The Lomography LomoKino is the very first movie camera from the analogue photography brand, and it enables you to shoot your own silent movie. The good news is that the LomoKino uses conventional 35mm camera film, so you won’t need to track down any elusive (and expensive) 8mm cine film as used in home movie cameras from back in the day. There’s really nothing else like it on the market, but is it any good? We took it out for a spin to find out.
LomoKino – build
The LomoKino features a suitably retro faux-leather finish that not only looks the part, but also adds a little extra grip. You may find it gets marked easily if it’s stuffed into a bag, though. The shiny silver panels that bear the name of the camera also add to the vintage vibe, while the foldaway crank lever feels surprisingly robust - just make sure you fold it away properly before you put the camera in your bag. The LomoKinoScope offers a similar build quality along with a rubber-finish eyepiece for comfy viewing.
LomoKino – film
The gadget takes four shots per frame, giving you a grand total of 144 shots on a standard 36-exposure roll of 35mm film (the higher the ISO, the better). These snaps can then be edited together as a digital movie file to form a silent film lasting somewhere between 36 and 48 seconds. You can use any type of 35mm film you fancy, including colour negative or monochrome, and if you opt for slide film you can view your movies in colour on the LomoKinoScope by simply holding it up to the light and turn the crank (you can use it to view your processed colour film, too, but the colours will be in negative).
LomoKino – controls
Controls are decidedly old-school and have been kept to a bare minimum. The aperture can be altered using the wheel on the front of the gadget, with settings ranging from f/5.6 to f/11. There's no step between each setting so it can be adjusted smoothly while shooting. The LomoKino has a standard range of 1m to infinity, and also includes a dedicated button for close-up shots at 0-0.6m. Pressing and holding the button switches to the close-up range so that it can be used seamlessly during shooting.
LomoKino – shooting
A quick flick of a switch pops up the top-mounted viewfinder. As this is made to match the quarter-frame shots it's really quite tiny so it's actually easier to go freestyle and dispense with using the viewfinder altogether. The top of the camera is also home to a hotshoe adaptor so that you can attach any compatible flash. We used Lomography's Fritz the Blitz flash, originally designed for use with the La Sardina, as it recharges quickly between each shot. There's no frame counter on the LomoKino but there is a meter that runs from full to empty to give you a rough idea of how far through the film you are.
LomoKino – results
Shooting is very simple, with the winding crank making a satisfying click when each shot is taken, although keeping the unit steady is quite tricky. The movie effect works surprisingly well – you should be able to put together a decent clip after a few practice runs even if the slight blurring and shaky handheld effect do make it look like the point of view of someone who’s had one too many beers. Still images are a little soft, as you’d expect from a Lomo camera, with the usual film grain, while the close-up button produces good results.
LomoKino – verdict
At just £65 (or 89 notes when bundled with the LomoKinoScope), the LomoKino isn’t going to bankrupt you, although you may find that the cost of processing is another matter – Lomography charges a tenner for processing, along with a disc with all your shots and a movie clip of them edited together. However, it’s still a cheaper option than shelling out on an old super8 camera (not to mention a lot lighter), and the film is also much cheaper and easier to buy.
The retro design of the LomoKino is sure to win over a lot of fans and the fact that it’s very easy to use (not to mention fun) is also a big advantage. The viewfinder is a little too small to be practical, but it’s still possible to get good results without using it. It might have been nice to bung in a couple of extra options such as a variable ISO setting or even the ability to attach a neck strap, but the LomoKino is still a great gadget as it is.
Great, initially affordable fun for retro film fans but film processing costs add up quickly