Author Topic: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A  (Read 7603 times)

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jojonas~

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Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« on: August 06, 2014, 06:24:36 AM »
A bit of background first; ever since I first got my Holga and not being able to cope with the costs of film I've turned to cheap, compact 135 cameras to cure my itch for film wasting. From the Smena 8M and Olympus Trip 35 Mini to Olympus XA and Minolta AF-C there's always been something missing..

This maybe?

LC-A by jojonas~, on Flickr

The main trait that led me to lust for the LC-A was the capability of long exposures. I've always liked the punch in slower films pushing haven't been an interest until just recently. Considering where I come from during the darkest of winter the sun never even comes up over the horizon I've felt the need to get a camera that can handle exposures over a minute atleast, the LC-A was the shining light that would lit up my shots.
Of course, since Lomography got their hands on it, it has been going for silly prices and wasn't even an option because of that. I think the closest I came was the Olympus XA or Olympus XA3. The XA is a quality camera but in the end it was too slow for me. The XA3 was faster to work with and a joy to use but the shots from either never impressed me.

So que the beginning of fall this year, I was part of Planket Gothenburg...
Quote
Planket (tr. the fence) is a concept brought to Sweden by photographer Neil Goldstein in 1982. It’s an open, outdoor photography exhibition, where a large number of artists use a fence to hang their work.

...and among the photographs hanging there were also people selling off used equipment this year. And it was there I saw my to be LC-A. Marked as non functioning with a price tag of 6 USD/4.5 EUR the plunge didn't feel that bad in case it didn't work. Considering what I've seen online with several guides how to repair and maintain the LC-A, I was confident to take it on.
Too my surprise, as soon as I put some fresh batteries in it life came back into the little camera and it seemed to expose correctly too!
Now, about 20 to 30 rolls later through it I can honestly give you my opinion.
The long exposures I dreamed of worked like a charm! The only thing you have to worry about it pushing that shutter button down until it closes or you'll end up with an under exposed shot. I'm planning to mod the thing so I can attach a shutter release cable and eliminate any hand shake. Maybe obvious but worth noting is that for long exposures it goes right away to fully open the aperture. But yes, it doesn't stop sucking in the light until it is full.

baby the stars shine bright by jojonas~, on Flickr
Speaking of fully open aperture, I noticed when trying long exposures in the city at night, the infinity setting doesn't quite cut it. Distances past 15 meters tend to go soft. So it's not really my first choice for night time landscape shooting, haha.

lonely night walk by jojonas~, on Flickr
Considering the viewfinder -it is to my surprise decently accurate! It's quite nice having the finder just over the lens. As mine is a non Lomography version, it even has little Holga like distance icons in the viewfinder with an accompanying marker to show at what distance it is currently focused at. Besides the Pentax PS35AF this is the only other camera I've had this function in (and I've had over 100 cameras...).

LC-A viewfinder by jojonas~, on Flickr
Judging from my Smena 8M, I'd thought the film advance wheel was going to a pain in the arse but actually it's pretty smooth. The rewind lever is also perfectly fine. I hear both these parts can be prone to breakage though. Though if I remember correctly, you can get both these parts off a much cheaper Smena-35.
Now, to the lens... the LC-A is fitted with a Minitar 1 f:2.8 32mm lens. Pleasantly wide, I'd say! 35mm feels very normal to me but this focal length gives just a bit more in the frame. It works okay and can get pretty sharp with the light right when it stops down a bit. I haven't experimented much with using the flash setting for manual control (1/60th of a second) but I'd guess it starts getting good at f:5.6. The vignetting is something it is famed for and something I quite like with this camera. Though what fascinates me most is how uncorrected it is! Lines never seem to stay straight after passing through this lens and even my gf admits that it has a certain charm and distinct character to it. And she's not always a fan of my "weird" toy camera shots, haha.

Minitar 1 LC-A by jojonas~, on Flickr
A built in lens cover is something that I learned to love after using the Olympus XA cameras. I try to always have a camera with me, in my jacket or bag and it is nice to know that I don't have to worry about the lens getting scratched or loosing a lens cap.
Another trait with the lens that I find interesting is how it renders backgrounds when close focusing. Not really like a flipped lens but the blur can blow up in a peculiar manner.

set aim... by jojonas~, on Flickr
So in the end, if you can bear its quirks, maybe even like how the lens renders, and you find it for a good price, I don't see why not to pick it up.


Gallery:

What Ture brought to the darkroom by jojonas~, on Flickr

lca  mölndal skatan apx100 445 by jojonas~, on Flickr

I love the smell of fresh film in the morning by jojonas~, on Flickr

d'orsay, paris by jojonas~, on Flickr

barcelona ride by jojonas~, on Flickr

La Pedrera - Gaudí17 by jojonas~, on Flickr

La Pedrera - Gaudí by jojonas~, on Flickr

barcelona house by jojonas~, on Flickr

barcelona view by jojonas~, on Flickr

Good source for information on the LC-A: http://www.kataan.org/lomofaq
Some history: http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?591361816
/jonas

gsgary

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 11:03:27 AM »
Does it take 120 film ? If so I have 5 rolls of out of date ektarchrome you can have to play with

mcduff

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 02:30:03 PM »
Nice review jojonas! As a fan of little cameras I have always wanted one of these, but I have been unwilling to pay the hipster-inflated price that these guys go for, even when used.

I believe some models of the lca let you set aperture. Does this one? Of all my ultra-compacts, only my XA has this feature -a feature I want. I have borrowed tintin's once and do like it. All I need to do is did a broken one for cheap like you did, haha.

I did get lots of shots that I liked out of that one roll I pushed through TinTin's LCA...


Lomo-03
by mcduff!, on Flickr


Lomo014
by mcduff!, on Flickr
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:08:49 PM by mcduff »
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check out Don's stuff at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcduffco/

jojonas~

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 05:27:03 PM »
Nice review jojonas! As a fan of little cameras I have always wanted one of these, but I have been unwilling to pay the hipster-inflated price that these guys go for, even when used.

I believe some models of the lca let you set aperture. Does this one? Of all my ultra-compacts, only my XA has this feature -a feature I want. I have borrowed tintin's once and do like it. All I need to do is did a broken one for cheap like you did, haha.

I did get lots of shots that I liked out of that one roll I pushed through TinTin's LCA...


Lomo-03
by mcduff!, on Flickr


Lomo014
by mcduff!, on Flickr
nice shots! I like the gargoyles(spelling??). mine is a pre-lomography, or not a LC-A+ as they named their version without the flashlever to change aperture. I've tried using flash once or twice with that but it does a decent job in A mode anyway if you just don't photograph something too close. I guess around a meter and a half?

Does it take 120 film ? If so I have 5 rolls of out of date ektarchrome you can have to play with
no, it's a 135 camera. still, I would make use of those ektarchrome rolls. I usually soup my own film

/jonas

gsgary

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 05:29:34 PM »
Pm me your address and ill get it off to you

jojonas~

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 06:10:36 PM »
thanks :) pm sent
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tkmedia

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2014, 06:41:03 AM »
I actually like the original LOMO LC-A's... but I don't really like the Chinese made Lomography LOMO LC-A plus, they are a bit different btw.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2014, 06:43:52 AM by tkmedia »
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jojonas~

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2014, 04:34:28 PM »
yeah, it's a different beast that chinese one. I think that first link at the end of this review lists a few of the differnces between the models.
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Aksel

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2015, 10:57:11 AM »
Thank you for the review and thoughts jojonas, I wanted some input from fellow filmwasters before putting this on my Christmas wish list =) Deal done, I need a original LC-A  ;D
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johan_lindgren

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2015, 08:26:56 AM »
I got mine just as cheap actually, found in a store which normally is not that cheap about their cameragear, but this one was in the pile of "broken old cameras" which I like to check out ;D
The counter was faulty and it didnt advance the film, but it was easy to fix, I replaced the insulation foam at the same time..

I think that it is higly "modificafion friendly" actually, I have had the camera long enough now that I know that I will not sell or get rid of it and so I am thinking of modifying it for several functions.

- Double exposure; seems easy. I have found some video but am planning on doing it "my way" :)
- Higher iso; I would want to run 1600 in it, so I am thinking of adding a switch+resistor for the lightmeter or something like that but I have to look more into it first.
- in "manual" mode, you can set the aperture and it will only shoot on 1/60 speed, but I think it might be possible to mod, so that the shutter stays open - still have to look into it...
- Cable release; not big a deal to fix I think, what I will need is a nut and a drill and it should do it.

What do you guys think?
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 08:30:06 AM by johan_lindgren »

Ezzie

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2015, 01:51:56 PM »
Call me a snob (yes I do have a Lomography camera or two), but I wouldn't mind a CX-1 or CX-2, they are however going for silly money - so not very likely I will ever get one.
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Francois

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2015, 02:43:23 PM »
I got mine just as cheap actually, found in a store which normally is not that cheap about their cameragear, but this one was in the pile of "broken old cameras" which I like to check out ;D
The counter was faulty and it didnt advance the film, but it was easy to fix, I replaced the insulation foam at the same time..

I think that it is higly "modificafion friendly" actually, I have had the camera long enough now that I know that I will not sell or get rid of it and so I am thinking of modifying it for several functions.

- Double exposure; seems easy. I have found some video but am planning on doing it "my way" :)
- Higher iso; I would want to run 1600 in it, so I am thinking of adding a switch+resistor for the lightmeter or something like that but I have to look more into it first.
- in "manual" mode, you can set the aperture and it will only shoot on 1/60 speed, but I think it might be possible to mod, so that the shutter stays open - still have to look into it...
- Cable release; not big a deal to fix I think, what I will need is a nut and a drill and it should do it.

What do you guys think?
Well, if you have the skills, why not.

I might be mistaken but I have a feeling that in general Russian cameras were designed to be repaired with crude tools. This makes them particularly easy to maintain, repair and modified when compared to many of their Japanese counterparts.
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jojonas~

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2015, 06:59:52 PM »
glad it could be of help to you, aksel. it's a fun camera and surprisingly useful when you warm up to its limitations :)

johan, if you do any mods. please document the process. I've been wanting to get down and dirty with my lc-a too
/jonas

johan_lindgren

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2015, 11:28:18 PM »


johan, if you do any mods. please document the process. I've been wanting to get down and dirty with my lc-a too

Sure, I will - need to end the ongoing roll first though ;)

Aksel

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Re: Looking past the Hype - an honest review of the LOMO LC-A
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2015, 02:28:20 PM »
Call me a snob (yes I do have a Lomography camera or two), but I wouldn't mind a CX-1 or CX-2, they are however going for silly money - so not very likely I will ever get one.

Not to mention the LC-Wide  ;D
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