My Lomo

Well - I finally succumbed to all the hype and got myself a Lomo. I'm not going to go into all the history behind the Lomo camera - there are plenty of other sites that do that really well inlcuding the site just linked to in the last sentence. And rather than do a review of "living with a Lomo" or "pictures taken with my Lomo" just yet - I thought I'd do a "the day my Lomo arrived" story - so that all of those like me who have fallen for the marketing hype machinery and forked out around 180 Euro can get some sort of insight into the magic moment of opening the package for the first time. And besides I haven't got any film developed yet - yep folks - this is back to the good old days of 35mm film, no-through-the-lens focussing and manual rewinding!

Anyway - I ordered my Lomo from the Lomography website shop on Sunday 22nd June 2003 - and it arrived at my office address (couldn't be sure of anyone being home to receive a package) on Friday! Not bad considering it's come all the way from a factory in Russia I thought to myself. But no - this package had actually been sent from Austria - the home of the Lomographic Society - who have exclusive rights to distribute this cult camera outside Russia. That would also explain why I didn't have to pay any import duty - European Union country I think.

Above. How the package arrived. No import duty paid. In fact - no customs declaration. Euro-zone delivery.

After ripping open the bag - I spotted the packing slip - which confirmed my order and also confirmed that it had come from Austria.

Above. The packing slip.

So - inside the plastic bag was a non-descript silver-grey box - surprisingly small. I carefully opened it up and emptied it of its contents. In it was:

The small silver-grey box and its contents. Psion Gold-card modem shown for size comparison.

I took a close look at the label attached to the white paper parcel - and it had the equivalent of a "do not expose to sunshine or rain" warning and a packing date. So my Lomo was packed last December. By now I was having dreamy visions of an assembly line in a factory in downtown St Petersburg - and an old lady wearing a hair-net type thing - picking my Lomo up from the conveyor belt and packing it away ...

The quaint paper-wrapped parcel. Making the excitement last!

So - once again I carefully unwrapped the white paper and black string (which really did begin to smell like Soviet era Russia!) - and there it was! I was getting real close now - a black plastic box with a clear plastic hinged lid - inserted into a light-blue blue branded paper wrapper (a bit like how the silver foils containing the chocolate biscuit is inserted into the Red Kit Kat wrapper). I pulled out the plastic box and opened it up. Out came the Lomo camera - itself wrapped again in thinner tracing-paper - and a little medicine-style foil strip containing the three miniature batteries - as well as the camera strap.

At last - revealing the baby itself!

The icon of the Tin-Tin style head on the front viewfinder protection shutter made me smile. A nice fun touch. I then popped out the batteries from their protective "medicine" strip, turned over the Lomo to open up the battery compartment and got the batteries inside. This was a bit of a fiddly procedure - but I got there in the end!

Front side and underside of Lomo - batteries inserted.

I then followed the instructions and loaded one of the films that came with the package - opening the back of the Lomo first - and then taking a peek at the shutter - which again as per the instructions - I tested very quickly. Brief panic at first - the shutter would not work! I spent 5 minutes scratching my head trying to figure out why - perhaps I had a faulty Lomo?! That would have been a real pain. Anyway - I could have kicked myself when I discovered that I hadn't manually wound on the spool until it goes "cher-click" - which you have to do even if you don't have film in it! Doh - it's been a long time since I had to do this! And another five minutes of panic was caused by me not opening the protective shutters using the really conveniently placed slider mechanism! Doh! Twice caught out now! Anyway - shutter worked fine.

Inside and outside of the Lomo - just look how small it is!

Well - I am really pleased with my new Lomo! I am itching to see some of my test shot rolls come back!

For those that are interested - here is my production cycle suppliers and tools:

  1. Ordered 2 x 10-pack of Fuji Superia 35mm/36-exp film from MX2 - great prices! (Paid £28 for 20 x 36-exp films)
  2. If you are a Lomographer - DO NOT send your films for High Street or Jessops processing - they apply all sorts of correction and enhancement mechanisms that are really only done to satisfy the holiday-snappers - they will ruin your Lomo effects - especially the incredible "vignette" effect in bright sunlight shots. Use a reputable developer with a friendlier and more professional technique - it might cost a little more - but not that much more. I use Peak Imaging - C41 process on 36exp film is £3.50 for film development only (NO PRINTS!) - but the films are turned around in a day by post - and the negatives come back packaged in professional wallets for onward handling and storage.
  3. You might be asking what I'm going to be doing with the negatives since I am not ordering prints? Well - I am scanning for screen and CDROM use. So - I am using my trusty old Epson high-quality(ish) flatbed scanner (Epson Perfection 1240U Photo - not available any more I don't think) which came with a transparency adapter for scanning to very high levels of quality - up to 200Mbytes per image at the highest DPI rating! As everyone knows - scanning from negatives results in pictures with much greater degrees of intensity across the whole frame.
  4. There's also a great little piece of software called VueScan that can be used with most scanners and produces more true-to-life scans from negatives - although I have to admit that I prefer the Epson's own histograms - the pics come out just great!

My Epson scanner - with transpareny adapter to scan from 35mm negatives.

Hope you enjoyed this review. I will be back to announce my Lomo-gallery soon! Keep posted at