Created by: Dr. Kunihiko Asou
Other names: Shadow Obscure, Black Camera and Shaeiki
Games: Fatal Frame, Fatal Frame II (DCB), Fatal Frame III, Fatal Frame IV, Spirit Camera and Fatal Frame V
Quote: "So this is the Camera Obscura... It takes pictures of impossible things..."
The term Camera Obscura (射影機, shaeiki) defines a camera within the Fatal Frame Series that has the ability to exorcise ghosts using different types of film. It is the player's main defence against the ghosts encountered throughout the series.
The camera is one of many paranormal devices created by Dr. Kunihiko Asou, an occultist, philosopher, and folklorist. His research is known as "Mystical Science". Early in his life he was inspired by the practice of postmortem photography, and created his own camera for the purpose, but was not satisfied with merely capturing images of dead bodies; he wished to create a camera that could capture an image of the soul itself, and find proof of the Other World. Throughout his life, Dr. Asou continued his research to improve his Camera Obscura, travelling the country to study the mystical properties of various artefacts and creating many prototypes along the way. After Dr. Asou's death, his inventions became a popular collectible for enthusiasts. Many of the cameras are scattered throughout Japan.
As well as exorcising spirits, the Camera Obscura is also used during gameplay to reveal hidden elements of the environment, solve puzzles and obtain hints about where to go next. Its filament detects violent and nonviolent ghosts nearby, showing red/orange for violent and blue for nonviolent. The camera can be upgraded during gameplay (each camera's method is different; see upgrading the camera for more info). 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.
- Main Article: Spirited Away
Extended use also increases the risk of being attacked by spirits, and in some cases being Spirited Away, leaving only the Camera behind. In modern times, rumours of these dangers spread, but collectors are still known to seek them out.
Cameras in the Fatal Frame Series
- Main article: 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, but supplementary material for Fatal Frame II mentions that Asou went missing after planning to visit Himuro Mansion.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
- Main article: Camera Obscura (FF2)
The second camera in the series was a prototype that Dr. Asou gave to his friend Seijiro Makabe to aid him in his research. 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: Crimson Butterfly (FPS)
- Main article: 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. Within the story, it is considered to be the same as the normal Camera Obscura seen in Fatal Frame II.
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented
- Main article: Camera Obscura (FF3)
Another one of Dr. Asou's cameras. This specific camera exists both in the real world and the 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 original camera belonged to the folklorist Akito Kashiwagi, who brought it to the Kuze Shrine with him. When the shrine fell into the Rift and became the Manor of Sleep, a version of the camera was preserved there, too. Decades later, Kei Amakura found the original camera in the ruins and sent it to his friend, Yuu Asou. Although it no longer works, it retains a mystical connection with the version that exists in the dream world, and some photos taken in dreams will appear on old film inside the real camera.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
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 Rogetsu Isle. Its charge circle mimics the phases of the moon. Dr. Asou donated this camera to Rogetsu Isle 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. There are other cameras in the room all displayed on a separate case, though it is unknown if these cameras function the same way as the other Camera Obscuras.
Misaki/Asou Family's Camera Obscura
Misaki Asou's Camera Obscura has a plainer design. It is a prototype, the first of Asou's devices to successfully capture residual emotions from the past, and he left in the keeping of his descendants. Misaki finds it lying on the floor on the night of the lunar eclipse, and recognises it as her own camera from home, although she does not seem to know how it came to be on the island.
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
- 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.
Fatal Frame: Deep Crimson Butterfly
- Main article: Camera Obscura (DCB)
This camera's origin and history are exactly the same as the Camera Obscura in Fatal Frame II, but changes were made in terms of gameplay. For the first time in the series, this camera allows players to use multiple lenses (up to three) simultaneously, rather than switching between them. The charge depends on how long the ghost has been inside the capture circle rather than its proximity to the protagonist, and Fatal Frame IV's lock-on feature has been added as an adaptation to the Wii Remote. Additionally, Spirit Orbs are no longer used; only spirit points are necessary to upgrade.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
Main Camera Obscura
Ren's Camera Obscura
A camera passed down in a branch of the Asou Family and inherited by Ren Hojo. It was put away in a box along with a book and a lock of hair. Ren lends the camera to Hisoka, asking her to find out about its history, and she confirms it is a rare Camera Obscura. Ren uses it to investigate Mount Hikami.
Cameras in Expanded Universe Material
A Curse Affecting Only Girls & Fatal Frame: The Movie
In the novel, the camera belongs to Susumu Kusakabe. He inherited it from his late father, who owned a photo studio. The history of the camera is unknown, and in the novel, it is never referred to as a Camera Obscura (shaeiki). It is noted to be able to take pictures of spirits invisible to the naked eye, but it is not used to exorcise spirits, so the extent of its power in that regard is uncertain.
In the movie, the camera was once used in Kusanagi Photo Studio to take pictures of girls who wished to participate in a Ghost Marriage, and the photographs were enshrined in the studio. Several other cameras are seen in a case in the same room. Susumu Kusanagi uses the camera to take pictures around the town, and it is his photo of Maya Tsukimori that causes the curse to begin spreading throughout the school.
This Camera Obscura is an heirloom of the Washizuki family, who have served as Shadow Priestesses at Karasawa Shrine for generations. It belonged to Sara's great-great-grandmother; it is not known where she obtained it, or whether it was a creation of Dr. Asou. The Camera Obscura was passed down in the female line of the family, and used by the Shadow Priestess to purify evil spirits. The power of the camera depends on the strength of the priestess's will.
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 main series. In the first games, it lists most ghosts photographed (attacking, vanishing and hidden ghosts all appear), whereas in Fatal Frame V, vanishing ghosts are no longer included, and there are no hidden ghosts to be photographed.
- 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.
- Fatal Frame V Spirit List - 40 total. Completing it unlocks the Lens "See".
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, Fatal Frame III, Fatal Frame V, and Deep Crimson Butterfly
Points obtained from photographing ghosts must be used to upgrade each of the camera's functions or power-up lens levels. In Deep Crimson Butterfly, Blue and Red spirit stone shards will also award the player a random number of spirit points.
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, Equipment in Fatal Frame III, and Enhancements in Deep Crimson Butterfly) are special abilities in each game that enhance the performance of the 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 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.
In Fatal Frame IV, blue and red crystals are used to upgrade the Camera Obscura and the Spirit Stone Flashlight. They replaced the old upgrade system of points and/or Spirit Orbs. They reappear in Deep Crimson Butterfly, but are not directly used to upgrade the camera. Instead, they are worth points.
- 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 - brought a camera and a projector to the Kuze Shrine
- 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
- Miku Hinasaki - used dream 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
- Player character - owned a camera since before the start of the game
Fatal Frame V
- Unknown owner - given to Hisoka after death
- Miku Hinasaki - once owned a camera, now lost
- Hisoka Kurosawa - inherited her camera from an unnamed family
- Ren Hojo - discovered his camera in a family storehouse
- Yuri Kozukata - found Hisoka's camera on Mount Hikami
- Miu Hinasaki - borrowed Hisoka's camera from Yuri
- The word 'Camera Obscura' is a real photography term. The true camera obscura is a darkened enclosure in which images of outside objects were projected through a small aperture or lens onto a facing surface. For many centuries there was no way to preserve the images, although some artists used Camera Obscura in their work. The principle was eventually developed into the photographic camera, where the images were projected onto a light-sensitive surface. The Camera Obscura in the Fatal Frame Series is not a real camera obscura; the name was likely chosen for the mysterious connotations of the English word "obscure". (In Latin, Camera Obscura means 'dark room'.)
- In Fatal Frame III, Rei, Miku and Kei initially use a normal camera which can take pictures of ghosts, but has no exorcising effect.
- During Fatal Frame V, Miu briefly uses the camera while in a dream, directly affecting the ending received.
|Maya - Kaito Hasebe - Woman in Black|
|Seamstress - Akira - Shiori Hasebe - White Hand|
|Camera Obscura - Spirited Aways - Tokoyomi Ritual - Vessel|
|Old House - The Village|
|Camera Obscura - Purple Diary - Voices of the Dead|
|Items - Notes - Costumes - Mini Drama - Japanese Mini Drama - Another Story|
|Sara Washizuki - Tousei Ryuuzaki|
|Beniko Shirasagi - Jun Takakura - Kanon Ohtori - Kumi Suzumori - Maya Mikogami - Midori Hazawa - Mozu - Narumi Amanuma - Reiji Hotei - Sara's Grandmother - Suisei Koutari - Suzume Umishima - Tooru Nue - Tsugumi|
|Chizuru Mizuki - Mikiko Hashiki - Shizuka - Takeru Ugajin - Class 5-2|
|Camera Obscura - Dark Seal - Necromancer - Shadow Priestess - Spirit Stone Flashlight|
|Fujisawa University - Karasawa Elementary - Karasawa Shrine - Karasawa Village - Mount Kegare|
|Zero Media Mix|
|Aya Tsukimori - Headmistress - Kasumi - Mary - Maya Tsukimori - Michi - Risa - Susumu Kusakabe - Takashi Saginomiya - Taruho Saginomiya|
|Itsuki - Keiko Makino - Kuro Karatsu - Mio Takaishi - Nagi - Ritsuko - Waka|
|Ophelia Album - Ophelia's Song - The Girls' Curse - Yuukon|
|Saint Loudun's Academy for Girls|
|Zero Media Mix|
|Aya Tsukimori - Michi Kazato - Headmistress - Itsuki Kikunobe - Kasumi Nohara - Keiko Makino - Kuro Karatsu - Mary - Maya Tsukimori - Mayumi Asou - Mio Takaishi - Risa Suzumori - Susumu Kusanagi - Takashi Asou - Waka Fujii|
|The Girls' Curse - Ophelia's Song|
|Kusanagi Photo Studio - Seijitsu Academy|
|Zero Media Mix|