I love my Sprocket Rocket for two reasons, firstly because it takes amazing panoramic, sprocket smothered photos and secondly because it started a conversation that now has me processing my own photos on pro kit for free.
You never know what may happen when you start talking to people about photography. They may suggest an interesting tip or technique, tell you a story that will change the way you look at life, or if you’re really lucky, tell you how to get free film processing!
The Lomography Sprocket Rocket can’t fail to start a conversation, whether it is through its stylish retro looks or the fantastic photos it produces, you will always have people asking about it. When you explain that this strange black plastic camera takes true panoramic photos, includes the sprocket holes for a very Lomographic look and allows easy multiple exposures; well who can’t love it.
One of the main selling points for me was the true panoramic nature of this camera. It has a 106 degree field of view and takes photos over two standard 35mm frames. This means that unlike many so called panoramic cameras which just chop the top and bottom of a standard frame, your photos really are super wide angle and not a cropped down imitation. This is still essentially a toy cam and with a lens this wide there is a fair amount of distortion and quite heavy vignetting at the edges of the frame. It is also quite a soft lens although not quite as much as, say, the Diana. In my opinion these quirks adds to the character of the photos, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Another really nice feature of the Sprocket Rocket is the so called time-travelling ability. On the top of the camera you have both forward and rewind knobs and you can use them mid film if you like. This means that if you want to do multiple exposures you aren’t limited to taking two photos, one after another. You can wind on as normal and then if you find something you think would be nice to shot over a frame you’ve already shot, you can rewind and expose it again. Alternatively you could take a few shots of one particular thing, say a nice pattern or textured surface, then wind back and find things to shot over the top.
The Sprocket Rocket really is a simple camera to use, with just two aperture settings: sunny f16 and cloudy f11. As other reviews have noted, the Sprocket Rocket is really light hungry and the first roll I shot (400 ISO) on a really, really cloudy day were massively under exposed and really disappointing. Since then I’ve only tended to use it when there has been a bit of sun around and the results are much better. Focus is 60cm – 1m and 1m to infinity again nice and simple. The shutter is either N mode (1/100s) or B for long exposures. It is a shame there is no cable release for the Sprocket Rocket, but maybe this is on the way?
I really love my Sprocket Rocket, but there are a few downsides to it as well. Whilst you can get the film developed pretty much anywhere, printing is another matter. Many high street labs aren’t set up to print panoramic images that cover two frames especially if you want the sprocket holes included. Getting them printed at a pro lab can be really expensive and in reality I think having your own scanner is pretty much a necessity.
Despite these drawbacks I love my Sprocket Rocket and I’m sure it will be starting may conversations for years to come.