Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lomo'Instant WIDE Review

I've always had a bit of a drawing to instant cameras.  Growing up my parents had a Polaroid OneStep Instamatic camera.  We used it a lot for family events as it was just easier to use than having to load a film camera and then go and get them developed and prints made.

Digital cameras have made the process of getting images a lot easier than they were in the past, and sharing them lightning fast.  There is something about an analog process that is still appealing to many of us.  Probably part nostalgia, part simplicity of process.  Everyone has a different motivation and I've not the degree in psychology or sociology to get into that kind of discussion.

I own a few instant cameras, of which I've already reviewed the Diana f+ with Instant Back.  You can read about my thoughts on that camera, if you wish.  That camera looks like the images below.

Diana f+ images © Lomography
Diana f+ back
Diana f+ front
The Diana f+ instant back utilizes the Fuji Instax Mini film.  While this is a good film, it can some times be a little small.  I wanted something bigger!  Options could be getting  another Polaroid camera and using the Impossible Project instant film packs(that is another review coming in the future so look out for that!!) or investigate the Fuji Instax Wide cameras available.

I've used the Fuji Instax 210 before, and while it does a decent job it does not have the manual capabilities that a photographer might desire.  After doing much research, I settled on 2 options, the Lomography Belair X6-12(review coming on that soon as well) and the Lomography Lomo'Instant WIDE.

So lets dive into the lomo'Instant WIDE world for a while!  Please note, I am not going to compare the Fuji Wide cameras versus this.  Plenty of other internet reviews already doing that.  My only comment for people is going to be this.  If you just want to press a button and get an Instax Wide print, no fuss, no muss - get the Fuji.  If you are a photographer that likes to experiment, loves tinkering with exposures and having more granular controls - Get the LOMO.

I picked up a used camera in white.  Not my optimal camera color, but I'm not one that lets camera color get in the way of a good deal.   You should see my m43 cameras.  Mostly black bodies and silver lenses because I got better deals on the silver versions.

Lomo'Instant WIDE images © Lomography

Here is the front of the camera:
Starting at image left, we have the viewfinder.  Optical, no special anything except the inclusion of an offset for close focusing.  You can see the offset as the black dashed marks in the viewfinder.

Across the top, the flash unit.  This has slots on it that will accept supplied colored gels.  This is not an option that I really use, but it is nice to have there.

Right next to the flash unit is the exposure meters.

Now, going down between the viewfinder and the flash unit is a black switch.  This is your shutter release.

The silver ball between the shutter release and the lens unit is the "selfie mirror".

Then, you have the lens.  Focus is a manual zone focus.  You twist a ring to change from 0.6m, 1-2m, and 3-infinity.  A small bump on the side of lens unit is a PC sync port in case you want to use this camera with flash units, you can trigger them that way.  There is no hot shoe on this camera.

The top of the camera is where the film ejects and is the only feature there.

The back of the camera contain the controls.  The large black square in the top middle(my copy is all white) is the film back release lever.  Just to the right of that is the window for you to see if the film is loaded.  The orange line that are on all Fuji instax packs shows here.

Moving to image right is the rear view of the viewfinder.
Below that we have the flash controls.  The flash can be manually controlled to fire or not.  One light lets you know if the capacitor is charged, the light is red when charging and green when ready to fire.

Next down is the "MX" button which stands for multiple exposure.  The number of multiple exposures is unlimited!

+1, 0, -1 are for your exposure compensation settings.

Under that, we have the power switch.  The switch in the position you see is the OFF setting.  The "A" is auto mode, which gives the camera all the control over the exposure, "B" is bulb mode,  and 1/30 is used when you are wanting to add in external flash.

Just to the left of the power switch is the film exposure counter.

The Lomo'Instant WIDE is powered by 4 AA batteries.  This is great as they are cheap, plentiful and easy to find.

Oh, and lets not forget to mention the lens cap.  The lens cap is not just a lens cap, it is also a remote shutter release and a bulb setting trigger!  Pretty cool!

The attached lens is a 35mm equivalent lens( to a 135 film size camera) which means it is a 90mm on a medium format camera.  Aperture ranges are either f/8 or f/22 and these are all controlled via the camera.  Auto shutter speeds are 8s to 1/250 of a second, the 1/30 for flash use and bulb.

The filter thread is 49mm.  You can also get a macro and wide angle adapter lens for this camera.  The macro gets you down to 0.1m


Honestly, its pretty good for what it is.  I'll just let the images speak for themselves below.  As with any lomography style camera or film, you need to determine if this is an aesthetic and style that is right for you and the subject you are shooting.


Because of the size of the negative and the film itself, this is a big camera.  I've read/watched quite a few reviews about people not liking the lack of a grip like is on the Fuji 210 or 300.  I don't really care.  I'm not one that uses one hand to shoot anyway, so I'm always supporting the camera underneath with one hand and then triggering the shutter with my other.  I also use a strap of some kind as well.

The shutter button is right where you'd want it to be and all the controls are on the back.  The thumb of my right hand crosses over the buttons and gives additional support.  I've so far had no problems with accidentally hitting a setting button.  Others have had some issue with that.

I like the mechanical focusing mechanism.  Not a whole lot is going to go wrong with that and the power is not going to camera operation other than metering and ejecting the film.

Personal preference on the viewfinder - a lot of people do not like having the camera obscure the face.  I fall into the camp of - I don't care.  I can drop the camera for a few seconds and talk to someone if I need to which is no different that working with my digital cameras.  What might be of interest to left eyed shooters though is that the viewfinder is on the right side, so your head position is on the opposite side of almost every other rangefinder styled camera out there.

One struggle since moving to a mirrorless kit for a lot of my every day carry needs is finding a place in my bag for this camera.  It can be done, but it is not an after thought like being able to take the Digital Holga.  Some pre-planning is going to be required!

This one was a little over exposed.  :D


I'm generally not a fan of zone focusing on my digital cameras.  In that world, I use auto focus most of the time.  This camera does not live in that world.  With the stock lens, you are looking at 0.6m for close up portraits, 1-2m for mid range shots and 3m-infinity for far away shots.  My biggest issue is remembering to change the focus distance manually.  The viewfinder is not connected in anyway to the view you see through the lens, so I've been known to snap a pic and then realize that I had the focus set to 1-2m or infinity instead.  Like this selfie image below.  Had the camera set to 1-2m.  Oops!  lol


As has been mentioned before - lomography, lo-fi, "vintage" type stuff is not for everyone.  I love it and love using it from time to time.  It is fun for a lot of people and I'm using it professionally and in my private shooting.

Is it worth the higher price tag over the Fuji equivalent?   Only you can answer that.  For me, I required the flexibility of the Lomo.  If Fuji released a WIDE camera that had the controls/features more in line with the Neo Classic 90 - it would have been a more difficult decision.

There are great things coming for instant film.  Fuji has released black and white mini/wide film and they just released a square format film and camera as well. 

Look out in the future for more reviews for the instant cameras like the Polaroid Sun600 with Impossible Project film, Fuji Neo Classic 90 and we will also review the Fuji Instax SP-1 printer!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Panasonic 25mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

Image © Panasonic


The rage as of late has been with the super fast aperture prime lenses.  Olympus has the 25mm f/1.2 that came out a while ago and they just announced that late 2017 and Spring 2018 will give us the birth of the 17mm f/1.2 as well as the 45mm f/1.2

While I do have a fast aperture lens in the Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95, I'm not really in the market for any more.  So what is wrong with the f/1.7 or f/1.8 prime lenses?   Well, not a whole lot really.  They tend to be compact and lightweight and cost as little as they weight, relatively.

While it would be great to have the extra stop of light, the weather sealing of the f/1.2 lenses...I just don't see me needing that large aperture in those prime lenses.  Others that specialize in portraiture with their Micro Four Thirds kits will definitely love to see them...and listening to them, it has been a long time coming.

For this review, though - we are going to look at a bargain of a lens, the Panasonic 25mm f/1.7.

This little guy was bought brand new from Midwest Photo Exchange on sale for $150USD.  We'll look at it from handling, image quality and focusing on it's own as well as how I feel about it versus the stellar Olympus 25mm f/1.8.  I used to own the Olympus and really loved it.


The field of view (FOV) on this lens is similar to a 50mm on a 135 size sensor camera.  It is not a pancake lens, but it is not large either.

It feels very light and is made from plastics, but the build quality feels very robust.

The focus ring is dampened and feels good when you turn it.

When compared to the Olympus, the Panasonic lens is a bit bigger.    When looking at the spec sheets, the Panasonic comes in lighter, by like 10 grams...not something most people would notice.

Both front elements are 46mm, so would use the same size lens caps and filters.

Panasonic does supply a lens hood with the lens, but it is a little odd to use because you must first remove a ring on the front of the lens. 

Image Quality

This thing is very sharp and at the price you can find them, it makes a whole lot of sense to get this lens if you wanted a 50mm FOV lens. 

I want to say that the Olympus might be a hair sharper in similar situations, but as sharp as both of them are, it's really splitting hairs at this point.

As I like to do, let us leave the proof show through in the images presented here.

1/60, f/1.7, ISO 800

1/125, f/1.7, ISO 200

1/60, f/2.8, ISO 800 (shot through some pretty dirty glass)

1/60, f/1.7, ISO 250


As with all contrast detect cameras, when the lens locks in, it is dead on.

I did notice that on the EM5.2 that there were times when the Panasonic would hunt for focus or not lock in properly.  I'll keep an eye on it, but I do notice that this happens every now and again with new lenses.  I think a good lens contact cleaning would benefit here.

Bottom Line

Did I really need another 25mm prime lens?  No, not really.  However, for the price, how can you pass it up?  The Mitakon 25mm performs well, but it is a manual focus lens and that point may not be for everyone.    I love using it and will in the future.  The Panasonic 25/1.7 is a pleasure to use, produces great images, has excellent sharpness and focus' fast.   If maximum performance is desired in an f/1.7 or f/1.8 prime lens and you shoot Olympus bodies - get the Olympus 25mm.  If all things are equal and price is a sticking point - get the Panasonic on sale or used for around $150 - you won't be disappointed!