When Lomography released the Lomo LC-A 120 last year I got really excited. It’s a compact medium format camera with a modified glass lomo LC-A lens with automatic exposure which is a huge step up from the light leaky plastic Holgas and Dianas I’d previously used. I’ve never really been a fan of plastic 120 roll film cameras as I’ve never seen the point of shooting expensive film on a camera with no light meter, a plastic lens, and something that you only use on a sunny day.
A bit about 120 roll film / medium format
For the purposes of this review I think it’s best to explain a little about 120 roll film and why it’s special. The Lomo LC-A 120 is based on the Lomo LC-A which uses 35mm film. 35mm is the most ubiquitous film format ever produced, it’s negative size is 24mm x 36mm which generally means that the cameras that use it are small. 120 roll film (also referred to as medium format) has a negative size of 56mm x 56mm which means 120 cameras are a lot larger than their 35mm counter parts. Film, like digital, has resolution; with digital the more pixels a camera has the better resolution a image from that camera will be and the bigger you can print it. With film you have grain (individual tiny blobs of colour), if a negative is larger you have more grain and effectively a better quality image.
A 120 negative is 3.5 times bigger than a 35mm negative so can be enlarged to bigger sizes and will look crisper than 35mm film. There is a down side to the bigger size and that is 120 roll film costs three times as much per shot to buy and process than 35mm, plus with 35mm film you get 36 exposures and with 120 you get 12. The higher cost can be a good thing thigh too because it forces you to slow down, not get so snap happy and be more considered about what you’re shooting.
Ease of shooting use
The LC-A 120 is dead simple to shoot on, to start you slide down the lens cover and set the distance to what you want in focus and you are good to go it’s just like shooting with the 35mm LC-A. The focus setting has four focus zones; 60cm, 1m, 2.5m and infinity. As long as you can judge distances you can take sharp photos with the LC-A 120. The LC-A 120 is more suited to selfies than the 35mm LC-A as the minimum focal length on the 35mm LC-A is 80cm, unless you are over 6 feet tall like me it’s unlikely your arms are long enough to get a in focus selfie. As the minimum focal length on the LC-A 120 us 60cm it enables smaller people to get sharpe self portraits. The camera also has a built in light meter which means you can use the camera in dark conditions, as long as you have a stable surface to put the camera on, all you have to do is keep your finger on the shutter button until the exposure finishes and you’ll get a well exposed image.
Film loading and winding the Lomo LC-A 120
For people new to 120 film, loading a camera can be tricky but the LC-A 120 is by far the easiest to load 120 camera I’ve ever used. Usually 120 cameras have a little window on the back where numbers representing exposures can be seen as you wind on the film, so you have to manually wind the camera on and stop when you see the next frame number. The LC-A 120 does away with this and instead you just keep winding until you can’t wind anymore and then you’re ready to shoot again. This makes it really easy for film newbies.
Looks and size of the Lomo LC-A 120
If I’m going to be honest I think that the LC-A 120 looks a little like the ugly older sibling of the Lomo LC-A; maybe I just think that because I’m so used to the LC-A’s appearance as I’ve been using it for almost 20 years. Looks aside though it’s one of the smallest and lightest medium format cameras available.
At £339 it’s pretty pricey but it’s not a toy camera and therefore not in the same league of the Holga and Diana which are both sub £50. Because it’s a film camera it’s not going to superseded anytime soon like digital cameras are, so an investment in a LC-A 120 won’t depreciate. If want to get into medium format film and and you want a camera that is light and portable, and can produce great images, then the Lomo LC-A 120 is definitely worth looking into.
More images shot with Lomo LC-A 120: