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Created by: Dr. Kunihiko Asou
Other names: Shadow Obscure, Black Camera and Shaeiki
Games: Fatal Frame, Fatal Frame II, Fatal Frame III and Fatal Frame IV
Quote: "So this is the Camera Obscura... It takes pictures of impossible things..."
The term Camera Obscura defines a camera within the Fatal Frame Series that has the ability to exorcise ghosts using different types of film. It is the main device (weapon) used within the games by players to fight against the ghosts and spiritual entities encountered throughout the stories.
The camera is one of many paranormal devices created by Dr. Kunihiko Asou, an occultist, philosopher, and folklorist. His research and terminology involving the cameras is known as "Mystical Science". Dr. Asou created his first prototype camera that he let his friend, Seijiro Makabe, use while conducting research in the Minakami region. Neither Seijiro or the camera were seen again.
It was known that Dr. Asou continued his research to find bigger and better ways of ultimately improving his camera obscura, including using occult and mystical artifacts such as a piece of the Holy Mirror. While Dr. Asou invented the Camera Obscura, he didn't create/build all of them, as there are many that were built and developed by his assistants.
After Dr. Asou's death, his Camera Obscura became a popular collectible for enthusiasts. Many of the cameras are scattered throughout Japan; however, most of them do not work any more. For example, the camera that Rei finds in her former fiancé Yuu's Room, is broken.
It is also used to catch images and ghosts in the area which give you clues on where you should go next. Its filament detects violent and non violent ghosts nearby, showing red/orange for violent and blue for non-violent. The camera can be upgraded during game play (each camera's method is different; see upgrading the camera for more info), and there are three abilities you can upgrade; maximum value, range and sensitivity. Each of them has a corresponding value of points needed to upgrade it. The higher the level, the more effective the camera will be. The Camera Obscura can also be equipped with several types of lenses that can be found and earned during the game and for fulfilling certain objectives to make the camera more powerful.
Dangerous Side Effects
- Main Article: Overexposure
The Camera Obscura is still considered a dangerous object, as over-usage of the camera can inflict disastrous side-effects on its user. Overuse of the camera may result in the user being driven insane by what they see, and this can cause them to commit suicide.
Cameras in the Fatal Frame Series
Fatal Frame Camera
- Main article: FF: Camera
The first camera in the Fatal Frame Series is actually never called by the name 'Camera Obscura' in the game. However, this camera is considered to be one of Dr. Asou's completed Camera Obscuras. It uses a piece of the Holy Mirror from the Himuro Mansion to work properly. The camera is given to Mikoto Munakata by the girl in the white kimono. How the camera ended up in the mansion in the first place is a mystery.
Fatal Frame II Camera Obscura
- Main article: FFII: Camera Obscura
The second camera in the series is considered the 'prototype' for other cameras encountered in the series. Dr. Asou gave this camera to his friend Seijiro Makabe to aid him in his research, while he went on to perfect his Camera Obscura creations. It is in Fatal Frame II that the term 'Camera Obscura' is first used. Mio Amakura finds the camera tossed away in a corner of the Osaka House in Minakami Village.
Fatal Frame II FPS Camera Obscura
- Main article: FFII: FPS Camera Obscura
This camera was specially designed for the Xbox release of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. It is used in the FPS mode of the game, and has its own unique capture circle and camera interface. For plot purposes of the series, it is considered to be the same prototype camera as the normal Camera Obscura seen in Fatal Frame II.
Fatal Frame III Camera Obscura
- Main article: FFIII: Camera Obscura
Another one of Dr. Asou's cameras. This specific camera exists both in the real world and dream-world. The version of the camera that exists in the real world does not work (and is also a save point in the game), while the camera in the dream world does work properly. The real world version of the camera was sent to Yuu Asou by Kei Amakura, who found it in the ruins of the Kuze Shrine. It is unknown how this particular camera arrived at the shrine, although folklorist Akito Kashiwagi is mentioned as having a camera with him. (It is unknown if Akito's camera is also this same camera.) This camera is not to be confused with Rei's Camera from the same game.
Fatal Frame IV Camera Obscura
Main Camera Obscura ("Lunar Eclipse" Camera Obscura)
This camera has a moon and cloud-like design, reminiscent of cloudy-moon carvings that are significant on Rougetsu Island. Its charge circle mimics the stages of the lunar eclipse, from the full moon to the actual eclipse, similar to the theme of the ritual performed at the island. Dr. Asou donated this camera to Rougetsu Island as a token of his appreciation for their assistance, which helped him improve the design. It is found by Madoka in a broken display in the Kunihiko Asou Museum. Interestingly enough, there are other cameras in the room all displayed on a separate case than the Inside the Director's Office in the Hospital, though it is unknown if these cameras function the same way as the other camera obscuras. In the game, there are multiple carvings bearing a pattern which resembles the camera's outer edge design.
Misaki Asou's Camera Obscura has a very different design from the camera used by Madoka and Ruka. She brings it with her to the island, and finds it on the floor after she blacks out for the first time. The design of the camera very closely mimics the design of Fatal Frame I's Camera Obscura, except that the camera is decorated with a gold-colored metal that has rusted and worn down (most likely from years of use). The camera seemingly focuses on recovering lost memories from the past, and more photos of past scenes are taken with it than Ruka's camera. This camera is also one of Dr. Asou's prototypes, which he deemed a more successful and stronger example of his work, and it was handed down in the Asou Family. Fatal Frame 2's Camera Obscura is also considered a prototype, though it is not known which camera was created first.
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Camera Obscura
- Main article: Camera Obscura(SC)
Nothing is known about the history of the Camera Obscura used in Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, except that it appears to have belonged to the player character since before the start of the game. Unlike other cameras in the series, the Camera Obscura in Spirit Camera is quite basic. It cannot be upgraded and only consumes one type of film, which seems similar in damage and recharge period to Type-14 Film. Like in the original game, combos and Fatal Frame shots cannot be achieved. When the player takes damage a "cracked glass" effect appears on the screen for a few seconds. Its few lenses are used to solve puzzles rather than to aid in battle.
The viewfinder is the screen that appears once the camera is raised. Entering viewfinder mode allows you to take photographs. Viewfinder mode shows the selected Basic Function/lens, capture circle, health bar and filament. In Spirit Camera, viewfinder mode is the default view throughout the game.
Photos taken with the Camera Obscura can be saved to photo albums on the PS2's memory card, or into the Wii's memory.
The album can be accessed through "Album" on the menu at a save point. Photos can then be placed into the album and saved. Each album has a photo limit (24 for Fatal Frame, 16 for the others). Pictures can also be deleted from the album from the menu inside the album screen. If the album is not saved after each edit the changes will be lost. After filling an album a new one must be created or old pictures deleted from the filled album.
In Fatal Frame IV, any photos not saved to an album at the end of each chapter will be automatically deleted.
The Spirit List is included in every game of the series, and lists every ghost photographed (attacking, vanishing and hidden ghosts all appear).
- Fatal Frame Spirit List - 108 (PS2) 119 (Xbox). Completing it unlocks the "Zero" Special Function.
- Fatal Frame II Spirit List - 152 (PS2) 178 (Xbox). Completing the PS2 version of the spirit list unlocks the Serial lens and promotional artwork. Completing the Xbox version of the spirit list unlocks these along with the Type G costume.
- Fatal Frame III Spirit List - 217 (PS2). Completing it unlocks Miku and Rei's Headband accessory, and Kei's White Glasses accessory.
- Fatal Frame IV Spirit List - 233 total / 227 captured (Wii). Completing it unlocks the Festival function, although this is impossible due to a glitch and only 227 can be captured.
- Deep Crimson Butterfly Spirit List - 190 (Wii). Completing 100 entries or more unlocks the Maid accessories.
The main feature of the Fatal Frame series is fighting ghosts with the camera. Upon being attacked by a hostile ghost, the character must use the camera to exorcise and fend off the ghost.
- Main article: Capture Circle
Each camera in the Fatal Frame series has its own unique capture circle. This circle is the targeting system for the Camera Obscura. It serves as an indicator to find hidden spirits, spiritual phenomena, or as a way to attack hostile ghosts. In each installment of the series (and even sometimes within console versions) the camera/circle are different.
- Main article: Filaments
The Filament is the coloured bar that appears on the Camera Obscura and game screen, that tracks ghosts and indicates the presence of ghosts. When an attacking, vanishing or hidden ghost is nearby, the filament will react and begin to glow. The glow intensifies as the spirit gets closer, or is more accurately aimed at.
Types of Shots
- Main article: Camera Shots
Throughout the series, there are many different shots the camera can take to battle ghosts with.
Upgrading the Camera
Fatal Frame and Fatal Frame III
Points obtained from battling ghosts must be used to upgrade each of the camera's functions or power-up lens levels.
Fatal Frame II
Before a function can be upgraded with points, a spirit orb must first be used in the slot you wish to upgrade. Spirit orbs must be obtained from battling ghosts and around the village before they can be used with a slot. After inserting the spirit orb, obtained points can be used to upgrade the function or lens.
Fatal Frame IV
Blue and red crystals must be found around the island, or in Mission Mode, to upgrade basic functions and lenses. The amount of each crystal picked up is random. Points are no longer used for upgrades.
- Main article: Films
In the Fatal Frame Series, there are several different kinds of film that can be used in conjunction with the Camera Obscura. Over the course of the series, different kinds of camera film have been available for use. These films range from the weakest Type-07 film to the strongest Type-零 film.
- Main article: Lenses
Lenses were first introduced in Fatal Frame II. They have many uses, such as inflicting higher damage on ghosts. They are picked up like normal items around the game.
- Main article: Functions
Functions (called Special Functions in Fatal Frame) are special abilities in each game that are significant upgrades to your camera. They are unlocked in various ways, from beating the game on certain modes to completing the spirit list or Mission Mode. Uses of these functions include the ability to zoom in and out, automatically track ghosts, and shoot without expending film.
Spirit OrbsSpirit Orbs are used to upgrade the Camera Obscura in Fatal Frame II. They are found randomly when defeating ghosts and around the village. One must be put into each empty slot in the camera's functions and lenses, and then used with points to upgrade.
CrystalsFatal Frame IV, blue and red crystals are used to upgrade the Camera Obscura and the Spirit Flashlight. They replaced the old upgrade system of points and/or Spirit Orbs.
- Main Article: Special Abilities
- Main Article: Special Abilities
Only in Fatal Frame III, these are special character specific add-ons that are used in conjunction with the Camera Obscura.
- Dr. Kunihiko Asou - invented and tested various versions of the camera
- Akito Kashiwagi - possible owner of a Camera Obscura (unconfirmed)
- Seijiro Makabe - lent to him by Dr. Asou
- White Kimono - somehow acquired the camera
- Mikoto Munakata - given camera by White Kimono
- Yae Munakata - used camera given to Mikoto
- Miyuki Hinasaki - inherited camera and used it for archaeological work
- Mafuyu Hinasaki - inherited camera from Miyuki and took it to Himuro Mansion
- Miku Hinasaki - found camera left behind by Mafuyu in Fatal Frame
Fatal Frame II
Fatal Frame III
- Kei Amakura - found broken "real" camera and used it in the dream world
- Yuu Asou - received broken camera from Kei
- Rei Kurosawa - took camera from Yuu's room, used it in the dream world
- Miku Hinasaki - used dream world version of camera
Fatal Frame IV
- Madoka Tsukimori - found camera in Rougetsu Hall's Kunihiko Asou Museum
- Ruka Minazuki - found camera dropped by Madoka
- Misaki Asou - brought camera from home
- The word 'Camera Obscura' is an actual photography term.
- In the real world the camera obscura was the predecessor to cameras. They were darkened enclosures in which images of outside objects were projected through a small aperture or lens onto a facing surface. They were basically portable dark rooms in which pictures were taken. There are no similarities to the Camera Obscura in the Fatal Frame Series and the real world camera obscura save for the name.
- In Latin Camera Obscura means 'dark room'.
- In Fatal Frame III, Rei initially uses a normal camera which can also take pictures of ghosts, but has no exorcising effect, when she first enters the dream.
- For articles related to the Camera Obscura, see Related Articles:Camera Obscura.
- For fan theories about the Camera Obscura, see Theory: Camera Obscura.