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166+ Series #11: History of the 'Project +' (Part 2)

Someone could underestimate the real value of this camera. It would be a huge mistake. Let’s analyze the second part of the history of the "Project +”, in order to understand what kinds of historical event made the difference and influenced LOMO and Lomography’s technical preferences.

It’s only a camera!. No sentence was so wrong. In reality there’s a large part of Europe’s history behind the project of the 166+.

Let’s see what happened during the end of the Cold War period.

After the experience made with the Komsomolets, some years later GOMZ started producing coupled lens camera, that gradually evolved in the Lubitel 166 Universal.

In the end of the 80s, the historical conditions which made possible to merge Russian and Eastern Germany technologies ended: the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989, declared the end of the Cold War.
This was the great event that made possible the exportation (or smuggle) of Russian cameras out of Russia. This was the incredible event that let, in the early 90s, two students from Vienna to experiment with the Lomo LC-A.

The two Viennese founders of Lomography started promoting (not so consciously, in the first times) the Lomo LC-A and the amazing crazy results that only that camera could produce. Then, the phone calls started. At first, few per day. Then, several decades per day. So, the phenomenon started.

The curious detail about this story is that many things made difficult to sell Russian cameras. One of them was surely how to smuggle a high number of cameras out of the ex-USSR countries, because the “spreading” of the LC-A surely interested all the Caucasian and mid-east countries (you can find a lot of Lomo cameras in second hand markets in these countries).

The Lubitel models followed. Surely, they had less distribution, if compared to the LC-A. It’s estimated that here are between 8 and 10 million Russian lenses circulating in west Europe during the 90s. More or less legally, in a pre-eBay era, there were millions and millions of Russian lenses’ lovers around Europe and US, all with the same analog grind, in a world that was rapidly upgrading to digital photography.

Alessandro Panelli (aka yo.panic or .panic) is a Medicine and Surgery student, a photographer and a writer from Padova (Italy, near Venice). Read more about Alessandro’s work and life here or add him on Facebook or Google+.

written by yopanic

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish & 日本語.