Latest retro film camera gives gorgeous wide pics but doesn't justify its steep price
Lomography cameras are analogue’s answer to Hipstamatic. No digital nonsense, just old-school film and a dearth of bells and whistles giving dreamy photos an old-time feel.
The new flagship Lomo LC-Wide camera is a blocky, vintage-looking camera that picks up where its predecessor, the LC-A+, left off. It offers wider-angle shots and more shooting options for the discerning lomographer.
Lomo LC-Wide Controls
The LC-Wide is a straightforward camera to operate. The shutter button sits exactly where you’d expect it on top of the camera and you’ll have to remember to wind your film on using the dial on the right. Or not – there’s a switch under the camera that allows you to take several shots on the same frame for a multiply exposed picture.
There are three focus options controlled by a lever on the front of the camera; one for close-ups, one for long shots and a medium option. Annoyingly, the lever is so close to the lens that our fingers often crept into shot. That’s something to watch out for, as you won’t see your digits obscuring the viewfinder view.
Also on the front of the camera is the light meter, which works out how much light is needed to expose a picture and thus how soon to close the shutter when you’re shooting. Sounds complicated, but it isn’t; if you’re using 100 ISO film, just set the dial to 100 and the camera does the rest.
As well as regular 4x3 photos, the LC-Wide allows you to take half-frame and square shots. It comes with two plastic frames that can be installed under the lens to give the smaller shots a crisp edge (the light bleed you get without them gives a quaint vignetting effect).
The camera itself is quite heavy – although by no means on a par with an SLR, it’s certainly got a bit more heft to it than your average compact. We also found the film winder to be painfully stiff, although it may loosen with use.
Lomo LC-Wide Features
There’s nothing flashy about the LC-Wide, no endless menus of shooting options or extra settings to mess about with. It’s all about how you use the basic controls to create different effects.
For example, fiddling with the light meter can over-expose a shot for a washed-out ‘70s look. Covering it completely allows the shutter to stay open for as long as you like, giving the result a dreamy, blurred effect. Any well-stocked chemist or camera shop should still sell the 35mm film used by the LC-Wide, although you can head to lomography.com for colour-swamped films and varying ISO-sensitivities.
The problem with all this experimentation is that some shots simply won’t work. Often we found that multiple exposures looked messy and the wide-angle lens meant we ended up with some photos where the subject is unintentionally tiny. When you get it right, the results are spectacular. But you’re likely to spend a fair amount of money getting some pretty rubbish film developed.
The LC-Wide doesn’t come with a flash but you can buy one separately. It’s definitely worth trying for crisp low-light shots as the LC-Wide definitely struggled more with these than well-lit scenes.
Lomo LC-Wide: Verdict
The LC-Wide’s possibilities are endless and that’s one of the best things about it. The wide-angle lens gives you a bigger canvas to work with than most other analogue cameras, while the lo-fi hardware can leave you with some gorgeously unique shots that defy digital post-production techniques.
But it all comes at a price; the LC-Wide will set you back £350 – that’s over a £100 more than its predecessor. It seems a bit much; particularly as film processing doesn’t come cheap.
While lomography aficionados may be happy to pay, casual users would be well advised to try one of the cheaper lomo options or invest that £350 in an entry-level DSLR with better-guaranteed outcomes.
Lomo LC-Wide launch date: Out now, link Lomography
Lomo LC-Wide price: £350