Lomography-brand film causes lost frames in the LC-A 120

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For the LC-A 120, paradoxically you’re better off avoiding the current Lomography-brand film. Why would I say this? What is the problem, and shouldn’t Lomography’s film be the perfect match for the LC-A 120?

I did some measurements and found that the winding mechanism of the LC-A is fixed, and based on the number of turns required at the take-up spool to move the film to the next position. This is (cough) a fundamental design flaw, as the number of turns depends on the thickness of the film/backing paper in use and there is nothing in the camera to adapt to it.

The problem with the Lomography film in its current (2015) form is that the backing paper is MUCH too thick. Before you even reach the first frame, the take-up spool diameter has increased so much that you overshoot the first position by half a frame. This is why people recommend lining up the START arrow to the left of the recommended position, so that the first frame will be reached at the correct point.

But unfortunately, that’s not enough to avoid problems. The take-up spool diameter is already too great by this point, so every time you advance to another frame it will move the film too far. You’ll see it on your developed negatives, and in the end you’ll reach the end of the roll with only 10 pictures taken.

If they had placed a roller against the edge of the film next to the exposure area, and measured the number of turns of that roller – there are in fact two such rollers already present, but they are not connected to anything – then the number of turns would not depend on film/paper thickness and would be reliable. Oh well, we live and learn.

What I also found, however, is that Fujifilm Provia 100F matches the predefined turning amounts of the LC-A exactly. You’ll get your full 12 frames, with perfect narrow gaps between each frame and no excessive winding on. I got similar results from other Fujifilm rolls, all of which share the same fine, thin backing paper. Clearly the LC-A 120 was calibrated with such film in mind, but the Lomography-brand film spoils the show with its thick backing paper.

Of course, I love the Lomography film – it just works perfectly. Sometimes I’ll just have to live with the lost frames. But most of the time, I’ll save it for my other 120-format cameras, and keep the rolls with thin backing paper for my LC-A 120.

Update: @pearlgirl77 has a workaround solution for Lomography rolls, to squeeze reputedly as many as 13 shots onto one roll!

written by poglad on 2015-09-05

7 Comments

  1. tracyvmoore
    tracyvmoore ·

    Awesome information. Thanks!

  2. fauscailt
    fauscailt ·

    I'm having winding issues with it in a Diana f+ that is causing the edges to be exposed when removing the film from the camera, I really try hard not to get attached but I'm pretty sure I just trashed a roll of lomochrome purple because it didn't wind up tight on the take up. I was pretty bummed since it's $11 a roll. I will definitely try the purple again in the 35mm, but I also had this problem with the Lomography 100 120 film, so I think the 120 in any color or asa from Lomography is out of my budget until the take up issue is solved.

  3. poglad
    poglad ·

    @fauscailt I had the same problem in the Diana F+ a few weeks back with Lomography 800 film. I think with the Diana people laugh and say "oh, toy camera!" but it's still expensive when the film is spoiled. The Holga cameras have little pieces of foam stuck onto the plastic behind the film spools, and I think I'm going to try that. It should help press the film tightly against the spool as it winds. Sorry to hear about your mishap. :-/

  4. fauscailt
    fauscailt ·

    @poglad I'm glad it's not just me. I even tried re-rolling it in a changing bag to try and salvage it and I couldn't get it rolled any tighter. I know I've seen photos taken with the 120 that don't have this issue so maybe it just hates plastic cameras.

  5. poglad
    poglad ·

    @fauscailt it's the thick, rough paper they use. It doesn't slide smoothly past the film as you try to tighten it. Sigh.

  6. fauscailt
    fauscailt ·

    @poglad update, I emailed customer service and they said the take up issue is mostly on the plastic cameras so they're sending me a new roll to re-try. I guess that doesn't solve your problem with knowing what frame you're on but at least they're aware there's an issue with the backing. I'm going to reshoot it in an original Lubitel 166 and hope for the best.

  7. poglad
    poglad ·

    @fauscailt great, I'll look out for the pics! I think the Lubitel has a metal spring that presses against the rolls (like the foam on the Holga), that should make sure it winds tightly. In the end, I guess we just have to remember which film works best for which cameras...