Lomo LC-A

But is it Art?

I have a Lomo camera, it is a very nice little camera. Which reminds me of the Kiev 35a allthough they are totally unrelated. It is very small even in some ways smaller than the Kiev. The designer obviously thought about it. Controls are simple. You can even set the camera to automatic. It has small warning leds for underexposure and battery power.

It is easy to see why one can get exited about this little camera. It is a cute camera. It fits into your pocket. And it is said that the minitar 32mm wide angle lens is sharp and wel saturated. I myself haven't really tested it yet.

But is it really? I've pointed out the good stuff, now it is time for the bad stuff. The minitar isn't all that it is cracked up to be, it isn't the same quality as that of the Kiev 35's Korsar. It is noticable softer in the corners. And yes the Lomo does suffer from the same problem as the Kiev 35, it can just eat batteries. It can also suffer from shutterproblems. And in a way some lenses seem to be oversaturated.

There is also a hype about this camera. They call it Lomography. There is a splendid article about it on Alfred's Camera Page. I couldn't have said it better myself.
A highly recommended article.
The Lomography site is a funny site. Just don't take it too seriously. I'm still wondering what bikini's have to do with a Lomo camera.

So to see what this was all about I decided to test the Lomo. They, the "art" and "cult" people say that it is a wonderfull camera. So lets see. In true Lomography fashion I took a cheap roll of film, Revue Color 100 Iso which was several months beyonds it processing date and tried to shoot from the hip.

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Notice the edges, they are darker than the rest. The middle of the lens is the brightest. Also in the middle the lens tends to flare to red. Very odd. Also the results are somewhat unpredictable. Though most shots are saturated the second from the left shot is pale.

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Pieces of wood, Pieces of wood, no way to tell which way was up? Look at the closets in the second from the right photo. They are tilted? The ceiling is bulged the pillar which by the way is solid concrete is now bent. The last shot is the fun of out of focus. Got to watch your settings....

Well... Allthough I like the design of the Lomo the lens is.... horrible. It can flare, it has a red spot. Shots seem to have been made with a mini fish eye at some point. It is darker and softer on the edges. The camera, allthough batteries are fresh, has also the tendency to underexpose at least 1 or even 2 stops. But sometimes it is right on the mark.

Funny enough it has some odd appeal. Allthough I find it not to be a serious camera it might be classified as a fun streetshooter. The effects the lens creates can be unexpected and in some case might add to the charm of a photo. Unfortunatly the Lomo is unpredictable. The lens, like all lenses, reacts to light. But in a manner that is odd. It is multicoated. Or at least looks multicoated. But it seems to be overcoated, colors can be too saturated or for some weird reason too pale. Still it has such weird effects that I might use it every now and then, just for fun.

In my eyes someone got a bright idea and marketed this as a feature. In a way they I must call the creators of Lomography marketing geniusses. They took this camera and made it into a hype, a cult object of the photographic underground. At least that is what they say. Pherhaps the Artworld is to blame, the also made the Holga Hype a few years back when every Art photographer had to have a Holga. Now it is a Lomo.

The question, "Is it Art?" is not one I can answer. And so I won't.

What has the hype done for this nice and small compact camera? It elevated it to "cult" status. Which sounds nice but there is a little drawback. It has now achieved such a cult status in the west that even used models can go for 50 to 90 dollars on ebay. In Russia these cameras are as cheap as, 25 to 30 dollars and you can get them even cheaper. Mine came from a set of cameras I bought, cheap, because they were all broken. It's a little brushed here and there but it was cheap and seems to work. Shutter clicks, leds work and I can even hear a difference in speed. And as the photos show it is in perfect working order.
The Lomographic society sells them for 150 dollars new in the box with 2 rolls of film and a handbook. You can make your own mind up on that one.

But in all honesty a lot of people are just having fun with the Lomo. And that is what it is all about with this camera. Just have fun with it. Lomography is not something serious, it is just fun.

Shoot from the hip...