The Lubitel 166b camera by Lomo which is often referred to as a toy camera is anything but that in my opinion, more so when you have complete controls over aperture and shutter speed. This was always the major draw for me for Lubitel photography, I enjoy control with a camera especially when it comes down to the use of creative focus. My 50mm photography project is a good example of control used of an aperture.
If you’re not familiar with the Lubitel it’s a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) and is a cheap alternative into the world of medium format film photography. It’s made by Lomo from the former USSR and was manufactured during the 1980’s. To which they produced something like near 1 million of these cameras. The camera has a 75mm lens at F/4.5 and i’ve always found the lens to be fairly sharp for what it is.
Around 2006 I bought the camera from E-Bay as many do and i fell in love with it straight away. I spent the next two years or so carrying my Lubitel 166b with me in my camera bag and i still have a roll of undeveloped film… somewhere! I haven’t shot with it in some time and it resides amongst my collection of toy and other older cameras I have picked up over the years.
The collection below features some of my personal favourites and also a good indication of what the camera can achieve. The Lubitel was generally used alongside my main Canon DSLR when i’d be out shooting landscape photography. The collection contains some shots where the camera was solely used to document parts of the seaside town of Felixstowe during a gloomy and desolate winter. Two main 120 films were Fuji Velvia and Fuji Provia, if I remember the Provia was always expired stock, which may or may not be noticeable.
Lubitel Photography Tips
Firstly the camera is completely manual and this is where you can really have fun. But if you’re stuck for getting to grip with which aperture and shutter speed to use and don’t have a light meter then try a light meter app on your phone or use your digital cameras light meter.
From the shots i’ve published you’ll see most of them make use of shooting the Lubitel wide open. The Lubitel only has a F/4.5 lens and I tend to crouch down low or find some interesting foreground i can intentionally throw out of focus to make use of heavy smooth blur which tends to be so much different on film than digital.
The camera tends to create a vignette effect on your shots, i like to embrace this in post processing and enhance it a little more. This especially helps when you combine it with out of focus elements, you can truly focus attention on a various subject matter.