When Lomography announced their LomoMod No.1 cardboard DIY camera with fancy Sutton, liquid-filled lens, I wasn’t even tempted. Sure, I read the announcement, looked at the pictures and all, but I wasn’t even tempted.
But then, days later, one of my Twitter buddies mentioned it, talked about buying it just to play with the lens and shutter assembly, maybe use it for a different diy camera project. I was intrigued, and so ponied up the money to preorder one…
If you want to skip the rest of this, go ahead. My gesture near the end of the unboxing sorta says enough.
So… The LomoMod No.1. Here it is in all its glory, standing proud on a Gorillapod.
The build process was NOT FUN. It took me nearly five hours. The laser-cut cardboard has a tendency to shred if the parts aren’t connected in precisely the right way, and I lack the patience and dexterity for fiddly things like this. But I finished it and, well, was sorta excited to try it out.
I took my sweet time both shooting and developing the roll. If I recall, I took one or two pictures around the house, and then carried it with me on a long drive and brief walk around the Old Alton Bridge.
About halfway across the bridge, after shooting the groovy old wood and iron, graffiti-covered and overgrown bridge, the winder failed. GAH. I’d read about this before even building the camera, and was sure to use the special “Critical Parts” Lomography included for many of the prone-to-failure bits, but still…
I was so disgusted that I shoved the film in the cupboard and waited a month before developing it.
My hopes weren’t high, but the results were unexpected…
Yes, I got no images at all.
Some light got to the film: there are exposed frames there, as you can see from the unexposed border I left on a few frames.
But no images…
What went wrong? Well, look back at my tweet… “Won’t be trying the liquid-in-the-lens gimmick with this first roll,” I wrote.
It seems that a Sutton lens requires liquid to focus. Sure, there’s some glass (or, in this case, plastic) elements to help, but the liquid acts as a magnifier or something to actually provide focus. GAH.
Some physics training/thought would’ve helped me here, but alas…*
I initially planned to give a whopping 0 stars to the LomoMod No.1 and call it the worst thing Lomography have ever made… It may still be the worst thing Lomography have ever made, and I still can’t recommend it, but I’m happy to admit my own error, and I won’t bother including a star rating.
Unrated. Not Recommended.
I’m almost tempted to buy another LomoMod, just to see if I’m right, that Liquid is required for proper focus, and to see if maybe they’ve improved the winder and other prone-to-failure bits. But at $60 plus shipping, it seems a bit too steep, and I think I’ll pass. And unless you’re a masochist and don’t care about throwing money away, I’d suggest staying away from the LomoMod No.1. It’s garbage.
Here’s what’s left of mine after retrieving the film from from the back… I wasn’t gentle, but it also didn’t want to open back up.
I do plan to do something with the lens. The shutter flange isn’t a standard size, as far as I can tell. It’s something between a Copal 0 and Copal 1. I have an idea bout trying it out on 4×5 and maybe using it with a 6×7 reducing back, and I ordered a 3d printed lens board for my Intrepid… alas, I didn’t read the description carefully enough, and the board I ordered was for a Linhof/Technica 70 camera, a 6×7 folding camera, not a 4×5.
At least it was only $11 wasted.
I’ll try again, and maybe report on the lens at a later date. Until then, hold your money. Film photography is (partly) about fun, for me anyway, and maybe you might have some fun with the LomoMod. I didn’t, though, and I have to remember that no part of it was the least bit fun… I didn’t mention the shooting experience: It was ok, I guess; the camera is a bit large and unwieldy, and I don’t like the looks of it, but I could shoot with it.
It’s just that the LomoMod no.1, my copy anyway, is a hunk of well-enough designed, poorly manufactured, and even more poorly constructed garbage. The construction process was infuriating, the shooting was average at best, and to then get no results, even from my own error, was just too much.
*I’m not 100% convinced that this is the case, that the lens requires liquid, but it’s the only explanation I have for the complete failure.