On May 19th 2011 Lomography released the Lomo LC-Wide or Lomo LC-W for short. I’ve had the camera for 24 hours and I have shot one roll of film and have had it developed and I’m now ready to pass on my opinion.
I have been using the good old LCA since 1998 and have used most of Lomography’s other cameras since then. I got quite a few ticked off the list when I was writing my Toy Cameras book. But Lomography has always been about the Lomo LC-A for me. When I got into Lomography in 1998 they only sold the LC-A and the Action Sampler. Since then I have lost count of the cameras they have sold. In 2006 the LCA+ was launched with its expanded ASA range, multiple exposure capability, removed aperture control (which most people never used), cable release and the ability to use lens accessories. The LC-A+ is great, but it was like an LC-A 1.2 rather than a true sequel, a remastering if you will, this is not the case with the LC-W.
The show stopping new feature of the LC-W is that it has a wider lens than its predecessors. The LC-W has a 17mm lens whereas the good old LC-A, LC-A+ and LC-M (that’s right M! read more about that here) have 32mm lenses, the difference is huge. Having a wide lens allows you to capture a much wider field of view, with the added bonus that wide lenses capture images with a wider depth of field, which means that more will be in focus. Below are two arms length self portraits one shot on the 17mm LC-W and one on the regular 32mm LC-A.
New Focus Zones
Because of the 17mm lenses wider depth of field there are only 2 focusing zones on the camera 40cm – 80cm and 80cm to infinity, the other LC-As had 4 focus zones. For a novice this means there is less chance of accidentally selecting the wrong focus zone. Setting the wrong focus is the most common mistake I see people make when they are using an LC-A for the first time on one of my photography workshops. Even if you forget to check your focus on the LC-W, there is a 50 / 50 chance you’ll get it right.
Shutter and Aperture
Just like with its predecessor, you don’t have to worry about shutter speed or aperture it’s all set automatically. If you are in bright sunny conditions you know that the aperture will close down. In lower lighting conditions the aperture will open up, when it gets really dark the shutter speed will become slower. If it’s really really dark, the best feature of the LC series of cameras kicks in. Über slow shutter speeds! When you take a pic in dark conditions the shutter will open and stay open until your film has stocked up enough light to make an image. The only caveat is that you have to keep your finger on the shutter button while the exposure is being made. If you lift your finger off the button, you will end the exposure prematurely. The only thing I think I would have changed with the LC-W would have been to make sure that if the camera was taking a long exposure you could lift your finger off the shutter and it would carry on exposing by itself, that would of been sweet. Maybe a self timer too.
Half frame and Square formats
What I am really surprised about is the ability to change the shooting format from standard 35mm frame, half frame and square. The LC-W has 3 shooting formats: Normal, Square and Half Frame. Unlike the Diana Mini where you can just flip a switch and start shooting different format pictures, you have to make your mind up how you want to shoot before you load your film, as you have to use different masks inside the camera to shoot the different formats. I only shot one film, so have not shot in the different formats yet. When shooting in half frame mode you can squeeze 72 pics out of a 36 exposure film. If you’re thinking that the square format will give you somewhere between 72 and 36 pictures you would be mistaken as it just puts a square picture in the middle of the 35mm frame. I think you’re better off cropping a standard 35mm frame square yourself if you ask me!
Over Lapping frames
If you leave out the half frame or square frame masks from the camera you can still shoot in the half frame and square frame modes but instead of getting a neat edge you’ll get soft edges and overlapping frames. I only did a little bit of experimenting with this, but you can see it opens up a whole new way of Lomo LC shooting. The shot below is in half frame mode without the mask.
As with the Lomo LC-A+ you can use the instant back although you will require an additional lens to go inside the cameras to account for the film plane being in a different place. The one thing that is missing from the LC-W that surprised me is the ability to fit accessories to the front of the camera namely the Lomo Splitzer, but I guess that is missing because if used with the 17mm wide lens you might see the edge of the Splitzer in the photos?
I am liking the LC-W a lot, it’s a welcome update to an old friend and I am sure at some point I will get one, but not right now. The £350 price tag is a little hefty. But hey I’m lomokev, I could hardly not get one. For someone who has always wanted to get into Lomography I would say get this camera because the wide depth of field and simpler focusing makes it easier than ever to get great shots.
All the Photos in this article where shot on a single roll of Kodak Portra 400 VC. Check out the rest of the shots below: