Okay, I bought one several weeks ago, and have ran several rolls of film through it. Here are some observations.
First, you can buy the LomoKino itself separate from the hand-cranked Lomo viewer. If you plan on scanning and importing your scans into a digital movie as the primary method of viewing, you'd save yourself a bit of money in not purchasing the package with the viewer, just get the camera itself. You can just as easily view each frame with a loupe and save the money.
Obviously, it's a Lomo plastic camera. Once you remove the film back, it becomes obvious the simple ingenuity in the design. The front half includes the shutter, lens and adjustable aperture (and close-in focus button); the shutter is activated by a little lever in a recessed notch. That lever is activated by a corresponding pin from the rear film back. Everytime the lever is tripped, the 1/100s shutter is activated.
The rear half of the camera does film advance and trips the shutter accordingly. When you turn the crank, the film is advanced a bit, stops, then the shutter lever moves; then the cycle is repeated. You get audible feedback while you are cranking the camera with a loud clicking sound everytime the shutter is tripped.
There's a red film counter device that's supposed to give you an idea of how much film remains. On my camera, that function doesn't work. I've contacted Lomo about it, so a replacement is probably in the works.
Using the camera:
The camera limits the user to an aperture range of f/5.6-f/11 in a continuous range of adjustment, with a fixed shutter speed of 1/100s. Thus, to control exposure you have to control scene lighting (shady or sunny), film ISO and the aperture, within its rather narrow range. I treat the shutter on this camera like a fixed-speed point-and-shoot camera (which it's derived from, I'm certain), and therefore meter the scene at the ISO of the film, referencing 1/100s shutter speed to see if the recommended aperture is within the camera's range. If so, then fine; otherwise you have to alter the scene's lighting or use faster/slower film.
I first used ISO400 color film, then a second roll with ISO200 film. On the second roll, the meter recommended 100-speed film, but I ran 200 and it came out okay. There's enough latitude in color negative film. I couldn't find bulk-packs of 100 speed locally at the big-box stores.
Despite the shaky films I've seen posted to Lomo's Vimeo site, I like to use the LomoKino on a tripod. It also helps to steady the top of the camera with your other hand while cranking the film advance, as the plastic camera will flex a bit on its tripod bushing.
The biggest challenge to the LomoKino is cost of film and processing. Really, I look at the business model of this camera as a way to shoot more frames of film faster (and hence sell more film and processing). From a film-and-processing-standpoint, it's a great marketing sceme. The cheapest film and processing I can find in my local area are 4-roll packs of Kodak color negative film, for about $2 per 24-exposure roll. Processing only (no prints, don't cut the roll) at CVS Pharmacy is about 2.50, for a total of about $5 for 96 frames of footage.
I might be able to find 36-exposure rolls online cheaper, but I can't find 36's locally at all anywhere near this price range. I'm buying these bulk packs at drugstores and Wally-World.
Shooting silver gelatin B/W film and home processing would also be a very inexpensive alternative, if B/W film is your prefered output.
My model for working with the LomoKino is to find the cheapest film and processing that I can, then scan the frames myself and arrange them into a digital movie. I've thusfar used my Epson flatbed scanner with film scanning adapter, and have found that accurate cropping of your frames is very important for a steady appearing film. It helps therefore to scan a longer length of film and crop out the individual frames in Photoshop afterward, rather than relying on the scanner's limited and small-sized cropping window. It helps to reference your crop to the same corner of each frame, for consistency. I create a folder within which all the cropped frames reside, in numerical order. They can then be batch processed to adjust for contrast, brightness, color, etc., prior to importing into video editing software.
Lomo wants to sell its developing and scanning service for a fee; that's okay for folks who have more money than time.
There's also a piece of software developed by someone at Lomo that promises to crop out the individual frames from a long film strip scan, but it's reported to still have bugs and may not be that reliable. So, for now, it's hand-cropping the frames from individual scans of strips of film.
The LomoKino is an interesting toy movie camera; the cost per minute of film and processing can be, if managed properly, cheaper than super-8, albeit with a much slower frame rate. I think it's an interesting device that warrants more investigation by people with a creative urge.
Regarding Lomo itself, they've been derided by hardcore film aficionadoes as being too much about cheap, plastic toy cameras, hence not to be taken "seriously"; but from what I see, they are virtually the only manufacturer and marketer of new film cameras in the world, and they deserve our support if for no other reason than that. They are really helping to keep film manufacturing alive, a view that I've come around to holding after having purchased one of their products.
Last edited by Joe VanCleave; 12-03-2011 at 12:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.