James's Camera Collection: Nimslo 3D

Nimslo 3D England 35mm cameras 35mm cameras
Nimslo 3D
Format: Nimslo
Approx. date of manufacture: 1981
Approx. original price: $200
Approx. street value: $25

When I first got into stereo photography, this camera was new. If I remember correctly it was around $200 and I couldn't afford it, but I spent a lot of time at the department store where it was on display looking at it. And when the company offered free sample photos, I wrote to them to get them. I still have them around here somewhere.

The camera wasn't a success. Years later you could get them for $25 brand new, in the box with the case and a (generic) flash, which is how I got mine.

Allen Lo and Jerry Nims
Dr. Jerry Nims and Allen Lo (in 2D)
But the idea was interesting. Stereo photography (at the amateur level) had been dead for 20 years and these guys knew they couldn't revive the old Realist format. They decided to make lenticular prints. A lenticular print has a ridged service that runs vertically along the paper. Images are sliced into tiny lines and printed on a portion of the ridge. Simplistically, you could print the left-side image on the left side of each ridge and the right-side image on the right side of each ridge. When you view the print, your left eye only sees the left-side of each ridge, so it only sees the left-side image. Same thing for the right eye. Thus each eye gets a different image, which your brain puts together to suggest depth.

Nimslo's printers used lasers, so they decided to take four pictures instead of two, which gives you four different stereo pairs, not just one, so theoretically when you looked at the print from any angle, you'd get a stereo pair.

Didn't work, Well, it worked but not very well. I remember seeing baseball cards that did the same thing, and they weren't too swift either. Plus the printing cost was super high and you had to send it to their special plant in (I think) Florida. Most people who bought these cameras were stereophiles like me who ran slide film through them and mounted the pairs in cardboard slide holders, just like we did with our Realist cameras.

Nice little camera. Very compact, solid and seemingly well made. No controls, which made it far less capable than the better stereo cameras from the 50s, such as my Kodak Stereo, but it was a nice try.

I've seen articles on the internet where people are taking this camera and heavily modifying them to do other things. I think someone made it into a nice panoramic camera...

But just to show you that a bad idea never dies, variations of this camera, especially the four-lens concept, were carried on with the hideously-overpriced and just-as-devalued Nishika. Go figure.

One of Modern Photography magazine's Top Cameras

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.