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Focus on Lubitel-2

Mariya Ustymenko sharing her experience with Lubitel-2:

I will not stipulate at any point that Lubitel-2 is the best medium format camera ever as it has its drawbacks. However, I will definitely insist that it is the best starting camera for someone who has already had experience with a more straightforward but not so focus-friendly camera of the lomo family like, for example, Holga or Diana.  Lubitel allows one to fully control focus when taking pictures.

Lubitel-2 is my first medium format camera, which I still use regularly, especially when I am looking for a particular kind of atmospheric shots, reliant on the effects produced by the combination of light, grain, and vignetting.


At the time when I got Lubitel-2 I was still a student, who knew nearly nothing about medium format cameras, and the camera was chosen mainly for its affordable price that was split at the time between my friend and me on the mutual agreement to share it during trips and photo shoots. Lubitel-2 has introduced me to the world of darkroom processing and 120 mm film, and challenged my framing habits – everyone who has used a well-kept Lubitel will confirm the difficulty of focusing when relying on the limited view offered by the folding focusing magnifier, often responsible for shots with “falling horizon.”  Sometimes, I would suggest, even this drawback may be used creatively for the benefit of a final image.

And, of course, among this camera’s strengths is the possibility of double exposure, viewed at the time of this camera’s production as a drawback and corrected in subsequent models.


As this camera’s name appears to have done Lubitel (“Amateur”) plenty of disfavors, as it is often frowned upon as an unreliable toy, unworthy of professional use, in my ongoing project Motion and Silence, I attempt to rectify this failure of notice by offering the viewer works that embrace as well as venerate Lubitel’s many idiosyncrasies.


The images presented above, for instance, challenge two genres traditionally not associated with the use of Lubitel as a camera dependent on manual focus – sports and live documentation. The first of the two images was taken during the show-horse training before a contest, while the second is a documentation of a live art performance by Projection of Circumstance titled The Escape Artist. In both instances the final framing is heavily reliant on chance as the subject passes the viewfinder screen within split seconds, while the focusing spot is already manually preselected.

Even though I have mostly used black and white film when working with this camera, color is the subject matter I am only starting to explore both on 35 mm as well as 120 mm film.


And finally, who said one cannot experiment with 35 mm film on Lubitel-2? Hand-wind the film into the 120 mm spools in the darkroom changing bag and give it a try, you’ll enjoy the benefits of spocketography without buying a Spocket Rocket!

Mariya Ustymenko




Photo: raven avatar

raven commented:

Thank you for sharing this review and your excellent work....

on: 21-05-2014 21:32
Photo: Zero avatar

Zero commented:

Great stuff!

on: 09-02-2013 19:00
Photo: Vertigo avatar

Vertigo commented:

Great work. Thank you for sharing.

on: 17-12-2012 15:16
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Gaskelski commented:

thanks for this! lets have more pieces like this from users pls.

on: 13-12-2012 17:20
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Monica commented:

Informative and inspiring piece.The Escape Artist is so intriguing.

on: 09-12-2012 16:43