The Lomography LC-A Art lens, 1st Look by Brad Husick

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The Lomography LC-A Art lens, 1st Look

by Brad Husick

Today I got a surprise in the mail… the new Lomography LC-A Art lens that I pre-ordered several months ago. For those unfamiliar, here’s a link:

http://shop.lomography.com/us/lenses/minitar-1

And the features:

Focal Length: 32mm
Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
Lens Mount: Leica M-mount
M-mount Frame Line Triggering: 35/135
M-mount Rangefinder Coupling: Yes
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.8m
Filter Thread Measurement: M22.5×0.5
Construction: Multi-coated lens, 5 elements 4 groups
Premium Russian Glass Optics
ultra-compact pancake design
4-step zone focusing system
Aluminium & Brass Body

PRICE: $349

When they say ultra-compact, they mean it. It makes even the MS Optical lenses from Japan look large by comparison. Take a look how small this lens is on my M Edition 60:

front

side

top

This is not a review of the lens but simply a first-look. I took sample photos at ISO 200, focus set at infinity, at f/2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22. The apertures are approximate because there are no click stops; you just look at the lens and set the lever. Oddly, the focus has click stops, but it is rangefinder coupled so you can actually focus through the viewfinder. Here are the photos:

f11

f16

f22

f2point8

f4

f5point6

f8

It’s no Leica lens by any stretch, but it’s not intended to be one. It’s supposed to give you that “classic” Lomo look – strange, blurred edges, odd colors, etc. It’s like using digital filters on your cameraphone app but in this case actually taking the original picture that way. I didn’t see a need to include 100% crops here 🙂

It’s supposed to be fun, and I look forward to taking it out and giving it some exercise.

Brad Husick

 

UPDATE – NEW IMAGES from Brad:

Here are some photographs taken with the LC-A lens on an M edition 60 to give you a better sense of the creative nature of the lens. I left these full frame so you’d see the edge effects. This particular lens has a decentered focusing glitch that leaves the right side of the frame completely out of focus. It will be going back to Lomo. As some others have mentioned, it’s VERY difficult to mount and unmount. Aside from minor exposure adjustments, I have applied no filters or other effects to the images – these are straight from the camera. It’s certainly the most compact lens ever offered for the Leica M, I am just not sure it will earn a place in my kit.

20340704-L1000057

20340704-L1000051

20340704-L1000040

20340704-L1000040

20340704-L1000043

20340704-L1000036

20340704-L1000032

20340704-L1000033

20340704-L1000030

20340704-L1000029

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46 thoughts on “The Lomography LC-A Art lens, 1st Look by Brad Husick

  1. Soviet jupiter-12 m39 gives better picture four times cheaper! With almost the same “special-effects” wide-open..

  2. I can accept the vignette on image but color cast look so critical to me. I think manufacture just put the lens outof original lomo camera and assemble with M mount. yeah i know this will be no issue on film camera but its year 2015 and most of people who willing to buy this will use full-frame digital camera so they got to be enhance their lens to fix this color cast issue. Anyway ill not gonna buying this one.

  3. this has to qualify for the photography section of the Darwin Awards ;;;

    neither were designed to actually take photographs ;;;

    one sick camera, one sick lens ;;;

    who cares ;;;

    oh dear ;;;

    out ;;;

    ;;;

  4. It seems not to sit too well against the perfect image of the digital M. Would be interesting to see how it works on an MP or M3 etc. Might work better on film.

  5. There are some pictures that can drive you into insanity, no matter if a 10$ or 10000$ lens was used. But this is why I love this blog, you can discover a whole different universe of photography by browsing the daily inspiration and user report section.

    1. This sample of the lens is defective (soft focus on right) but I don’t agree that anyone who buys it is foolish. There’s fun in trying lots of different lenses on interchangeable lens cameras. By the way, Lomo is gladly accepting the return.

    2. Some poeple actually love both lomography and imperfections that those cheap cameras and lenses have and the regular super sharp and clean pictures that a good camera can create. By buying this lens, he can have both and travel light without always having a holga or lc-a in his pocket + his leica and lenses. One can only bring his leica and lens + this little tiny lens. I think it can be a good idea if the lens perform like it should.

    1. The Lomo-look comes from cross processing the film so you have to post process the file. Maybe Leica can add ab Lomo-app to the M60;)

    1. There are several good filter packages available as Lightroom plugins that can give you a variety of funky looks. I was interested in seeing if capturing the image this way made it more fun.

  6. opposite to the Leica, here you get pure overpriced crap, for a lower price I’d consider be convinced of its creativity inspiring nature, people say it should have, but 350?
    LOL!

  7. Hey, got it too. However, it’s fit is so tight that you can hardly take it off again and RF coupling is not at all precise. Mine has a dramatic back focus at close.

  8. The right side has more color cast but i don’t think this is a problem. This lens is supposed to be funky and flawed.

    1. I don´t speak about color cast, which can be corrected, but about extreme blur which is apparent at the right side but not at the left.

      This lens is the same optical construction as that of the soviet Lomo LC-A introduced in 1984. It was based on the japanese Cosina CX-2, and hence it´s lens was definitely not constructed as “flawed”. In the LC-A this lens is definitely not “high-end” but definitely also not crappy.

      I definitely would not expect a high end lens, but in my opinion this particular lens could be damaged.

      1. Having looked up the cosina I’m intrigued. That there’d be a petri variant makes me even more so. (RIP COMPUTOR 35)

        How different were the Lomo and cosina internally? Was is a material/coating difference or a complete structural difference?
        Besides I suspect that the lens isn’t neccesarily a l-ca transplant as much as an lca reminiscent effect

        1. Cosina produces very different products, cheap but also very good ones like todays Bessas, or todays Leica-mount Voigtländer- and Zeiss-ZM lenses.

          I just wanted to point out, that the optical construction of the Minitar lens is from LOMO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LOMO) an old soviet company for optical products situated in Leningrad (today: St Petersburg) years before the end of communism and long before the foundation of the Lomographic Society (Vienna) producing and marketing “fun” products.

          The color cast most probably can’t be avoided for a pancake wide angle lens on a digital full frame sensor, it will not show on film, so it is less a quality problem than an incompatibility problem of these symmetric constructions with digital sensors. But this extreme one-sided blur is different from that. BTW, the LC-A does not show this.

  9. Thanks for the examples.

    Obviously, your lens has a severe problem at the right side of the pictures. The left side – as far as one can see on pictures at this size – seems to be OK. Decentration?

    The color cast is stronger than I would have expected for a 32-mm-lens. But at least in Capture One the LCC-tool should easily correct it.

  10. You have a leica body and a nice lens and all you can take is a single pic of a bridge? But u manage to take a pic of many angles for the cam combo? WTF

    1. Adrian, the initial shots were just taken as a reference at all f stops on the day the lens arrived. Stay tuned here for some actual photos taken with the lens this past weekend. My how we have a short temper.

    1. Unfortunately, i have to concur. $350 for a lens with this performance, just doesn’t make sense. Toy lenses are supposed to be cheap, and you accept their idiosyncrasies as part of the fun of using them. But, this is going in the opposite direction. I don’t know, it just feels to me like another marketing trick by the lomography guys to squeeze money out of the “hipster” crowd.

  11. For an M8: get an Industar-69 28/2.8 and modify the focus for the Leica standard. Run under $50.

    Considering this Lomo lens is RF coupled: good price. The Nikkor 2.8cm F3.5 in Leica mount runs about the same price, and is also Tiny. The Nikkor has much less vignetting, even wide-open. The Nikkor 3.5cm F3.5 in Leica mount is another to look at.

    1. it is indeed the RF coupling that makes the difference. I have both and while the 69 is great, focusing is a real issue, especially after having it altered for the Leica.

  12. Mine came today in silver. It has the click stops for the focussing because you can use those as convenient pre sets for street photography etc. Just like on my Snapshot Skopar CvV wide angle lenses.
    $350 seems pricey but it is still the cheapest new with warranty M mount lens available. And the ergos on it are remarkably good considering it is a pancake lens. The focus lever (rangefinder coupled!) is very easy to use, with a very short row. The aperture lever is also very easy to use considering.
    The only thing that compares to this is the MS Optical lens which now is about three times the price, and from the examples I have seen the Lomo lens at least matches it optically. Which admittedly is not the point of these lenses. But it definitely trumps the MS with haptics. The MS needs its aperture changed with the tip of your fingernail, and has a very easy to lose focus knob.
    The Lomo lens is nicely made and if you are looking for a fun specialty lens this is it. If you are into pixel peeping, use something else.

    I’m looking forward to using this on my film cameras, especially my Leica MDa ( an M4 w/o a rangefinder or vf) which are far better suited to the close nodal point of this tiny lens. On digital (m240) it gives the expected and characteristic purplish borders and smearing. But that could be a bonus for a lens like this!

    Thanks for the first look Brad.

    Huss

  13. I have the original Lomo LC-A (4 of them) and took thousands of photos with it. There were images almost as good as SLR images and there were many blurry vignetted ones as well. Maybe this lens simply doesn´t work well on the Leica sensor. (or it does and delivers the desired effect) These images are much less sharp than I remember mine full open (2.8) even with the lens adapted on a Lumix G1. (which is MFT, of course, so much smaller sensor) For me it does not deserve the term “Premium Russian Glass Optics”. (at least in combination with Leica) If the lens was 50 $/€, ok, but for 300 plus, no way. Sorry for my negative approach (and bad english) best regards, Jens

  14. definetly a lens with character 😉 color rendition is quite nice i think but i could imagine b&w or muted color cityscape images with it would be quite special.

  15. Old Leitz just rolled in his grave 😀
    I would consider it as a toy and would pay max 50€ for it. Hell you can get 2 Jupiter 50mm for 50€! 😀

  16. I will save you all the trouble and post the inevitable post here: “You are putting a $350 lens on a $14000 camera? Are you nuts?” Isn’t the point of having an interchangeable lens camera to try many different lenses and have a little fun? Also, yes it’s a really, really expensive camera and nobody should own one.

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