Lomo LCA-120 hands on for the first time

The LC-A 120 ($429) is the newest offering from Lomography and is a medium format version of their classic LC-A, a camera that the company was built on.  Using the same programatic auto exposure that the original has, the 38mm (21mm equivalent) lens f4.5 lens produces 12 6×6 shots per a roll of film.

I am a fan of the original LC-A, and have often kept one in my bag for when I am on outings because it is perfectly compact, and is a quick camera to grab while out. I was eager to get my hands on the LC-A 120 to see how it stacks up against the original

 

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To the right of the lens is a small switch that allows you to adjust the ISO to correspond to the film you have loaded into the camera at the time. The light-meter is viewable through the viewfinder via 2 small red LED lights. As long as both lights illuminate, there is adequate light for an exposure and the batteries are fully charged and reading correctly. I have always hated this light-meter/battery because one of the lights actually represents the current energy level of the batteries. If it is low, one of the LED lights will not turn on.

Unfortunately, the LC-A 120 uses three 1.5V button batteries, designated as LR44 or A76 which can be a pain to find as they are not sold in every shop.

The camera is priced quite high currently, however it does not contain the flaws of other Lomography products. It is extremely portable for a medium format camera, able to be dropped into any day bag the photographer might want to choose and weighs about the same as the original LC-A. The new LC-A 120 feels less rigid than its predecessor, the original feels more like a solid brick. That is not to say that it feels flimsy, but that it was essentially the same parts, just it a larger case, making the middle feel more flexible.

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It uses a scale focusing system, which can be a bit of a chore and slow you down when you are trying to grab a quick snapshot, and it forces you to look at the front of the camera to make certain you are on the right measurement. Equally frustrating is loading film into the camera because you have to turn a tiny spring till it is diagonal to you and then force the roll of film in, however since the camera I had was only a prototype, I am not certain if this is something that has been fixed on the final version.

As an additional bonus, the LC-A 120 does not make use of the red window most medium format point and shoots come with and instead uses an actual frame counter. Unfortunately, the frame counter maxes out at 12, which means you can not load it with 220 film. That may have been intentional because fewer brands are making 220 anymore, but it would be nice to have for the few that still do.

Unfortunately, like the original LC-A slow shutter and nighttime photography is a bit of a pain. The afore mentioned light meter will turn on and tell you that there is enough light to accurately capture the scene, but not when the exposure is done. This can often times leave you standing in the dark with your finger on the shutter release cable wondering when the exposure is complete. For the one usable nighttime exposure in the gallery below, I metered beforehand and then counted down to get close to what my external meter was telling me the cameras was going to capture.

All images in the below gallery are straight scans from the negatives. No modifications beyond cropping have been done to them. Some stated the belief that companies heavily modify images taken by their products, so as a matter of honesty, none of these have been altered in any way.

Lomography really has done a good job on engineering this camera to be similar in quality to that of the original, however I feel that the price may be a deterrent for some. The original LC-A is a very capable camera and one of my favorites in the Lomography line-up.

The camera is incredibly worthwhile and is really capable. If you really enjoy shooting medium format and want a quick and dirty point and shoot, this is the perfect camera to add to your arsenal. Knowing Lomography’s product cycle, I fully expect this camera to have a slew of accessories being introduced in the next few months, including an instant back and hopefully an underwater case similar to what is produced for the 35mm LC-A.

Comments

  1. says

    Could you load it with 220 and, once you reach 12, take it into a darkroom or developing bag, open and close the film door to reset the counter, and keep going? I wonder if that would work.

  2. says

    LR44s are dead easy to get online. I get them in bulk from amazon and they work out at 6p each which is a dime to you. So cheap that change the batteries every time I change the film as low batteries can throw off the exposure sum time.

    “bit of a chore and slow you down when you are trying to grab a quick snapshot” I don’t ented to sue medium format film for quick snapshots!

    Film loading sounds a little odd, usually it’s quite simple with 120 film.

    I doubt you will see an underwater case for this camera, that is unless they sell a shed load of LC-A 120s.

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