What, you’ve never heard of the Nikon c’est schisse camera system?
Let me explain.
I love three-dimensional photography, and over time I’ve purchased various single-use cameras to help me create this effect – the Trio3D and the Nimslo and the Kodak Realist, for example. But these cameras are not as strong as I want. They’re from an era where cameras like this were considered either niche specialization or glorified toys, and even today, no matter how much I try to make these something special, the images produced are not as strong as I want.
So I decided to create my own mockup camera system for three-dimensional film photography.
First, I needed two “down and dirty” film cameras. Cameras that were easy to operate and did exactly what I asked of them. This made the owner of two Nikon EM film cameras – the little unloved film dynamos from the 1970’s. I made sure that both cameras possessed the standard Nikon E-series 50mm f/1.8 pancake lens, and that they came with fully functional battery-operated Nikon MD-E film winders.
Well, at first I thought everything would be fine. Both cameras arrived safely. Both units needed batteries – six AAA batteries for the film winder, and a pair of 1.5V 76 button batteries for the camera chassis. It was only after I installed the batteries and tested the cameras that I discovered –
Camera 1 wouldn’t hold a battery charge, but it did advance the film on each shot.
Camera 2 held a battery charge nicely, but the film winder groaned with the enthusiasm of a kid being told to clean his bedroom.
I quickly attached the motor drive from Camera 2 to Camera 1, and I’ve got a fully functioning photo-weapon. Camera 2, however … well, I can at least save the 50mm f/1.8 lens. You can never have enough 50mm f/1.8 camera lenses.
Eventually, I acquired another Nikon EM – along with a functioning MD-E winder from a different auction – and my two cameras are ready to go.
Then, I mounted both cameras onto a special tripod jig. This jig can hold two separate cameras – and, depending on how far apart I space the pictures, I can create standard stereo photos, or totally dramatic hyper-stereo images.
Blog readers … may I present to you the three-dimensional Nikon EM shooter. Or as I call it – the Nikon c’est schisse. Come on, say it five times fast. You’ll smile afterwards. Which is what is supposed to happen if a photograph tells you to c’est schisse.
Now there’s some tricks to operating this Nikon c’est schisse setup. Whenever I take a picture, I must make sure that both cameras have the same focus and the same exact f-stop. I also must use the exact same film in both cameras, and both films must be fresh – I can’t take chances with expired film.
I also must confirm that both camera shutters are synchronized. Until I order two manual shutter release buttons, I’m just going to have to activate these shutters simultaneously. And by using an automatic winding device on each camera, I can photograph at the lightning speed of two frames per second – or 36 pictures at 18 seconds. This would be awesome for photographing moving cars or horses at a race track. Or maybe a locomotive as it crosses a bridge. Or ducks as they splash in the lake. Trust me, I have plenty of ideas.
So I need to test this in an action setting.
Do I know any place right now that’s got some sort of sport available?
I don’t know … some place where there might be animals running in a circle at regular intervals?
Some place where I could set up and photograph the animals in a specific pattern or procedure?
Some place like … oh … I don’t know …
Oh yeah. The harness track.
There’s a few good horses there … let’s see what I can achieve with this bad boy.
I took the cameras to the track last Sunday and photographed a few races. Yesterday morning, I dropped off the two rolls of film at McGreevy Pro Lab – my pro lab of choice.
I should get the film back later this week.
And once the film is examined and scanned …
Maybe there’s some success.
We shall see.
Cross those fingers.