Labor of Lomoknio

A test video of bass player Marcus Heffner shot with the Lomokino Super 35 Movie Maker. The hand-cranked camera shoots motion pictures onto traditional 35mm still photo film rolls.

When I stumbled upon the Lomokino Super 35 Movie Maker while combing through photography tags on Instagram before bed a few weeks ago, I immediately knew it was a camera I had to have! With my recent plunge into the traditional photographic darkroom (and return to shooting onto film), the camera seemed to offer the perfect marriage between the discoveries I was making about photochemical developing versus everything I already knew about video and film making.

Using the camera is a breeze. 35mm film is loaded pretty much the same way it would be in a still camera (don’t worry, if you learned on 35mm like me, handling the 35mm cartridge and leader will come back to you very quickly). From there, as fast as you can crank the Lomokino’s handle (typically around 4 times per second), you’re off to the races making a film! I was really surprised at how quickly I blew through my first roll of 36 exposure Kodak Tri-X 400. So quickly, in fact, that I thought the film had jammed in the camera. Alas, I indeed shot the entire roll, so make sure to pace yourself.

Lomography even makes a companion scanner and app for the camera (the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner and Lomoscanner, respectively) to allow you to use your iPhone to quickly and easily “scan” your developed negatives, transforming them into motion pictures for all the world to enjoy. The scanner cradles your iPhone above the negatives, and uses an LED backlight to illuminate them. As simply as shooting any other iPhone photo, you photograph your film frames one by one, using a small crank on the side of the scanner to advance your frames. When you’re all done, you click the export button, and a movie is supposed to be created.

Unfortunately, the Lomoscanner app is very buggy. In addition to problems with image adjustment sliders within the app not working correctly, the app only seems to export movies around 25% of the time. The other times, it says the movies have exported, but none are to be found on the iPhone’s camera roll. You can imagine my frustration the first time I scanned all 143 frames of my first test roll (taking almost 30 minutes), only to have the app refuse to export or do anything else with them.

The other issue I’ve found with the Lomoscanner app is the small size of the movies it does manage to export. Despite 35mm film having more than HD resolution, and despite the iPhone having an HD capable camera, the app has to crop in on the negative quite a bit within the app, due in part to the height the iPhone has to sit above the negative within the scanner to achieve focus. This leaves you with a little under 400 pixels in width on your exported movies (that’s about a quarter of the frame size of standard definition video).

Posted in Experimental, Photography, Tips And Tricks, Video Production by Guy Rhodes on August 9th, 2013.

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