Wednesday, February 25, 2015

LomoKino Super 35mm Camera Review

I’ve been excited about the Lomokino since I first heard of them from their crowdfunding campaign. Admittedly, I forgot about it for a while. But recently I saw it on Amazon, and decided to pick one up.
The Lomokino is a hand cranked Super 35mm movie camera that takes traditional 35mm still camera rolls of film. As anyone who knows me can attest, I am a film nut. So the thought of being able to shoot super 35mm motion pictures, and develop it at home was exceptionally intriguing.
To be honest, the Lomokino was probably designed to be a quirky toy for hipsters. A way to shoot “old style” movie clips. However, I see much more potential in this little device. A 35mm movie frame has a left to right. Grain to pixel equivalent of about a 30 megapixel digital camera. However, the average film stock has 10 layers of emulsion deep. Making a 35mm movie frame closer to the equivalent of a 350 megapixel digital camera. (4k video is approximately equivalent to 5 megapixels). This doesn’t even begin to account for the subtle organic flow of film grain as opposed to the harsh uniformity of digital pixels. Film is a far better (although far more expensive) medium. Although I have fully embraced digital as a cost effective substitute for film, shooting film is still better.
However, the Lomokino does have some serious disadvantages. First, is the cranking mechanism. The lomokino will shoot 5 frames per second if cranked rigorously.  This slow frame rate closer resembles a flip book then a movie. Stylistic qualities aside, I would like to see a version that can shoot 15 frames per second. This would allow it to reach persistence of vision, and make for a much smoother end product. I understand the manufacturers reasoning behind the slow frame rate. 5 frames per second gives the user about 30 seconds of footage from a 36 exposure roll of still film. 15 frames per second would only yield 10 seconds. Although the average user would probably prefer the extended time to the smoother look, it would be nice to have the option to change it. I have a 35mm Mitchel camera with a hand crank that can be set to shoot 128 frames per second, so I know it is possible to make the Lomokino shoot 15fps…
The lens on the Lomokino is not the best quality. It would have been nicer if this camera came with a standard lens mount instead of a cheapy permanently attached lens. However, it is wide enough of an angle to have a substantial depth of field making it good for the average user.
The first roll of film I shot through the Lomokino was ilford 400 speed B&W film. (I later processed it at home and scanned the negative using a Wolverine 20 megapixel negative scanner) The cranking mechanism wasn’t very fluid which resulted in a lot of camera shake in my finished footage. I will try different ways to hold the camera, and let you guys know what works better.

If you are into film making, celluloid, or a just a trendy hipster wanting to do things the “old-fashioned” way, You should pick up a Lomokino camera. For the professional film and video maker, it is a cheap back up that can get you some striking images when you don’t have power or a charge to your regular devices. For the indie / experimental film maker it is unique style that will set your project apart from the deluge of digital films. And for the film aficionado, it is an inexpensive way to shoot real motion pictures with a tangible roll of film.