As much as I hate to give any publicity whatsoever to the monopolistic rip-off marketing goons at the Lomographic Society, they have come out with something cool. Like everything else they sell, it’s embarassingly overpriced, and I recommend that you not buy anything from them unless it’s unavailable anywhere else—for example, don’t pay $70 for a $15 Holga, get it from holgamods or Amazon—but this is such a product: the Lomo LC-A+.
Take your standard small, cute, horribly-built, awesomely Minitar-lensed Lomo LC-A 35mm camera, and add a double exposure button, metering up to ISO1600 (why the fuck didn’t they go to 3200 as long as they were in there??), and a standard threaded cable release socket. Take away manual exposure; this is auto-only.
The cheapest way to get this camera from them is the Standard Package, which consists of the camera, Colorsplash flash (just want the camera? too bad), cable release (just want the camera? too bad), "Lomographiere" hardcover book (don’t want to pay them for their own marketing materials? the materials where they use their customer’s photos and don’t pay them? too bad), two rolls of film (just want the camera? too bad!), and a set of batteries (OK, that’s actually useful). All yours for the modest price of US $250.
They’re accepting pre-orders now and say the first batch will ship 2 October, 2006.
Hey. Well balanced review. I agree with it all, but you have to admit, love them or hate them, they have done the whole ‘lomograpy’ package well, created a little geeky world where those sucked in keep buying and using the service.
I completely agree! There’s no denying that they’re a brilliant marketing machine. There are actually a number of parallels to Microsoft: they sell shitty products at high prices, have terrible customer support, engage in monopolistic and bullying business practices, and somehow manage to make people love them for it. Fairly impressive, actually.
To back these claims up:
Shitty products at high prices: the LC-A is a piece of junk. The lens is unique and awesome, but the camera built around it sucks. The first LC-A I ordered from them operated in bulb mode no matter what. The shutter button on the replacement fell off after running less than five rolls through it.
Their Colorsplash and Fisheye cameras have some of the worst build quality I’ve ever seen. Yes, they work. But for how long? I actually think my $1.50 Lex 35 crapcams are built slightly better.
Their Hipshot was my first camera bag. The seams are unravelling and the Velcro on the camera compartments doesn’t stick—even when I press them together carefully—which leaves anything you put in them likely to fly out and break as you move.
Terrible customer support: When I received the broken LC-A, I sent them several emails over the course of I think three weeks and never got a single response. Finally I called them, sent back the whole package, and got only a replacement camera back. I guess they kept the rest of the kit.
Monopolistic and bullying business practices: they secured world-wide exclusive distribution rights to the LC-A from the factory (can’t charge $200-250 for a $50 camera if there’s any competition!) and then went after anyone else who sold them, regardless of origin.
For example, Lomo Joe is a guy who lived in St. Petersburg, Russia. If you didn’t want to pay the extortionate Lomo Society price for an LC-A, he’d go buy one in a local store and send it to you. Check out the threatening letter LSI president Wolfgang Stranzinger sent him.
Making people love it: this one’s almost difficult not to find evidence of. People drool all over themselves for anything “Lomo” (including things whose only connection to Lomo is that they’re sold by LSI, like Holgas and Horizons) and just can’t wait to be taken advantage of by paying hugely inflated prices and having their work published in books that LSI profits from without offering the photographers any compensation. I guess getting fucked by a marketing company is its own reward!
Even so, the LC-A+ looks like a cool camera, and I may well bend over for LSI and buy one.
I’m working on a roundup of places to buy LSI or equivalent stuff at reasonable prices, should be up soon.
Just to play devils advocate -
On the build quality issue, I have got a LC/A (since 2001), a Lubitel 166 (secondhand since 2004) and a SuperSampler (since 2006). All of these work fine and have had no faults.
On the customer services – I lost the plastic end casing off the end of my colour splash unit. I sent them an email, and they replied within two days, and sent out the right part, free of charge on return.
If I was doing a Marketing degree, I’d love to pick LSI
I’m glad you had a good service experience! Mine was horrible, and I’ve heard about a lot of others.
I was thinking of the LC-A+. I very much like the Cosina CX-2 I just got (the camera from which the LCA was copi…er…’derived’ yeah, thats a good way to put it…Derived).
I think I will stick with the CX-2 for a bit longer.
It cost way less ;)
LSI – good, bad or indifferent – could be it’s own blog topic (or several). But… as to the issue at hand here…
I was intrigued by the LC-A+ and was interested in buying one, but I totally agree with Nicolai – I want just the camera (and batteries, okay). I don’t want or need the rest. It’s annoying that the camera is exclusive to LSI and offered as part of a larger package only.
But… perhaps in time it will be available on its own, even if it’s just *Bay (and I hate buying cameras on *bay).
Now – that letter to Butcher Sam, that’s pretty creepy.
Had an LC-A for over three years… until it literally fell apart in my hand. First the winder crank snappped off, then the film advance started to skip frames… finally the meter died with a heartbreaking spasm. Tried to get it fixed… “no way”, the man sighed.
Now the LC-A’s back from its ashes… with a “+”… like the legendary Phoenix. Yes, its quirky, shitty and way too expensive… but Lomography changed the way I see the world as a photographer. It’s merely a tool, but its looks helped me hit it off with more than one shutterbug babe. ; )
As long as you’re clear about what you’re buying it for… :)
I took my best roll of film evah on my lc-a.
…only to find it never wound on properly.
I never bothered to get it fixed.
But those pictures woulda been awesome :)
Lomographic Society ripoff victim here. Read all about it:
so i’m doing research, and found this post, and figured, hey, it’s my boy nicolai, what better person to ask!
im gonna be shooting a roll of ilford delta 3200 in an lca (not plus) this weekend. i think it only goes to 400!
should i go ahead and try pushing to 3200? as you know i don’t care about grain…
Jon, yeah, I would! The most I’ve gone is TMAX 100 pushed to 3200. It’s contrasty as hell, with a really odd, film noir-ish curve, but it works!