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photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Sprocket Rocket

Junk. No, really.

in Product reviews , Thursday, December 02, 2010

Back in the mists of time when cameras like the Holga first appeared, they were pretty much born out of necessity. Within the cultural and economic constraints they existed in, they were the best that could be done, and certainly better than nothing.

Being elevated to a cultural chic platform certainly changed all that. Suddenly that unfocussed, badly vignetted, flare ridden and imprecisely framed look was the next Big Thing in Cool. And it turn into an industry. The Lomo look became a major trend, and made a virtue of what was, to all intents, just bad photography.  Some interesting and possibly even good art came out of it, but these days it’s really just got out of control.  The painful limitations that the devices impose can only be held up as virtues for so long.

Nevertheless, when I saw the announcement of the Sprocket Rocket panoramic camera from Lomography, I was interested. I even briefly thought of buying one ... until I saw the price. It is quite frankly ridiculous.

The Sprocket Rocket’s main claim to frame is that the image area includes the film rebate, or “sprockets”. Yeah, well, whatever. A cute effect that wears off after about 1 photo, and can anyway be pretty easily faked in Photoshop. Oh, and it’s panoramic, with a “super wide angle lens” - apparently something like 30mm, f/13, although the website doesn’t tell, and plastic, of course - and a couple of knobs which let you wind the film forwards - and backwards - to make absolutely damn sure that you get overlaps and other magnificently arty imperfections.

And speaking of imperfections, well here the Sprocket Rocket really shines.  It appears to be just about impossible to take anything approaching a “good” photo with this POS, and the “badness” of what it does produce is just, well, bad. Not interesting, not arty, just gouge-your-eyes-out ugly. Massive vignetting, weird colour, no focus, and of course, sprockets.

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Yours, for ONLY $89.00.  Oh. And you’ll need a “scanning mask”. That’ll be another $30 or so.

Really, you can do so much better than this with any number of easily obtained vintage cameras. You can get the distressed look if you want, but you get to choose. Creativity means nothing if you’ve got no part in the process.

Lomography: it’s cool-speak for “laughing all the way to the bank”.