It’s a camera I’ve wanted for a long time, sort of the Holy Grail of Lomography. A $250 Holy Grail. Lomography released the LC-A+ wide angle a couple weeks ago, and although my reaction was “meh”, the LC-A+ itch flared up again. I went a-hunting on eBay and found someone selling one in the original packaging, with all the extras (hardcover book, shutter release cable, even the 2 rolls of Lomography 100 color negative in the cute metal cans) for $150. Which frankly is still more than the camera is worth; but like my $60 mint green Savoy, it’s an overpriced I can rationalize and live with.
Here’s the thing: I was under the impression that this camera produced your typical “lomographs”. You know, optical distortions and light leaks. Instead I got back photos that are technically pretty awesome.
These have not been edited at all, not so much a click of the ol’ auto-correct. These are exactly as they came out of the camera:
The Delcambre cemetery.
Our Lady of the Lake church in Delcambre. No flash, 400 ASA with the film speed dial “cheated” to 100.
Okay, there is a bit of a light leak in this one.
So all those famously weird-looking LC-A+ shots? I’m thinking they were shot by people who knew fuck-all about photography. (Also in low-light environments without a flash.) The literature always talks about “color saturation”, but I find that has more to do with the film than the camera. (I am curious to see how this camera shoots slide. I have a roll of Fuji Velvia that I think I’ll use at the next meetup.) These are all Fuji Superia 400, which is my workhorse 35mm. You can buy it at any drugstore in North America for about $3 a roll, and it’s absolutely never let me down.
None of this is to express disappointment. I have roughly eleventy-hundred cameras that take heavily-vignetted, fuzzily-focused, distorted photos. This camera takes crisp, gorgeous photos. And it’s small enough to carry at all times. (I was surprised at the size actually, although the “C” does stand for “Kompakt”.)
I especially like the film speed setting dial, because it lets you “cheat” exposure. I tend to use 400 most of the time, but on a bright sunny day it can make your photos a little washed-out. By setting the dial to 800, you trick the camera into thinking the film is more sensitive than it is, so it lets in less light and underexposes your shot–which in this case would mean it comes out perfectly exposed. Conversely, if you’re shooting 400 indoors and don’t want to use a flash (or forgot one), you can set the dial to 100 or 200, which tricks the camera into thinking your film is less sensitive, thus letting in more light and giving you a less underexposed image.
So, to sum up: not at all what I was expecting, but I am pleasantly surprised.