The Nimslo 3D camera is the original camera developed for lenticular printing from 35mm negative film.
It is no longer possible to get the prints made, but the cameras can now be used to create "3D" animated Gifs.
Dr. Jerry C. Nims and Allen K. Lo invented the Nims/Lo camera. Released in 1982, the original price was $259.00.
In addition to selling the cameras, Reel 3-D Enterprises' also handled making the lenticular prints. Unfortunately demand was no high enough to keep the company financially healthy. In 1986, production of the Nimslo camera stopped.
Nissei Corp. ended up taking over the printing business. Shortly after that the design rights to the camera were sold. Those would be used to create the Nishika N8000 and Nishika N9000.
Price & Where to Buy
Nimslo prices have been steadily going up for years. Currently on eBay, they range in price from $150 to $300+. Being patient and trying to win an auction might allow you to get a better deal.
Occasionally the camera will show up for sale on Amazon and other used gear sites. At the time of writing this, there were none available on Amazon.
Battery - 3x LR43 (386/301, AG12)
The Nimslo 3D camera uses 3x LR43 batteries. These are also known as 386/301, and AG12 batteries.
Batteries are needed in order for the Nimslo shutter to fire.
A red or green LED should be visible in the viewfinder when the shutter button is half depressed. If a light does not appear, the batteries need to be replaced.
LR43 batteries are hard to find in stores. If you can find them, they'll be expensive.
Buying from eBay will allow you to get more batteries for less money. You'll want at least 6 so you have a spare set to keep with you.
Take precaution when storing the camera as any pressure on the shutter button will cause the battery to drain. Just shoving the Nimslo in a bag may result in dead batteries when you take it out again.
Shutter Speeds & Aperture
The Nimslo 3D can only be used with automatic exposure.
Shutter speeds are automatically set from 1/30 to 1/500 of a second.
The lens aperture can vary from f/5.6 to f/22.
When a flash is used in the hot shoe of the Nimslo, the aperture will always be set to f/5.6.
The Nimslo Opti-Lite has a pin configuration that allows it to communicate with the camera and show a green LED in the viewfinder.
Using any other flash with the Nimslo will still work, but the green LED light will not show up.
Instead, a red light will appear in the Nimslo viewfinder.
Tricks to Control Settings
There are several tricks you can use in order to gain some manual control over the Nimslo 3D camera.
- Covering the light meter will cause the camera to shoot at 1/30 of a second shutter speed and f/5.6 aperture.
- Shining a light into the light meter will have the camera shoot at 1/500 of a second shutter speed and f/22 aperture.
- Bulb mode can be achieved by reversing the polarity of the batteries in the camera.
Nimslo 3D Manual
A PDF scan of the Nimslo 3D instruction manual and Reel 3-D Enterprises' Guide to the Nimslo 3D Camera are available.
The Reel 3D Enterprises' Guide is worth downloading a copy of. Included are advanced usage tips and the factory service manual.
Setting ASA, ISO
The Nimslo 3D has two settings for ISO, 100 or 400.
A way to get around the limited ISO settings is to use an ND filter over the Nimslo's light sensor.
A one stop ND filter would allow the use of ISO 50 and ISO 200 film.
You can also use 200 or 800 ISO and select 100 or 400 to overexpose the film by 1 stop.
Nimslo Film Frame Size
For every press of the shutter button, four 22mm x 18mm images are taken. The images cover 2 standard 35mm frames.
Using a roll of 36 exposures in the Nimslo will produce 18 sets of images.
A 24 exposure roll will make 12 sets of images.
Finally, if you can find it, a roll of 12 exposures will take 6 sets of images.
Film to Use
Don't expect to get great results with your first couple of rolls you put through the Nimslo.
You may want to use cheaper film until you get the hang of using the camera.
Kentmere 400 and UltraFine 400 are low priced black and white film you can use.
Viewfinder & Metering
A red dot will show up in the Nimslo's viewfinder if there is not enough light to take a picture.
A green dot will show up if the camera can get what it believes is a correct exposure.
Due to the very basic light metering of the Nimslo camera, backlit scenes are likely to cause exposure problems.
If you're interested in getting the best results from the Nimslo, or any 3D camera, use a incident light meter. My choice would be the Minolta Auto Meter VF.
With a flash meter, you'll get more accurate readings. From there, you can focus on modifying light to get the results you want.
The 4 lenses on the Nimslo have a 30mm focal length with a maximum aperture of f/5.6.
Each lens is a triplet (3 element) design and they are made of glass. This is nice because less expensive 3D camera's use plastic lenses.
The Nimslo camera focus is fixed at 6 feet to infinity.
Originally, lenticular prints would have been made from the film negatives. In the 1980's you would have sent your film directly to Nimslo to be developed and printed.
As far as I am aware, there are no longer any businesses that are able to produce lenticular 3D prints from 35mm film negatives.
As an alternative to prints, the film can be scanned and turned into animated 3D gifs.
Creating 3D gifs can be done by using an image editor, such as GIMP, to align and animate the frames.
Nimslo Opti-Lite Dual Flash
The Nimslo Opti-Lite is a dual flash with pins that allow communication to the camera. The communication means a green LED will be shown in the viewfinder when using the Opti-Lite.
For indoor shooting, the top flash can be rotated to be a bounce light for fill.
The bottom flash facing forward would act as a key light to illuminate the subject.
Flashes don't age well. The electronics in them don't work as well as they did when new.
Advancements in electronics means that new flashes have faster recycle.
Like the camera, the flash is plastic. Be careful because giving the camera and flash to your 5 year old niece can result in the flash shoe mount breaking.
Nimslo Opti-Lites are perpetually going up in value. In early 2019, you could find one for $50+ on eBay.
Now, in late 2019, you'd be lucky to find a Nimslo Opti-Lite for less than $100 on eBay.
I wish I knew where prices were going, but I don't. Your best bet is to check the current prices on eBay to see if you can find a deal.
Nimslo Camera Case
The Nimslo 3D camera was sold with a vinyl two part case. They are getting old enough to where the vinyl can start to peel from the backing fabric.
Poor storage conditions will make the degradation of the vinyl worse.
If you see a Nimslo being sold with a ratty looking case, it might be worth passing up, unless it is cheap.
A case in poor condition likely means the Nimslo 3D camera was not stored in a temperature controlled environment. Passing it up could help you to avoid future problems.
Nimslo 3D Alternatives
Nishika N8000 & Nishika N9000
These are the two cameras that have the most in common with the Nimslo.
The Nishika N8000 is larger and has a fixed shutter speed. It is also likely the most well known 4 lens camera.
The Nishika N9000 is smaller than the N8000, and similar in size to the Nimslo.
This is a hard to find camera is a clone of the Nishika N9000.
It is the only other camera I have seen with 4 lenses. The build quality is what you'd expect from a toy camera.
The only ones I've ever seen for sale on eBay have been for $250+.
Image Tech 3D Camera
This camera has several different brandings, one of which is Kalimar. It has 3 lenses and a toy camera build quality. You can generally find one for around $70 or less on eBay.
The Holga is a stereoscopic camera, meaning it only has 2 "lenses". Unless you want the lomography look, the image quality will be low. It also won't make animated gifs as good as the Nimslo or a Nishika.