In some ways, Lomography is its own contradiction. Although the original photographic media is film, that, in and of itself, does not mean much. If you have a picture taken on film and want to share it with friends on line, one of the following things will happen. You will scan the negatives, or you will scan a photograph. What you are doing is taking a digital picture of an analog picture. The quality of the result is lower than if you took a digital picture directly using a digital camera.
This is the big problem with the philosophy of Lomography. Pay more for poorer results.
This is an example of the spend philosophy. NONE of the FILM cameras costs less that $200. That’s about what you pay on ebay for a used LC-A. The LC-A is popular for a few reasons. First, it is a 35mm film camera, and 35mm film is still available. The 32mm lens is plastic. The camera causes a vignette effect on the pictures it takes. Often the camera has light leaks that give the photograph “character.” As the story goes this is the camera that started the Lomography revolution.
The LC-Wide has a 16mm lens. It does regular frame, square frame, and half frame photos.
The Holga is a medium format square frame camera with plastic lens.
The Lomokino is an interesting and original idea. Lomography.com built an actual 35mm “movie” camera. It shoots at about 4 frames per second, has no sound, and makes movies that are roughly 144 frames long (~36 seconds).
If you wanted to try out these cameras, you would spend over $600 for just the… plastic. Remember, the lenses aren’t glass. On top of this you need to buy film, and developing. Let’s break this down a little further.
To get the same effect digitally as an LC-A you could use an Olympus EPL-2 and a 17mm lens. The first question that comes up is, “Why the EPL-2?” The idea for the purchase of this body was to replace a PEN EED. The EPL-2 is considered a digital version of the PEN line. The next question is, why 17mm? When converting Micro 4/3rds to 35mm you double the focal length. 17 x 2 = 34 or approximately the 32mm you would expect from the LC-A. Total cost of the body and lens is $405. With some films running $6 per roll, and development reaching the $20 mark (including digitization), at ten rolls of film you have recovered the cost of your camera. More to the point though, you get a higher quality original because you are digitizing the primary source, instead of digitizing something that recorded the primary source (scanning negatives).
Add the 15mm lens and the kit will reproduce pictures the LC-A wide offers. At this point total cost for everything $465. This kit is now $70 cheaper than an LC-A and LC-A wide. That is without having to consider the cost of film and development. In the digital world, it’s $0. Trying to find a source to develop film is not as easy as it once was, you’ll spend time here too. As we all know, time is money.
If the LomoKino interests you consider the 12 mm lens from Olympus. At $700 it’s a pricey option. Part of the reason for this, is that this is an actual glass lens with 11 elements as opposed to the single plastic lens of the LomoKino. Combine this lens with a few settings on the EPL-2 (sequential shooting and SN quality photos), and you will be able to pull in 4 frames per second, just like the LomoKino. This is an expensive way to accomplish replacing a LomoKino (up front), the number of rolls of film you will save will make it worth it in the long run (16 rolls of film or 9.6 minutes of lomo movie). An interesting point on this… There is no projector for the finished film product. One person can watch a movie with the LomoKinoscope. If the idea is to produce a movie that multiple people can watch, you have to scan the negatives and manipulate them in a “movie” program on a computer. That is, you have to take digital pictures of the negatives… oh, that again.
To replace a Holga you could buy a Holga lens. The settings on the EPL-2 would be simple, 6×6. The lens does the work, the 6×6 format creates the result. You could even add some artistic effects if you felt so inclined.. The lens is <$20.
For pin hole connoisseurs there is a Pinwide “lens” available.
So far this list provides replacements for the following “Lomography” cameras:
PEN EED (Pen line)
Pin hole camera
With one camera:
Olympus 15mm body cap
Next up: But Film LOOKS cool and all…