La Sardina (Czar Edition)

I did it. I went online and bought off eBay yet another camera (I really can’t seem to be able to stop).

This time is the turn of La Sardina, a 35mm point and shoot released by Lomography with a sardine can in mind (yes, La Sardina actually means the sardine in Italian and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the region of Sardinia – or Sardegna). It features a wide angle 22mm lens (which is what attracted me the most to this camera), a switch that enables multiple exposures and also a rewind knob that allows you to re-expose previous shots, in true Lomography style.

The thing about this camera that jumps immediately at the eye is the design. Apart from the compact, tin-box size, there are dozens and dozens of different designs of La Sardina, some still in production, some limited editions. Lomography also released dresses, masks that can be applied to change the design of the camera. Not only the patterns and colour schemes are different, but also the materials. The Czar Edition (the one I purchased) is made from steel, the Capri edition instead of a plastic insert has the pattern printed on actual beach chair fabric. Others are made of textured plastic or even cork.

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The whole theme of the camera is seaside and nautical life, as the booklets include demonstrate. As always, Lomography has packed with the camera some nice photo books that show what kind of pictures you can expect from the camera. One of them brings real examples of the Ten Golden Rules with pictures taken with a La Sardina. The other is called “The Caviar Diaries”, by lomographer Wil6ka. It is a brilliant narration of a journey for the discovery of caviar that takes Wil6ka from Germany to Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Latvia and back to Germany, rigorously documented with his prototype La Sardina.

There is a non-standard flash microconnector on the side, designed exclusively to work with Lomography’s Fritz The Blitz flash. Not all camera editions come with it, but those which do feature the flash unit with matching design. Those that do not, can be paired to any FtB flash, including the standard, generic one available from the Lomography shop. Due to this microconnector, there is no cold or hotshoe available.

Features wise, it offers a 22m glass lens, with a fixed aperture of f/8. Shutter speed is either instant (1/100) or bulb. Focusing is done via a two-step system: 60 cm – 1 m, and 1 m to infinity. Quick and simple, after all this is a point and shoot. Cable release threaded socket and tripod mount are available as well. The lens offer sharp pictures with vibrant, saturated colours, that match so well with the Lomography philosophy. Of course, a lot depends on what film you are using. I left today my first roll of film taken in Arundel with this camera to the photo lab, I will be back with the results in a couple of weeks (next lomotour is taking me to Poland).

One of the nice features that comes in handy (and that more cameras should have) is the small rectangular window on the back door, that allows you to see what kind of film you have inserted into the camera. Lomographic beauties like the Diana and the Smena do not feature any sort of holder or window, so it’s easy to forget what you actually have inside if you don’t use it for a while.

Ir is really easy to use and quick too. The shutter is very silent, making it a good stealth camera for all those lomo moments that fill our days. The metal body is not too heavy, but gives the camera a sturdy feeling and it is pleasant to hold.

Finally, let’s talk about the package. It is just awesome. The camera comes packed in a wooden box, like the ones that contains fruit and veggies at the market. Inside, there is the camera itself, the FtB unit, a matching lens cap and four colour filters for the flash. Also the usual Lomography poster/instruction booklet and a couple of photo books featuring the camera. Really cool, I must say.

This might not be the sharpest or the best point and shoot money can buy, but its design and dimensions are quite impressive and stand out from the crowd. Overpriced for sure, like most Lomography products (hey, as much as I love the company I still have to pay my bills at the end of the month, like everyone else!) but this time it looks like things have been done with even more care than usual. The attention to the detail is stunning.

If you want a cool camera, that’s fun, easy to use and offers a quick approach to film photography and lomography, you should really consider a La Sardina – just pick your style and get going.

 

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