So you want to start with medium format photography, right? And you are looking for a Mamiya 645, Yashica 124G or any other even more expensive beauty? But them prices ain’t starters prices. And grabbing an Agfa Clack is medium format too but they have small lenses and are more for funning around than serious photos. Enter the Lubitel 2, or Любитель 2.
Produced from 1955 up to 1977 there are many made. Ranging from very bad copies to nice to use ones. Mine is working fine. Sort of… It has a crack in the bottom housing which I found out after a couple of rolls. It shows like a white flare from the right bottom cornor.
Does it come with three program modes, bracketing and matrix metering? Of course not. It’s hardcore. No light meter, no automation. It’s just yourself.
Shooting with the Lubitel 2
Did not expect it but it’s way more fun than I thought. It’s light and compared with e.g. an Yashica 124G it feels almost flimsy but everything is usable. Cocking the shutter, using the loup, setting shutter speed and aperture. No problem! I use it a lot of times with a shutter extension cord (universal one from china). Loading the film is also super simple.
If you can your fingers around one: grab it. Just for fun and you may be surprised with the results! In 2020/2021 I would not pay more than 15-30 euro for it but that’s me. In pristine condition and guaranteed working probably a tenner higher. Lots are made.
What I liked
- it’s small and cheap
- it works!
- the 3 element lens gives it some arty touch
- because it’s not expensive you are more willing to take it out and use it on a sandy beach for example
What I didn’t like
- focussing is a bit of a hassle but it works
- low max shutter speed is a bit ‘meh’ during sunny days
- the body is prone to light leaks
- winding the film fully depends on you catching the number in the small peeking hole on the back. Being sloppy means not even spaced room between frames. Another disadvantage; I forgot a lot of times if I winded forward or not resulting in either double exposures or empty frames.
A lot has been written about such a modest camera. Read on:
- Alfred Klomp has a lot of info on Russian cameras and a great background on the Lubitel 2.
- Entry on Wikipedia in Dutch or English. Also on Camerapedia at Fandom.
- Tommy Poulsen has an oldskool Tripod page on Lubitel. Focussed on the 166 but relevant for the Lubitel 2 too.
- Looking for manuals? Scanned version here, and Mike Butkus has a PDF version. More visual minded? A nice video tutorial on Youtube.
- Alex Luyckx has an extensive review with lots of photos.
- Mariya Ustymenko does some pretty arty stuff with it.
- This Lost Aruban (kiko ta kiko, swa!) wrote a nice review too.
- Brandon wrote about it’s sharp lens and shoots with the sunny 16 rule on Lomography.
- The Lubitel 2 group on Flickr.
- J. David Buerk hacked a Lubitel 2 lens on a Canon EF mount and shot it with his 5D.