Paul McKay is a UK-based photographer and founder of Analogue Wonderland. He set up "LomoMonth" and took some time out from his busy schedule to talk to us about his experiences in shooting with the Simple Use Camera. He also threw in a few tips and trick along the way. Hear out Paul's experience with the SUFC through his own words and pictures.
I always presumed the Lomography Simple Use Cameras were just disposable cameras using Lomography film, so when I realized they were actually reloadable I was intrigued as to how easy this would be. I usually have my LC-A+ as my go-to camera for spur of the moment shots but it would be great to have something low cost that I don’t have to worry about it getting damaged when going on nights out, kids parties, sports events and the like.
I went for the LomoChrome Purple Camera as I thought the color shift would be a good fit for the informal places I planned to take the camera. As hoped, this camera has proven extremely portable. Running around with the youngest members of the family, chasing after a cat, heading out on long hikes and popping into town for some chores: the genuine ‘pocket’ nature of the camera meant it was never far from my hand. I also appreciate the default settings and wide-angle lens means that you don’t need to over-think the composition. The shutter is fast, the flash is quick to ready and very powerful (it’s run by a proper AA battery!) and I never feel like I missed a situation by having to change settings or try and calculate exposure.
Conversely, I'm sure that there were lots of opportunities I missed because of the limited settings. Nothing closer than 1m, nothing far away that needed a longer focal length, no background isolation with a wide aperture. But this is why I don’t see the Simple Use Camera as my only photographic companion: there will be times for my Yashica or Olympus SLR and that’s totally fine! For me, film photography is all about the choice and flexibility to be creative with different tools.
It was really easy to see when the film ran down: the exposure counter is clear and the film just stops. The slight quirk versus ‘normal’ 35mm cameras is that the film is wound into the canister as you progress through the roll - so when it’s finished you can immediately remove the back and take out the film.
I found the reloading experience really simple. One lever on the side of the camera flips open the back and the finished roll slides out from the right side You slide the roll inside the camera and then pull out some of the film leader to clip it onto the opposite spool. Close the camera back tightly and ensure that the plastic has fit snugly all the way round. Now you must wind the film out BEFORE starting shooting (remember the difference versus regular 35mm cameras!) You flip the little switch next to the left and use the lever under the camera to start rolling. You’ll notice the exposure counter start counting up as you wind - this is a fantastic little trick as it means you can use any film (12 exposure, 24, 27 or 36) with the camera and it will only go as high as the film allows - and then count back down to zero each time. So no need to remember each time what size film is loaded, or risk running out of shots!
I really like this little shooting machine. As I’ve said before, it won’t replace any camera in my collection or on photography outings, but it will be used in situations I wouldn’t take any other film camera. Because of that, it will allow me to take film photographs that I’d normally miss and the limited settings are a welcome challenge to my creativity.
They are more expensive than a pure ‘disposable’ but still the cheapest reliable 35mm camera you can buy new! I’m also interested in gifting a couple to some of my friends who have expressed interest in analogue photography but not yet made the jump. I hope that the simplicity and convenience will make it an easy transition from mobile-phone photography, and that they’ll then be hooked by all the things that we know make film special: the delayed gratification of seeing your photos, the mindful approach it encourages, the fun and creativity! Well done to Lomography for making something that is truly as Simple as promised and that can deliver photos I treasure.
Paul McKay is a long-time Lomographer who has turned away from a life in corporate sales to start a film photography business in the UK called Analogue Wonderland. When not surrounded by film he enjoys talking about analogue photography, taking photos with analogue cameras, and sports.