New Camera, Film and Developer Day!

Initial impressions of the Lomo LC-W, EZ400 and Bellini Eco Film Developer


sonny rosenberg

4/10/20234 min read

The Camera:

That seems like a lot of new for one post, but I didn't really plan it that way. To be honest, I'm a little surprised that I bought an LC-W. I've read more than a few opinions that the LC-W is quite pricey for a camera like this, I'm not sure I agree with that. I guess it depends on what you want and value in a camera. There were a few things about it that made it seem worth the cost to me. That it has a two year warranty is among those.

This all began when I tried to purchase a refurbished Rollei 35. The Rollei 35 had piqued my interest since I first got into photography. It seemed like a beautiful little gem of a camera. I was mostly attracted to it's minuscule form factor, but I've seen quite a few stunning images taken with Rollei 35s. It seemed like the perfect little camera to take everywhere. Unfortunately, so many things went wrong when I (twice) tried to acquire one that I've given up on a 35 for the near future.

I do have a very pocketable camera that I really enjoy it's a Jelly Lens version of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim. It's a wonderful little camera and I love the photos it takes, but it is a toy and seems quite fragile. Also with it's fixed focus, aperture and shutter speed, I don't think it's an exaggeration to call it limited.

When I was comparing features of the Rollei 35 and the LC-W there were quite a few things that really stood out to me about the LC-W. The LC-W like the Rollei is zone focus, which I love. The LC-W has only two zones, which I've already grown very fond of. The LC-W is just a tad bigger than the Rollei but unlike the Rollei it has a wide 17mm lens, a huge plus for me. It also has multi-exposure capability and square and half frame film formats.

The LC-W is fully automatic, unlike the Rollei, but it's the way that the auto exposure is implemented that I find interesting. In low light conditions it opens the aperture as wide as it will go (f/4.5) and then holds the shutter open for as long as necessary to get the exposure (maybe all auto exposure cameras do this?). There's something about this way of autoexposure that I find liberating and the blurry, shaky shots that result from those long exposures are just fine with me.

The LC-W will also focus quite close, up to .4M another feature that I really appreciate. Even though some refer to the Lomo cameras as toys, and while I wouldn't compare it's build quality to the Rollei, in my book it's much more solidly constructed than any toy camera I've used. I'd say it seems sturdier than my long ago broken Voigtlander Bessa L.

The Film:

I like Ribsy's YouTube videos and I've learned a bit from them, so when I heard he began selling film at a very nice price with seemingly eco-friendly packaging, I had to give it a try. It's probably just re-branded Arista 400, but I thought it would be nice to support his efforts.

The Developer:

Lately I've been trying to take note of what developers are used on shots that I notice on Flickr. Recently I've noticed that Lysiane Bourdon was using Bellini Eco Film (Xtol) on some shots that I quite admired. I didn't really know anything about Xtol, but a little research revealed it to be a seemingly very good developer and less toxic than most, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The Results:

These are just my initial impressions, I'm not going to pretend that this is any kind of objective review. As anticipated, the Lomo LC-W is really fun and liberating to use. Knowing that you can go from close up to distance photos with a flick of the switch is really nice!

I'm not incredibly impressed by the lens with these black and white shots, but I really bought the camera to use with color film. Nothing wrong with it though, it's plenty contrasty and sharp enough for me. I'll know better what I think of it after a few more rolls especially some color. I just shot a roll of Elektra 100 (Aerocolor IV), I'm curious as to how that will come out. The camera was easy to handle and seems plenty sturdy. Just set the ISO and go.

I did find the documentation lacking and frustrating, but I think I'm unusually picky about that. It's also a little unsettling to know that the camera won't fire at all without batteries, but supposedly battery life is quite good with these. Some may consider this a bug, but I consider the little doors that cover the lens a real plus in that the meter is off when the doors are closed. Yes, you have to remember to open them (via a really solid feeling slider) but even I can do that.

So while the lens hasn't knocked me out so far, I really like this film and developer combination! To me it has beautiful contrast while keeping a wide tonal range. In this developer, this film looks like a much slower film. I think I may have found a higher speed film that I really like, surprise, surprise!

I took most of this roll inside and just a few outside, today I'm only presenting the indoor photos.