The LOMO(leningr.dskoje optiko mechanitsch.skoje objedini.nie) LC-A is a little Russian compact camera. It’s got a wonderfully vivid lens, simple construction, great feel, and primitive shutter design that will stay open for up to 2 minutes in low light. The creative possibilities are endless.
Lomographers see their world through Professor Radionov’s color-loving, night sight-compatible Lomo lens…love to congregate, forming lomographic packs, or sometimes go out as lomographing loners…are quite prepared to take a couple of knocks along the way if it means they can snap lomographs of people, shoes, pigs, bottles, dogs, trees, birds, flowers, cats and horses…are people who continually have revolutionary ideas. They then put these into practice with their LOMOs and their friends…
The LOMO LC-A is the first camera I reach for. I tried to remember the first time I’d heard of LOMO, and I can’t remember exactly where I’d heard of them first.
What’s the big deal?
The LOMO was shamelessly copied from a Japanese Cosina CX-2 by the Soviets in the ’80s. There’s no autofocus, motor film advance, flash, or automatic film speed setting. The exposure system is a primitive arrangement with a light sensor and capacitor that looks like something out of a 50-in-1 electronics kit. The wide-angle lens vignettes horribly at times, and getting the focus right is total guesswork.
However, the zone focus system is fast in decent light or when shooting at infinity – no auto-focus means no lag. The lack of a motor advance makes it wonderful for discrete candid photography – there’s no motor noise to startle your unknowing subject. The 32mm f/2.8 coated lens is faster than any point-and-shoot zoom lens and returns vivid colors. The exposure system will keep the shutter open up to 2 minutes, which allows vivid, surreal photos in any light, even starlight. The vignetting, vivid colors, and sometimes blurry focus is elemental to a photo phenomenon known as Lomography.
The photos are hit-and-miss, but when they hit, they are wonderfully vivid captures of my life. The camera feels right in my hand, and I can street shoot with it better than any other camera I’ve tried. The combination of zone focus, quiet shutter, and the feel of the camera seems made for street shooting.
The concept of lomography is what appeals to me. To me, photography is about capturing the elements of my life as they occur. My life isn’t made up of composed still-life art and placid landscapes, it’s about city scenes, the interaction of people around me, the guy at the drive-up window, or a piece of newspaper on the sidewalk.