The crazy colorful world of the LOMO LC-A Art lens by Huss Hardan

The crazy colorful world of the LOMO LC-A Art lens

by Huss Hardan

Hello Huffsters!

Brad Husick wrote a nice initial impression piece on the new LOMO LC-A Art lens. A pancake lens, rangefinder coupled for M mount cameras. Which also means that with adapters it can be used on almost anything.

It’s the cheapest, new with full warranty (2 years) M lens currently available. The parts come from Russia (nothing like your Nikon D610), and the bits are assembled in China (just like your Nikon D610).

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Anyway, enough of the small talk. What’s it like? Well….it’s meant for use on film cameras which is what I really bought it for – to use on a Leica MDa (a Leica M4 without a rangefinder or viewfinder). So on a digital Leica like my M it will smear in the corners just like any wide-angle non Leica manufactured lens (think most Cosina Voigtlanders). It will give wild colour casts and deep saturations. It will give sharp results in the center, not so much away from it. It will give some hefty barrel distortion.

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Much of this – the colour casts, the distortion – can be fixed post. But that defeats the purpose of this lens, as if you are going to do that you will just be left with a mediocre boring lens. Instead of a mediocre interesting lens!

It is the flaws that what make it, and so should be embraced. Otherwise shop elsewhere.

Of note: In the images here I did not boost colour saturation. This is what the lens does. I also noticed that I had to increase exposure by one stop in auto mode on the M.

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All images were taken the day I got the lens, down the street from my gallery – www.huzgalleries.com – in San Pedro, CA. Come visit us, it’s lovely!

Peace out

Huss

30 Comments

  1. Lomography loaned me one of these lenses to test out. I seriously didn’t want to give it back.

    Forst off, the lens is heavy, in a good way. It has a lot of brass, stainless steel and a “actual, coated glass” for the lens.
    It brings up the 35mm frame lines in a Leica, and in addition to the rangefinder coupling, it has the zone focus indentations: one can use either or both methods.
    Also, the lens has a metal, screw-in lens cap. The whole thing has an air of durability that sort of goes against some common misconceptions about Lomography cameras (OK, some of the cameras are real shit, and they’re generally overpriced — even my beloved LCA+) and what a $300 M-mount lens should feel like.
    The lens is curiously flat, but easy to handle. It’s FAST, much like an LCA.
    The pictures it produced on my test with a Leica M4-2 were what I expected from a few years of shooting the Lomography point-an-shoot camera: some barrel distortion, variable vignetting, crazy contrast and saturation (I really want to try the lens on a Leica M10, or on my M4-2 with Velvia).
    It’s possible to do “normal” photography with the Minitar lens and/or the Lomography LCA+ camera. The barrel distortion isn’t complex and is easy to fix. If one is careful and pays attention to the lens’ limitation — as if were any sort of tool — then one can make nice pictures.
    A quick perusal through Flickr and Lomography will show a variety of pictures from these lenses and cameras, ranging from “the photographer is a retarded hipster on acid” to “this photo may be ‘technically bad’ but it’s interesting/funny/creative/awesome.”
    How many really terrible photos are floating around shot by “serious” photographers on high-end cameras? That’s rhetorical, the answer is so big it’s theoretical.

  2. It doesn’t fit in my CLE either and on my CL, it fits but the focus tab is blocked by my luigi half case. I suppose I can get that modified here locally if I like the results of my test roll. Also, the Minitar lens does not work with the Fotodiox Pro helicoid adapter for fuji. For what it is worth, neither does the DR or the CV 40 2.8 heliar. the later does not collapse.

  3. Was the ‘dog in room of paintings’ pretty much the extent of limiting depth of field with this lens? What little bokeh is there is pleasant; too bad the lens isn’t faster.

    This set gives me an idea of how much a lens can induce the impression of ‘old photo’.
    What film did you use?

  4. Like your photography, very interesting set of pics. Don’t quite see the rationality of putting the lens on a leica, I suppose if that’s the only camera you have to hand then why not. Artists are always looking for new ways of seeing things which is to be applauded.

    Nice article, sort of encourages me to experiment instead of churning out my usual boring stuff!

  5. I like this set of images a lot. They have a very “timeless” look and feel. I also like a lot of the compositions… a little “tourist snapshot” feel, which is nice! Good stuff!

  6. The color-cast is strong on wide side of the image, usually meaning the optics are not well-centered. I use Jupiter-12’s 35/2.8 on the M9, big rear optic near the CCD, do not get a color-cast.

    A good J-12 in Leica thread mount runs ~$100 or so, will need an M-Mount adapter.

  7. That colour is quite something! Some imperfections are desirable (like flare) but not distortion or edge softness. However, I think you’re right that it would suit the Fujis very well.

  8. I checked it on all my M bodies and found:

    Mounts and removes easily on:

    M240
    M3
    MDa

    Mounts but a bit of a struggle to remove:

    Bessa R3A

    Does not fit at all:

    Both my Minolta CLEs

    Chickened out trying to fit because I love it too much and it is the best camera ever made:

    Leica M5

    (FYI on the M240 it pulls up the 35mm frame lines)
    I also tested the focus accuracy with my M240 and there are no issues there.

  9. I know you usually get cut a lot of slack in here because you’re one of the few women who frequent the site, but these photographs are not powerfully composed, nor do they depict visually or thematically arresting subject matter.

    • Huh? I’ve been following this site for about five years and don’t recall anyone ever being treated better or worse based on gender. Photography is about vision, not chromosomes, and Huss has contributed a lot more and far better images to this site than you probably have.

      As for the images here, I like the one with the two red boats. Great color and it works with the flaws of the lens. The flaws of the lens, rather than art, appear to be the purpose of this post, which the author describes as being taken on the same day the lens arrived.

  10. Those are some triply results! Where is the magenta cast coming from? Definitely shows that there is a huge sample variation between lenses. The initial thoughts post had almost a third of the photo on the right side blurred where this has it in the corners. I had the 21 Voigtlander Skopar and it was tack sharp corner to corner at around the same price. Almost seems like you need to purposefully be looseygoosey with the manufacturing of this lens to get these kind of results. In the end the beauty is in the eye of the photographer so if you love it, then it’s an awesome lens:)

  11. Thanks for the reference and good shots Huss! I added some actual photos to my first-look.
    Brad

    • It’s on a film camera right now, so we’ll see how that goes.
      I put it on the digital camera to get results RIGHT NOW! as it just showed up and I was impatient to see how it would work.

  12. Now this review is more like it. A lot of people will never get it why the LCA is such a cult classic – which is reflected here… very INTERESTING pictures – instead of “supersharp” or “color correct” photos.

  13. I agree with Alan. If the lens can give you an organic Holgaesque rendering, that’s totally the way to go. I could really enjoy this thing shooting the gritty, darker side of New York, especially at night. In fact, Huss, you should go out immediately, put the cam with this lens on a tripod and get some really moody nocturnal shots of the darker side of your neighborhood.

  14. And I can’t see the point of doing something with some hipstermatic app if it can be done with a much more fun and interesting lens. :}

  15. Honestly I can’t see how usefull this lens is: an app like hipstamatic does the same job, maybe better I’d say. You don’t enjoy the rangefinder experience obviously, but at this point I think funky colors are the only thing that matter.

    • An app like hippstamatic behaves predictably.
      Even with the 4 or five some commercial still sensor makers out there you get a wide array of results in combination with variant coatings and lenses.
      I’d love to see this on an M8 as much of the corner fringing would be gone.
      Would be even more interested in seeing it on a fuji as the 1.5 crop
      would eat all the uneven corners and I’m curious about
      how the fuji blues react to the very purple blues this lens generate.
      I can see this being a crop camera users signature lens,
      and that would be the niche this lens is designed to fill.
      Even the ms-optical clone format shies away from generalist use.

      I’d imagine certain users really taking to the click focus
      as it would be rather quick even shooting blind once you’ve gotten used to it.

      • Actually these blues are proper ultramarine rather than cobalt. Which is nice as that’s always been the proper blue to me.

        And I will fight anyone with a knife on that one.

    • There is a big difference, where PP can be destructive the effects produced by the lens are not. Depending on what you are going to do with the image afterwards you are talking apples and oranges. Just like digital noise is not the comparable to film grain.

      • In Hipstamatic (which I’ve taken just as example) there’s no PP at all. Simply choose the combination of “film” and lens and snap the picture. These colors are really similar to the Helga Viking lens in Hipstamatic, for example. Is it funnier to use an m240 with this lomo lens? Considering the characteristics of the lens, I think it’s not so particularly funny or rewarding.
        That’s just my opinion of course.

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