The LOMO 135 models come straight from the belts of the honorable LOMO PLC fabric in St Petersburg. Their top feature is the spring mechanism allowing you to shoot 8 pictures in a row without rewinding.
In 1975, the LOMO 135 BC and some years later the LOMO 135 M saw the light of the day. They were the improved, cheaper and mass-produced successors of the famous “Leningrad” camera. However, the LOMO 135 is still one of the premium cameras LOMO PLC ever produced featuring a metal body, an excellent sharp lens, clockwork mechanics and full features.
The Leningrad had two drawbacks: firstly, it was not ready for automatic film development, as it left no space between the frames, and secondly its spring was often too strong so that it disrupted the film when winding on. The task to assemble a camera that would overcome these defects was the first one that Mikhail Grigorijewitsch Kholomyansky and Olga Tsvetkova, two of the main figures to develop the Lomo Kompakt Automat a few years later, worked on together. They were developing a mechanism called “friction” which was able to regulate the power of the spring, and therefore avoided disruption to the film. Moreover, the handy 135 BC boasted a similar mechanism as the Leningrad and was able to take 8 pictures (3 shots per second) in a row without winding on the film. The 135 BC also left an automatic gap between the frames, which made the film suitable for automatic development. The LOMO 135 BC became a big success, got into mass-production and was shortly after succeeded by the slightly improved LOMO 135 M.
As known with many Russian cameras of this period (not at last the LOMO LC-A), other camera models served as models for creating this camera. Not only the looks but also the features of the LOMO 135 remind of the classic German Rollei 35 introduced in 1966. The backdoor-mechanism of the LOMO 135 ultimately reminds you of the characteristic Rollei 35 back. The flash hotshoe is located as well on the bottom of the camera, which is quite uncommon for compact cameras.
The LOMO 135 is definitely an item to have and love. Even though it was probably intended, the camera is not as small as the German Rollei 35 and has quite a sturdy feel in your hands. You got full aperture and speed controls including a “B” Bulb mode, an easy to control distance setting, flash connection, tripod- and cable release junction. The 8-shots in a row feature is a great thing to experiment with and will make you especially happy when capturing movement and snapshooting. Don’t think, don’t wind, just shoot! What more can you ask for? The viewfinder! It got the same four-distance indicators when you look through consisting of the LOMO-original small “dummies”. LOMO LC-A’s produced before 1997 have the same feature.
Tips and Tricks
The spring mechanism of this camera allows you to shoot 8 pictures in a row without rewinding. 3 shots per second are possible. There are many possibilities of using this feature. One is to position yourself and record a movement (like people running towards you) without moving the camera. Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, clack. When you get your images you can make them overlap manually – the movement of the subject will be seen whereas the background stays the same.
Same as above but inverse. This time your subject hardly moves but you move! Wind up your LOMO 135 and consequently apply rule # 5: „approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible.“ Run, walk, swim or fly towards your subject from a distance of up to 10 metres to 1 metre or less and shoot along the way.
One thing that M.G. Kholomyansky and Olga Tsvetkova, the constructors of the LOMO 135 spring mechanism, didn’t think of was the ending of the film. There is simply no indicator on when your film is finished. With other cameras it’s at some point impossible to wind on the film – which is not the case with the LOMO 135. You can continuously wind up the camera’s spring mechanism and therefore multi-expose the last frame of your film as often or as unintended you want (or don’t want).