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Lubitel Love From Waist Level Chapter 28: The Love Doctor: Cat Ong Chun Moon

What follows is a brief verbal chronicle of the Lubitel+’s development – as relayed by Lomography’s very own camera developer.

The Love Doctor: Cat Ong Chun Moon

What follows is a brief verbal chronicle of the Lubitel+’s development – as relayed by Lomography’s very own camera developer.

A general overview of how the Lubitel+ was created.
The original Lubitel was out of production for many years. As such we were not able to work with the original tooling. We had to start from scratch.

First off, we researched several different models of the classic Lubitel. We wanted the best functions from each one – thereby creating a model that showcases the best of what the many Lubitels had to offer. Creating a new Twin-Lens-Reflex in the 21st century is not easy! We received a lucky break from our friends at LOMO PLC – the company that produced the original Lubitel. They were able to locate a series of technical drawings from the 70’s. This guided our initial designs and prototypes. With that as a base, we then worked on what features we could improve and change. The rest of the process went as usual: prototype, testing, prototype, testing, prototype, testing…and then the final product.

Focus & Distance Improvements
Although we wanted to keep the classic body design of the original Lubitel, the most important feature to preserve was the look and feel of the Lubitel’s Triplet-22 lens. However, that lens’ closest focusing distance is 1.4m – which we always felt was too far from the subject.

It’s tough to follow the golden rule of “Get Close!” So, we worked on getting the focus distance down to 0.8m. Same optic, but better functionality. A few tweaks to the lens design did the trick.

Outside of that pesky 1.4m distance, the other feature that we wanted to improve was the focusing screen. Users of the classic Lubitel often complained that it was difficult to focus – as the viewfinder wasn’t a true ground-glass screen. The viewfinder image also captured only 80% of the actual scene, so it was difficult to precisely compose your shot. We were able to remedy both of these issues. The Lubitel+ features a totally flat focusing screen that’s much easier to use – and it covers nearly 100% of the image frame. Your eyeballs will thank you!

The 35mm Kit
Of course, the original Lubitel is a medium format camera. However, many users have shot 35mm film inside it. But the process was a bit of a pain: the user had to guess how far to advance each shot, loading it was tough, and rewinding had to be done in a dark bag. We loved the result of these 35mm experiments (namely, long portrait shots with exposed sprocket holes), but wanted to make everything easier.

We set out to design a “Lubikin” set – named after Rollei’s famous “Rolleikin” set for their twin-lens
Rolleiflex cameras. This 35mm function would be built into the Lubitel+. We worked out a film counter system, a pressure plate to keep the film tight, a custom film frame, and a small collection of interchangeable plastic parts to make it all work. We then capped it off with a rewind lever – which is the exact same piece used in the Lomo LC-A+ camera. That’s my favorite detail – it really gives that big “Lomo family” feeling!

An Unexpected Surprise
As I said, we needed to build-in a 35mm rewind lever for the 35mm function. However, I was so happy to realize that this could ALSO be used to rewind medium format film. This is quite unique, as medium format films typically transfer completely from a film spool to a new take-up roll. You can now shoot a roll, rewind it, give it to a friend, and have them shoot their own images on top. Or you can go back to any past frame and shoot on it a second or third time. It is really Lomographic and analog. It is something you can play with and explore. Get a fresh outlook on life. Plus left is right and right is left. Apply this to you’re outlook and life and you’ll magically be transported to a different place, fascinating.

Love Lubitel? Get a copy of the book here

written by ungrumpy

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch.