Some months ago (16 or 17, now, I guess) I was one of 3,379 people to back Lomography’s Kickstarter project to build a Petzval lens for 35mm cameras.
I received that lens some time ago and made some fun pictures with it; I look forward to making some more. But that’s not what this post is about.
To thank me for my support, Lomography sent a decent coupon (30% maybe) that I didn’t really plan to use—I had enough toys that I rarely played with already—but when their 2013 holiday sales rolled around, I decided to jump in, and ended up grabbing a Refurbished Lomo LC-A and several rolls of film for around $150, quite a deal compared to the usual asking price.
I took my time with the first roll, and finally shot through it while travelling to and from Arkansas to visit Mom in mid December 2013.
I originally planned to just lift a product shot from Lomography’s website and use that, but decided instead to do a bit of impromptu product photography, so here you go:
So there’s the camera… I could’ve cleaned it up a little before shooting it, and I probably overexposed a bit… I could use a bit of practice in the product photography department.*
Others have reviewed it rather extensively, so I’ll just talk briefly about my early experiences with it.
Thanks to some sort of snafu at Walgreens (I later found out the same “snafu” would occur at any virtually any photo finishing site without its own lab these days: grrrrrrrrrr), I never received the negatives, and so have no explanation why the shots I took prior to getting batteries for the camera didn’t come out. After all, the LC-A should work just fine without batteries (at a fixed shutter speed of 1/60th of a second), and I was using the Light Meter app to calculate appropriate Apertures, so more testing will be required: Alhamdulillah.*
This is a fun little camera: mostly plastic with a bit of metal (but heavy and very solid-feeling); 32mm focal length, leaf shutter, zone focus, and fully automatic exposure (or variable f/2.8-16 with fixed shutter speed of 1/60th: could make for some fun); it has rear-curtain flash sync, which could make for some interesting effects if I get more into flash photography; it’s light, small, and different-looking, yet still discrete, and just a really groovy little toy.
My only complaints are minor. First, there’s the relatively stiff trigger: you have to press it well past the top of the camera before it fires. This is good when it’s in a pocket or something, but less so when you want to hold the camera still. And given the small size if the camera, I tend to want to shoot one-handed, so this stiff trigger causes a bit of nervousness at times (all of this would be mitigated by 1) a support of some sort (the LC-A has a tripod thread); 2) a more laissez faire attitude and familiarity with camera-shake blur; and/or 3) using TWO HANDS… sheesh).
And then there’s the price, which at $200 (without any sales or coupons) seems a bit steep. After all, I could easily find a manual Nikon (like my recently-acquired FG, bought with a 50mm E Series for under $60—more about it later), or a Olympus XA or Trip 35, or even a yashica-mat TLR for less, and could’ve fed one of the old film cameras I sold off or donated in early December 2014 quite a few rolls for the $$ I spent on yet another camera. But there’s just something about this camera that others can’t match.
It’s partly the lofi (lomo) quality, partly the small size and goofy mechanics, partly just something else… I would say the color quality, but that came out of the film… There is something in the lens, though, that a precision ground Nikkor or Zuiko could never match.
The first shot here was taken at the Grigsby (the apartment I stayed in in Old East Dallas from 2009-2013), the rest were shot in Arkansas and Oklahoma, early December 2013.
Lomography LC-A (the refurbished model with aperture control), Lomography Color 400 Film (if I recall, it might’ve been 200), all shot in auto mode. Processed through a Walgreen’s store with ‘One Hour Photo’ on the outside of the building, but that stopped processing film years ago and now mails it off to an overnight service that doesn’t return negatives, but does give a decent-sized scan (3042 x 2048), but the images might be a bit oversaturated and somewhat contrasty. All the shots here are directly from those scans, with some minimal cropping as necessary.
*And I now develop and scan my own negatives, so I now only have myself to blame should something go wrong: Alhamdulillah.
I’ve been sitting on this review, or actually had it in progress, for almost a year now. I didn’t post it because I wanted to feed it another roll or two. Now that I’m developing my own film at home, I can shoot and process to my heart’s content.
In fact, a couple of rolls have been processed and are awaiting this review to be shared, so it’s high time!
**I did get one thing I’ve been wanting for awhile:A sweep!
Actually, I made it… White foam core with about 5 slits halfway through on the reverse side. I should probably go back and make about a dozen more, as I think it would make for a smoother curve, but this three-minute project saved me about 20 minutes of cloning out lines and shadows, so gogo.
I shot the above with the D7000 and Nikkor 28-105D, ISO100, 1/160th, in Shutter priority mode somehow (probably a nudge while moving the camera around, and I forgot to check the settings, as ususal), with Granddad’s Vivitar Auto 200 flash mounted on top and the SB-700 in slave mode at 1/16th, camera left.
Product shots were shot with the same setup, but zoomed in and camera in manual 1/160th, f/16, ISO 100.