7 Alternatives to The Lomo LC-A

The LC-A and LC-A+ have certainly carved a niche out for themselves in no small part due to the Lomography movement. The LC-A has become somewhat a marmite camera either loved or hated but has also become quite expensive to buy either as a vintage camera or in its new guise as the LC-A+.

Rest over
A Lomo LC-A (with export marking and naff skin). But what can you buy instead ?

But what alternatives are there that won’t break the balance for a 35mm  zone focus, quirky compact ?

I like the LC-A and certainly don’t feel it deserves some of the derision it gets. But my LC-A despite being a relatively cheap buy still was one of my most expensive cameras at purchase at £40. It also needed servicing by the wonderful Roger Lean (google it) but despite that was still half the £190 + you pay for a LSI refurbed one. The new LC-A+ costs almost the same as the last manual focus SLR in production the Nikon FM10 with a zoom lens (ouch !). Still we’re focusing on a P&S here with models either matching the LC-A spec or its famous lomography style images.

1. Vivitar Ultra Wide And Slim and Clones
Superheadz Wide & Slim
Superheadz Wide & Slim a current clone of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim

No surprise here if you’ve followed my blog. This tiny plastic fixed focus has acquired the Moniker of the Poor Man’s Lomo. This fixed focus, shutter and aperture camera became one of favourites last year. Despite being an all plastic affair it can take good shots if circumstances are right and like the LC-A has a quirky lens and it vignettes . If you’re lucky you might find one in a thrift store (the VUWS was according to legend never a retail camera but a freebie give away) but if not you can buy a new clone for around £20 mark from the likes of Superheadz.

Unimpressed
Glasgow Botanics, 2015. Superheadz Wide and Slim (VUWS clone) with AVP 400
Why Buy
  • That lens
  • Still made
  • Ultra Compact
Why Not
  • No controls or flash option
  • Plastic
  • £20  ? you can buy 4 of the next ones
2. Olympus XA2
Olympus XA2
Olympus XA2 open & closed

Arguably the obvious   temporal rival for the LC-A, the XA2 arrived in 1982 as the Zone focus little brother of the rangefinder XA.  A really compact camera with a clamshell body which is completely pocket friendly. Better optics and electronics on paper although it’s meant only to be used in it’s 3 focus zones in low light.  Olympus replaced the usual shutter button with pressure sensitive pad – better for long exposures (will meter for up to 2 minute exposure) than the LC-A but more prone to being a  bit sticky 20-30 years later. Has a neat electronic timer but you’ll need to use a proprietary flash unit. Despite a cult following you can still easily get for the single figure side of a tenner making it a bargain. The XA3 is a slightly upgraded version with support up to 1600 asa as well as backlight compensation but is rarer. The XA4 adds scale focus, macro and a wider lens but is quite rare.

Turn of Light I
Manchester 2015. Night shot. Olympus XA2 with Kodak BW400CN
Why Buy
  • Very compact
  • Zuiko lens
  • 2 minute shutter & timer
  • Cheap for what it is
Why Not
  • Proprietary flash only
  • Sticky shutter
  • Psuedo zone focus
  • No filters
3. FED 50
FED 50
FED 50

Bonkers FSU camera from FED in the 1980’s that essentially is the mutant love child of an Olympus Trip 35 and the LC-A. Based on the FED 35 rangefinder body abet with a cyclops selenium meter this is a scale focus camera Oddly it has a set of LC-A focus zones visible in the viewfinder but unlike the LC-A you get visual feedback of shutter/aperture speeds. It also can use standard filters, cable release and did I mention the Bulb setting ? Famous for fickle metering and not that light a worthy alternative but you’ll pay a wee bit as usually need to import from FSU for £20-30 +P&P.

Bone snap
National Museum of Scotland, FED 50 with Ilford XP2.
Why Buy
  • Quirky
  • No batteries required
  • Take 46mm Filters and cable threaded
Why Not
  • Metering bit iffy
  • Heavy
  • Quirky
4. Yashica ME1
Last weeks weapon of Choice
Yashica ME1

Quirky plasticky 35 scale focus 70’s compact made either in Japan or Brazil is notable as unlike some rivals the the minolta Hi-matic G or Chinon 35 no simple downscaling of a series rangefinder occured. Light, small, pocketable and has good optics with added bonus of standard filter ring and self timer. One of many Japanese P&S compact of the 70’s all broadly as good but enough quirks to match the LC-A.

Coffee chat
Carlisle 2014. Yashica ME1 with Ilford XP2 (K2 filter on). Serendipitous cropping error at scanning
Why Buy
  • Yashica Glass
  • Light
  • Takes 46mm filters
  • Timer
Why Not
  • No cable thread
  • Plastic feeling
5. Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35

The classic P&S compact with a 3 decade run of production is still available on a good day for around a tenner. Not as compact as a LC-A and limited shutter speeds are more than balanced by the fact that this has excellent optics and just works. One of Olympus’s classics and you can fit filters (abet at 43.5mm) and add a cable release.

Retro Pasties II
Kingstown, Carlisle 2015. Olympus Trip 35 with AVP 200
Why Buy
  • The Classic P&S
  • Great Olympus Optics
  • Batteries not required
  • Available for a tenner with luck
Why Not
  • 1/40 or 1/200 shutter speeds
  • Bit big in this class
  • Filter quirky 43.5mm
  • Perhaps too good
6. Recesky DIY TLR
Papa got a brand new (Xmas) bag
Recesky DIY TLR (in Hayes manual guise)

For a tenner or less you can pick and build your own TLR. All plastic affair but does work. You’ll need to live with fixed shutter and aperture speeds, not great lens and a focus screen that makes focusing a Lubitel a piece of cake but hey it works.

You've got mail
Recesky DIY TLR with AVP 200
Why Buy
  • Half the fun is DIY
  • Can fit in large coat pocket
  • TLR for less than a Tenner
  • Takes 35mm
Why Not
  • Plastic everything
  • Lens pretty poor
  • Focus screen not much better
7. Olympus PEN E series
Papa's got a Brand new Half Frame bag
Olympus Pen EE-2

3rd outing for Olympus here. Smaller than a Trip 35 but stylistically and selenium metering similar these half frame marvels sold in various guises from 1961 to 1986. Almost all had the same core features but the E series broadly has 2 types of cameras – one with fixed focus given EE Designation and ones with zone focus given EES designation). I own a EE-2 which I got for the paltry sum of £6 but only because the seller hadn’t listed as a PEN as these have become quite sought after so expect to pay £20 or more. Still you get 48 shots on a roll of poundland AVP 200 …..

Up the town
Dumfries, 2015. Olympus PEN EE-2 with AVP. Not bad for a fixed focus
Why Buy
  • Very compact
  • Zuiko lens
  • Trip metering and ergonomic
  • Double the shots a roll
Why Not
  • small frame size
  • Not that cheap

There are several notable other camera that could have been here but I just don’t think cuts the mustard including.

  • Cosina CX2- What the LC-A was based on. Not cheap these days and pehaps too optically good
  • Halina Micro 35 – The Hong Kong Lomo. Looks like LC-A with flash. Fixed focus but let down by absence of metering
  • Minox 35 series – Compact, bonkers long shutters but really too good and tecnologically advanced

What would you add ?

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