Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Purple review: go vibrant violet with film

Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Purple is a cut-price, reusable 35mm camera that aims to accentuate purple hues.

Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Purple
(Image: © Matthew Richards)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I could buy the film on its own but, for a few dollars more, the Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Purple throws a camera into the mix, with the film pre-loaded. That’s what I call labor-saving. Image quality is only halfway decent, even if you have a passion for purple.

Pros

  • +

    Reloadable with different film

  • +

    Funky, colorful design

  • +

    Built-in flash with filters

Cons

  • -

    Dubious image quality

  • -

    Fiddly to reload film

  • -

    Fixed exposure

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Lomography is a company that’s made a name for itself by producing simple, affordable analog film cameras as an alternative to all things digital. It also it offers a wide range of photographic film in 35mm, 110 and 120 formats. For this review, I’m looking at the LomoChrome Purple edition from the Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera 35mm range. There are currently five cameras in the complete set, all of which are basically identical apart from the film they come pre-loaded with, and the stickers that cover the front and back of each model. Despite being reloadable, they look and feel very much like single-use disposable cameras.

The LomoChrome Purple edition of the camera is pre-loaded with a 27-exposure roll of film, whereas the Color Negative version comes with a 36-exposure roll. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Specifications

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Camera type35mm reusable
Film type suppliedLomography Lomochrome Purple ISO 400
Color / B&WColor
Film length supplied1x 27 exposures
FlashYes
Minimum subject distance1m
Dimensions (W x H x D):115 x 60 x 33 mm
Weight (inc film & battery):120g

Price & Availability

As with other editions of the camera, the LomoChrome Purple version is available directly from Lomography as well as from a number of other retail outlets. It’s priced at around $25 / £23, which is very inexpensive considering that 27-exposure rolls of the actual film (without the camera) retail for around $11 / £11 a throw. Further purchase options include buying discounted bundles of various cameras in the range, and even an underwater casing that costs around $25 / £20.

Design & Handling

Some say that variety is the spice of life. One thing I like about this range of Lomography cameras is that you can buy one option with a favored film stock, and then try others, either buying the film on its own and loading it into the camera, or buying another camera with the film pre-loaded. The LomoChrome Purple option reviewed here intends to give ‘vibrant violet hues’. Other choices include Color Negative, advertised as giving ‘dazzling, saturated colors’, Lady Grey black & white, LomoChrome Metropolis for ‘moody, muted shots’, and LomoChrome Turquoise for ‘brilliant blue and orange hues’.

Although it’s a reloadable camera, it shares a trick with typical single-use cameras. The pre-loaded film is wound completely out of the canister onto the take-up spool. Each time you take a shot and wind the film on using the frame advance wheel, it winds step-by-step back into the canister. That is good news when you get to the end of a roll of film, as it’s ready to take out and get processed.

The sticker applied to the front of the camera becomes irrelevant if you reload it with a different type of film to the LomoChrome Purple roll that’s pre-loaded. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

It’s more of a chore reloading the camera with a new film. The procedure involves threading the film onto the take-up spool and closing the back panel. Then you need to slide a release latch to disengage the film advance sprocket, before using the crank underneath the camera to wind the entire roll of film out of the canister and onto the take-up spool. It’s fiddly and involves some time and effort. On the plus side, the frame counter keeps tabs on the process so it automatically displays the number of shots available on the roll.

The film loading crank on the bottom of the camera rotates each time you advance the frame, so it’s best to keep your thumb clear. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Handling proved a bit of a mixed bag for me. With a separate viewfinder window, you need to keep your fingers away from the lens, as well as clear of the flash if you’re using it. With that in mind, I tend to hold this type of camera by its top and bottom, using my first finger and thumb of each hand. I found the film loading crank was positioned beneath my left thumb, and it rotates every time you advance the film for the next frame. It’s not a major problem, just a bit of a niggle.

The color filters for the flash are short enough that there’s no danger of them ending up in front of the lens if you rotate them accidentally. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

The lens has a 31mm focal length and f/9 aperture, which is typical for this type of film camera, as is the minimum object distance of 1m. Again, par for the course is that the focus distance and exposure are both fixed, so you’ll always be shooting at f/9 with a shutter speed of 1/120th of a second. The flash has a range of about 2m and a recycling speed of about 5 seconds, which is actually pretty fast for this type of camera. It’s powered by a pre-loaded AA battery, rather than the smaller AAA battery often featured.

To switch on the flash, you have to press and hold the flash button shown here with its molded flash symbol. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Not just for purple hues, the camera joins other in the range by featuring three colored gel filters that spin around for positioning in front of the flash. You can mix the yellow, cyan and magenta filters for additional color options, for example combining yellow and magenta to make red, cyan and yellow to make green, or magenta and cyan to make purple. It’s a neat idea but combining different filters can be a bit fiddly.

The top panel of the camera includes the shutter button, a frame counter which counts down to ‘Empty’ and a flash ready indicator lamp. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

The catch for opening the rear flap to remove the film is positioned on the right hand side of the camera. Above is the frame advance wheel. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Photo Performance

I took this Lomography camera on a day out, shooting architectural and landscape scenes to put it to the test. Lighting conditions ranged from very bright direct sunlight to deep shade. I also took some indoor shots with and without flash. 

I found that the pre-loaded Lomography Lomochrome Purple ISO 400 film was pretty forgiving considering the fixed exposure settings of the camera, set at 1/120th of a second at f/9. It coped with bright and dull outdoor lighting but, indoors, I found that images were generally underexposed, even when using the built-in flash at a fairly short range. 

True to its billing, the film accentuates purple hues, to the extent that images have a very severe color cast. Straight off the camera, pictures look like a box of photos that’s been lying around for more than a few decades and gone completely off-color. Sharpness is pretty lackluster, as I’d expect from a camera of this type.

Whereas the sticker covering the front of the camera shows the pre-loaded film type, the one on the rear shows basic instructions for use as well as the color combinations for combining the filters for the flash. (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Sample Images

This gallery of sample shots was taken in varying lighting conditions from bright direct sunlight to deep shade, as well as indoors with and without flash.

Verdict

This Lomography camera is pretty good value for money, considering that it comes complete with a roll of Lomochrome Purple ISO 400 color negative film and an AA battery pre-loaded. The massive color shift delivered by the film is either something that you’ll love for creative effect, or find utterly awful. That's entirely up to you. It’s a bonus that you can reload the camera with a different type of film after first use, but it’s a fiddly process that requires a bit of patience.

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Should you buy the Lomography Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera LomoChrome Purple?

✅ Buy this...

  • Reloadable with different film
  • Funky, colorful design
  • Built-in flash with filters

🚫 Don't buy this...

  • Dubious image quality
  • Fiddly to reload film
  • Fixed exposure

Alternatives

Image

The Kodak i60 Reloadable Film Camera has a battery flap that’s really hard to open and a film door that opens all too easily, but it’s more stylish with retro charm based on old Kodak Instamatic cameras of a few decades ago.

Image

The Kodak M35 Reloadable Film Camera doesn’t look as stylish as the Kodak i60 but has better handling and virtually identical overall performance, with a lower selling price. It’s also available in a wide variety of color options.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.