For some strange reason, this video from Taylor Nowel popped up on my suggested feed yesterday, although it was actually posted to YouTube about 18 months ago. It documents the weirdness that is the Fujifilm Rensha Cardia BYU-N 16. What makes it weird is that it has sixteen lenses. Yes, sixteen. Count ’em. Each with their own individual shutters.
It shoots to 35mm film and contains two separate shutter buttons. When it was released in 1995, it seems to have been marketed to golfers, allowing them to shoot a rapid succession of images when they tee off in order to be able to analyze their swing after the fact. Today, it’s basically an animated gif-making machine (although you will need to scan the film).
The Fujifilm Rensha Cardia BYU-N 16 (also sold as the Kalimar Action Shot 16) is the follow up to 1991’s 8-lens Fujifilm Rensha Cardia. I guess 8 lenses didn’t provide enough information for checking your golf swing, as that camera appears to have been targeted towards runners – judging by the logo on the front of that one. Whether it was intended to let runners analyze their starting block take-off or to be able to capture a fast sequence as they ran through the finish line, I don’t know.
But the 16 lens version is quite the oddity, even amongst multi-lens cameras. The two shutter buttons allow it to fire all 16 shots in rapid succession, or to fire them off manually, one at a time. There’s even a mode that shoots 15 in rapid succession and then the last shot of 16 separately. 8 images are recorded per standard 35mm frame, using up two frames worth of space for your full 16 – 8 images across by 2 down.
Each of those 16 lenses has a 27mm focal length and an aperture of f/9.5. Each lens also contains its own individual shutter, fixed at a 1/250th of a second shutter speed. So, you need a lot of light for this or you’ll need to push your entire roll of film if shooting in dimmer conditions. Alternatively, as Taylor shows in the video, stand development is a great option to get the best of both worlds if you’re shooting in mixed lighting conditions.
A quick search resulted in not finding a single Fujifilm BYU-N 16 currently available to purchase anywhere, really, so they don’t seem to be all that common (or people just don’t want to let them go). I saw one available to hire for an insane £52/day (~$72/day) and one that was available for sale in Japan a couple of years ago for around £150 (~$208), but that’s pretty much it.
Sure looks like a fun toy, though!