Lomo’Instant Automat – plastic fantastic

I’ve been a fan of Lomography ever since we collaborated on a Dinohoodie photowalk back in the mists of time, and I’ve loved seeing all their new cameras and cool lenses come out over the years. Recently, their instant cameras have been really popular, with a few versions using the easily-obtainable Fuji Instax Mini packs.

I briefly had a Polaroid SX-70, but it was a bit of a failure, and none of the shots I took on the old film turned out at all (I blame sticky rollers or a broken film door). So when my partner let slip that she was thinking of getting a new (not old! Not second-hand! Reliable?!) Lomo Automat, I was quite excited! Not only to have another camera in the house to play with (even if it wasn’t TECHNICALLY mine) but to have a chance try the tiny Instax Mini format, too. She chose the Magellan version, with a glass lens (proper job), remote and a Splitzer filter pack. After a week or so of waiting, it arrived on our doorstep with a few packs of film.

We planned to use the Automat on New Year’s Eve, but sadly the camera was faulty straight out the box (something to do with the mechanism that ejects film, I think), so we had to send it back to Lomography and wait for a replacement. A shame, but their customer support team was really helpful and responsive – and a working replacement arrived a couple of weeks later (along with a couple of free packs of film, which was nice).

The Automat’s first outing was on a long weekend to that most exotic of locations, Great Yarmouth! Known for its seaside, arcades, donkeys and kiss-me-quick hats, it’s my partner’s hometown too, and ideal for a cheap place to stay while we visited family over that way.

We tested the Automat out under tungsten lighting (in Zak’s burger bar), at a family birthday party (great opportunity for multiple exposures, and for using the Bulb option) and during the daytime at a waffle house in Norwich. I’m really pleasantly surprised with how well our shots came out! The Automat seems to handle indoor shots well even in poor light, and the creative functions are really fun and easy to use.

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These two shots were taken on the trip home. The top photo was created using the Splitzer, which masks off half the frame, and can be rotated. Taking half a photo in daylight, then the other half at night, made for a really cool effect! The bottom photo was a test of the Bulb mode, resting the Automat on the dashboard of the car.

The small format makes for precious little images, and equally suits selfie snapshots as well as more creative photos. The camera itself is plastic, of course, but feels pretty well-built and is straightforward to use.

We’ll be taking it on a few more adventures, so watch this space for more Instax Mini fun!

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