The Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera isn’t exactly the normal fare you would expect from the current crop of cameras. This camera is definitely retro in design and feel, and it harks back to the instant photo days. In this regard, the camera is aimed at the happy snapper. Those who want instant gratification from their images, without the worry of all the technical side.
It’s not exactly pocket-sized, either. So, let’s dig in and see what the camera has to offer and how it measures up.
As first stated, this camera isn’t exactly small. It’s almost as wide as a regular DSLR, but being made of plastic is very light in the hand. The width of the camera is so that it can store and pop out the instax WIDE format film with ease. So you kind of live with its very squared-off dimensions.
If you were told this camera came straight from the 1970s, you wouldn’t be surprised. It has a tiny little optical viewfinder, small selfie mirror, and the plastic shutter button is straight from the decade of flared trousers. The camera comes in a range of colors, brown, green/blue, white, or black to give a more fashionable look.
On the front of the camera is a 90mm portrait lens, which works out in the real world to be 35mm. There are only three settings on the lens – mountain, body, and face while the only two aperture settings are f/8 and f/22. I can understand keeping everything as simple as possible, but a few more aperture options to expand creativity would have been nice.
On the rear of the camera, there are a limited number of buttons for things like setting the flash, exposure compensation by plus or minus one stop, and a timer. There’s also the big door on the rear, firmly kept in place for housing the film.
It’s a very quick and easy process to swap out the film. You just need to be aware that you need to store the film and waste elements, so a few Ziploc bags are essential items. There’s even a tripod mount on the bottom of the camera, but in reality, this camera will probably be handheld for the majority of its use.
You do get some added extras in the package, which include various camera modes, a few flash gels, a lens cap, and a few adapter lenses for different focal lengths. The lenses generally give a more wide-angle view of the world like the 21mm adapter or the close-up adapter for more macro use.
As for other basic specifications, the camera uses zone focusing and can go as close as 0.6m, depending on which lens you use. As this is mostly an automatic camera, there are not endless options, but shutter speeds can range from eight seconds to 1/250 of a second, with a fixed shutter speed mode of 1/30 second.
The flash is completely automatic or can be turned off immediately. As for the built-in shooting modes, they are also fully automatic. Just select and shoot, which is the total aim here. The camera uses four AA batteries, which do last a very long time, but they add to the total weight of the camera.
Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera in Use
This is clearly a point-and-shoot camera, but at least there are a few options for different shooting scenarios. The camera has a bulb mode for very long exposures, three shutter speed modes, and three zone focusing settings. There’s also the ability to do multiple exposures, which on a camera like this one adds to the fun level.
The overall image quality is full of saturated colors and although images are reasonably sharp, don’t expect prime lens definition. Images always come out slightly soft, but the right settings can give it a nice characterful look. Basically, very retro looking. Images taken outside usually have accurate white balance, but under artificial light, images usually come out very warm and yellow looking.
It’s fun to play with the various different lenses, which don’t really degrade the overall image. They add that extra element of creativity for more wide-angle shots and are probably the lenses you will use the most. I also used the flash mostly just for testing out the included gels. The flash is just okay for close-up subjects, but as I’m mindful of each shot, the gels were only tested once before being set aside forever.
One advantage of having a limited amount of shots is that you deliberate over each one more than you would with a purely digital camera. You want to make each shot count, which makes it more frustrating not to have more manual control over the settings. But, this camera isn’t aimed at the more advanced shooter. It’s about capturing the moment and getting an instant reproduction. If you want more manual control, then you’ll have to step up to a more fully-fledged digital offering.
Then again, snapping away lets you focus one hundred percent on the composition which can be a good practice route in itself. In many ways, the simple compos-and-shoot method is very enjoyable, although you do long for more manual features.
How Does It Compare?
Instant cameras have their own particular niche and it seems Lomo has quite a few offerings in this department. One such camera is the Lomo’Instant Automat, which is basically a more advanced version of the Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera. The Lomo’Instant Automat is very quirky looking and about as retro as you can get with its bellows-like design. The quirkiness follows through its full workings with a twist of the lens barrel to power up.
It also has an interchangeable lens with the standard one being 60mm. It has a tiny optical viewfinder and even sports a hot shoe. The resultant images are on a par with the Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera, so the choice here is really down to which one you prefer the look of and your budget.
|Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera||Lomo’instant Automat|
|Film||Instax wide||Instax mini|
|Shooting Modes||Auto, bulb||Auto, bulb|
These instant cameras do fit a particular niche for those who want a fun camera, with fixed, instant results. That means you can’t rely on post-editing to fix any mistakes. It’s a one-shot deal or nothing.
This way of shooting forces you to get everything right in-camera which is refreshing and the social aspect can’t be underestimated. Producing an instant physical copy is a great way to instantly share images with your friends and these type of cameras go down extremely well at events such as weddings, where images can be instantly displayed and have a very DIY look. It’s more about the fun aspect than technically correct photography.
On the whole, the Lomography Lomo’Instant Wide Camera gives you a good bunch of accessories and although it’s not the cheapest unit out there, it provides all the essentials as an instant camera. It’s not going to take over the duties of a more fully-fledged digital offering, but that’s not the point here. Instant gratification, with a retro look is the idea here. In this regard, the Lomo’Instant is a very enjoyable camera to use in the real world.