Digital Harinezumi brings imperfection to digital photography
By Ben Coxworth
September 25, 2010
As you can easily tell from the gear we’ve checked out at Photokina 2010, digital cameras are evolving at an almost frightening pace – sensors are getting more sensitive, resolution continues to get higher, high-def movie mode is becoming pretty much standard... what can a camera do now to really stand out? Well, in the case of Superheadz’ Digital Harinezumi 2++, it can devolve. Actually, the 2++ is a couple of steps up from the original model, but the line in general is all about bringing back the primitive charm of Instamatic-like stills and Super 8mm-like video. Think of it this way: if conventional cameras are like a mountain lodge, then Harinezumis are like back-country camping.
The original Harinezumi came out in Japan last March (what, you thought it was Norwegian?), sporting a whopping two megapixels and a video function that didn’t record sound. It appealed to many artsy types, however, because of its retro, grainy, color-saturated images. The Harinezumi 2 was introduced just eight months later, offering three megapixels and sound videos – although the company website makes a point of stating that the camera has a “tiny, tiny mic.” In other words, don’t worry, it’s not good sound.
Now, there’s the 2++. Its extra features include easier access to the camera’s monochrome mode (in case even inaccurate color is still too bourgeois for you), the ability to turn off the tiny, tiny mic, and the option of previewing shots on the LCD screen – yep, you couldn’t do that on the previous models.
Specs-wise, the newest camera takes photos up to 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480 movies, has an f4.0/3.0 lens, and ISO settings of 100 and 800. Surprisingly, the lens does have a macro mode, allowing users to focus down to three centimeters. Images are recorded on a MicroSD card of up to 2GB, or a MicroSDH card up to 16GB. If Superheadz really wanted to replicate the 1970s photo/film experience, users would have to wait two weeks before they could see any of those images.
Just to keep things interesting, each production run of the cameras is intended to be slightly different. On a monthly basis, the image quality will be tweaked, the lens might be changed... they’ll basically be messed with.
So, who uses these things? At a Harinezumi video night at New York’s New Museum, participants included Kim Gordon of the band Sonic Youth, underground film-maker Bruce LaBruce, and documentarian Erroll Morris. You get the idea.
“You cannot take a good photo with Digital Harinezumi using well known photography techniques. You can only capture a modest photo at best,” Superheadz states on its website. “This what the camera is for: a relief from the formal action of ‘taking a photograph.’ It’s like a whistle, that mysteriously calls out small birds usually hidden away in the forest.”
The Digital Harinezumi 2++ is available on eBay for around US$135.
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