The Fen. Lubitel 166B TLR camera. Ilford HP5 Plus 400 120 film. Developed in Microphen.
On the dog walk. Lubitel 166B TLR camera. Ilford HP5+ 400 120 film.
Kings Lynn Customs. Lubitel 166B TLR camera. Ilford HP5+ 400 film (120 format). Developed in Microphen.
Looking through my home developing notebook and log, I’ve already developed ten monochrome films – nine 120 rolls, and one 127 roll. Including Ilford HP5+, Fomapan Classic 125, and the Kodak Verichrome Pan 127. I’ve used two developers – Ilford ID-11, and Ilford Microphen. It’s early days, I’ve got 35mm to tackle next, with two cameras presently loaded with 135 cassettes of HP5+. I’m really enjoying this learning curve! I have a few problems to iron out. The more I transfer 120 film onto the Paterson Tank spools, the more problems that I get. It’s not become easier. I watched three YouTube videos this morning on other developer’s techniques at spooling, and I’ve got a few ideas to try out. The problem has started to affect my films – I’m seeing little crescents where either the film creases or contacts my finger tips as I struggle in the changing bag. Keeping a notebook was a great idea – I keep setting myself tasks, recording measurements, solutions, and listing my problems to resolve. The roll with the two top photos above shows a problem that I had with my last film – watermarks. Not too sure how I did that.
Anyway, back to the subject of this blog post title. I just want to sing the praise of a spanking budget camera, that I am using to expose most of my medium format films. The Lubitel 166B. I bought mine for two quid (GBP £2.00) at a local car boot sale. Excellent condition, with lens cover and a case. I suspect, hardly used. They are common fare on Ebay, where they seem to sell for between GBP £5 and £35. These are CHEAP cameras that make medium format film photography accessible to us masses. They were built in the USSR during the 1980s in the Lomo factory. For some reason, the LOMO badge is missing from mine, and I wonder if it was ever fixed. The body is plastic. Yes, plastic. Lubitel is Russian for Amateur. This camera was produced in the Soviet Union for amateurs without pretense.
It is a true twin lens reflex – with the two lenses geared together. However, visual focusing is next to impossible. It has a pop up magnifier / focusing eye piece, but it really is not much help. Instead I usually keep a small aperture, and zone focus – estimating distance. If I wanted more precision or a larger aperture, I could use a measuring tape, or a DSLR to find my distance and exposure value. Exposure value? There’s no light meter on this camera. I just use the old F16 rule, to judge and estimate light for myself. I’m really pleasantly surprised to see how often it works. Exposure and focus are… ok, on the majority of my photos. A lesson in photography. Use a camera like this for a while, then use a DSLR, and it’s incredible how much more you can understand – and appreciate the exposure controls.
The lens is a Cinesales Corp T-22 Triplet Lens. 1:4.5 75mm. Ok, it’s not a Carl Zeiss. It vignettes. However, it is better than many might expect, much better. The above photos with my messy developing do not do it justice – click on them to see the full gallery of my meagre efforts to date. Problems? Tiny shutter release button is not easy to locate while setting up a take. The back is clipped with a simple lock. It’s too easy to knock it open and ruin much of a film.
This camera is so much bloody fun – cheap and easy access to 120 medium format film photography, while still delivering some great results. If you see one at a car boot sale for under a tenner. Consider it.
My Lubitel 166B