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:
Great review, Kevin. It seems like an interesting and versatile camera, but it’s way too expensive. It should be priced the same as the LC-A.
Great review Kevin! Great photos as always! See you in Texas! That’s a lot of exclamation!
I do get carried away with exclamation marks! removed!
Inspiring. Sharp. #like
Great review. Hope you will be able to get yours soon. Amazing pictures as always! **thumbs up**
great review, and i do agree it is a bit expensive too
Nice review! I agree about the price, it’s a joke. The masking seems a bit unhandy as well and the fact that square photos are basically just cropped 2:3 shots is a shame!
I like what you did with the half frame setting and no mask, that seems like a great new way to take panoramic photos! 😀
almost 400usd!now that is expensive!not thinking having one.still prefer lca+rl plus wide angle lens!half-frame is useless for me.great review kev!
Great review & great photos as always. The photos have the lomo-look that everyone loves, but the f4.5 doesn’t seem to throw the background out of focus as much. Think I’ll get one when I can afford one (until then I’ll get my 17mm hit with the WaiWai!)
ps. thanks for linking to my LC-M page 🙂
Great article, loved the pictures! To bad its out of my price range!
see how pin-sharp that is on my eyeball!? I told you, POINTFOUR!!
.4 spot, ruler works really well you should give it a spin!
Just seems like a waste of a lot of dosh for something that really doesn’t do that much more…
Is it really worth it?!
LC-A 1.4 more like it…
Ive got one in the post as we speak, and i really do wish that it hadn’t been ordered…
Great review, honest, informative, great pics showing exactly what it can do. I wonder if they have sorted out the film “feed” as I must loose 50% of my films. Plus I don’t understand the pricing, £350 is way to much. £200 is the most I would be willing to pay.
50%!! there is something wrong with your LCA. i have 17 LC cameras and they all work fine. some have a few problems but i never loose 50% of film you need to get that scene to!
awesome review kev and amazing pics! (now give the camera back!!!!)
You made a good review about lc-wide. thanks for the info. waiting for your next book. maybe using lc-wide only =D
I am loving your shots! Man, Kodak Portra VC 400 iso surely kicks in some great light! Clear, sharper images. Also, you forgot to mention that using a 17mm wide lens, you may be able to get a lot of vignettes especially when cross-processed! 🙂 I’m saving up for an lc-w. Only if someone can send me this as a gift. 😉
As of the time of writing this review I had only ran one roll of neg film though the camera so could not comment on the extra vignetting with Xpro. I have now shot an Xpro film and I can say the vignetting is just like on the LC-A it more exaggerated.
Great review. Makes me want to shoot with an LC-W.
Hi Kev, I am wondering if you would know of anyone who could check on a LCA+ camera for damaged parts as I have dropped mine real bad last week. the lens seemed ok and the shutter is working but i just wanna be sure….would be swell if you could think of any repair clinic or any place where it could nip it for a check?
Btw GREAT review. I am seriously keen on getting this LCA-W now….!!!
Its probably alright, as long as the left hand read light comes on when you hold the shutter button down it sould be fine. A few of my LCAs have been dropped and they have always been fine. There is a guy in London called roger lean who services LCA and LCA+ cameras. He dose not do the online thing so the only way to get hold of him is phone ++44 (0) 20 8881 5208
£350? That’s really taking the p!$$. Unless you really really like loads of vignetting and squeaky noises and would otherwise spend the money on drugs. You could almost get an SLR body for that. A bicycle, certainly. I think Lomos are cute, but I can’t see them being worth any more than a couple of curries. Maybe I just don’t get it.
Thanks for the review though.
You should not compare the Lomo LCA, LCA+ and LCW to the other plastic cameras that Lomography put out as there are not even in the same league. Don’t get your bicycle reference that’s like saying that TV costs as much as a sofa. By that way you could piss in a comment I don’t mind.
I would avoid these people like the plague. Ordered one of these cameras a couple of weeks ago. They hit my credit card immediately and confirmed the order. Today I checked via email where the camera was. Its now out of stock with fluffy representations as to when they will be back in. No offer of a refund of the $US 480 I have paid for an expanded kit. I don’t really care what the camera is like, no seller should take a customer’s money and then admit 2 weeks later they don’t have stock. i smell a rat. BEWARE.
I don’t think there is a rat. That behavior is not right though, don’t where your from but in the UK your credit card should not be charged until you goods are dispatched. If you want your money back ask for it, if they refuse then contact your credit card company as they should protect you against this type of behavior. The last thing that any online company wants to do is piss of a credit card company as that’s where there money comes from.
can i change the FF/S mode to HF mode when i had loaded the film?or can i change the mode many times i want when i’m using the camera?
Not really as you have put little masks inside the camera to for the different formats. You can change while film is inside but it means shots will bleed over one another.
Love the review Kevin! I had a blast shooting with your LCA in Marfa, but I think I will buy an LC-W now! I love wide-angle and these pics look amazing. Any recommendations on where to buy one in the States?
LC-Wide has only been out a few mouths so the only place you can get it is lomography.com or a lomography store if live in a big city.
I’ve had mine for a few months now and I love mine. BUT…. The first 2 or 3 rolls I put through it were perfectly fine but the last 3 or 4 I have tried to put through have screwed up big time. I load it up correctly and set everything arrocdingly and once I hit photo number 4 the film the film comes unlatched from the little bit down the bottom next to where it threads through and it makes a clunking crunching sound as the sprockets rub past it trying to latch on again.
What do you think may have caused it/how can I fix it? Nothing looks broken!!!
If its an LC-W it will still be under guarantee send it back to lomography. I have had similar things happen to my LCAs
Love your books BTW!
These LC-W sample shots sure look a lot sharper than those posted at lomography.com. I’m sure you are careful about your focusing and steadiness.
I am also curious that I see so many Holga pics some with nice focus, and others soft all over. Is this because of how the folks use the cams? I want to buy one of these cameras, but sure don’t want one where the whole frame is soft.
Any comments would be appreciated,
Holga images will tend to be softer (especially around the edges) as Holgas have plastic lenses. If you have the money I would get an LC-A or LC-W or a Holga any day. Also the Hoga has 3 focus zones, portrait, group portrait and landscape it dose not list focus distances in Meters / CM where as the LC-W has two focus zones 40cm-90cm and 90cm-∞. As there is only two focus zones you only have gauge weather what you are shooting is more or less than 90cm away, easy! But also sharp pictures will be down to the user.
I just visited the Lomography store here in London yesterday. I am new to the world of lomography but I have been wanting to take some of those shots for ages (I usually shoot digital). As a first step (economical step) I bought the Diana Mini, but I really would love an LC-A (wide or not, haven’t made up my mind yet)!! I also bought (in a different shop) you book hot shots, and I am loving it!!! Thanks for the review! You just make me want one of these beauty more and more!!!
Thanks for getting the book. I am sure you know but you Diana Mini dose not come close to how good an LCA or LCW is there are such different cameras. If you want to know more about these cameras you should check out my toy cameras book.
Great review! I was thinking about getting a Lomo LCA+ but then I learnt about the LCW and have been unable to make up my mind for a couple of months. If the LCW were cheaper I think I would get it ’cause the shots look beautiful and what you mention about it being good for beginners sounds really interesting… I have a question, though, is there a big difference between the LCW and the LCA + wide angle lens? Thanks in advance!
There is a huge difference, I really need to put the same film in both cameras and shot the same photos to illustrate it. The biggest difference is that you don’t have to so accurate with you focusing as there are only two focusing settings. I have both so it’s really difficult for me say which one to get. I’d say get a second had LC-A from eBay for between £70 – £90 and get the LC-W to.
Cool! Thank you very much for your help!
Got the LC-W today! I’m really excited! 😀
Good to hear! Hope you have fun with it.
I got my LC-A for £35 on ebay in mint condition. So although this looks like a great camera the price is in no way justified. I appreciate what the lomographic society has done for the for the film industry in general, just wish they weren’t so bloody greedy.
Just wanted to ask you about the panoramic shots … As I’ve been trying to understand the logic of it:
So you shoot in HF without the mask, but I’m guessing the camera understands that with each click of the shutter, it moves on to the next half of the frame — how does it overlap? Do you use mx with each shot as well? And with the panoramic you posted above, is it in one frame? Or does it overlap into two shots (or more?)
I know it’s a lot of questions, haha, sorry about that.
The above example is on about 3 negatives, and I believe that was shot on half frame WITHOUT the mask. Having no mask is what makes the frames overlap. I did not use MX. When you wind on the film advance in half a frame mode the film moves half a frame at a time.
Thanks for the tip, it worked!
I was reading the above comments, was wondering why switching between HF and FF modes makes the shots bleed into one another? Isn’t the film already wound forward (before switching modes for eg)?
When you are shooting in half or square frame mode you meant to put a mask inside the camera. By default in full frame mode light can’t bleed out of the 35mm film area, when in half frame mode the camera is projecting half a frame of light into a 35mm area, some of the light bleeds out of that area so a mask has to be there to physically stop light shinning out of the half frame mode. Dose that make sense?
Amazing ! I’m a fan for lomography 🙂
I enjoyed your article a lot. But I must disagree about your comment concerning the fact that, during long exposures, you need to keep your finger down until the camera finishes the job. In fact, this is a vantage, because keeping your finger down you have less chances of have a shaken image, because, when you lift your finger, its sure that more moviment will be transfered to the camera. Other than that, I appreciated your words a lot, and I just feel more compelled to get one of those lcw !
Have you used an LCA, LCA+ or LCW? If you take finger of the shutter button during a long exposure with these cameras the exposure will end prematurely, it’s not the same as a SLR.
Thanks for the review! I tried the sprocket with no luck, and the Holga was such a hit-n-miss that I dumped it – and my old Lomo I gave to me god-child. So this seems like a good replacement!!
Hope your god-child appreciates the gift of your one and only LCA!
Thank you so much for all of this information!. I’m trying to decide which of one of these Lomo lc cameras to invest in first. I’ve been into photography for over ten years now and have never gotten into digital but have more recently (last couple of years) been playing around with lomography’s “toy cameras.” since I needed a break from the bulky higher end slr. But now I’m wanting something in between the high end and the toy camera. These Lomo lc cameras seem to fit the bill! I’m really leaning towards the lc wide. But I have just one question! I know with the lc-a+ I can use the flash for second curtain which is really appealing (since I would love to start experimenting with that type of night time shooting)! I’m just afraid that the lc wide does not have this feature?? I’m not sure how often I would utilize this anyway (do you have any photo examples of this?) but it seems like it could be great… the ability to do the half frame without the mask for really interesting panoramic photos may outweigh all that anyway since I don’t do tons of shooting at night. Sorry for rambling. Any input would be much appreciated!!! thanks!
Some said that you see just a “small” part of what the cam take in the viewfinder.
Thinkin’ about take one but: do you know if there is a cheap viewfinder to compose better with this cam.
Really appreciate a reply.
That is true, what you get in you picture is more than what you see in the view finder, as far as know there no view finder that you can use with it fix. Also if you did it would sit on top of the camera which would mean that it less accurate the closer you got to subject in terms of what is at the top and bottom of your pictures.
Actually there’s a viewfinder available, I use it myself and I reckon it’s accurate http://shop.lomography.com/au/cameras/lomo-lc-wide-family/lomo-lc-wide-accessories/lc-wide-instant-kit
Because that little view finder is higher than the built in viewfinder dose that not mean that it’s not so accurate the closer you get to your subject?
I got this camera from ebay and it was missing the half frame mask. Is there a way that I could make one, or tape somehow to give the half frame mask illusion? I plan to use it without the mask to get those bleeding images, but would also like to try to finagle a DIY HF mask. (I have the Lomo LC WIDE) . Cannot find just the HF mask for sale anywhere, Lomo doesn’t sell it either. Thanks!