Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
Must disagree here - the Lubitel was part of a KGB plot to drive imperialist warmongers and running dogs of capitalism crazy. It has a peculiar viewfinder copied from an old Voigtländer camera called a Brilliant which was a non-focusing viewfinder. The Lubitel viewfinder has had a very small and dim center spot added, which is the only part you can use for focusing, and is excruciatingly difficult to use. Buy a Lubitel and I guarantee you will throw it away in disgust and be put off TLRs for life.

Well, well, well...

Lubitel in literal translation means "lover"... (although, as it was astutely pointed out, in this context it translates more accurately into "amateur", or perhaps better "afficionado") It is an Anglocised version of a word that is really pronounced more like Liu-beetz-yell.

A little trivia there - sorry if off topic.

They are cheap. They are built like most russian things - crudely, with large tolerances and random QA/QC... but also near un-killable (what's there to break?)
They are plasticy and all that, with a dim view finder that is REALLY hard to focus (yes, the only matted spot is smaller than a dime and quite dim, the supplied magnifier is... well...here: hyperfocal method!)

BUT

Like with most Russian optics, I found that you have to spend a lot more to rival the qualityof the glass (at least in the two I have had, one that I still do).
Its simple to use and impossible to break unless you drop it on concrete amd/or kick it with a steel-toe boot.

While I knew that my TLR experience, consisting solely of a Lubitel at this point, would not meet the rarified standards of the people who sneer at things that don't say Haselblad, Leica or Rollei on them - I think the little camera deserves better than it gets (and yes, I may have sentiment on my side - I got my first one when I was 10!).

Then again, I don't throw things away when they challange me. The Lubitel is hard to focus, and only has one lens and that's it...but I have taken some amazing shots with it, from landscapes to available light street type stuff. I have held it sideways, up side down, any way you please - I have swung it by the strap with the timer on. I have left it on coffee shop tables, where it attracted gawkers with its weird, old fashioned looks and photogrphed them from where it sat without them knowing it! Its been hend held (ok, gut braced, really...) at ridiculous shutter speeds AND it has been used as a make shift support for my SLR and the occassional ash tray.

It still works, and I have never had more fun with a camera while knowing that if I put the time and effort in, I will have a negative that I defy most experts to compare to cameras that couldn't be equipped with one of the two required lnes-caps for the priceof a Lubitel.

And yes, it was a KGB secret weapon - mine has lenses made out of Beria's eyeglasses and a strap woven out of Nikita's eye-brows

I love my Lubitel, and I can tell you this much - any TLR is like a rangefinder in a way - you don't understand what the big deal is until you use one and fall instantly in love with it. I say you DO need one, you will love it!!!

PS. Lubitel CLA is as simple as that on a meat grinder - DIY special if I ever saw one.