I went out on a hot hot Saturday to fill up some lingering rolls of film. At this Hindu Temple in Chinatown I shot with 3 different camera’s from across the street. As you can see I have horrible orientation with regards to a straight horizon.
What immediately jumps out is the extreme wideness of the Sprocket Rocket, I’m sure I could have included my dirty sneakers if I wanted to. When you put on a 30mm lens on a panoramic camera lens you get a 106 degrees of view. According to Wikipedia the human vision span is 120 degrees and most of that is peripheral vision. So as soon as I’m able to stuff some film in my brain, I’m ready to upgrade. Probably some Kodak Ektar.
Looking at the Holga plus wideangle adapter also gives you a wider view, but a considerable drop off in sharpness everywhere except the very center of the image. I know sharpness isn’t something that is emphasized when shooting with a toy camera with a plastic lens but it something to note.
At lastly there is the Lubitel 2, the only camera with a glass lens out of the three. A much more narrower field of vision and also more sharper result. No drop off in sharpness quality around the edges of the image. Pretty solid.
There you go, a quick and dirty comparison of 3 camera’s.
Kodak Ektacolor 160 as 120 film. This is medium format film which I used in my Lubitel 2. I still have issues exposing manually with my Lubitel 2 and this may be reflected in the pictures taken. Overall, more muted colors then I am used to. Also a bit grainy, but this may be due to the scanning of the lab I used. When I settle down and get a scanner, I will rescan these and see what they really look like.
Kodak Elite Chrome Extra 100 (EBX) Medium format film taken with a Lubitel 2 and then cross-processed. The cross-processing gave this film more contrast, deeper black and more saturation. I liked the effect and was glad there wasn’t a huge color shift. Images may not be as interesting, but that is more the fault of the person holding the Russian camera.
I was thinking a whole series of the front of shops in Chinatown would be an interesting theme. But again I think too much and do too little.
Love them or hate them, but when you are a fan of older film camera’s these unpredictable elements are often a reality. I am myself caught in between. More often than not I prefer my images without light leaks, but sometimes, they do make an image better in an unpredictable manner.
I have three cameras with light leaks, my Lubitel 2, Holga 120N and cheap older Olympus Mju 2. All of them except the Mju 2 I can tape up and make light leaks proof. Despite rolling my Mju2 in kilometers of tape, somehow light is still coming in through a hole that wasn’t the lens. In the end I resorted to buying another Mju2.
Some opinions on Light leaks I found across the wide world of the web
“Yuck, how do I get rid of these things? Is there any hope or should I suck it up and buy a new camera?”
“I love my Holga light leaks, I often drop my cam on purpose in order to create more exciting and unexpected leaks. Does this work on kids too?”
“These non-visible lights are actually auras and gives us an insight into other dimensions and spirit worlds that communicate to us through light leaks and expired negative or slide film”
As you can see I didn’t this isn’t part of my favorite camera series. It isn’t a bad camera, it just isn’t one of my favorites. I first discovered this camera after seeing the work of Catbagan on flickr. He was shooting some amazing sprocket images with great clarity that I hadn’t been able to achieve with my plastic lens Holga( what a surprise). He was using a Lubitel for some of his images and I wanted in on that.
There are three basic models, the Lubitel I, II and U. I found an website of a Russian guy cleaning and selling Russian camera’s. I placed my order for a Lubitel II and after a few weeks the nice postman brought me my package straight from Russia. After marveling at the top down viewfinder I tried putting in a 35 film cartridge and I was sorely disappointed. It didn’t fit. After googling a bit more I found out only certain types of Lubitel are able to fit in a cartridge without modification.
A bit let down I put in a roll of 120 film and went around town shooting with the Russian TLR. It was my first time shooting 100% manual without some type of light meter. I did download and print out a useful exposure guide. My images turned out okay, but I wasn’t 100% happy since my original intent was shooting sprockets. I also discovered my Lubitel had light leaks but since having owned a Holga I knew that taping up every nook and cranny with black tape would fix that.
After some more googling I found a guide where it showed somebody cutting some 120 spools in half to fit a 35 film cartridge inside a Lubitel 2. This allowed me to shoot with 35 film and get the sprockets I always wanted. After getting back my developed film I was not excited about my results. I found the results coming from my Holga to be more satisfying. Also shooting with a Lubitel required more thought and consideration regarding exposure while with the simple Holga I was shooting quicker and faster snapshots.
The Lubitel looks great though and I like looking down into the viewfinder and it makes people less suspicious when taking street photography shots and less likely to image they are my main subject. I did like some through the viewfinder shots I managed to capture and this is something I want to revisit in the future. On flickr you can search for “TTV” or “TtV” (through the viewfinder) and find much better examples than mine and also the incredible contraptions people built in order to block out light and get the perfect focus distance. It seems Pringles cans and cereal boxes are quite popular for this purpose.
Now that I have looked back on my Lubitel experiences I feel I should give this camera another chance and I will update this blog with any new images I get from this unique camera.