Lomo LCA - weird negative - what's going on here?

Discussion in 'Lo-Fi Cameras' started by owenphillips, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    Hi,


    First post here - be kind!


    I have a fair amount of experience with quirky cameras and developing my own stuff - I keep and use a fairly sizable collection (they should all be in the signature - if I can remember them all!), and I have a fair bit of developing experience - but I can't quite work out what's going on with this negative.

    It comes from a roll shot on my Lomo LCA..

    Several frames from the roll worked out fine, however, a large portion of the film came out blank (unexposed, not overexposed), save for "light leak" looking patches at intervals. In a few of these patches you can occasionally see ghosts of an image.

    I'm going to try and attach a scan of an affected portion of the negative here... note the slight ghosting of an image in one of the "light leak" patches:

    Scan524.jpg


    I've had sticking shutter problems on this camera before, but that doesn't explain the partial images - or does it?

    The shutter seems to work fine when operated with the back open and no film loaded.

    The frames that worked weren't all together on the roll - there were half a dozen frames that shot fine - followed by a portion of film like the attached, followed by another few correct fames, then a further portion of blankness.

    I don't suppose it helps, but for sake of giving all the information, the roll was Kentmere 400, and was developed in FD10 1+14 at 20 degrees for 18 mins.

    The numbers in the edges of the film developed correctly throughout - this, together with the successful frames leads me to diagnose the problem occurring in the camera, not with the development.

    Any ideas?!

    Cheers!
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    That appears to be light leaking. Check the foam seals on the back of the camera door, are they still there?
     
  3. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    Hi, cheers for the reply. The seals are a bit degraded, but not bad - I've seen worse! The thing is that the frames that turned out fine show no evidence of light leaking... ???!
     
  4. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    If the frames that are fine were only in the position for exposure for a short time, then they might not have been affected by a light leak. If, for instance, you shot three in a row fairly quickly, the middle one may not have been in the spot where it would have been leaked on for as long as the other two frames.
    The frames you attached do look like a leak to me and one that could be from the side seal of the back rather than the middle or top/bottom somewhere.
    The light leaks could be a different issue than the unexposed frames. Were the frames that came out in the same amount of light as the ones that didn't?
     
  5. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    Potentially not - the film has been in the camera for a fairly long period of time - and I have a feeling a lot of the frames that didn't come out were shot on a summer camping trip - meaning the camera could have been in bright sunlight more at that time than at the time of the successful frames. It just seems odd to me the potential shutter issue and the potential light leak issue should only affect the same portions of the film.

    Also, seeing a small portion of image in the light leaked area wouldn't happen if the shutter wasn't firing - the only thing i can think of there is that perhaps the camera was massively underexposing for those frames, and the leaked light brought affected areas of the film to an acceptable exposure level for the development - but being 400 speed film shot in pretty bright sunlight, if it were underexposing it would have to be firing the shutter at speeds I don't think the LCA is capable of!

    The only other possible explanation I can think of would be that if by pure chance the light leak was forming a pinhole and the camera was left in one place for a while in bright light, then the result could be an image rendered onto the film in the leaked area?
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    My commiserations and short of a full examination of it you may not get to the bottom of it.Even then it might be difficult to identify the exact problem

    The conclusion I'd draw is that unless a clearly fixable fault is identified the camera is only fit for the bin but that's just me. You may like the uncertainty and never knowing which future frames will be totally defective and no, I am not trying to be sarcastic. It seems to me that anything Lomo has that attraction of uncertainty for those who enjoy that

    It won't come as any surprise that I won't be joining that club any time soon:D

    pentaxuser
     
  7. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    Agreed that part of the appeal of lomo is unpredictable results - but there's a line somewhere between a few light leaks and fuzzy lens-effects and having 70% of a roll of film not come out at all!

    I'll work the shutter a bit without a film in and then put another roll through it and see what happens... if it doesn't work after that i'll not bin it, I'll sell it (with the caveat that I don't know whether it works properly)! LC-As are going for £80 on ebay now, and the "new" one made by lomography is £200 - why anyone would pay that amount of money for a cheap point-and-shoot with a plastic lens, I don't know - but there you go.

    I'll not spend too much time and effort on it - I have other old but "decent quality" cameras that need some TLC from time to time but the results are much more rewarding when they do work...

    Just had the shutter in bits on my old Zeiss Ikon 515/2 after seizing it by changing speeds after cocking the shutter (stupid non-thinking mistake) - took a few hours to free the shutter and then a decent amount of time on top of that to get the front lens screwed on in the right position to focus correctly. Time well spent as it's now working again and it produces seriously lovely results... just shows 70 year old German engineering beats 30 year old Russian engineering!
     
  8. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I used 3 LCA until today and first one was magnificient. I hope you did not spend that 200-300 dollars to that camera. Its 35 dollars here in Istanbul and nobody wants them.
     
  9. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    No, I picked it up for about £30 - but if it keeps eating film without good results then the money spent on it is rapidly increasing! I have seen great results from them and I like the fact that they have all the quirkiness combined with an automatic exposure, so you can be more spontaneous than with a manual camera - but as it's something I bought for a bit of fun it's not something I'm necessarily bothered about persevering with if it's going to be a great effort. I'll probably get rid, but if I see another one at a non-silly price then I might give 'em another go...
     
  10. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Newer the LCA , worse the lens. Now they produce them in China. If you have not a good camera and money , its a great camera. I advise you to waste film money in to your Ikonta, Ikon or Rolleicord. There is nohing special at LCA , it does what the others do. You will go mad when the zinc connectors oxide in the battery department to be needed to carved out with a lock key everytime you want to take picture. LOMO is great at cinema optics even matchless if you have 400 to 25000 dollars but not the cameras are great. Some Kievs , Some Feds , East German stuff were competitors.
     
  11. Verdant

    Verdant Member

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    Pretty sure these are two separate problems, with a shared cause: bright light. The first problem is a light leak. The second problem is... Well, a little more complicated. I occasionally fix LC-As, and I remember one time I had one that worked absolutely fine when I was testing it at my desk, but then when I went out in the daylight to shoot a test roll, it would look like your film: blank, with the occasional ghost of an image, and a few normal images. It turns out that the camera was fine in low light, or rather below a certain threshold. Above a certain brightness, the shutter would fire but the aperture blades would not fully open, and would just "twitch", leaving a blank frame (they would sometimes just about manage to twitch enough to let a tiny bit of light through, hence the very faint images). I never did manage to fix the problem, sold the camera as spares.

    It looks like this is happening with your camera. You mention the film was 400 and shot in bright light, which makes sense if it is the problem I described. If it was for example 100 shot indoors, I think you would have seen many more good frames on the roll. You can test this yourself: set the ISO to 100, indoors, fairly dim room, open the back, wind and fire. You should see the aperture blades open up fully to 2.8, and stay open for a second or two. Then wind on, set the aperture to 400 and point the camera at a lamp, wind and fire. You should see the blades twitch, but never open.

    Oh and the reason the two problems coincide is probably the light: if the camera is used in bright sunlight, the shutter problem will manifest and the light leak will let more light in, making visible leaks in the film. In darker conditions, the shutter problem will not manifest, you will get a normal photo, and there will not be enough light to leak through and show up on the film.

    Hope this helps, please try the above and let us know if that was the problem.
     
  12. owenphillips

    owenphillips Member

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    Thanks for the comprehensive reply.

    That sounded really promising - an issue with the shutter not opening properly at high light levels would certainly explain things. However, I've tried what you suggest - pointing the camera directly into a halogen lamp at a distance of a couple of inches, with the ISO set to 400.

    The shutter is certainly opening under these test circumstances. I'm getting a flash of light through it every time - I even tried holding the camera various ways up to see if gravity had any effect (had an old SLR once where the mirror spring was weak and it worked much more successfully in "portrait" orientation, when it wasn't working against gravity to lift the mirror...)

    Now, the only difference I can think of between shooting outdoors in bright light in summer and doing the test you just suggested with a bright light indoors is temperature. Perhaps the shutter is on the verge of sticking and on a warm day the blades expand ever so slightly and that's enough for it not to work reliably - whereas at my desk it's nice and cool and they move freely ???

    Am I right in thinking the LCA doesn't have an aperture iris, rather the shutter can open at different apertures depending on the level of light?

    I've just noticed something else strange too - when not in auto mode, ie using the aperture selector, apertures 16, 11 and 8 fire the shutter at quite a rapid speed, but apertures 5.6, 4 and 2.8 behave as if the camera is in a bulb mode - the shutter hanging open as long as the release button is held.... This can't be how it is supposed to work?! Electrical contacts need cleaning on the selector switch maybe?
     
  13. Verdant

    Verdant Member

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    You're right, it isn't. When an aperture is selected, the camera should default to 1/60th. The aperture selections are on one circuit, and when you move the lever to A, it moves the camera onto another circuit which brings the meter (and variable shutter speeds) into play. It's hard to describe in words, but once you see it, it's very clear. I can only imagine that with your camera, this switch is not happening for some reason, maybe the lever is out of alignment, and is reaching the metered circuit too early? The only way to tell would be to have a look.

    Sort of. There is not a separate shutter curtain and iris diaphragm; rather, the iris diaphragm is by default closed, and opens out to a pre-determined aperture (depending on the level of light) before closing again. I assume the shutter speed is either very similar or the same for all apertures, other than 2.8. If the meter decides 2.8 is necessary, then the shutter speed varies to however long is necessary, which is one of the more interesting features of the camera.

    Sorry my suggestion wasn't the problem, from your description it all sounded so familiar, I was so sure I had seen it before. In my case, I was sure it was an electrical problem rather than a mechanical one, therefore something I really had little chance of fixing. In your case, I'm really not sure.

    Probably best to cut your losses and sell it, you'll get back half what you paid if you go the eBay route (if you're honest about the problems). Or maybe keep an eye out for a working beater going for cheap, and maybe do a bit of chopping/changing, or just a bit of TLC. So long as you don't go over the £80 mark in total, which is the "I could have just gotten a working one off eBay in the first place, for less than what I've already spent" line. It's a shame because it can be a perfectly capable and really fun camera, with a unique feature set.

    Good luck.