Lomography SuperSampler

For In-Camera Cubism

4 min read by

Lomography SuperSampler is a small plastic box with four 20mm fixed aperture 𝑓11 lenses. It is “in focus” from 1ft (30cm) until infinity. Its shutter fires at a fixed 1/100th of a second.

There is no viewfinder. The camera accepts 35mm film and is recommended to be used with 800ISO for most situations. 100ISO is only recommended for intense light.

The camera absolutely lacks precision, but it comes with a special feature. Each frame is a sequence of four exposures timed to all fire in either 2 seconds or 200 milliseconds.

The design of the camera looks fantastically quirky. Almost non-sensical. Described as futuristic, it seems to only fulfil such promise in an ‘80s flick. After all, it is a fully-mechanical camera that uses relatively ancient imaging technology. Can we even accept something like this in 2019?

Lomography’s stance on imaging innovation has remained relatively still over the past twenty-seven years. The brand has undoubtedly progressed from making simple plastic moulds towards manufacturing relatively complex instant cameras and designer lenses. For the most part, the product line remains true to film photography with relatively simple, inexpensive cameras.

Though it may seem backwards, elemental designs like that of SuperSampler do manage to keep thousands of people occupied in the age of endless screen time.

Lomography’s low-tech appeal and messaging geared towards young audience has created products which seem to thread on the edge of accessibility and ghetto-chic.

Cheap plastic boxes with celebrity endorsements can only go so far, however. Ask Yashica; a brand whose stellar mid-century reputation has been recently smeared with unacceptably poor products.

Unlike 2019 Yashica, Lomography has managed to deliver cameras people wanted for almost three decades. Their continued success even managed to get them credit for saving film photography on BBC — which I agree with in my Beginner’s Guide.

The photos you see in this article were taken about seven years ago. To get my results close to what Lomography crowd has been sharing at the time, I must have added some contrast with Photoshop’s curves. The results are stark, grainy, with soft focus and lots of noise.

SuperSampler is a very unique contraption. The results it delivers undoubtedly lack the quality that I’d expect from my German rangefinders. It limits my options to only sliced frames, with only one aperture, shutter speed, and whatever the film’s speed and dynamic range.

In return, it forces me to think like Picasso, exquisite results not guaranteed. In-camera cubism has made its way into film photography — and it’s a lot of fun.

While the effect and novelty of producing these kinds of images can easily wear off after a few rolls, the camera is compact and light enough to be an “extra”. I took it with me on a few trips along with my main camera, at the time, Diana Mini.

Unfortunately, the plastic mechanism that involves rapidly pulling a winding string gave up after about a year.

While functional, SuperSampler resembled a toy camera in its purest form. Yoyo action, simple operation, exciting results, cheap materials.

My obsession with film photography has grown significantly over the years since the SuperSampler days. I spend more money and time taking pictures. My shots are now better composed and with sharper lenses. I look back on my time with an oddly-shaped plastic box feeling nothing but fondness. It’s flimsy but not unworthy. SuperSampler does exactly what it’s intended for.

Toronto Dundas Square, the early 2010s.