and a “panda” camera that’s even smaller than the film that it uses. I brought my Panasonic GH2 and the Digital Harinezumi 2 to the party.

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The store has two floors, and is quite tiny. Unlike Camera Cabaret, it’s easy to find since the store is not located in a small side street. Besides the Lomo cameras, films and gear, they sell various Russian cameras. They also did a Fukubukuro promotion: Pay 10000 Yen and you get a lucky bag (or as they called it: happy bag) containing one camera. I bought one and will write about it in the next blog post. Unlike in other countries, where stores will put stuff in those bags that doesn’t sell, Japanese lucky bags are usually good quality. They are sold in early January but I’ve never got around buying one of them.

There was ample time to take photos of the various cameras:
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And the cameras people brought:
Lomography Store  Tokyo  Holga

And photograph people taking photos
Lomography Store  Tokyo  Mijonju

The mystery product was in a big box, the only hints being some naval-themed goods:

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And here is the mystery product, La Sardinia!

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Oops, sorry:
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More pictures after the break… Read the rest of this entry

Digital Harinezumi 2 review

Six months ago I bought the latest addition to my camera collection, the Digital Harinezumi 2. The Harinezumi belongs to the toy camera category of cameras which is immensely popular here in Tokyo. This category encompasses cameras which were released as toys as well as cameras that were meant to be taken seriously but fail due to the manufacturers’ choice of materials, sensor etc. There are also the new ones, released after the term toy cameras was coined and these ones were designed to be toy cameras from the start.

Harinezumi 2 Color Photo

Photos in broad daylight are not bad, but don’t offer a special look.

From an objective point of view toy cameras are pretty much crap – you see vignetting, color casts and so on. But they are not predictable, meaning unless you are shooting plants you have one shot and that’s it. My first digital camera, a Vivitar Vivicam could turn even a bright scene into a depressing and melancholic picture. This camera was later put into the toy camera category.

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Unusual photos are possible however.

The Digital Harinezumi is amazingly small and its size suggests that it works with film. It is a digital camera however and saves photos and videos on a Micro SD, the slot is located slightly above the battery.

Read the rest of this entry

Aokigahara – Suicide Forest

Aokigahara

Aokigahara – also known as the Sea of Trees – is a 35 km2 forest which is so dense and monotonous that you can easily get lost in the woods when you leave the paths. The density of the trees is blocking the wind and with almost no wild life, the forest is very quiet.

Traces of the volcanic rock can be found everywhere. There also seem to be many “holes” in the ground giving the place an even more spooky atmosphere. However, Aokigahara isn’t infamous for the ghost tales which it inspired, but the high suicide rate due to which it became known as the “Suicide Forest”. The forest has been known for suicides for a long time, its popularity in modern times is attributed to the novel Nami no To.

Aokigahara

This trip to Aokigahara was the first one of a new hiking meetup. I thought that this location was perfect for the video mode of my very first digital camera, the Vivitar Vivicam 3610. If you watch the video, you’ll know why.

There are not many situations where I’d prefer the video mode of that toy camera over my Canon HV30! Read the rest of this entry

Toy Camera Store in Tokyo

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While there are the lomo society and toy cam lovers in other countries, in Japan the toy cameras are particularly popular. The definition is fuzzy though, because it includes some vintage cameras such as Polaroid ones as well. Of course the Holga and Lomo cameras are available here too.

Then there are the new toy cameras which were manufactured after the toy camera craze. Some of them are film, others are digital. A few of them are bought because of their looks, like the biscuit camera or various pinhole ones. The toy cameras that are only bought for their looks are usually digital and contain optics similar to a bad cell phone. When buying a toy camera, people look for imperfectness – it’s not the megapixel count but the “character” of the photos which make a toy camera popular. That’s where books about toy cameras come in handy: They describe the particular weakness of each modell, how strong the vignetting is, etc.

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Digital Harinezumi 2

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Toy camera impressions: Train to to Hameln

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Impressions of Germany, covered in snow during a train trip to Hameln (Hamelin)

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