Digital Harinezumi 2 review: a retro-cool camera. Yes, for musicians too!

With the recent Zoom H1 review here at ANR, we’ve started covering a range of audio-visual products that we think could be a useful addition for our readers.

The Digital Harinezumi 2 is a small and light digital camera that can take colour and black&white pictures and videos (with sound).
Nothing new? Well, actually the Digital Harinezumi is quite unique:forget high resolution and perfection, this digital camera brings back some of the imperfect fascination of old pictures and films.

(CC Photo via Flickr)

Why the Digital Harinezumi 2?
In the creator’s words: “We did not want the Digital Harinezumi to take sharp, crisp images – we prefer its slightly blurred focus and inaccurate colours, thrilling our lives with a dream-like view, interpreting and re-inventing what is around us.”

If you’re older than 30 you should remember what this is all about. If you’re younger (and still not a fan of toy cameras and such devices), well, just think of your parents’ pictures.

(CC Photo via Flickr)

Is it just nostalgia? Maybe, but then we should say the same for music-related topics.
Why do many of us still feel attracted to the crackle of vinyl, to the smoothness of a tape machine, to the music and production techniques of the ’60s and ’70s, so “imperfect” by today’s standards? I think there’s more – something elusive. Whatever it is, the makers of the Digital Harinezumi have been able to capture some of this magic and put it in a little chip. But that’s just part of the story.

Pocket-size inspiration
A creative tool fulfills its function when it’s fun to use. And the Digital Harinezumi is definitely an inspiring and fun tool that just begs to be used. In these weeks, during the test, it almost never left my pocket. Does this mean it’s going to replace your full-featured camera(s)? Definitely not, but, as often happens with creative tools, limitations are an important part of the design’s success.

I don’t care much about the specs (you’ll find them on the official site, see link at the bottom). I’ve found the Digital Harinezumi to be a cool and helpful tool: the pics are as you can expect from the description; Imperfect, sometimes saturated and vivid (much better with daylight). Both close-up and mid-distance shots can give great results. It can be used with a tripod, no problem.
Musicians and audio-visual artists should take note of the video features. If you love the qualities of 8mm videos, you should give the Digital Harinezumi 2 a try. It’s like a jump back in time. And while I was not expecting much from the audio input (it can be switched off ), I have to say that it’s actually more than usable, one-click low-fi recording. Just get inspired and experiment with these features, maybe your next show’s visuals or your next clip could be shot with this little camera. I’m sure artists into music such as abstract electronica or ambient could instantly fall in love with it.

The package
The Digital Harinezumi is on sale in different packages. I got the Kit version, with 2GB card, battery and card adapter, to save time and hassle. If you already have these extras, just go for the basic version.

I also got an extra set of rechargeable batteries and a charger (from a Hong Kong retailer), which I didn’t test yet, and their use is not officiallysupported, so do it at your risk.

While I’m very satisfied with the Digital Harinezumi 2, there are some details that could be improved: CR2 batteries are not my favourite, the video resolution (640×480) could be bigger, and the buttons feel a bit cheap (and noisy, especially when you want to be discreet).

We hope to get an interview soon with Powershovel’s people, who are not only makers of the Harinezumi, but also the owners of a small music label, art book publisher and more. Stay tuned!

P.s: for those living in Paris (or if you’re visiting the city), don’t miss Harinezumi no Mori (The Forest of Harinezumi). It’s an exhibition (open until December, 23) with “videos collected from all over the world, cut into pieces, then shuffled and connected. Jubilant videos, melancholic videos, nostalgic videos, and wild laughter – looping the videos of everything, happening around the world, they became 100 different videos, playing on more than 100 small and big screens. As the music and the images were synched at certain times then let lose at other times, we have tempted to create a forest out of videos”.

More info on the event here.

The Digital Harinezumi 2 is a great achievement. This cool toy camera
doesn’t have a toy-like price, but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a (retro)new, inspiring visual tool.

Starting from approx. 150$/€

…Just get inspired and experiment…

Product page


  • an inspiring tool
  • instant retro-fascination
  • beatiful, small and light
  • the audio-video features are a great bonus


  • Some of your friends could try to steal it from you!


  • Not cheap
  • Video resolution could be higher
  • Buttons quality
  • CR2 battery is probably not the best choice

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