I’ve had the Lubitel for about 6 years now and I think I’ve shot a total of 6 rolls through it. That’s a pretty poor average. I just never really got the hang of it. It is missing some small pieces in the back leading to some lightleaks. I tape it up pretty well before shooting with it but even then light still manages to sneak in. But the whole photographic process is so different with a TLR that it still is kinda fun when using it. The exposures come out pretty well even though I don’t have a lightmeter and just guess most of the exposures.
So I threw in some Lomo 100 film in the Lubitel and took it out into Seoul for some photos. Surprisingly the Lomo roll was the cheapest roll of film I was able to find on the website I normally buy my film from. I am pretty sure that is not the normal Lomo pricing strategy.
Huge Buddha statue looking out over Coex Mall.
This statue made this this great recorded chant. It gave me an ephemeral feeling.
As in most photos you can see the lightleak in the top right of the photo.
I always like the aesthetic from the square framing that a TLR produces. Using a small magnifying glass in the viewfinder makes focussing a lot easier.
I tried my lubitel again after a couple of years. My first roll I shot with it was unusable. That was due to using an expired roll of lucky black and white film. This time I put in a fresh roll of Lomo 100 color film. I taped up the Lubitel in order to reduce lightleaks and downloaded a lightmeter app and put it on my phone.
The end results wasn’t great. The light leaks are still there. I need more than just tape and maybe next time I will cover the lubitel in a roll of aluminium foil. Also the exposure slide is loose and moved down a couple of times leading to very exposed photos which don’t fix up well in post processing. I still have a roll of 120 film left but unsure if I wanna use the lubtiel again.
Kodak Ektacolor 160 as 120 film. This is medium format film which I used in my Lubitel 2. I still have issues exposing manually with my Lubitel 2 and this may be reflected in the pictures taken. Overall, more muted colors then I am used to. Also a bit grainy, but this may be due to the scanning of the lab I used. When I settle down and get a scanner, I will rescan these and see what they really look like.
Kodak Elite Chrome Extra 100 (EBX) Medium format film taken with a Lubitel 2 and then cross-processed. The cross-processing gave this film more contrast, deeper black and more saturation. I liked the effect and was glad there wasn’t a huge color shift. Images may not be as interesting, but that is more the fault of the person holding the Russian camera.
I was thinking a whole series of the front of shops in Chinatown would be an interesting theme. But again I think too much and do too little.
The Plastic Chinese Legend, the Holga 120N
The first thing I bought when I got my first pay check was a Holga. I got it for $24 from Amazon plus a couple of 120 rolls of film. It was fun to shoot with, but I wasn’t too happy with the results. I wasn’t expecting much, but somehow the images weren’t too appealing to me. And then one day while browsing flickr I saw SPROCKET HOLES.
I was amazed & inspired and began reading different techniques on how to achieve this effect and the general consensus was that the cheapest and easiest way was with a Holga. I followed the instructions on squarefrog.com.uk and Voila I had a sprocket hole picture making mayhem machine.
The process of fitting a roll of 35mm film in the Holga is rather meditating to me. Its zen-like to squeeze in the film roll between two pieces of foam and then taping the edges of the Holga shut ensuring its lightproof (I’m not a big light leak fan). On the back I tape a piece of paper with instructions on how many times you have to turn the advance knob, even though most of the time I lose count and have to start over again, wasting valuable film.
It’s a nice light camera with no real manual options so it pure point and shoot. Because of its simplicity it challenges you to get the most out of it. I leave the focus on infinity and that seems to work for me. The viewfinder isn’t accurate and I ignore it and think of it as a challenge. I threw away the lens cap after leaving it on for some shots and I am quite sure the plastic lens won’t suffer too much (scratches on the lens may even add some charm).
My tips for shooting with a Holga
Throw away the lens cap since you will forget about it a few times and waste your film. There is nothing to protect since it is a plastic lens. Some well placed scratches may actually improve your pictures.
Don’t depend on the viewfinder since its horrendously inaccurate and see it as a challenge
Turn the lens to infinity (mountains) for focusing. In my experience it is the sharpest setting and get the most in focus.
The PDF printout guide found at (square frog) is the most accurate instructions I have found.
If you plan on scanning the negatives yourself, then ask for your negatives not to be cut when you get your film developed.
Negative FujiFilm gives very nice color around the sprockets.
In the end the Holga is cheap simple plastic camera yet the images it can produce are only limited by your own imagination. Thank you China !
As you can see I didn’t this isn’t part of my favorite camera series. It isn’t a bad camera, it just isn’t one of my favorites. I first discovered this camera after seeing the work of Catbagan on flickr. He was shooting some amazing sprocket images with great clarity that I hadn’t been able to achieve with my plastic lens Holga( what a surprise). He was using a Lubitel for some of his images and I wanted in on that.
There are three basic models, the Lubitel I, II and U. I found an website of a Russian guy cleaning and selling Russian camera’s. I placed my order for a Lubitel II and after a few weeks the nice postman brought me my package straight from Russia. After marveling at the top down viewfinder I tried putting in a 35 film cartridge and I was sorely disappointed. It didn’t fit. After googling a bit more I found out only certain types of Lubitel are able to fit in a cartridge without modification.
A bit let down I put in a roll of 120 film and went around town shooting with the Russian TLR. It was my first time shooting 100% manual without some type of light meter. I did download and print out a useful exposure guide. My images turned out okay, but I wasn’t 100% happy since my original intent was shooting sprockets. I also discovered my Lubitel had light leaks but since having owned a Holga I knew that taping up every nook and cranny with black tape would fix that.
After some more googling I found a guide where it showed somebody cutting some 120 spools in half to fit a 35 film cartridge inside a Lubitel 2. This allowed me to shoot with 35 film and get the sprockets I always wanted. After getting back my developed film I was not excited about my results. I found the results coming from my Holga to be more satisfying. Also shooting with a Lubitel required more thought and consideration regarding exposure while with the simple Holga I was shooting quicker and faster snapshots.
The Lubitel looks great though and I like looking down into the viewfinder and it makes people less suspicious when taking street photography shots and less likely to image they are my main subject. I did like some through the viewfinder shots I managed to capture and this is something I want to revisit in the future. On flickr you can search for “TTV” or “TtV” (through the viewfinder) and find much better examples than mine and also the incredible contraptions people built in order to block out light and get the perfect focus distance. It seems Pringles cans and cereal boxes are quite popular for this purpose.
Now that I have looked back on my Lubitel experiences I feel I should give this camera another chance and I will update this blog with any new images I get from this unique camera.