Fritz the Blitz has quickly become my favorite Lomographic flash. Read more about this flash and why I love it after the jump!
I had some piggies to spend, so I decided to get La Sardina -- Domino Edition. Domino doesn’t come with a flash, so I decided to get Fritz the Blitz too. Fortunately, Fritz is black when you buy him separately which is good because that matches Domino. It also matches my LC-A+, my Sprocket Rocket, my Fisheye No. 2, and several other lomographic cameras I have.
Notice a pattern (Or, lack of pattern, I should say)? I was particularly interested in seeing how Fritz would do with my Sprocket Rocket. Many lomographic cameras, including my Sprocket Rocket and Fisheye No. 2, have an interesting problem. They have such a wide field of view that “normal” flashes don’t work well with them. They don’t cover the entire field of view.
I’ve had an opportunity to try Fritz with La Sardina, my LC-A+, and my Sprocket Rocket, but not my Fisheye No. 2 yet. I had an opportunity to try out the gels this last weekend, but I haven’t developed the film yet, so those pictures won’t be in this review.
So, let’s talk about the flash. Clearly, Fritz is a perfect match for La Sardina. La Sardina is essentially a “Sunny 16” camera. You can use 100 ASA film on the brightest, sunniest day and adjust the speed of the film depending on the cloud cover and shadows. Fritz’ power levels marked on his back are calibrated for La Sardina’s aperture when using 100 ASA film. If you use 100 ASA film in La Sardina, you adjust the power using the icons on the back of Fritz which correspond to the distance to your subject. The the “Bug” means really close. The “Single Person” icon means that one person is filling your viewfinder. The “Three People” icon means lots of people, farther away. If you’re using 400 ASA or faster film, you can use the milky white diffuser that’s included with Fritz to decrease the overall power so that you can use the symbols on the back of Fritz without having to compensate. This is super-easy. No calculations. Just adjust the power as if you were using a zone-focusing system and shoot. Bang! When you use Fritz with other cameras, you might have to compensate a bit. More on that later.
Fritz screws securely into the side of La Sardina. Many people have criticized The Lomographic Society for developing a dedicated flash port rather than using a standard hot shoe mount. When I first saw this, it kind of bugged me to, but after using the the two together, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of this. They didn’t want to put a hot shoe on top of the camera which would have interfered with the viewfinder which was designed to be located in the same place as the one on the Irwin Kandor Candid Type Camera on which La Sardina is based. The could have put a standard hot shoe on the side, but that would have made most existing standard hot shoe flashes — even the Colorsplash Flash — very awkward and un-secure. Instead they opted for a flash that attaches like many flashes of the time would have. Fritz’ attachment to La Sardina is extremely secure, and actually makes La Sardina a bit more manageable by giving her a better grip.
Fritz the Blitz comes with a mounting bracket and hot shot to PC connector adapter that lets you use Fritz with just about any camera with tripod threads and a hot shoe. The hot shoe to PC connector has a coiled cable which makes it easy to hold Fritz off-camera to do use strobist techniques. Fritz looks great with my LC-A+ and my Sprocket Rocket.
So what about his business end? Fritz is powerful. He draws his strength from a CR123 battery which provides plenty of juice to recharge him quickly even after a full power blast. Most of the time, you’ll be able to use half-power or less which will make your batter last longer and allow him to recharge more quickly. The offset position of Fritz means that you never have to worry about red eye. Another nice aspect of all this power is that you can use the gels and still get good reach. Any time you use a filter on a flash it cuts down the power. With Fritz, you can use the provided gels and still have enough power left over to light a group of people. There are a few of downsides to his power. First, there is no automatic power-off. If you leave the power on, you’ve just blown an expensive-ish CR123 battery. Second, it’s super-easy to blow out your subjects, so use the power settings and compensate for fast film or a close subject if you need to. Otherwise, you’ll eat up that battery. Third, CR123 batteries are harder to find and more expensive than AAs.
Another interesting feature of Fritz that I never read about is that he has bounce flash capabilities. The vertical part of the bracket can tilt back 90 degrees which give La Sardina full bounce flash capabilities! Combined with the milky white diffuser, this gives Fritz truly professional capabilities. The following pictures were all taken using Fritz the Blitz and either La Sardina, my LOMO LC-A+, or my Sprocket Rocket. For most of the shots I used the “B” mode (second curtain sync for the LC-A+) and adjusted the power of the flash appropriately depending on the speed of the film and the proximity of the subject. I used the diffuser for some of the closest shots, but I didn’t use any of the colored gels for any of these shots. I didn’t use bounce flash or strobist techniques for any of these shots. That will have to be a future tipster.