I’ve been staring at the Lomokino that has been sat on my desk for the past month waiting for favorable weather. Well, I got tired of waiting so one overcast Friday afternoon I called Chris to see if he fancied heading out for a skate and to test out the Lomokino; and that’s what we did.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Lomokino it’s an analogue movie camera. Unlike other consumer film movie cameras, like a Super-8 the Lomokino uses regular 35mm film, pretty nifty. But this doesn’t mean that you can only capture 24/36 exposures. What’s clever is the Lomokino splits the conventional 35mm aspect ratio into four, thus capturing four times the number of exposures per roll. Therefore, if you are using a 36 exposure film, the ‘kino will capture 144 pictures.
The film is loaded in much the same way as any other 35mm camera and advanced using the crank on the side of the camera; each exposure signaled by a ‘click’. My favorite feature of the ‘kino is its continuous aperture, i.e. it has no step between each f/stop, ergo you can change the aperture whilst shooting. For example, if you’re moving from indoors too outdoors you can stop the aperture down avoiding over exposure, even though a little flaring looks cool on film.
I picked Chris up, loaded the skateboards and headed to Micklefield. Micklefield, a former mining town, hasn’t much going for it other than the bizarre windowless corner-shop and an awesome skate-park! It was midday, and although Jeremy Kyle had finished we had the park to ourselves. The light was really flat and rather dull. I was worried I’d not get a decent exposure so loaded 400 ISO and attached a mono-pod for stability and to make the camera easier to hold.
The ‘kino takes a little getting used too; I struggled with the ergonomics of simultaneously using the crank and the viewfinder. Eventually, I stopped using the viewfinder and lined up the shop the best I could. It is also important to keep in mind the super wide aspect ratio that is captured. For this reason, in a couple of shots either cut Chris’ head or feet out of the shot. This isn’t great if you can’t see the skateboard your mini skateboard film. Having said that these issues can be easily worked around and I feel the results outweigh any minor shortcomings. Regardless of my teething problems with the Lomokino, I am totally smitten with the results. The slight vignetting and soft focus gives the shots a much more tactile human quality. The results are more evocative of 1960’s southern California then Micklefield 2012.
After my outing I decided to get the films developed at a high street 1-hour photo. This was simply for speed and the fact that they will also scan the negatives. Once I got home I imported all the scanned images into final cut and made a quick edit. Ok, it wasn’t that simple but the entire story is too lengthy and boring, plus it might do for a future ‘how to’ blog?
To conclude; The camera’s design is reminiscent of early 20th century movie cameras but that doesn’t mean that it worth is that of mere nostalgia. Rather, the Lomokino is another creative tool that can be taken as seriously as you want. What I think is most innovative and exciting about the Lomokino is that it really gets you to think through the entire filmmaking process. The cameras inherent low fidelity and clear limitations allows you to be more dynamic and responsive to the conditions you’re working in; it becomes important to consider the film stock, rehearse shots, and deliberate how those shots will go together side by side. The potential of the modest camera will go as far as you wish to take it. It can be used to capture a few memories in motion, experiment with a few techniques or employed to make a short film.
Anyway please view the short film I put together from my first test rolls of film. It’s not much of a concerto, rather a little ditty but hope you enjoy it all the same. Click the image below or visit https://vimeo.com/43613608
Thanks for reading