A Review of the Lubitel 166B


It was post-WWII when the respected LOMO factory of St. Petersburg created a twin-lens reflex camera called “Komosomolets” (meaning “Young Communist.”), which was especially marketed towards amateur photographers. The camera design, however, was a copy of the 1938 German Voigtlander “Brilliant” camera. In 1949, the original Lubitel (literally meaning “Amateur”) was introduced — it was an enhanced and improved concept of the “Young Communist” cam. With its better features and quality, the Lubitel sales shot to over a million units sold worldwide and was followed by the equally successful Lubitel-2, raking in two million units since its launch in 1955.

When the Lubitel-2 was discontinued in 1980, the Lubitel 166B stole the spotlight. Preserving the best features of its predecessor – the 75mm “Triplet 22” lens (known for its very sharp and high-contrast images), and the “ZT-8” shutter with a 1/250 speed, the 166B was crafted in a thermoplastic body, making it a lightweight and convenient TLR to carry. Manual aperture and shutter controls provided flexibility in composing images, while the ground glass top-down viewer ensured perfect focusing. For extra resolution detail, a flip-down magnifying glass is available. It was manufactured from 1980 until 1989.

Credits: bccbarbosa, shoujoai & earlybird

A roll of 120 gives you 12 6×6 images. There’s an option to not cock the shutter to create overlaps or multiple exposures.

Credits: drudolph, isabel_mebarak, bccbarbosa, blueskyandhardrock, lomosexual_manboy, japsix, frauspatzi, lomoculture & jeansman

Lomographer janisthewanis confessed that he has dropped his Lubitel over a dozen times! “Does this affect the camera in any way? Nope. I really love how lightweight and durable the Lubitel is. I can carry it everywhere with me and not have the camera strap digging into my shoulder. I can throw it into my car or bag and not have to worry about something getting knocked loose because the thing is a tank. I really like looking down into the viewfinder and shooting from my pelvis, it seems to throw people off, they wonder what the hell you are doing.”

Lightweight and easy to use, the Lubitel 166B makes a perfect TLR camera for the beginner and a fun camera for the professional.

Whether you’re shooting in 120 or 35 mm, color or black & white, we have something for you in our online shop and worldwide gallery stores. Come say hi and spoil yourself with a Lomography camera, film, or accessory!

2008-05-25 #gear #120 #review #lubitel #staff #tlr


  1. graefin
    graefin ·

    I found my Lubitel 166 (without B) on a fleemarket and immediately fell in love with it!!! It's such a wonderful camera!

  2. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    submitted some shots...

  3. graefin
    graefin ·

    the same for me ;)

  4. azurblue
    azurblue ·

    ...me too...:-)

  5. trabantdeluxe
    trabantdeluxe ·

    I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Lubi! It's a 166B I found on eBay from a seller in Ukraine. When he sent the camera, it came with a roll of undeveloped Soviet era Foto 65 B&W film. My local pro lab was able to develop it, but there was only one picture....of a mystery family in an apartment sometime in the 1980's. I've uploaded that photo as well as some others.

    The 166B is a great introduction to the world of TLR cameras. I also have a Seagull, but don;t like it anywhere as much as my Lubitel.

  6. 7samurai
    7samurai ·


  7. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    go huntin for one of these box! now!
    beautiful shots submitted!

  8. ipdegirl
    ipdegirl ·

    I love my Luby. It is one of my favorite cameras EVER! I was using it a few days ago and it seemed that the gears weren't meshing on the two lenses. Anyone else have this problem and how do I cure it?

  9. craigas
    craigas ·

    i recently bought a 166B from ebay with no instructions. can anyone help me with how to load and unload a film? its driving me crazy looking at my camera and not being able to use it!!!!


  10. lovesmesumcake
    lovesmesumcake ·

    I don't get how Lomography sells this camera for $215. :-( My friend just gave me hers for free after she bought it for $20 for someone else who ended up not wanting it. Sure, it's a funky little camera (a great intro into the world of TLR), but not a particularly great one by any means.

  11. magicpocket
    magicpocket ·

    I recently started with the 166B and I think it's a good fun camera which isn't meant to be taken too seriously... This is lomo after all!

  12. danbarry
    danbarry ·

    weapon of choice!

  13. af-capture
    af-capture ·

    Nice review

  14. filmprofessorbear
    filmprofessorbear ·

    Anyone ever had a problem with the shutter being stuck in Bulb "B" mode no matter what you set the shutter speed dial to?

  15. leiduowen
    leiduowen ·

    I bought myself one back in 1988 for 570 Czechoslovak crowns which was a lot of money to save for a 12-year-old. The camera is clumsy at best with the 120 film that only gives you 12 shots (which could be increased, I believe, by covering side parts of the roll and shooting 6x4.5 instead). And holding it straight upright was a real pain! I once shot a sports even with this TLR - foolish me... The only color roll of film (they were really expensive in 1980's) I shot with was in East Germany in summer 1989, shortly before the fall of Berlin Wall, but my dad lost the roll in the process of developing. All in all, the camera is quite durable but the focusing loupe gets scratched easily if you don't push it inside deep enough when folding back the viewfinder compartment.

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