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LC-A Big Book Chapter 10: Problems with Production

A trivial defect during the production of the supposed first batch of LOMO LC-As in 1984 caused problems during production. After extensive work, the various kinks that were found in the first few LOMO LC-As were eventually ironed out and everyone's beloved LOMO camera is finally able to produce the lomographs that it has become known for.

Before the production of the first series of LOMO LC-A’s in 1984 could get underway, it had to be preceded by a second run of the aforementioned models (approximately 50 test models in 1983). Interestingly, the main reason for this flaw wasn’t the serious difficulties caused by the novel electronics but rather by a trivial defect: the coating on the shutter. By pressing the shutter release the shutter opens for a split second and the light passes through onto the film. However, in this case, the fine overlapping little metal leaves stuck together, particularly in damp environments. This problem was detected in the first model of the LOMO LC-A, whereupon approximately three years later the optimal coating compounds were researched and in the end a practical surface finish was able to be developed.

Part of the shutter mechanism was assembled in a military watch factory in Penza, 600 kilometres southeast of Moscow. At the time the factory assembled 7 million ladies watches a year (an order, just as with LOMO PLC that had been placed by a good humoured government minister) and thus had a lot of experience in producing finely detailed small parts. It took over the assembly of the shutter for the LOMO LC-A and the Smena 35.

The second teething problem of the LOMO LC-A was the vignetting, namely, the pronounced “shadows” at each of the four corners and the beveling of the photographs, which the camera was producing. The LOMO LC-A is so small that there is only a small amount of space between the lens and the film so the picture that is projected by the small lens onto the film is very big and consequently only a part of the projection actually reaches the film. Hence the characteristic vignetting that is distinctive of classic lomo pictures. The pictures that you know from the LOMO LC-A are the end result of extensive work carried out on this function. In the beginning vignetting was so pronounced that whole parts of the photos were cut away. This flaw was even recorded in the official contracts of LOMO PLC. Little by little however the lens was improved (remember the last calculations made by Lev Sakin in 1984) and other modifications were carried out, and so in the end the infamous vignetting was also accepted in a way satisfactory to the Lomographers.

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written by ungrumpy

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