lomography

LOMO LC-A

I first heard of the LOMO LC-A camera on a rock climbing discussion website in the summer of 2005 when someone posted that the LC-A was the perfect camera to carry climbing. It was compact, they said, took great photographs and was very cheap. The camera is compact (kind of) and it definitely takes great photographs but cheap it is not. At least, not when compared to similar compact cameras. LOMO LC-A

Originally, the 35mm Lomo LC-A (a.k.a. Kompact Automat) was produced by LOMO,  Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesckoye Obyedinenie (Leningrad Optical & Mechanical Enterprise) in Russia in 1984. It bears a striking resemblance to the Cosina CX2 which LOMO copied to create the camera for the masses in what was then the USSR.

The lens has a focal length of 32mm with focusing done by moving a lever on the side to focus at either 3 feet, 4.5 feet, 10 feet or infinity. The lever on the other side controls exposure with an "A" setting for auto exposure and apertures between f/2.8 and f/16 which use a shutter speed of 1/60s. The camera accepts film with speeds of 25 to 400 ISO. (Older versions of the camera do have the speed setting in the GOST standard however.)

LC-A 1s

The camera became a bit of a cult phenomenon after two Viennese students discovered the camera in 1991 while on a trip to Prague. They went on to found the Lomographic Society International (LSI), coined the phrase "Lomography" and successfully marketed the camera with a lot of hype.

But with all hype aside, this camera truly is a nice camera to use. The lens is sharp and there is a nice vignette to give that old time vintage feel. There is also something cool about the sound of the shutter going off - a nice "ping".

LC-A 2s

LC-A 3s

LOMO stopped producing the LC-A in 2005. To fill the gap, LSI created a remake called the LC-A+ which was made by Phenix Optical Company in China. Originally, all LC-A+ cameras came with a LOMO produced lens but in July 2007, most LC-A+ cameras started to be made with Chinese lenses with only a few cameras still using LOMO lenses. Those LOMO lens cameras then became known as LC-A + RL (for Russian Lens).

LC-A 4s

While I can think of better cameras to take rock climbing, the Lomo LC-A is one of my favorite cameras and you can see more of my Lomo shots in my '35mm Snapshot' set on Flickr.

Lomography Diana+ Pinhole Test

When the Lomographic Society International released the Diana toy camera remake, the Diana +, one of the improvements they made over the original was the addition of a built in pin hole feature. Even though I have had my Diana+ for a long time, I have never really tried the pin hole. Last week, I decided to give it a go. Accessing the pin hole feature is easy. Just twist off the lens.

Lomography Diana+

The pin hole on the Diana+ is supposed to have an aperture of f/150 and you set it by moving the aperture lever to "P"

Lomography Diana+ Pinhole

Since pin hole exposure times are relatively long, the Diana+ needs to be set on bulb mode. There is a "shutter lock" (really a small plastic wedge) attached to the camera strap that can be inserted into the shutter lever slot to keep the shutter open for as long as required without holding it down. I found the shutter lock to be a bit finicky and it would sometimes take a few attempts to get it to stay in place.

Lomography Diana+ Shutter Lock

The Diana+ also has a tripod attachment on the base which helps when taking long exposures.

To determine the correct exposure, I created a table on the Mr Pinhole website. Here is an extract from that table showing the values I used most often.

f 8 f 16 f 150
1/500 Secs 1/125 Secs 1/2 Secs
1/250 Secs 1/60 Secs 1 Secs
1/125 Secs 1/30 Secs 3 Secs
1/60 Secs 1/15 Secs 6 Secs
1/30 Secs 1/8 Secs 11 Secs
1/15 Secs 1/4 Secs 22 Secs

I then used an old Sekonic light meter to determine the correct exposure for f/8 or f/16 and read the f/150 value from the table.

Because it can be difficult to keep the shutter lock in place my method for taking the photos was to first hold the lens cap in front of the pin hole. I would then open the shutter and insert the lock. Once the lock was in place, I removed the cap for the necessary time and replaced it when the exposure was complete. By doing it this way, I reduced the amout of time I had touch the camera hopefully lessening any camera shake.

And so the results...

Most of the roll was exposed pretty well. I did end up with a light leak which was caused by the roll not being wound tightly onto the take up spool. This is a common problem with the Diana+ because of the mechanism used to keep the film in place. It just doesn't keep the roll tight enough. (See this Figital Revolution post on how to get around that.)

Another thing I don't like about my Diana+ is that there is a square outline around every photo. This appears to be a internal reflection from the mask but it could probably be reduced by using a matte paint inside the camera. I've seen this on other people's Diana+ photographs too.

Overall, I think the pinholes came out pretty good. You can judge the results yourself below.

Lomography Diana+ Small-1

Lomography Diana+ Small-2

Lomography Diana+ Small-3

LOMO LC-A Book (Blatant Self Promotion)

My complimentary copy of the Lomographic Society's LOMO LC-A book arrived today and I have to say it is very impressive. It is huge with over 660 pages and more than 3000 photographs. I quickly browsed through it and found four of my photos included (although one of them is a small one on the back cover.)

The book is on sale for $100 and I have to admit it is probably worth it. A lot of work went into the production of the book.

LOMO LC-A Book (Blatant Self Promotion)

In the photograph here, the cityscape (bottom left) is mine (click through the photo to see the others).

Link: LOMO LC-A Book.

Camera Review: Holga 120

History In 1982, Mr T.M. Lee, founder of Universal Electronics Ltd in Hong Kong, wanted to release a medium format camera to supplement the companies flash products which were increasingly facing competition from cameras with built in flash made by competitors. The original target market was Mainland China so to be affordable, the camera had to be made cheaply and be fairly reliable. The result was the Holga.

In the 1990s, the Holga saw a huge increase in popularity. First of all, art schools and photography classes started to use Holgas to teach the basics of photography. Also, camera retailer, Lomographic Society International (LSI) started to market the camera as part of their Lomography movement.

In addition to that, the toy camera movement was gaining momentum and the Holga quickly became one of the mainstays in that genre of photography.

Holga

Specifications The Holga is essentially a plastic box with a plastic lens. It uses medium format (120) film and there is minimal control over exposure and focus. The lens is a simple meniscus lens with a focal length of 60mm. Focusing is achieved by turning the lens barrel. Distances are judged using symbols which represent 4 different distances from 4 feet to infinity.

Shutter speed is listed as 1/125 and there is a switch which allows you to do bulb exposures. The "specifications" for the Holga also state that the apertures are  f/8 and f/11 but due to a design flaw, many Holgas have only 1 usable aperture which may really be f/13 depending on who you talk to. It is possible to modify the camera to get two working apertures and the camera in the photo above has been modified to have actual apertures of f/8 and f/11.

Taken with a Holga

Image size is determined by a mask inside the camera. The interchangeable masks come in the 6x6cm square or 645 (6x4.5cm) portrait style formats. When 6x6 is used, a roll of film will yield 12 photographs. When the 645 mask is used, there will be 16 images on the film. The camera can also be used without any mask which results in an approximately 6x6 square image extending beyond the intended image area. Some mechanical vignetting may also occur when the mask is not used.

Holga Models There are many variations of the Holga 120. The 120S (now obsolete) and 120N are the most basic but do have a hot shoe to attach an external flash. The 120FN is a built in flash version and the 120CFN is the color flash version that allows the photographer to use the flash with 1 of 4 colored filters. All of the recent models come in a glass lens version and those have a "G" in the name (e.g. 120GFN). There also exists a variant called the WOCA. This is no longer made and has been replaced by the 120G series.

Holga

The Images Because the lens is a simple plastic lens, the resulting photographs are not tack sharp and have a slight blur to the them. Many times that blur becomes more pronounced towards the edges of the images and, depending on the lighting conditions, there may be some vignetting.

Some Holgas will have light leaks. Some users like the leaks but for those who don't they can be minimized by spray painting the inside of the camera matte black and taping up the seams of the camera.

Because the film transport is decoupled from the shutter, it is possible to easily take multiple exposures (sometimes unintentionally).

Holga

Modifications The good thing about the Holga is that it can be modified with only a small amount of effort. It is possible to convert the camera to take 35mm film or the lens can be completely removed and replaced with a pinhole.

Where To Get A Holga Sometimes, local independent camera stores will sell Holgas especially if there is a college or school nearby that uses them in their photography courses.  But the easiest place to get one is online either in one of the main online camera stores or on eBay (sellers in Hong Kong sell new Holgas on eBay).

Lomographic Society International also sell Holgas normally as part of Lomographic packages. The packages typically come with extras but many times the don't warrant the increase in price that LSI sells at. LSI also distribute cameras through "trendy" clothing and accessory stores such as Urban Outfitters in the US.

holga

Holgamods.com sells modified cameras and is worth checking out.

My Opinion The Holga is a great camera from anyone wanting to get into cheap plastic toy cameras. In today's world, this camera is a vast and welcome contrast to mega pixel'd digital cameras with auto-everything. I like the softness of the images and the atmosphere of the photographs. The camera itself is easy to use and is fairly robust. If it does break, you can probably glue it back together or buy a brand new one for less than $30.

If you are going to shoot 120 film it is a good idea to make sure it is going to be easy for you to develop. Black & white film is easy to process at home and if you have a scanner you don't even need a dark room. For color, you will probably have to drop it off at a lab. Some consumer labs don't develop 120 so check before hand.

All in all, I recommend the Holga 120 so go check it out

Links My Holga photos on Flickr.com Squrefrog - lots of Holga information Wikipedia Camerapedia Lomographic Society International

Are the Lomographic Society going digital?

I got an survey via e-mail yesterday from the Lomographic Society (LSI) called "Analogue versus Digital – Pre-Survey Brainstorm". In it LSI asked for what comes to mind when you hear the words "Analogue" and "Digital", positives and negatives for both but the last question asked what digital products should LSI get involved with. Apparently there will be some announcement at Photokina which will be in September this year.

Are LSI going digital?

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here A line written on many a postcard, but interpretation is the key. A desire, a temptation, a burning question, or a bit of irony? Maybe you like to tease and are a little tongue-in-cheek? Or full of longing and sincerity-with a shot to make us weep?

That was the “mission brief” for last months Lomography Lomo Mission. This photo was one of the runners up.

A New Diana

There's a lot of excitement today in the world of low fidelity photography. Earlier today, The Lomographic Society released their latest camera : a reissue of the 1960s Diana which they call the Diana+. The"+" refers to some interesting features like the ability to remove the lens for pinhole photography and items like a shutter lock and tripod thread which were missing from the original Diana cameras.

You can see more on http://www.lomography.com/diana/