I love how ThinkGeek keeps providing us with geeky options for our every day items. From clothing to bath towels to teapots… and now cameras and camera bags.
La Sardina Belle Starr Camera and Flash
The La Sardina Belle Starr Camera is a beautiful, old-fashioned-looking metal and plastic film camera that arrives in a box packed by the Lomographic Society Int’l in Vienna, Austria, though the camera is made in China. (It’s called La Sardina because it resembles a sardine can.) For most people, gone are the days of using a film camera. But if you want the clarity of film, you won’t get it with digital photos and prints. And film allows experimentation which isn’t quite the same with digital cameras.
This manual camera has a removable flash along with four plastic color flash filters for artistic shots. There is also a lens cap, which secretly hides in the packaging; an instruction manual, which doubles as a poster of sardines; and the book, Seeing the World Through a Sardine Cam. I was glad of the instructions in particular, as this camera has many unusual features.
This camera’s particular set of features allows for easy experimentation. It’s a manual camera, so it’s missing a lot of fancier options, but color flash filters, multiple exposure shots, and long exposure options are at the ready. Once you memorize the setting markers, that is.
The La Sardina is made of mostly oxidized brass and has an 89-degree wide-angle lens, uses standard 35mm film, and has three distance settings for the flash. There are also two focus settings, one for 0.6-1 meter and one for farther than 1 meter. It can be attached to a tripod and has a cable release connection, for which I got to pull out my old film camera tools! There is also a very small optical viewfinder.
Excited to try out this camera, I asked all the usual places where they kept their film for purchase. Costco, Target, drug stores, all the places that I used to buy film. Like, 15 years ago. But, alas, apparently no one carries film anymore. And even fewer places process film. I had to go to Amazon to buy a pack of Kodak Gold 200 ASA film, and will have to locate an online processing place once I’ve finished shooting my rolls. I just hope I can find one that won’t just send me digital scans of the negatives. I’d like the original negatives back, please. The camera also needs a battery for the flash, which, thankfully, was much easier to find than the film.
To take off the back of the camera in order to insert the film, you must first remove the flash, which is easy to do, and makes the camera much easier to handle. If you’ve ever used a film camera before, it will be easy to load and use. If you haven’t, the instructions are more than sufficient to walk you through the process. The instructions also give you a tour of the camera’s other features.
The only part I found confusing were the instructions for taking multiple exposures. The MX option was easy to find, but on my first effort, it didn’t seem to work as the instructions seemed to indicate. Pressing the lever over to MX didn’t re-cock the shutter. But after a couple of failed attempts, it just worked. So, here’s how you do multiple exposures on the La Sardina Lomography camera: 1. Take your first exposure as normal. 2. Press the lever over to the MX setting, and you should hear or feel a slight click (it will spring back on its own). 3. Press the shutter again for the second exposure. 4. Repeat as often as you like, being careful not to overexpose your film. 5. Profit.
Using a film camera has forced me, for the first time in a long time, to be frugal with my shots. While I’ve had many film cameras in my life, it’s been over a decade since I have used one. I’ve been free and loose taking digital photos, since you can just delete the bad ones and data storage is cheap. I don’t worry about getting the perfect shot. I take photos of random things because it’s useful or interesting. But with the La Sardina, I must pause longer to compose a shot. I must consider if what I am photographing is worthy of such permanence.
How do I like the camera? Other than the metallic smell that rubs off on your hands, I love it. By not being taken out of the moment to look at how my pictures turn out, I am able to just capture some shots and move on, enjoying myself.
Though film photography is much more expensive than digital, it’s great fun, and a more tangible art, in my opinion. And, if you’re short on ideas, there are plenty of tips on the Lomography website, where they also even sell their own unusual styles of film to add to your experimentation options.
And, the included book, Seeing the World Through a Sardine Cam, is a fascinating look into Lomography. It includes the Ten Golden Rules of Lomography, tips on taking interesting photographs, and some history of the company and Lomography itself. What is Lomography? The short answer is it has to do with creative photographers who experiment with film photography, especially with these odd, manual cameras. It captures the joy of photographing the mundane as well as the exceptional. Try things out. See what happens. The long answer is left as an exercise to the reader. (Hint: Use Google, or read Seeing the World Through a Sardine Cam.)
Stay tuned for a future post, after I get my developed film back, to see how my photos taken with the La Sardina Camera turned out!
And, to hold your camera…
The Star Wars Darth Vader Camera Bag
You can show off your love of The Dark Side or of your appreciation for Darth Vader’s redemption with ThinkGeek’s Darth Vader Camera Bag. The only experience I have with a proper camera bag is the one that came with my DSLR, a Nikon bag for a Nikon camera. It’s been useful, but I have one more lens than will fit in the bag.
The Darth Vader Camera Bag is much deeper, allowing for extremely long lenses, or some extra storage below or on top of your camera body and lenses. There is actually room in it for both a DSLR and the La Sardina. The bag includes plenty of padded Velcro-style dividers, so you can arrange the interior how you like. There is a pocket with plenty of sub-pockets on the front, which is great for your phone, extra SD cards, or a notepad. There are also two elastic pockets on the sides. Those were generally used for rolls of film or lens caps in days gone by, which is useful for when I use it with my La Sardina camera. The front and top of the bag close with zippers, but they also can be covered by the top flap, which fastens with magnetic closures in a jiffy. And the outside, well, it’s pretty freaking awesome looking. It is still obviously a camera bag, but it’s got the sweet Dark Side style and is an officially licensed Star Wars product created by ThinkGeek. I’ll be using this one for whichever camera I happen to be using at the time. The bag measures 12″ wide x 8 1/2″ tall x 6″ deep.
Note: I received these products for review purposes, but the stated opinions are my own.