A Whole Other Kind of Lame

   23 September 2004, evening time

LoFi Cameras

I went downtown with Mezan and Carvill to try and find a broken-ass camera. I was originally interested in purchasing a Lomo LC-A. The problem here is that they’ve become so trendy they are being sold at boutique prices. For example, Pikto in Toronto sells the camera for $270 canadian. $270 dollars for a broken-ass camera is just not right. So, instead of getting a Lomo, I am thinking about getting a Kiev 35, Minox 35, Olympus XA-2 or a Cosina CX-1 or 2. The Lomo LC-A is a Soviet copy of the Japanese Cosina.

Toronto’s Pawnshops

Toronto has an area at Church and Queen with a few camera stores and a lot of pawn shops. My hope was that in this area we would find some interesting cameras.

We started off in Henry’s, a popular Canadian camera store. They actually had a used Minox and Olympus for sale, but both were selling for around $180 dollars. That struck me as a bit excessive. To be fair, they didn’t have the stank model of either camera. The versions they were selling probably would take nice photos, which isn’t what I am really looking for. Nevertheless, the prices seemed rather inflated.

That was a bit disappointing, but the pawnshops in the area were a whole other kind of disappointment. Most carried very few cameras, and the few that did have cameras were selling them at exorbitant prices. And these are pawnshops—no warranties or money-back guarantees. A crazy Eastern European man who had a large selection of cameras was willing to sell me an Olympus XA-2 for $80 dollars and a Minox for something like $150. It seemed excessive. I would have tried to bargain the price down, but he scared me. He was so crazy.

Thankfully, eBay is full of people in Ukraine shipping out cameras on the cheap.



  1. Keep an eye out for 60s and 70s vintage rangefinders while you’re at it. They’re not lo fi (lenses are often quite sharp), but might make a good alternative to the Olympus or Minox, particularly if you’re into street photography.

    Some, like the Canonet, are usually overpriced these days (poor man’s Leica), but Yaschica and other Japanese brands are often neglected by collectors.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I already have a SLR I’m really happy with, so I’m not sure if I’m in the market for another camera that takes good photos. Though I think it would be nice to have a good rangefinder.

    I think the imperfection you get with a Lomo and some of the cameras like it are interesting. I don’t know if I buy it to all the crap on the Lomo site, but there is definetly something aesthetically pleasing about the photos people get out of their Lomos. I wish they didn’t retail for 100 odd dollars on eBay or I’d get one.

    I think when I have more spending money I will look into collecting a bunch of interesting cameras.

  3. Another possibility worth considering is an old pocket folder.

    Most people look for the postwar ones like those listed on the above page, because they produce relatively good images. The prewar ones aren’t in much demand, because they tend to have light leaks and soft corners. Might be just what you’re looking for, if you can find one that takes 120 rollfilm (I think Kodak’s 620 series can sometimes be modified to take 120).

    On the other hand, they might be a bit clumsy.

  4. You might also try putting saran wrap or other translucent or semi-transparent plastics over your cameras lens.

  5. Really? How does that effect the photos? Interesting. Something to try one day.

  6. Might as well try some KY for your glamour shots, too. That’s what they used on Star Trek.

Don't be shy, you can comment too!

Some things to keep in mind: You can style comments using Textile. In particular, *text* will get turned into text and _text_ will get turned into text. You can post a link using the command "linktext":link, so something like "google":http://www.google.com will get turned in to google. I may erase off-topic comments, or edit poorly formatted comments; I do this very rarely.