I want to start off by thanking Lomography Philippines for lending me the LomoApparat after some dramatic pleading. I don’t know about you, but it’s always exciting when Lomography announces a new product. Even with avid, long time film shooters like us who have been exposed to a wide variety of tools – dirt cheap to expensive – I believe Lomography has become somewhat a barometer that gives us a peek into what many younger film photographers would like to shoot, and a different perspective of the landscape film photography is facing today.
I am going to share my experience with the LomoApparat in the context of how it will probably be used in the hands of a day-to-day shooter. I am not a technically inclined person, and my view is not to nitpick on its deeper technical aspects. I shot the LomoApparat without pretense or expectation, I was also having a great time at a Halloween party, and had drinks. The stress test this camera has gone through includes aggressive film advance, snapping on and off of the lens adapters, and some minor dings.
Here’s what I cover:
Features and build
Some quick specs:
Lomography LomoApparat 35mm
- Wide-angle lens (21mm, plastic, coated)
- Fixed Shutter Speed: 1/100
- Fixed Aperture: F10
- Built in Flash; Bulb mode
- Accessories: Lens cover, Close-up lens attachment, Kaleidoscope lens attachment, Splitzer lens attachment, metal wrist strap, and gel filters.
When it was handed over to me, the words that came out were, “Oh this is adorable!” I was genuinely surprised at the compact and sturdy-feeling build. It doesn’t scream plastic nor does it look frail. For something palm-sized, it boasts a multiple exposure function, bulb mode, interchangeable lens adapters (Kaleidoscope and Close-Up), the splicing accessory, and the provision for the signature colored gel filters. All basic key features are present which already allows a user (of any photographic experience) to shoot comfortably with much room for creativity.
A con for me was the bulb mode. It was a bit moot (this may just be me) because the camera has no provision for the use of a shutter release cable. So either you have the world’s steadiest hands or apply the flash at the end of the exposure for some artistic effect (am sure someone will find a creative way to utilize this). I also hope that Lomo looks into improving the film advance wheel, it was a bit arduous but nothing that impeded my shooting experience.
My Results: Come on, I think they came out great!!
This is a FUN & CAPABLE BASIC CAMERA that’s better built and has a more flexible creative functionality than its contemporaries. I truly believe Lomography put a lot of thought into designing the LomoApparat and its usability. There is always a sense that because Lomo is a “fun brand”, that sometimes they are trying to do too much. However, this time I believe they’ve hit the right notes – by balancing functions that avid film shooters would appreciate (even if it’s deemed lo-fi), with classic Lomo features that newbies would find exciting. Thus, offering a camera that you and I would enjoying carrying around everyday.
At 21mm, its closest cousins are the Lomo La Sardina and Reto Ultra Wide & Slim at 22mm (did I miss anyone?) – neither are comparable to the build or the bells & whistles that the LomoApparat offers.
I think people will genuinely be surprised that the distortion isn’t intrusive or unpleasant as initially suspected. In fact, looking at my photos, that was the last thing I had focused on, simply because it didn’t stand out. This left me with the strong impression that the Lomography R&D team has gone the extra mile to make an awesome plastic-coated lens.
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Ok, there are of course, obvious limitations such as a minimum/maximum distance to hit the “sweet spot of focus and exposure”. I believe the closest I got to a subject was one foot/30cm (specifications dictate that you can go as close as 20cm).
While the camera’s functions are fixed, the Apparat is a notch special because with the close-up adapter, it allows you to be a bit more intimate. With the Kaleidoscope, it allows you to be a bit more cooky. With the filters, you’re bound to be more funky. The multiple exposure gives you easy access to unique compositions. There’s something for everyone.
Any vignetting I encountered was not an issue for me. It’s classic and inherent to Lomography, that’s their signature. However, I was not able to shoot the camera in sunny conditions as our current weather hasn’t given me the opportunity to do so.
What surprised me was they described the Apparat as “totally experimental”… I somehow disagree given the results I’ve enjoyed… this is a new camera and with it should be a renewed air of confidence from Lomography. With the onslaught of new “reusable”/disposable, fixed-setting P&S cameras being released in the market these days, the LomoApparat needs to be clear on where it stands in the cotillion.
I’ve heard a lot of “What does Reusable even mean?!”… First, as someone who is a seller in the industry, we are meeting a lot of first time film photographers who may or may not have the budget, the long term plans, or the right access to a traditional starter (vintage) camera. Lomography cameras like Lomo LCA and now the LomoApparat are fantastic starters (that’s not disposable) for them to dip their toes in. Brands have figured out that the market has shifted and the competition is tipping towards this spectrum. The question now is, “What would get people to shoot film?”.
These days, we are conscious about film expenses, immediate gratification, etc. So any tool that would get interests in film photography going IS ALWAYS welcome.
And for the more experienced film shooters, it’s a cool little compact camera to casually spend a fun day with. It’s been a tough few months for me socially and that with film photography. Having an opportunity to shoot the LomoApparat was just what I needed, to encourage me to engage with people without anxiety…. and reminded me that the medium is as exciting as the tools you accompany it with.
PS: Thank you to Sunny16Lab Philippines for the dev & scan
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