The Camera itself
Today lets look at the Lavec Lt-002, 35mm camera. Manufactured around 1985 by the Lavec company in Taiwan, this camera boasts nothing and leaves us with basically nothing. In short, it’s a poor man’s Holga. Nothing in this camera is good, and nothing in it is particularly interesting. Still, the question I had was, “Can we take any decent pictures with this?”
Examining the camera itself we find that the camera body is made entirely of black plastic. It’s basically the “TIME Magazine” free camera that came with a subscription to TIME Magazine. In this particular case though there is only the manufacturer name in the top corner of the camera body. The body is meant to look like an SLR with the iconic pentaprism at the top. However this is fake, there’s nothing but a hollow piece of plastic up there. As you can see the camera has a direct viewfinder off to the side. The lens is not removable, however it is made to look like the real thing with a red ring around the inside of the lens.
The lens is not removable, however it is made to look like the real thing with a red ring around the inside of the lens. The lens itself is a fixed focus, 50mm prime. With no way to focus you are left wondering why the lens has the dimpled focusing ring. That again is the camera overselling itself. Instead if we do twist the lens we have a total of four settings for aperture. There are two aperture petals in this lens which oppose each other and narrow the aperture. This is useless for depth of field effect since you have no control over shutter speed. Rather this is to allow you to let different amounts of light in depending on how much ambient light you have.
There is one interesting aspect about this camera. It has a standard flash mount, and it works. This is unusual for this sort of “trashcam” I tried using the flash mount and found that my flash did work.
To test this camera I had less than ideal conditions. Since I took this camera out in a cloudy day I loaded it up with Holga black and white, 400 ISO film. The shutter is probably between 60/1 – 100/1 and so I wanted it to have a fair chance. As soon as I had the film inside the problems started, and the fun began. I taped with electrical tape around the door of the camera. This sort of old and cheap camera never had good light-seals. I took a few shorts to advance the film and tried using it.
Right away the camera had problems with feeding. I could hear the cogs grinding on the film sprocket holes. Even with this I was seeing the film advance so I decided to keep shooting and kept doing so. My shooting location was an orchard on a rainy afternoon for most of my pictures. When I got home I took a few pictures of pets inside the house, as well as a picture of my girlfriend in the grocery store
The Results – Not good at all. The sprocket holes on the film were actually chewing away at the sprocket cogs on the camera. The film was of stronger material than the camera parts. This meant that almost all of my photos were double exposed halfway across the photo. Even wide open on a cloudy day with 400ISO film the camera shot very dark. But...there were a few good photos that did come out and of those you can see how this camera performs in all it’s blurry glory. It produced photos that cannot be replicated with Instagram filters. When combined with the grainy black and white film the camera produces very nostalgic images for those of us who used these terrible cameras back in the 80s.
Conclusion – I probably won’t be using this camera again for anything unless a specific need comes along for having photos with such a bad camera. It’s a terrible camera but for those who can’t afford a Holga I think this thing might have a use. When the camera does decide to advance and produce a decent exposure it creates an image that cannot be replicated or faked digitally. Shooting with this camera is a frustrating experience, but then again it was back in the 80s when these cameras were new and could be had very easily. I think this camera feeds a bit of nostalgia since I seem to think that because I am a much better photographer now I should be able to make a junk camera do something great. But in this case I was humbled by the fact that no matter how good of a photographer I am, I was held back by this camera being absolute trash. And when I stop to think about how much better I have it with a trusty DSLR I feel a bit more humble.