The LOMO LC-A (Lomo Kompakt Automat) is a fixed lens, 35 mm film, leaf shutter, zone focus, compact camera introduced in 1984 and made in St. Petersburg and then in Vienna in the late nineties. In 2005, production of the original Lomo LC-A was discontinued. Its replacement, the LC-A+, was introduced in 2006 and production moved to China. Some of these Chinese models are passed off as Zeniths. Mine is a pre 2005 Russian model bought through the Vienna trading company around 1997.
The design of the LC-A was ‘adapted’ from a Japanes Cosina that some Russians took to bits. Like much of Soviet technology, it was built like a brick and designed for mass market production and simple operation. In a very Soviet fashion, it has many little faults although can be seen as ‘quirky’ by toy camera enthusiasts.
When it’s in the right mood, it’s a great little compact. It can be set on automatic so that it will always keep the shutter open long enough to take a picture with the available light. This can lead to shaky pictures / artistic effects. There is also a flash mount and enthusiasts have been known to use various colour filters and wide-angle attachments to get all sorts of images.
I think it was designed for the workers to take it out, set exposure very simply and take pictures. It could also be left on the same settings indefinitely and still produce pictures. But the bloody thing is made from plastic, and not in a good way. The manual winding handle is awkward – both loading and moving on the film can be problematic. The view finder is small and not very clear. Exposure is also ‘variable’ and the lens is small and cheap.
But that is the joy of toy cameras. I’m always about to stop using the Lomo for these reasons but I never quite stop it because it can be such an interesting camera, it just wastes a lot of film though. Current LC-As can go for £200 second hand or new.