Only one element of each kind.

lomo lc-a faq

Additions welcome! Please email any changes, corrections, additions to lomo@kataan.org.

LOMO LC-A FAQ

Version 0.6, 8 April 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

WHAT’S A LOMO?

HISTORY OF THE LOMO LC-A

FEATURES OF THE LOMO LC-A

WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF LC-As?

WHAT KIND OF BATTERIES DOES THE LOMO LC-A NEED?

HOW DOES THE LOMO LC-A EXPOSURE SYSTEM WORK?

WHEN WAS MY LOMO LC-A MADE?

IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN OLD AND NEW LOMO?

WHERE CAN I GET ENGLISH INSTRUCTIONS?

MY FILM SPEED SETTING DOESN’T READ 25/64/100/200/400…

HOW DO I FOCUS MY LC-A?

WHAT SHUTTER SPEED DOES THE LC-A USE?

HOW DO I USE A FLASH WITH MY LOMO LC-A?

FILM QUESTIONS

PHOTO PROCESSING QUESTIONS

SHOOTING WITH YOUR LOMO LC-A

TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR LOMO LC-A

OTHER CAMERAS

MISCALLANEOUS TIPS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This FAQ is a compilation of many people’s contributions from various sources, including the Lomographic Society web site, nanerbug’s LOMO faq (thanks!), contributors to www.lomo.org (now defunct), lomo.us, the Lomolife Yahoo! group, and many other sources on the internet. Wherever possible, I’ve attributed the original contributors.

A current copy of this FAQ can be obtained at http://lomo.kataan.org/lomofaq/

Kurt Weiske is the author and maintainer of this FAQ. Please send any inquiries, suggestions or corrections to him at lomo@kataan.org. I’ve done everything in my power and to make sure that the information in this FAQ is correct. However, I cannot be held responsible for the results of acting on this information or for any damages resulting from using the information in this document in any way.

Copyright (C)2011 by Kurt Weiske. This document may be distributed and reproduced without permission provided that it stays intact, including this copyright notice.

WHAT’S A LOMO?

From the Lomographic Society’s web site, http://www.lomography.com:

“The LOMO is a technically astonishing, gorgeous little Russian compact camera. It comes from St. Petersburg and is the only one to use Professor Radionov’s extra-special and totally sexy lens. It is the close-up/long range/ night vision and ever-watchful glass eye from Russia with THE RELENTLESS WINK. It is your constant friend and helper, a trusty companion in all situations and for all walks of life, with precisely those qualities required to make every day more exciting and varied and, in doing this, the mundane more bearable, simpler. “

There is some confusion on the net regarding the name LOMO. LOMO is the manufacturer of the LC-A camera. They also make several manual 35mm cameras called SMENAs and put their name on several plastic novelty cameras, like the Cybersampler, SuperSampler, and LOMO 9. The Lomographic Society (http://www.lomoraphy.com) refers to the camera as a LOMO in several places. Many people on the netrefer to an LC-A as a “LOMO”. The LOMO LC-A bears a remarkable resemblance to the Cosina CX-1/CX-2 camera. Rumor has it that the LOMO is a copy of the Cosina, down to the placement of the conector for the motor drive on the bottom of early LOMO LC-As.

HISTORY OF THE LOMO LC-A

Here’s the somewhat rosy-lensed history from
http://www.lomography.com:

General Igor Petrowitsch Kornitzky, right-hand man to the USSR Minister of Defense and Industry, slammed a little Japanese mini- camera onto the ornate desk of his comrade Michail Panfilowitsch Panfiloff. Mr Panfiloff, Director of the powerful LOMO Russian Arms and Optical factory, examined the camera closely, noting its sharp glass lens, extremely high light sensitivity and robust casing. The two gentlemen, realizing the superior nature and extreme potential of this strange little item, gave immediate orders to copy and improve the design – with the ultimate goal of producing the largest quantity possible for the pleasure and glory of the Soviet population. It was decided – every respectable Communist should have a LOMO KOMPAKT AUTOMAT of their own; a unique and compact dynamo with the ability to adapt to all situations and provide full documentation of their lives and loves in the USSR. The LOMO LC-A was born, and millions of cameras were promptly produced and sold. The Soviets and their Socialist playmates in Vietnam, Cuba and East Germany snapped happily away throughout the nineteen eighties, fully documenting the last gasps of Communism, and the occasional beach vacation on the Black Sea.

WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF LC-As?

‘ORIGINAL’ LOMO LC-A:

May have Cyrillic lettering
May have motor winder connection on the bottom of the camera
Film speed measured in GOST units instead of ISO/ASA
No “Lomo Guy” logo on the viewfinder cover
Viewfinder has frame lines, two red LEDs, focus indicator and icons

‘NEW’ LOMO LC-A

May have motor winder connection on the bottom of the camer
English lettering
Film speed measured in ISO/ASA units
“Lomo Guy” logo on the viewfinder cover
Viewfinder may be missing frame lines and/or icons

LOMO LC-A+

Made in China, all new construction
Chinese copy of Minitar lens
Shutter threaded for cable release
No manual aperture setting
Window for film type display on back door
No framelines or focus indicators
Works with new accessories – Krab underwater casing, wide angle lens.

LOMO LC-A+ RL

Sames as LC-A+, but with Russian Minitar lens

LC-A Refurb

Refurbished LOMO LC-A, (New or Original) with 2 year warranty

LIMITED EDITION LC-A

A 2002 “New” LC-A with leatherette covering.

FEATURES OF THE LOMO LC-A

Technical features

– Scale focus (click-stops at 0.8/1/3m, infinity)
– 1/500th second to 2 minute (!) exposures
– 32mm “Minitar 1” f/2.8 lens
– Film speed ASA 25/400
– Manual film advance

What this means:

– Vivid colors in low light possible
– Low light exposures possible without flash
– No motor noise, no focus lag and no flash makes the LOMO a great
street photography camera
– wide angle lens vignettes in bright light

WHAT KIND OF BATTERIES DOES THE LOMO LC-A NEED?

3 SR-44P silver-oxide button batteries. SR-44s are silver-oxide batteries, and should be used — not the similar LR-44 alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries may work for a short time, but will lose their charge quickly.

(Tom)
LR-44 batteries are known by different designations, such as SR44 LR44 357/RW42/541 Energizer EPX76 photo. 76′ camera batteries. Kodak makes KA76 and KS76.

HOW DOES THE LOMO LC-A EXPOSURE SYSTEM WORK?

The LOMO automatic function does not work like “conventional” electronic cameras, that have a photometer
to measure the amount of light coming _once_ and then calculating the time (OK, better cameras will also measure during exposure I guess). The LOMO “photometer” is something much more simple: a photoresistor loads a capacitor. (a simple integrator device) The more light comes onto the photoresistor, the more current will run through and faster will load the capacitor. On a certain voltage then will trigger the shutter. That’s all (I think). If you have a flashlight bright enough, it will shut at once. If you already exposed for half a minute and then flash, it will also shut. If the flash wasn’t bright enough it will continue exposing…

WHEN WAS MY LOMO LC-A MADE?

Look inside your Lomo at the bottom of the light box – there should be a serial number. The first two digits are the year of manufacture. This may only work with older LOMOs, some newer models may have XX as the first two digits of the serial number. A camera with XX in the serial number and a LOMO-Guy stencil in the
viewfinder cover is most likely a new LOMO made between 1999 and 2003.

IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN OLD LOMO AND NEW LOMO?

The basic camera appears to be the same, whether it was made in the early 1990s or is a new Lomographic society model. Very old LOMOs from the early 80s have Russian lettering and film measurements in GOST units (see below). 90’s models switched to English letters and ASA/ISO film units. Newer models have the “LOMO Guy” silk-screened onto the viewfinder cover. Some models have framelines and distance icons in the viewfinder. Some only have framelines. Some have neither. All should have two LEDs in the viewfinder.

WHERE CAN I GET ENGLISH INSTRUCTIONS?

Several translations are available on the net. Do a google search for “LOMO Manual” and you’ll find one of them. One is available at http://lomo.kataan.org.

MY FILM SPEED SETTING DOESN’T READ 25/64/100/200/400…

You have an older LOMO LC-A that’s calibrated in GOST film units. It reads ’16, 32, 65, 130, 250′. Use 32 for ASA 64 film, 65 for ASA 100, 130 for ASA 200, and 250 for ASA 400. Print film is forgiving, and as long as you overexpose it (pick a lower ASA/GOST setting than the film rating) you should be OK.

HOW DO I FOCUS MY LC-A?

Guess. :) The zone settings are helpful for setting exposure to 0.8 metres, 1.5 metres, 3 metres, or infinity. If you’d like more exact focusing, LOMO makes a rangefinder called BLIK that attaches to the hot shoe – look through the viewfinder of the BLIK, turn the knob until the image is correct, then read the distance to the subject off. You need to then set the camera to the correct setting.

(Flickr)

This is a chart showing the the closes and furthest areas of focus at each aperture. If you use the manual settings on your lc-a it could be quite helpful to know these distances.

f/2.8:
80cm = 75cm to 84cm
1.5m = 1.34m to 1.70m
3m = 2.40m to 3.95m
∞m = 12m+

f/4:
80cm = 73cm to 87cm
1.5m = 1.30m to 1.80m
3m = 2.3m to 4.60m
∞m = 9m+

f/5.6:
80cm = 71cm to 92cm
1.5m = 1.21m to 2m
3m = 2.1m to 5.8m
∞m = 6.5m +

f/8:
80cm = 67cm to 1m
1.5m = 1.11m to 2.28m
3m = 1.76m to 9.80m
∞m = 4.70m+

f/11:
80cm = 64cm to 1.0m
1.5m = 1.01m to 2.85m
3m = 1.55m to 185m
∞m = 3.5m+

f/16:
80cm = 58cm to 1.25m
1.5m = 89cm to 4.80m
3m = 1.25m to infinity
∞m = 2.60m+

You can work out the depth of field at each aperture and distance by taking the small number from the big number, so 80cm at f/4 the depth of field is 14cms.

WHAT SHUTTER SPEED DOES THE LC-A USE?

On the LC-A (with the aperture setting set to A) and the LC-A+, the shutter speed varies between 1/500th second and 2 minutes. The wonderful exposure system on the LC-A will keep the shutter open as long as it takes.

The LC-A has another setting on the front on the left side looking at the camera. When set to A, the shutter behaves as above. When set to 2.8/5.6/8/11/16, the shutter speed is locked at 1/60th second for flash photography.

HOW DO I USE A FLASH WITH MY LOMO LC-A?

“Traditional” flash photography with a Lomo requires that you manually set the aperture on the camera using the slider on the right-hand side of the lens. This sets the shutter speed to 1/60th second, and fixes the aperture to the setting you specify – effectively disabling all of the cool auto-exposure stuff the LOMO
LC-A does.

The Lomographic Society sells two accessory flashes. The MiniFlash is a basic manual flash, and the ColorSplash is a wild-looking flash unit with colored “gels” you can rotate in front of the flash tube to make interesting color effects.

There’s no need to limit yourself to Lomographic Society flashes, if you want to use other flashes. There are two types of third- party accessory flash units available – manual and automatic. With a manual flash, it should come with a power rating known as a “guide number”, listed in feet or meters. If you know the guide
number, divide the guide number by the distance to subject. The result is the aperture to use – set the aperture lever on the side of the lens to the proper aperture. Most flashes have a chart on the back showing the relation of film speed, distance, and aperture.

Auto flashes have a sensor on the front of the flash. Auto flashes normally have one or two aperture/power ranges – set the camera to the aperture corresponding to the power setting you choose, and the flash will vary the brightness to properly expose everything within the flash range.

You can also experiment with a flash in auto mode. Lomography is all about experimenting and creating new results.

Auto Mode w/Flash (Davey) “…I put my hand in front of the flash to soften it. I really like that method for shooting people at night. If executed properly, you can get detail of the subject, but lots of ghosts floating around them.”

Off-camera flash (Poindexter)

Try leaving your LOMO LC-A on the auto setting and take a picture with a subject in flash range. Note how long it takes for the second click. Shoot again, but point your flash at the subject before the second click and fire the flash using the test button – off the camera. You should get a weird streaky LOMO-like background and a sharp foreground subject.

FILM QUESTIONS

Film is film is film. Any 35mm 12, 24, or 36 exposure roll color print, negative, or specialty film 400 speed or 1600 speed (LCA+ or LCA+ RL) or slower should work.

Ok, then, what kind of film?

I’ve had great luck with shooting the cheapest film I could find, and shooting a lot of it. By shooting cheap film, you take more pictures, and capture moments you might not capture if you were watching your film. I’ve shot professional-grade film, and gotten great pictures, too. To each his/her own – there is no one “right” film.

What speed film should I use?

“Slow” films (films rated ASA 64 or 100) require more light to expose a picture, but have brighter colors and the pictures have less grain. “Fast” films (films rated ASA 400) require less light, but the colors aren’t as bright and the prints appear more grainy than with slow films. Slow films usually require wider apertures

and longer shutter speeds, which can result in blurrier shots. Sometimes, with a LOMO LC-A, that’s what you want. 200 speed film is a compromise between the two speeds, twice as sensitive as ASA 100 film and half as sensitive as ASA 400 film.

(gregg)
“In general lower ISO’s have better color saturation — pros even go to ISO 50… slides usually have better colors than print film but who wants slides for goofing around shots?”

What is “Lucky” film?

Lucky film is an inexpensive Chinese film brand. Lucky emulsions tend to be a little off-color, but can result in vivid colors.

PHOTO PROCESSING QUESTIONS

I develop most of my photos as a one-hour lab where I know the people who work the lab, and like their results. One-hour labs aren’t as fool-proof as you’d think, and sometimes a specific tech can provide better/worse results using the same camera, film, and processing. It’s a nice compromise between cost and results.

Lomo.org users have reported getting more “Lomo-like” results by specifying “no color correction” on their order, or asking the lab technician to lower the density by a point on the development job. I’d recommend trying local labs until you find the lab/technician who gives you the best results.

There’s no LOMO-specific requirements for processing your prints – they’re just prints, like film out of any other camera.

(Andrei)
“A local printer, who also happens to be a friend of mine, likes my pictures and recently blew up a few of my lomos (from the negatives) to the poster size for entertainment and decorative purposes only. A couple were ?artistically blurry? and came out just as that – ?artistically blurry.? Others looked incredibly LOMO-sharp as 4 x 6?s, but when blown up, looked unappealingly grainy. Granted, I did not use a professional type of film – just the kind normal people use, and LOMO lens is not the sharpest around, but still, such a difference. The printer, by the way, is a pro and many real photographers use his services; so I am sure this, the grain and lack of sharpness on the enlargements, is not his fault. I am not entirely sure what the purpose of me posting this is; I guess I?m just sharing. There, I shared. “

WHAT IS CROSS PROCESSING?

Developing color print film in slide chemicals or slide film in color print chemicals is called “Cross Processing”. Cross processing can yield vivid, surreal colors to your prints, but it can be difficult to find photo labs willing to process it for you.

SHOOTING WITH YOUR LOMO LC-A

Low light photography:

Use the slow shutter speed of your LOMO LC-A to get low-light shots. The LOMO LC-A makes two clicks when shooting – one when the shutter opens, one when it closes. In bright light, they sound like one click. In low light, you’ll hear two distinct clicks. Make sure you hear the second click when shooting in low light.

Blurry shots:

Blur is either caused by the camera being out of focus, or from camera shake. In low light, the LOMO uses the widest aperture – f/2.8. At this setting, the Depth of Field (the area in front and behind the subject in focus) is very small. Make sure you set the zone focus correctly. With slower film, the camera needs to keep
the shutter open longer, so if you don’t brace the camera, you’ll get blur. Try shooting with faster film, shooting in brighter light, or steadying the camera with a pocket tripod or a table.

(shauna)
“Links to two homemade cable release pages:

http://home.hiwaay.net/~drcannon/cp950/cablerelease.htm
http://www.photo.net/photo/ncliffe/hexarcable.html ”

(wisdom3)
“Search Porter’s for “Cable” and you’ll find a cable release that will work with the LOMO.”

Focusing:

If you can get as bright a subject as possible, the lens will stop down to f/16, it’s smallest aperture. At this aperture, the Depth of Field is great, and you can get closer close-ups than the stated minimum focusing distance. The settings are in meters – 0.8, 1.5, 3.0, and infinity. Or, roughly 3 feet, 5 feet, 10 feet, infinity.

(M. Lau)
“For short distance control your Lomo that the knob on the right side to 0,8 (top). The left side knob (a). Then the length of your arm + one hand length is the right distance for sharpness Lomos for all situations. “

(Andrei)
“I’d like to add that in bright sunlight you can get even closer than the arm + hand’s lentght if you set you camera on ’16’ instead of ‘A’ (left side lever). With this setting I could get as close as one to one and a half feet and still get a very sharp picture, but only in bright sunlight. “

(Derrick Clevenger)
“A cool option is to turn you and your camera into a modular autofocus camera. Go to Radio Shack and purchase one of those “tapeless tape measure” distance finder things, it’s basically what af cameras have built in. You aim the thing, press a button, and it displays the distance. It would be nice until you give yourself an idea of how far things are. Or just a nice thing to have with you. “

(lomogrrl)
“You can also pick up an old rangefinder that slips into the flash shoe on ebay for measuring distances. it will really give your Lomo a totally retro look….like this…”

(Poindexter)
“Lomo used to make a rangefinder for their cameras – do a search on Ebay for “LOMO BLIK” to find one.”

Street photography:

With the wide-angle lens of the LOMO LC-A, you can set the focus to 3m and shoot from the hip without looking through the viewfinder – try it!

TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR LOMO LC-A

Help! my shutter stopped working!

Make sure the lens guard is fully retracted. The shutter will not fire otherwise.

Look in the viewfinder and press the shutter halfway. Does the battery-check LED in the viewfinder light up? If not, or if the light dims after a few seconds, replace the batteries.

A LOMO lives and dies by its batteries. Batteries power the meter and the shutter – it won’t work without batteries, and most non- mechanical problems can be traced to incorrect or old batteries. Check the contacts in the battery compartment on the bottom of the camera. Make sure they’re clean and that they make solid contact with the batteries. Clean the contacts with a pencil eraser and/or bend the contacts outwards slightly if necessary.

Some people have jarred the shutter back into operation by rapping it hard against a padded surface. Do this at your own risk!

Help! The rewind knob broke!

Buy a LOMO Smena-35. the rewind knob is interchangeable with the LC-A, and the Smena is relatively inexpensive. i just swapped my own Smena’s rewind knob.

Help! my Lomo chews up film!

Sometimes, it’s the film’s fault. Try a different brand of film, make sure the film guides are clean and free of burrs or obstructions, and wind/rewind the film slowly. Help! the film broke inside my camera when I was rewinding!

This happens occasionally with almost any camera. If there’s important shots on your Lomo, take it to a real photo lab. They may be able to change the film out in their dark room or a changing bag.

Help! rewound the film took it out, but the film counter didn’t reset!

There is a little metal contact right below the left-hand edge of the film advance. Make sure it’s not pushed in and it’s free to move out slightly when the door opens. That’s the frame counter reset.

OTHER CAMERAS

I can’t afford/don’t want a LOMO LC-A. Are there similarly cool cameras out there?

There are a lot of cameras out there, ranging from expensive posh point-and shoot cameras down to $5 plastic giveaway cameras. Whichever camera allows you to express yourself is all you need. Some of the posters on http://www.lomo.org have been spotted with these cameras:

Lomo SMENA-8M, SMENA-35
Cosina CX-1 or
Olympus XA/XA2/XA4
Jazz 101(daytime only)
Jazz Jelly
Manual SLRs
Polaroid SX-70
LOMO supersampler, cybersampler, LOMO-9
Canonet
Kiev 35/Minox 35
Fed rangefinders
Holga 120/120SF plastic cameras

MISCALLANEOUS TIPS

Double Exposures (marc II) “Shoot, but do not wind . Tighten the film in the film can a bit – not too much (as if rewinding without having pressed the rewind knob). Press the rewind knob, so the film transport is disengaged now wind – hopefully without moving the film. Shoot a second time.”

Exposure/Shutter Problem Diagnostic Tip (qwerty) “Set film speed to 400. Shoot in bright sunlight while looking through the back. Don’t cover the light sensor. Aperture should be tiny. If the aperture is still wide open in bright sun, the camera may be defective. Lomo’s program AE will do the shutter/aperture calculations based on reading from the light sensor AND film speed. At 100 and lower speeds, the aperture may indeed stay wide open for a lot of shots. But at faster film speeds, the shutter may not be fast enough, and the camera compensates by closing down the aperture.”

(marc II) “May be the camera varies aperture. But it does not calculate. OK, say, not in a digital way. Light sensor and film speed setting is one single part. It is just a light sensitive resistor, which gets light through a hole. Faster film == bigger hole, more light hits the resistor, resistance falls, current through resistor grows. The electronic simply integrates this current over time and closes shutter with a pre-set threshold.
There is not any digital part in it, I could build you such a circuit with a single OPamp. There is no magic in this camera. The tiny aperture in bright light may as well be an illusion. Human eye is not capable of following, say, less than 1/50 of a second of a bright light blink. “

Random Lomo Wall Script

(marc II)

http://www.geocities.com/markus_petz/lomo/wall2.htm

Reflection Photography (qwerty) “Focus on the object in the mirror, not on the mirror itself. Focusing distance will be the distance of the object to the mirror plus the distance of the mirror to the camera. Kinda makes sense. You don’t need a SLR to experiment. Close one eye and hold a mirror about 12 inches from your face and look at a distant object in the mirror. Then focus on a mirror itself. you’ll notice that the image in the mirror goes out of focus.”

Vignetting

(randy) “The vignetting is simply an effect of the 32mm lens. In other words, it is automatic, although I have noticed that on certain subjects it is difficult to see. Sometimes a printer will over expose a print so that a blue sky and dark subject becomes too light so the subject is more visable. Result: the vignetting is not as pronounced. Another possibility is the aspect ratio of your prints. Some of the BIG prints out there are actually cropping the frame. Do a few calculations and you see that different size prints are not the same proportions. So, you may be getting prints that actually crop out the top and bottom and you might be losing the vignette effect that way, but it would still be present on the negative.”

(davey) You can’t “force” a small aperture when in “A” mode. Whenin “A”mode, you get a wide-open aperture….period. As far as the vignette effect…I have been putting the LC-A through some methodical and rigorous tests…and you seem to get the most of that effect when in “A” mode and with a photo that has a lot of light bouncing back at the camera. The “A” mode makes the shutter speed very fast (faster than the default 1/60th of a second when you set it to any other setting). Put that in combination with the wide angle lense..and you get the vignette. You can also get the same (but not quite as obvious) effect if you took that same shot on 16, with the slower shutter speed.

…when outdoors taking pictures with huge chunks of sky in them, or other other large bright objects..it is almost ALWAYS best to use “A” setting, because it’s generally a faster shutter speed than 1/60…and it leaves the colors slightly underexposed, and very rich and deep…you just don’t get much depth of field. You can use the 16 setting outdoors in brightness, get great depth of field…but colors are a little more exposed, washed out…but very close.

(darren)
Yep, I think fast film and or bright light may be it. Unless you like using a flash. You could use a combination of existing lght and flash and set the cameras exposure accordingly. (but this would bulk up the small camera and really throw a wrench in the “shoot from the hip” theory…)

2 Comments

  1. […] it along. And for those who are new to the LC-A, here are a few pages to check out… here, here, here and […]

  2. […] avesse bisogno, qui potete leggervi il manuale della LC-A (ahimè, in inglese e tedesco). In questa pagina, invece, troverete  diverse informazioni (in […]

    Pingback by LOMO LC-A o LC-A+? « Holga My Dear — November 24, 2010 @ 6:53 am

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