Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The LUBITEL 166u and The Case of the Sticky Shutter

Lubitel 166U лomo camera

It is painful joy testing a newly acquired vintage camera to discover that its quirky goodness is tainted by a mechanical defect. Such is the case with "new to me" 1980s model Lubitel 166u 6x6 Lomo camera.

I “got it” on e-bay for a very reasonable $ only to discover that the shutter “sticks” at 1/30th second (and below). Bummer...since it was advertised as “shutter works all speeds.”

The Lubitel 166U was made by Lomo in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. I suspect that the model I own was made sometime in the 1980s. Lens says Made in the USSR.

It's plastic, lightweight and almost impossible to focus. I repeat…Impossible to Focus. So, I guessed the focal distance and used the top viewfinder to compose my shots only. Once I got past the focus issue, it was smooth sailing.

I’m pleased with the shots. Damn that sticky shutter though! (Trying to return to the e-bay seller…will keep you posted).

Rudy's Bar & Grill
Rudy's Bar & Grill
"A New York City Landmark. Cheap Booze & Free Hot Dogs!" so says a newspaper review taped to the window.

Two Boots Pizza - Hell's Kitchen
Two Boots Pizza - Hell's Kitchen
New York's famous (and delicious) Two Boots Pizza recently opened a store on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen (NYC). Unknown man maniacally grins as he looks in.

Coffee Break!
Coffee Break!
That sticky shutter at 1/30thsec (and flash) delivered this COFFEE nightmare!
Pictured: Jeff Faoro at my Pop Cinema Studio

All images © 2010 Michael L. Raso

Lubitel 166u image
shot using Rolleicord III camera
Kodak Portra 100 Tungsten 120 film
(film expired 10/2001 – cold stored).

All additional shots using the Lubitel 166 Universal camera with Kodak Portra 400nc 120 film
(film expired 6/2006 – cold stored).

I host the Film Photography Internet Radio Show
With pals Duane Polcou and John Fedele

Film Photography Podcast Flickr Group

e-mail me at

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pizza Fridays

"While there is nothing artistically compelling about this, it is one of freakin' best sets on flickr. I want in on the Pizza Super Bowl."
- David (Flickr Member)

Pizza - Half Philly Cheese Steak / Half Pepperoni

Every Friday at Pop Cinema Studio we'd gather at 2pm in the kitchen area.

It was known as Pop Pizza Friday.

Pizza Friday - 6/26/2009

We would order two pizzas from two different pizzerias and vote for the best tasting pie.

Pizza Friday PLAY-OFFS 9/25/2009

Pizza Wars - Week 3

Each week I documented the delicious event. As it turns out, Pizza Friday became the test ground for so many of the vintage cameras I acquired in 2009. 35mm Canon cameras, Kodak Brownies, 110 cameras and many others all fired their shutters at 2pm on Friday.

Pizza Wars - Week 3

So many fun (and delicious) images.

Thanks to all the great Pizzerias in the Butler, New Jersey Area.

Pizza Friday PLAY-OFFS 9/4/2009

The winning vote for Best Sicilian Pizza went to
47 Main Street
Bloomingdale, NJ 07403-1653
(973) 838-6700

Pizza Show-Down 6/5/2009

We don’t vote for best pizza anymore but we still gather on Fridays and I’m still there usually with camera (and pizza) in hand.

Quick reminder that the January 2010 edition of my Film Photography Podcast is now available.

You can listen here:

or visit our site:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Love for the Ultra Wide & Slim Camera

James Butler from Hertfordshire, UK loves the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim 35mm camera so much that he created a gallery of his favorites on Flickr.

I couldn’t agree more. An amazing set of images. Feast your eyes!

Don't forget your mat
Image by Marcus Butler, London

Image by Joanna, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

sp with the viv (6/30)
Image by Natalie, Iowa, USA

The all mechanical / all plastic Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim camera has no electronics or need for a battery to function. With a fixed f11 aperture and a w-i-d-e 22mm lens, the camera delivers gorgeous lo-fi pictures. Current price tag on e-bay: $50. (if your lucky to find one). Demand is great enough that a company called SuperHeadz has manufactured a worthy “knock-off.”

Vivitar ULTRA WIDE and SLIM Camera


MORE great shots at James Butler’s Ultra Wide and Slim Gallery:

James offers some amazing shots of his own!
London bound

View James Butler’s photostream:

Search the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim on e-bay.

Purchase the Super Headz “knock-off” at Four Corners Store

We chat about the Wide & Slim on this month’s Film Photography Podcast. Listen in!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Old Film Project on / Some favorites from 2009

When Flickr member Daniel Whitman found 400 rolls of dated black & white film he decided to start a community group called “Old Film Project” and give the film away!

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Flickr members from around the world joined the group and received 8 rolls of the old film free of charge - under the condition that they will shoot the film as part of groups projects and themes.

Winter Larder

The film used for the images is Kodak and Efke brand and expired anywhere from 1975 to 1981. Very old, indeed.


The images posted are some of my favorites. More here at my “Old Film Group” gallery for 2009.

Old film project

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to Make a Monster (on Ektachrome)

My day-to-day job for the last 15 years has been spent producing and marketing low-budget movies to the US home video market. The daily grind is rewarded anytime I can get away from my desk and into the studio for hands-on filmmaking or photography.

This was the case in early December when I had the opportunity to collaborate on the poster art for our upcoming DVD release of Chris LaMartina’s movie “Book of Lore.”

How to Make a Monster

How to Make a Monster

Paige Davis and myself designed the poster concept. She handled the make-up and I shot the images. The soon-to-be-horrifying model was Erin Russ. Gordon Roberts handled final layout in Photoshop CS.

How to Make a Monster

How to Make a Monster

Because of the time to apply make-up to Erin, I absolutely made sure that I had enough coverage by shooting with three cameras. Overkill perhaps, but you know the old expression, “better safe than sorry.”

How to Make a Monster

Ektachrome Monster

I loaded my Shanghai Seagull 4A and Yashica-A cameras with Ektachrome 64T 120 tungsten balanced film. Since each camera only holds 12 exposures per roll, I used two cameras to speed up the shooting process (by not having to stop and re-load film). The third camera was my Canon AE-1 35mm loaded with Kodachrome 40 tungsten balanced film. Shooting with the AE-1 really didn’t take much more time and served as the “back-up” should anything go wrong with the 120 film in processing.

The shoot went smooth and was a lot of fun. Ultimately the final image chosen for the poster was shot with the Shanghai camera on Ektachrome film.

Chris LaMartina's BOOK OF LORE/GRAVE MISTAKES Horror Double Feature will be released on DVD May 12th, 2010

All images shot by Michael Raso
Poster art © Camp Motion Pictures, L.L.C.
Film processing: Dwayne’s Photo
Scans: Epson v700