The first lomo camera was developed by the Soviets in the 80s. After examining a robust and compact Japanese 35mm camera a director from a Arms/Optical factory decided to harness the technology and develop a Russian version for the public. The company - LOMO-PLC or Leningrad Optical Mechanical Amalgamation thus created the Lomo LC-A which had a fixed lens and took 35mm film.
A handful of Austrian students took a shine to the camera a decade later and popularized it due to its unique quality and refreshing style. It produced stylized dreamy imagery with vibrant and colour cast results that were often blurred. This charming and arty effect kept the camera's in circulation and soon Lomo societies were created to keep the word alive and celebrate the medium.
In the early 2000s Lomo shops first started making an appearance and by the end of the decade there is a huge online store with a range or different lomographic cameras. Now, years later there are even iphone apps that try and reproduce Lomo effect.
Okay so its a bit arty and a bit of a gimmick you say. Well in many respects your right it has a time and a place.
The particular model I bought isn't a still camera, it's a 35mm movie maker. It's part of Lomography's new available range which takes the style of the original and re-imagines it for moving image. It's essentially a small black box rather like some of the old Kodak brownie no.2 still cameras sold in the 1950s.
the Lomokino as it's called takes regular 35mm film roll which loads onto a film spool in the camera. It's black with a crank on the right hand side which operate the shutter and winds the film onward. It shoots at about 5 frames per second, so about 8 pictures per segment of film and 144 frames per 36 roll.
The camera settings aren't very dynamic but I say limitations allow for you to be creative yourself.
The shutter is 1/100 of a second so this will create a burred/movement effect if your quickly panned or in motion. There are 3 aperture settings- f/5.6, f/8 and f/11 for narrower depth of field. There obviously isn't a focusing ring because there isn't really a lens. It's more of a 25mm capture hole. So with focusing you simply push a button on the front of the camera which focus you up to 0.6m for close-ups.
Other features include a fold out viewfinder on top next to a hot shoe mount so you may attach a flash if needed. You have a volume indication meter on the left hand side so if you stop mid way through shooting you know roughly how many frames you have left to shoot. It isn't an exact representation rather just when the bar fills up with red you've pretty much run out of frames. The camera also comes with a standard 1/4 inch thread for use with a tripod.
Not everyone can get to a flat bed scanner, scan their film in and editing it together so they have provided a useful solution to this in the shape of the kinoscope. It looks like a mini SLR but the lens is actually a rubber eyecup so you may view your negative film in motion. You simply load your film into the back of the device and use the crank on the top to advance your mini-movie. I find this useful as I don't own a 35mm scanner plate or anything like that and I don't always want the hassle of going through that whole process each time I produce a roll of film.
-*Inside the box*-
The camera arrives packed away in the sturdy hard cardboard box nicely decorated with camera and Kinoscope both fully assembled and ready for use. Also inside the box are a mini flip-book and a booklet explaining the history and popularity of the Lomograph. The Flipbook consist of 380 pages. On all the right hand pages are image sequences and on the left instructions and specifications. on the last page there is a fold out diagram listing the part names of the camera. Adding the Kinoscope to your order will include the price by about 25 pound but it's definitely useful and you save money buying it in a bundle. I like the overall presentation of the box and the build quality. It stores the camera nicely and isn't the regular type of packaging that you want to store or chuck out.
Out of the box its a few short steps in order to use. First you load the film in the back. Wind the film on to the first frame and rotate the crank in order to work the shutter. It's boxy and isn't very ergonomic in it's bulky form. It can either gripped be on the left hand side or sat in the palm of your hand while cranking. It doesn't really have any significant weight to it so isn't cumbersome just square and awkward. you will shoot in-between 3-5 frame per second while using the crank. Top speed producing 5fps. This should produce 30-50 second segment of your 36 exp roll of film. You will need to be using film with an ISO of 100 on a small aperture if your out of a bright sunny day and a film with a ISO speed of 1600 indoors. Once your film is empty of shot and fully rewound then eject and develop.
I've order some lovely Fiji-Film Velvia to shoot with so I'm looking forward to those results. It nice to play around with this camera. In my case I'm looking for something specific for a film I'm making so it is a worthwhile testing period. I'm very happy with the camera. I like the images and I hope to get much enjoyment from using it.