April 09, 2018

The Lomo’Instant Square: ‘Retro’ never felt so good

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  • The Lomo’Instant Square: ‘Retro’ never felt so good
  • The world of photography has been advancing in leaps and bounds ever since it started. From the analog cameras of the early days to today’s most advanced digital single-lens reflex cameras, the advancement of technology when it comes to taking a photo has progressed so much.

    Analog cameras are still around, but they are considered relics of yesteryear. It’s fun to use them, but they’re not exactly the ones you can use to have fun with photos…  until you see Lomography’s latest: the Lomo’Instant Square.

    Normally, we’d start a short review with the good, but there’s little bad to say about this cool camera that I feel it’s best to start with the things we didn’t like:

    • Battery. Most cameras today either have a very specific battery that you can charge with a particular charger or within the camera… or it runs on double or triple-A batteries. The Lomo’Instant Square, however, runs on CR2 batteries. They’re hard to find and are expensive for a pair of batteries (almost Php 500!). The good side, though, is that the camera doesn’t consume that much power, so it’s fine.
    • Film. Yes, we’re saying this part is bad. You only get so much with Instax and Instax Mini films (10 shots per cartridge), and if you’re not familiar with the camera you’re using, you’re screwed. It’s fun to use it, though, because you really have to get your eye in, making it perfect for anyone who wants to improve their photography skills.
    • Price. It’s about as expensive as cameras go, and with the Instax as its go-to film, people might still go for Fujifilm. At SG$ 289 (~Php 12,000) for the square-only and SG$ 329 (~Php 13,000) for the combo, it’s like buying an entry-level digital camera. However, your entry-level digital camera won’t be able to pull off what this camera can, so we say worth.

    Now that those are out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

    A throwback to (probably) end all throwbacks

    Analog photography is coming back into the fray, and Lomography is taking full advantage of that with their latest product. The Lomo’Instant Square has so far topped our charts because of the many things you can do with it—even with limited experience!

    It has 2 shooting modes: A for auto and B for “Bulb” mode. If you’re new to analog photography, sometimes referred to as Lomography, or photography in general, then we suggest you stick to Auto for the meantime. Auto basically lets the camera do all the work for you, though you are the one that has to dial in the focus for this camera.

    Explore a lot of angles and go for daytime conditions if you’re new to shooting with an analog camera. The best part: you get to see if all of your hard work paid off in a matter of minutes—all without the need to “set filters” or dabble in post-production.

    Couldn’t get our eye in for Bulb mode shooting, but auto looks just as good!

    Bulb mode, however, is where it’s at for this camera. This is where things get really interesting, as it lets you take full creative control of the camera which, in this case, involves being able to hold the shutter open for more than a split second.

    It sounds simple, but with a little creative thinking, you can create stunning images without the need for post-processing or a dozen settings to fiddle with—like painting with light! There’s also the MX mode, which lets you expose a single film multiple times AND see the results in a near instant. Take that, Photoshop and Lightroom!

    Pro tip: there’s a remote hidden in the camera body. Make sure you use that with a tripod to get the most out of Bulb mode!

    The never-ending “cute” remarks

    Yes, you read that right. Once people see you holding this camera, there’s a certain sense of “cuteness” that comes into play.

    The Lomo’Instant Camera just looks good, no matter what angle you look from. The material used feels robust, yet still gives off that old-school, analog feel.

    The instant film (though Instax has already cashed in on it) is a thing of beauty. As we mentioned, you get to see your hard work in a matter of minutes, and you’ll say “cute” right away once the print is developed.

    Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia

    Remember when taking a photo used to mean taking your roll of film to a local photo shop (Kodak and the like), waiting for a couple of hours, then praying everything works out? Well, this takes you back to those times.

    The feeling of waiting for your photo to developed drives your anxiety levels through the roof, and holding that paper envelope of sorts in your fingers makes the reveal more dramatic as it’s developing.

    Instant cameras take this feeling and amplify it because you’re constantly flapping this piece of film, hoping the photo turns out great. Sure, you’re only going to get a few good photos when you first use your Lomo’Instant Square, but get your eye in and you’ll be the envy of your friends. Oh, and did we mention there’s no need to wait for WiFi to share it with your buddies?

    Final thoughts

    So, there you have it. An expensive, old-school camera that uses a specific set of batteries and film. It’s a case of you either love it or hate it, and for us at Philippine Primer, we loved it. Yes, the batteries and film are a concern, but the reactions we got from the photos we took were priceless.

    Lomography, we’d like to know when you can send another one, please.

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