Give me some time to think it over… Hmmm… Probably I go for the Currywurst & Beer because it's about what is affordable with my budget. Currently it seems as if we as lomographers could get used to ask ourselves this question or maybe not because the answer is clear. At least for me. I don't want to judge LSI for their politics but I ask myself if they do still know their customers. When did they do a survey last time to get to know the user around better. If you like to do so read some thoughts of mine after the jump!
Is there any offer in between oyster and currywurst? I guess not. What is offered is the low-budget DIY Konstruktor or the New Russar+. The low-budget 110 series or the Petzval. The Orca or the Purple. Is LSI a bit off-track?
This question is not easy to answer. Even though I’m critical I don’t want to condemn LSI for their latest products. Anyway I think it is the right time to make up my mind about the current direction of lomography.
Without any doubt the latest new products are for photography addicts with a pretty high salary or budget. Reading some comments of LSI-members in the articles about the introduction of the products or the shoutbox these products were made to attract new user and clients. And probably more important but not mentioned: to make some more money. But let’s face some facts or let’s say impressions about user being around. Well, impressions subjectively biased by me as user for maybe 3 years and lomographer for about 17 years.
Getting in touch with some user and reading between the lines of comments and Shoutbox entries I’m pretty convinced that the vast part of the active community members are not the ones the new products are made for. I read of students from europe and members of countries with an pretty active local community where a Petzval lens is worth about 4 or 5 months wages. Sure it is the same old story: ruler of a global community can not really consider such facts as there is no financial solidarity because community members from richer countries might have a weak paid job too and so it would be unfair to have something like this.
So the question is if LSI does really go for new members with lenses like the Petzval or Russar? I really doubt that this is the case. For sure they get new customers but I claim without any significant effect on the analogue community on lomography.com!
You might want quickly second this claim from a personal feeling. But again let me tell you what I think about it. It is an analogue community which is pretty much neglecting digital photography. One of the main reasons they use lomography.com as a platform is because those plenty of open but mainly digital photo communities out there are not considering the affinity of analogue. So what LSI does is produce a lens mainly for DSLR and therefore mainly for user of other platforms. The Russar lens is maybe even more for different user even though it is more connected to analogue photography. The reason why is not only the price you have to pay for the lens. It’s the price you have to pay for a camera to use it. The Leica cams or Sony do cost about the same price as the lens or even more. I guess the cheapest cam to use it is the FED 4 but why the heck would you buy a 600€ lens to use it with a 30€ cam? It is a complete different species of photographers who are attracted by the Petzval and Russar.
Meaning both lenses – the Petzval and Russar – are products for photogrophay connaisseurs and addicts with a high budget and the statements of LSI do show this. But I am convinced that there are only few connaisseurs who upload their photos shot with a 600 to 1000€ cam with a 600€ lens of which they might think are technically and qualitative a galaxy away of the diana baby on the same platform.
New customers for LSI: Yes.
New active community members: No.
Anyway I’m fine with the products but it’s just not for me. But then again I ask myself why LSi does not work over a good concept such as the Belair camera and make it a perfect product. A product to set a mark. Currently it is a cam with great concept which is badly implemented.
And even though the Belair is about in the middle of the price range of the latest products I do miss a biased range of new products in matters of the costs and quality. We get pretty cheap products and very expensive ones.
I don’t want to assume if this is wrong or right – not only because I’m not in the position to do so because of missing insights. But I’m a bit concerned about the direction. Currently the traditional messages, rules and character of lomography.com is to contravene the behaviour to explore new markets and attract new clients.
This whole development is to some degree alarming. You need to be an “addict” to be into analogue. And you need to find those people who believe in the message of analogue and see the value and beauty of it. So “selling” “Leave the digital grind behind” is much more complicated than selling products and making money. And we have to accept that every $ or € transports a universal message which includes the beauty and value of analogue.