Since the beginning of negotiations with LOMO PLC relocation of production to China had been considered. The Lomographers had persistently tried to keep production of the LOMO LC-A alive (remember the chapters “We want more LOMO LC-A’s”) and to continue the manufacturing in St Petersburg, however, they had foreseen a premature end.
TIMELINE OF THE LOMO LC-A / LC-A+
1980: The Cosina CX-2 is released
1982: The first complete working sample of the LOMO LC-A is finished in St Petersburg, Russia (then the Soviet Union)
1984: The Lomo Kompakt Automat goes into mass-production and is introduced in the Soviet Union
1986: LOMO LC-A’s are given as gifts to the 5,000 delegates of the 27th Communist Congress in Moscow
1986: Complete LOMO LC-A production moves to the newly constructed “Filiale” halls in St Petersburg
1987: The LOMO LC-M, a planned follow-up model to the LOMO LC-A, is produced for a short time
1991: Collapse of the USSR. A rapid decrease in the demand for Russian cameras as a consequence
1991: A group of Austrian students “discover” the LOMO LC-A in Prague, Czechoslovakia and so their passion for relentless shooting with it begins.
1992: The Lomographic Society International is founded as a non-profit society
1994: All camera production at LOMO PLC is stopped, including the LOMO LC-A in December 1994
1995: Lomographic GmbH (limited liability company) is founded to import and globally distribute the Russian LOMO LC-A
1995: The first exclusive sole distribution contract is signed between LOMO PLC and the Lomographic Society after LSI guaranteed the purchase of the cameras for the future
1995: LOMO LC-A production is secured and restarts in St Petersburg
1997: 60 of its 450 parts are taken out of the LOMO LC-A in order to make production affordable
2005: Russian LOMO LC-A production ultimately ends
2005: Repair workshop for used LOMO LC-As opens its doors in the building of the St Petersburg Lomo Embassy, employing former LOMO PLC/ LC-A production unit engineers to repair cameras
2005: “Refurbished” LOMO LC-A’s are sold via the online-shop on www.lomography.com
2005: Exclusive LOMO LC-A+ production contract is signed between the Chinese Colibri Manufacturers and the LomographicSociety. Shortly after LOMO PLC handed over 300 original technical drawings of the LOMO LC-A and Chinese production of the LOMO LC-A+ started.
2006: The Made-in-China LOMO LC-A+, presenting new features and enhancements to the original LOMO LC-A, is released in September 2006.
Njet, njet, njet! Never ever! As you should already know from the foregoing adventure, the Lomographers rarely left a stone unturned, especially when it involved the Lomo Kompakt Automat, the very heart of Lomography. Since the beginning of negotiations with LOMO PLC relocation of production to China had been considered. The Lomographers had persistently tried to keep production of the LOMO LC-A alive (remember the chapters “We want more LOMO LC-A’s”) and to continue the manufacturing in St Petersburg, however, they had foreseen a premature end.
Although the necessary infrastructure was in place and the workers had the know-how to carry out the complicated construction of the camera in St Petersburg, given the circumstances manufacture in Russia was not viable in the long-term.
After the ever tough negotiations with LOMO PLC about price increases the Lomographers decided it was better to find a production plant in China. In China, the whole thing could be produced cheaper. Surprisingly this proposal came from the LOMO PLC management themselves! Many senior officials from the LOMO PLC factory were fans of the LOMO LC-A, even though they couldn’t continue to manufacture it themselves. As unbelievable as it sounds, they were prepared to pass over all the plans and rights to the Lomographic Society so that the camera could be produced in China!
So since 1997 the Lomographic Society inspected the furthest corners of the Far East as part of their continued quest to find an optical factory which could take over production of the LOMO LC-A. However, whenever they knocked at a likely door, they received a friendly refusal. It was too complicated, expensive, risky, required too much capital – but honestly, who with any sense would invest in a copy of a 25 year old Russian analogue camera? All this took place at a time when no one wanted to believe in the future of analogue photography anymore and above all at a time when the Chinese economy was being boosted by the market for digital cameras.
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