Camera review: Lomography Sprocket Rocket – by Barnaby Nutt

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Overlapping nicely with the 52 Rolls project, September 5-11th saw the first ‘Shoot Week’ of the #FP4Party. The plan is to shoot a roll of Ilford’s ISO 125 stalwart during the first full week of each of the next four months, posting the results during the third (schedule details here).

For my contribution, I chose the Lomography Sprocket Rocket, loaded up the film and shot it over a couple of days. This post covers three different bases: my latest entry for 52 Rolls, my first for #FP4Party and a bit of a camera review too. If you’re not familiar with the Sprocket Rocket, allow me to tell you a little more…

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket

Like most things Lomography, it’s made almost entirely of plastic, but the styling is pretty cool. It’s sort of art deco looking and based on an obscure, old bakelite model. It has a couple of neat features; it shoots 72x35mm images (18 shots per 36 roll), that’s the same as two frames wide, but covers the whole height of the film, sprocket holes and all. The camera comes with a mask to cover the sprocket holes, which results in72x24mm images.
To compare, the Hasselblad XPAN shoots 24x65mm frames (no sprocket holes).

The camera’s two winding knobs allow you to move the film forwards and backwards at will, facilitating continuous panoramas, or shooting the film in a random order if you wanted.

The shutter isn’t coupled to anything and so multiple exposures – accidental or otherwise – are easily made. Results from the all-plastic lens are OK too.

I think I’ll start off with a quadruple exposure of my daughter gathering apples – she looks like a Victorian ghost!

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket

I shot the roll you see here during the week around working hours in the British Autumn, so there wasn’t a lot of light around and the 125 ISO film probably hasn’t done the camera full justice. You can see some of my previous results (with faster film and sunnier days) over on Flickr.

On the way to work, I like to take a short detour, and then a short walk to the top of Old John. It’s a hill in a country park, with a small folly on top that overlooks the city. Early in the morning, it’s a tremendously peaceful place with just the distant 24/7 hum of the M1 motorway in the distance.

I’ll carry a small stove, an Aeropress and Porlex grinder. This set-up, probably assisted by the surroundings, makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. It might seem like a bit of a faff to carry this gear and go out of my way to make coffee from scratch, but it prepares me for anything that the working day might throw at me…

An enterprising local café has managed to park a converted double-decker close to the top of the hill. I doubt their coffee is as good as mine!

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket

The Sprocket Rocket only has two shutter settings: 1/100 second or bulb. The lens has two aperture settings: cloudy (f/10.6), or sunny (f/16), and to focus, you have the option of 0.6m-1m or 1m-∞ via distance scale.

As you can see in the pictures here, it’s pretty easy to get these settings wrong. It’s also easy to leave the lens cap on when shooting as, like a rangefinder, you’re not looking through the lens.

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket

A couple of times, I shot a frame and walked away, and then doubted whether I’d taken the lens cap off before shooting. So I returned and made another exposure. Both times, I had actually taken the first picture and so produced doubles. Like most Lomography cameras, it’s great fun to use, but you wouldn’t want it to be your only camera. The sprocket effect (which by the way you don’t have to use) is cool, but gets old quickly.
And those controls mean that, despite the LomoMantra of ‘don’t think, just shoot’, it can take a bit of effort to get the best from the Sprocket Rocket.

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket

The final thing to mention is that when using this camera, you’ll need a way to scan the sprocket holes. You can use the Lomography Digitaliza scanning mask, shown in the first image above, or you can get a piece of anti-reflecting glass (your local picture framer will cut a piece and sell it to you for peanuts) and hold the negatives flat against the scanner bed.

I developed the film you see here in Ilfotec HC 1:31 for 8 minutes and scanned at home (hate it).

Thanks for reading!

~ Barnaby Nutt

Lomography Sprocket Rocket specifications

Camera nameSprocket Rocket
Camera typePoint and shoot
Format35mm Wide
72x35mm (with sprockets)
72x24mm (without sprockets
ManufacturerLomographische AG
Manufacture datesBlack version: 2010 onwards
"SuperPop" versions: 2012 onwards (color options)
Lens35mm - f/10.6-f/16
106° field of view
ShutterLeaf shutter / manual
1/100 sec
Bulb mode
FocusingGuess focus:
1m - infinity
FlashVia hot shoe
LoadingManual load and rewind
Manual mid-roll rewind
Date/time stampNo
Weight231 grams
152 x 76 x 83mm (WxHxD)
AccessoriesBundled film mask
Optional flash kit
Optional scanning mask

Thanks to Barnaby for offering up this 52 Rolls post as a camera review. You can find the original post this review was based on right here. For more of Barnaby’s 52 Rolls posts, head on over to his author page, and if you still have time, check out his EMULSIVE interview.

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If you google Ian Nutt you get an American football coach. Google Barnaby Nutt and you get me. So I prefer to use the latter for my online stuff. (Barnaby is actually my middle name). I've used film since there was no alternative. I was tempted away by the glittering technological delights of digital, but thanks mainly to 52 Rolls, I'm well and truly back to analogue. It kind of fits with the rest of my lifestyle of bicycles and fine ales. Surprisingly, I don't have a big beard.

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