Saturday, 15 January 2011

Welcome to Britain, Uncle Lubitel

Another new challenge arrived with me this week, in the form of a vintage Russian Lubitel 166 camera (image above courtesy of Motivated as usual to maximise both beauty and utility in the objects I have, I went for a more obscure model purely because it had Russian lettering on it. I then discovered it has a small plate bearing the emblem of the Moscow Olympics, which took place in 1980. So, this camera was probably produced in the same year as I was: 1979.

Happy synchronicity, but being a one-off (the camera, of course) it doesn't quite match any of the Lubitel manuals available online, which are hard enough to follow thanks to terrible translations. Perhaps they are useless in Russian too, but I wasn't planning to buy Teach Yourself Cyrillic Script this year.

To me this camera is quite intimidating enough without its added idiosyncracies. In order to use it I have to get to grips with f-numbers, apertures and exposures in a way that Diana doesn't ask of me at all. Luckily my brother lent me a technical introduction to photography at Christmas, and for once non-fiction content is acutally gripping me.

Apparently, if you manage to keep it still, a Lubitel can take very sharp shots, doing away with the fuzzy dream world that Diana tends to live in most of the time. That said, even looking through the glass in the top of the camera - the giant viewfinder - is like being transported to another world. Perhaps the glass is tinted, but what I see through it has quite a different atmosphere from the world it purports to show me.

I shan't be neglecting Diana while I get to know what I am already thinking of as her stern, slightly turgid uncle. She will still bring welcome lightness and silliness in contrast to Lubitel's heavy, unfamiliar frame. Just to prove her mettle, here's an example of what Diana is best at:

We'll see what Lubitel can do in my inexpert hands soon.


  1. Inexpert hands? Don't think so Zoe, not at the keyboard anyway.

    I saw a website the other day that was selling out of date 120 film at a premuim price - I presume beacuse it will produce somewhat random results.

    Your description of peering into the glass finder is interesting; like artists who sometimes use mirrors to look at their paintings in a different way.

  2. Zoe,

    Looking at the world through the glass finder will change your perspective...Have some fun and see what comes up...You may be very surprised!