With the recent launch of Lomography film cameras in our store, we decided to face into the most common question about these cameras. They have limited settings versus second-hand SLRs or similar, so is it still possible to create great photos under difficult shooting situations?
Rather than answer ourselves – or ask Lomography for their opinion! – we thought we’d send out a combination of camera and Kino films to a member of the community and get them to test it. We turned to Toby Mason a.k.a. Fotobes who received a Lomography Sprocket Rocket, a Potsdam 100 35mm and a Babylon 13 35mm
Please note that although he received them for free he was under no contractual agreements on conclusions or opinions about the products! Total honesty and experimentation was all we asked for… Toby – over to you
Sprocket Rocket First Impressions
The Sprocket Rocket arrived in vibrant red from Analogue Wonderland, alongside some Babylon ISO 13 and Potsdam ISO 100 Kino films. The camera received instant kudos from my 8-year-old son – it looks cool and stands out – wannabe photography muses will approach you to see what you’re shooting with.
But I was nervous about the films, I’ve not used ISO 13 before, and I rarely use black and white films. However, I do like moving outside of my comfort zone, and with a tight deadline I was keen to get shooting.
Getting to grips with the camera is fairly straight forward: focus has just two zonal options, you can set it for cloudy or bright conditions, and it has a normal or bulb mode. Bulb is what the Babylon 13 needs, and where some exciting possibilities start. I loaded the film and headed out into my overcast hometown of Brighton, with a gorilla pod, and a light meter downloaded onto my phone.
Shooting Babylon 13
With low ISO film, it was necessary to expose the Babylon film for upwards of four seconds, so a stable surface came in handy. I wanted to make the most of smoothing out movement, so took some frames on a windy and wet seafront. I liked the results, with the waves calmed, and the images had a dreamy, pinhole quality.
I tried some double exposures too – the Sprocket Rocket is great for these, as you can choose to wind on, or not – but exposure was slight guess work. I did manage to get some nice ghostly images though, and it was fun experimenting.
Landscape and portraits were enjoyable to try – the latter were tricky with my son as a model who wouldn’t stay completely still – with practice these could get better. I used a light meter app to guide exposure time, but also plenty of guesswork, which worked out pretty well – my concerns about using this film were unfounded, and I really loved the results.
Shooting Potsdam 100
Next, I tried out the Potsdam 100 – I felt more at home and comfortable with the ISO here, and moved to the camera’s normal shooting mode. This was great, easy to use, and I enjoyed shooting some more film around Brighton. Double exposures came out well, with lovely atmosphere and depth in the images.
I love the contrast in these too, the camera and film brought drama to several shots, really working in tandem with the overcast and autumnal conditions.
Portraits were crisp, with the gorgeous fuzzy edges that the Sprocket Rocket delivers.
I have to say that I was feeling anxious when I dropped the films off at my local lab: Colourstream. I really enjoyed using the camera, and wanted the rolls of film to work out well, but equally I was uneasy about how they would turn out due to the use of the bulb mode with the Babylon. But when I saw the scans, I was delighted – the exposure for the Babylon 13 had been far easier than I expected, and has got me planning a shoot for the next roll already.
The Potsdam 100 really delivered too – the quality of the camera and the finesse of these films has surprised me. And the great thing is that there is so much potential for creativity with these combinations.
I’m really pleased to have tried these out – I think with camera and film combinations the acid test is whether you’d want to use them again. The answer here is a definitive YES!
The most common concern about Lomography cameras: with their limited settings, can they still capture photographs in difficult shooting situations? We asked community member Toby Mason a.k.a. Fotobes to put it to the test!MoreRead MoreAnalogue Wonderland – Film Photography Blog