Ok. So I bought another LC-A… This marks my third (or fourth, depending on if you count the LC-A+, which I don’t) in six years… smh.
(All photos in this rant come from the first roll shot through the new-to-me, third, LC-A, purchased in April 2021.)
The LC-A was the first film camera I bought for myself. I acquired a refurbished LC-A from Lomography (with a coupon, but still) for ~$250 in December 2014.
I loved it, and it worked very well for about three and a half years. And then the takeup spool disintegrated. Fun!
I sent it to a repair place in the Ukraine, and they replaced the spool, cut a hole in the base plate to make multiple exposures easy, and oiled the shutter.
Yes, you read that right, they oiled the shutter.
You DO NOT oil shutters in an LC-A. The leaves are too thin and the oil will gum them up in no time. I managed one roll out of the re-refurbished LC-A before the shutter seized up. I tried to fix it myself, but failed miserably.
I loved that LC-A. In the 3.5 years I shot 45 rolls of film and 17 packs of Instax Mini (with the instant back) and couldn’t imaging being without an LC-A, so I started shopping for another one.
I was wary, and was careful to buy another refurbished one, and happy to pay the ~$150 or so for what I hoped was another good one. When it arrived, though, I was shocked to find that it came from the same Ukranian group that repaired (and destroyed) the first one.
The Second LC-A arrived in November 2018, and for a refurbished camera, it sure had some problems.
The mirror foam was new, but installed poorly and I had to dig it all out and replace it. But the foam wasn’t the problem… actually, the back was slightly warped and didn’t fit tight…
No problem. I swapped in the back from the first LC-A and started shooting.
But there was a bigger problem: the masks for the meter were misaligned, causing massive underexposure at most ISOs, and massive overexposure at 200 and 400.
Given my experience disassembling the first one, I managed to take the top off and realign things, and it started exposing more predictably… for awhile.
After about 10 months, and only 10 rolls and a couple of packs of mostly failures, the shutter seized up (I suspect the refurbishment group also oiled the shutter, as they had when they refurbished my first one).
Really, I was happy to stick a note on that one and throw it in the parts drawer, and I hemmed and hawed and bought an LC-A+…
Given its all plastic construction, I knew the LC-A+ wouldn’t be the same as an original LC-A, but I tried to give it a chance. There’s a warranty and reports of sticky shutters are few and far between.
Alas, the plastic lens just lacks character. It’s plenty sharp and doesn’t vignette overly, and just quite simply isn’t an LC-A. I don’t like results from it on film: if I want sharp and no vignette, I’ll shoot the Nikon FM3a and Japanese 50mm pancake or 35mm f/2D. But when I want to shoot an LC-A, I want the results of an LC-A.
I relegated the LC-A+ to LC-Anstax duty full time (though it also fails there… too sharp, too predictable), but it mostly sits on the shelf and I should really sell it or pass it on.
I went to visit Mom in early April, and one morning, early, while waiting for coffee to perk, I felt an itch, and before I knew it, I bought another LC-A, this time from a Russian antiques shop. The description made no mention of refurbishment, and when it arrived, the camera looked largely unused.
The plastic presentation box was scuffed and cracked, but the camera was fine, well, except for completely disintegrated light seals. Thankfully, I have a ton: I ordered a four-pack from a company in China back in 2017. It got lost in the mail, and they sent me replacements in late 2018. And then the original 4 pack arrived in early 2019… Woo! (I offered to send them back or pay for them, but received no reply to my query.) And so it was trivial to replace the seals.
Sadly, I broke the tension plate in the back… but I’m not worried. It still works, and I have two others (and two backs with good seals, and two bottoms with holes in for multiple exposures, and a fresh kit for converting to LC-Anstax).
And results from the first roll are promising! It shoots and looks like an LC-A, with the expected vignetting and pleasant out of focus characteristics. And at only $80, shipped, it was the cheapest LC-A purchase thus far. If I can get even 8 rolls through it, it’ll cost me less than the last LC-A, and so far it’s been as good as (or better than) the first one I picked up back in 2014.