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The Gakkenflex

Posted 2010.12.26 18.57 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Last week I assembled the Gakken kit # 25, the Gakkenflex Twin Lens Reflex camera. It was a pretty straight-forward assembly, the Japanese instructions are well-illustrated enough to get by, although there are some English translations around for the assembly.

As cameras go, this fits in the ‘toy’ category, next to other plastic wonders like the Holga or Diana. The lens is a simple plastic meniscus, the shutter is single-speed (about 1/125 allegedly) and there is a single fixed aperture (said to be about f/11). The focal length is roughly 40 or 45mm. The Gakkenflex takes standard 35mm film, and is actually very small and kind of cute in person.

Winding is manual of course and there is no frame counter, just an indicator to let you know when you’ve moved the film far enough for a single frame. Unlike the Holga, the Gakkenflex actually has a focus-aide! As a TLR, you are looking down onto the focus screen, and adjusting the twin lenses, so when it’s in focus on the screen it is (supposed to be) in focus for the film.

As with the Holga, the shutter release is not connected to the film advance, so you can take double-exposures, on purpose or accidentally. Finally, the Gakkenflex has a tripod mount (on the side of the body, so you mount it sideways) but there is no provision for a flash. None at all.

I rushed a roll of film through the Gakkenflex to see how it would go. As expected, the plastic lens gives a ‘soft’ look to the shots, and ¬†you can get some Holga-like effects by playing with double-exposures and other ‘artistic’ errors.

I quite like the Gakkenflex, although the first batch of shots won’t win any awards. Maybe if I spent more time outside and wasn’t in a hurry to ram film through it… Oddly it also makes me want to blow the dust off my Holga and play with it some more too. The Gakkenflex has the advantage in cuteness, and if you don’t have a cheap source of 120mm film then the Gakken wins there too for using standard 35mm film.

As usual with kits, 80% of the fun for me is in the building.

Lomo Lubitel

Posted 2009.10.02 20.28 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

The Lomo Lubitel (Olympic Edition) is a Soviet-made Twin Lens Reflex camera that was made by the Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedineniye – or Lomo for short.

The first Lubitel was made in the 1950’s but this model is based on their later Lubitel 166. According to the serial number, this particular one was made in 1980 – same year as the Moscow Olympics, and the reason for that red logo next to the viewing lens.

Aside from the comemorative aspect, there’s not too much to brag about. The body is plastic and metal, the taking lens is 75mm f/4.5 and the shutter speeds are 1/15 to 1/250. It’s supposed to have a Bulb setting, but this doesn’t work on mine. And even if it did work, there’s no way to attach a cable release, so bulb wouldn’t be too useful. Wierdly, a cable release was included in the box.

The Lubitel takes 120 rollfilm, and the Olympic version has a counter and automatically cocks the shutter when you advance the film. The film advance is a bit stiff and took 1/3 of a roll for me to figure out how it actually works. There is a X-sync hotshoe on the left side, but the shoe is slightly strangely sized and it’s difficult to get a flash to work right. It does work though, you just have to tinker with it.

Whining aside, here are a few shots I took with it, once I figured out it’s quirks:

I had taken some indoor shots but the flash wouldn’t work so they didn’t come out. The outdoor shots all have a wierd sort of dreamy feel to them. Like there’s something unreal about the light, the sky. There’s also a wierd fog effect that I think might be internal reflections. The 6×6 chamber is not matte, it is black but more of a ‘satin’ or ‘semi-gloss’ so it’s possible for light to reflect around in there.

Now that I know the camera’s quirks I’ll have to try another roll (with some more-interesting subjects) and see how it goes.