LOMO Compact-Avtomat (LK-A, LC-A) is a compact small-format scale-type camera with automatic exposure control in programmable mode.

LOMO LK-A was introduced in the spring of 1982 by the Soviet photo designer Mikhail G. Kholomyansky. He secretly worked on the camera for 18 months.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examples

The camera was a copy of the Japanese compact camera Cosina CX-2 released a few years earlier. The CX-2 was an unremarkable compact camera for amateur photographers, but the Soviet delegation at a photo exhibition in Cologne in 1980 really liked it. The Deputy Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, Igor Petrovich Kornitsky, met the quirky Cosina at the Photokina exhibition in Cologne in 1980 and wanted the Soviet Union to repeat the same. LK-A would eventually outlive the Soviet system that developed it, and usher in a school of experimental film photography in the 1990s.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examples


Copying a Japanese camera is quite a Cold War-era challenge, given that Japan has already become the world leader in photographic equipment, and not just interchangeable lens cameras. For the two years provided by the Ministry of Kornitsky, who oversaw this project, allocated for copying the camera, the Japanese Cosina was too complicated, and therefore some of the nodes had to be simplified.

Within the framework of the design bureau, a creative team was created, which worked from the first industrial batch on the creation of LOMO-compact. It was headed by the leading designer Mikhail Kholomyansky. The team included leading researcher Mikhail Biyushkin, leading electrician Sergey Dendobrenko, leading technologist Ada Zaitseva, leading designer Nikolai Panteleev, leading calculation engineers Irina Sovz and Lev Sakin, and other specialists. Employees of many special design bureaus were involved in the creation of the camera - development was a priority, and people were allocated “as needed”.

First of all, of course, the Japanese camera was thoroughly studied. “Already at this stage,” recalls Mikhail Kholomyansky, “it became clear that it would not be possible to completely reproduce Kosina. We took the path of creating LOMO-compact in its “classic” form of our own, in many respects, original design.” In particular, this concerned the design of the FZPE-10 shutter. A photo-shutter scheme was developed and tested on mock-up samples, which ensures constant exposure in the frame window due to automatically working out shutter speed and lens aperture when the brightness of the subject being photographed and the photosensitivity of the photographic film used change. At the time, this was new. LOMO-compact became the first domestic compact camera with a program shutter.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examples

The first version of the lens, called "Minitar", was developed under the guidance of Valery Tarabukin, head of the laboratory of the GOI calculation department. The LOMO optical shop was dissatisfied with the manufacturability of the lens - in the case of mass production, the lens was fraught with huge problems. Subsequently, after an unsuccessful search for alternatives, the Minitar was redesigned by Lev Sakin, an employee of the Special Design Bureau for Optical Calculations, who took the original scheme as a basis. Kolomyansky did not like the initial version of the camera design, and he demanded maximum external similarity. As a result, the camera entered the market as it is now.

The LOMO LK-A could have been "another camera" of the many released, but it ended up having more of an impact on photography than any other Soviet camera. LK-A was relatively unknown in its heyday. It wasn't until the 1990s that LK-A became more famous, largely due to a fluke in Prague. In 1992, a group of Austrian art students found LK-A at a flea market in the Czech capital. The camera bore little resemblance to conventional Soviet cameras, and the Austrian students discovered that it was an electronic camera with some very noticeable features.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examples

LK-A is a camera with a viewfinder, a fixed lens, a leaf shutter and an automatic exposure system. The lens that Soviet designers have been working on for so long is a 32/2,8 called Minitar-1, known for its sharpness, contrast and strong vignetting. There was vignetting on the Cosina CX-2 lens, but on the Minitar-1 LK-A it is much more dramatic. About 6000 copies of the first batch of this camera were distributed at the 27th Congress of the Communist Party in Moscow in 1986. These cameras, with a special icon on the top panel, regularly appear for sale on sites such as eBay or Avito.

The auto-exposure system could keep the shutter open at shutter speeds from 1/500 to two minutes, making low-light shots possible without a flash. LK-A is designed to work in automatic mode (hence the letter "A" on the body), but if desired, this could be changed. It was possible to manually set the aperture from 2,8 to 16, while the camera in manual mode used a shutter speed of 1/60. The peculiarity of the Minitar lens is that the glass gives a very contrasting picture, and on expired films it gives a very interesting contrasting image. And if you use various cross-processes ... Now in some places you can’t find chemistry in the daytime with fire for an adequate price. LK-A has become a vehicle for esoteric analogue practices such as cross-processing and the use of expired color films.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examplesProduction of the original LOMO LK-A ended in 1994, just after it was opened by the pioneers of lomography. Lomography has become such a craze that the new Austrian company managed to convince the post-Soviet Lomo to resume production. While most modern Japanese compacts were light, the LOMO LK-A is surprisingly heavy thanks to its metal body and trim panels. Engineers LOMO in LK-A they could not reproduce the Cosina rotating cover, so they chose a much simpler approach - the lens is closed with metal shutters that have a separate switch, and a viewfinder is also mounted in the protruding part of the body, in addition to the lens. What Soviet designers could not repeat was simplified. Like Cosina, LOMO LK-A used manual film advance.

On the right side of the panel (when looking at the camera from the front) is the switch for the camera's focus areas. These are 0,8 m, 1,5 m, 3 m and infinity. The minimum focusing distance of the LOMO LK-A is impressive, especially when you consider that the 32mm lens packs most of the world into the frame, while still making it sharp from the initial focus area. The selected focus area is displayed in the viewfinder with symbolic icons. When Lomography released the LC-A+ in the 2000s, the icons in the viewfinder were dropped.

LOMO LC-A (LOMO LC-A, Compact-Avtomat) review with photo examples

On the left side of the panel is a switch for aperture values, with the lower value corresponding to fully automatic exposure, in which the camera selects both aperture and shutter speed itself. This Soviet-era exposure computer, along with the lens, is part of the camera's unique allure. The LC-A uses three batteries - the ubiquitous A76 coin cell (LR44, AG13, LR1154, G13, GP76A). When the shutter button is half-pressed, the battery indicator in the upper left corner will light up, and if the camera thinks the lighting will cause a shutter speed slower than 1/30, another indicator will light up. One signal - the exposure is OK, two - the object is underlit, no lights - nothing good (or the battery is dead).


The USSR used a completely different system from the ASA/ISO used by the rest of the world. The Soviet system - GOST - was about 90% of the ISO numerical value, although this does not seem to be entirely true with the Compact-Automatic. The highest light sensitivity according to GOST is 250, which in ISO is more like 320, but in fact ISO 400.

%D0%9C%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B0%D1%80 1The Minitar-1 is not as sharp as the Cosinon lens in the Cosina CX-2 and its vignetting is much more intense. The Soviet-Russian lens is quite sharp in the center of the frame and has incredible contrast. The founders of Lomography found that Minitar enhances the contrast of color printed films. In LC-A, even expired color negatives will have vibrant colors. Minitar-1 is ideal for using cheap color film, which can be purchased in the backyards of the former Soviet empire. The colors obtained with it become even more dramatic with some film delay, shot in sunny weather and developed in a cross-process. The combination of distorted colors and increased graininess due to cross-processing and the Compact Auto lens gave rise to the phenomenon of Lomography.

For a camera with a maximum shutter speed of two minutes, the lack of a cable release slot is a mystery. Even if you put the camera on a comfortable surface, the resulting images will be smeared due to shake. Lomography has been releasing the LC-A+ since 2006, but it's not the same camera anymore. The original LOMO LK-A looks even better than the modern Chinese copy. Yes, power consumption has been improved, ISO1600 support has been added, but this is no longer the same LC-A. Contrary to the stories that the early LOMO LK-A (Compact-Avtomat) was fragile, there is evidence that the camera can work for a very long time. So, for example, in the review of CosmoPHOTO it is indicated that the LK-A of 1986 has been regularly used for 1996 years since the purchase in 20.

Fotoapparat LOMO LK A 10 1

LOMO LK-A became not only a clone of Cosina, but over time completely eclipsed it. Amid the enormous upheaval brought about by digital technology, it was these cameras that helped keep film photography alive until today.

  • During the years of the most mass production, LOMO-compact produced up to 15 thousand pieces per month.
  • Despite the presence of a connector for an automatic rewind prefix, like the Japanese original, no one has ever seen these same prefixes
  • In addition to the development of the camera, a compact electronic flash FE-26 was also developed. The first electronic Soviet flash powered by batteries.
  • The original Aquabox, as well as the motor attachment, you will find only in the photographs.
  • 6000 copies of LK-A, which were supposed to be handed over to the delegates of the 27th party congress, were equipped with low-quality covers. After the factory was informed about this, the night shift changed all 6000 camera cases.

Sample photos of LOMO LK-A

Author - Stephen Dowling

Models and variants of LOMO LK-A

  • LOMO Compact-A, LOMO LC-A - (1982-1994), (1994-2005). Production at LOMO. Production was curtailed in 1994, but resumed in the mid-90s by the efforts of enthusiasts from Vienna, who organized the lomographic community and continued at the Russian LOMO plant until 2005.
  • LOMO Compact-M, LOMO LC-M - (1986-1987) a small batch of 1000 pieces was produced. at LOMO. Improved shutter, 2sec-1/500sec The body looks similar to the Cosina CX-2, decorated with yellow and red lettering, with stars on the left and right of the lens.
  • "LOMO Compact +, LOMO LC-A +" - (2006-present. The model was introduced in 2006 and production was moved to China.
  • LOMO LC-W - (from English Wide) modification with a 17 mm wide-angle Minigon 17mm f / 4,5 lens. There are red stripes to the right and left of the lens cover. Batteries recommended by the manufacturer: 3x AG13 / LR44 / 357 / SR44.
  • LOMO LC-A 120 — (since 2014) Made in China. Modification "LOMO LC-A +" with a frame size of 6x6 for 120 mm film (Medium format). Wide-angle lens 38 mm f/4.5 Minigon XL (focal length 21 mm in 35 mm film equivalent). Minimum focusing distance 0,6 m. Choice of film speed from 100 to 1600 ISO. There is a switch to multiple exposure mode. Visually looks like "LOMO LC-A" elongated horizontally.

The LOMO Compact-Avtomat camera was produced in different design options.

  • It was exported to some countries under the brand name "ZENITH". (There are also versions with "ZENITH" written instead of "LOMO" / "LOMO" written to the left of the lens)
  • Issued for the XXVII Congress of the CPSU (1986) - about 6000 pieces. On the top panel there is a small three-dimensional badge in the form of a fluttering red banner with a bronze frame and letters. The text on the badge inside the banner, each word on a separate line: "XXVII Congress of the CPSU».
  • Issued for the 20th Congress of the Komsomol (1987) - Issued to the delegates of the Congress. On the top panel with white paint - "XX Congress of the Komsomol”, the words are written over the “XX”.
  • Released for the 10th anniversaryLomography"and the 90th anniversary"LOMO"(1997) - 936 pcs. Finished in brown alligator leather. On the back is a white dinosaur badge with black and red letters, designed by Russian artist Alexander Jikia, one of the first lomographers. Icon text - "LOMO CTO 9O + 1O".
  • Lomo LC-A+ Silver Lake (2012) — 1000 pcs. Issued by the Lomographic Society. Lenses are made in Russia at LOMO, parts and assembly are in China. The case is made of chrome and trimmed with genuine brown leather. On the sides of the casing that covers the lens, there are guides for installing various adapters on the lens (Fisheye Adapter, Wide Angle Lens, Splitzer). Extended film speed range - from ASA 100 to ASA 1600. Possibility of cocking without rewinding the film to make an overlay (multiple exposure).
  • Lomo LC-A+ Russia Day Limited Edition (2011) — 2000 pcs. Issued by the Lomographic Society. The case is black, trimmed with red leather, around the lens below - 3 white circles, on top of the inscription RUSSIA DAY 2012.
  • LC-A+ RL Russian Lens
  • LC-A+ Gold
  • LC-A+ No Nukes
  • LC-A+ White Edition
  • LC-A+ 25th Anniversary Edition Lomo — To the 25th anniversary of the Lomographic Society. Black body, red leather trim, around the lens - a ring of white paint, starting from the left, around the lens - in cream letters "25 YEARS", then - in white letters "OF THE LOMOGRAPHIC SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL", under the lens - 2 cream semicircles, between which in white font “SINCE 1992” is written, “4 YEARS NO RULES HAPPY MISTAKES ANALOGUE LOVE” is embossed on the back cover in 25 lines.
  • Lomo LC-W 25th Anniversary Edition Lomo — To the 25th anniversary of the Lomographic Society. Black case, red leather trim, white paint ring around the lens, cream 8-bit font “25 YEARS” under the lens, below - a line in white in the usual font “of LOMOGRAPHY”, on the back cover in 4 lines the inscription “25 YEARS NO RULES HAPPY MISTAKES ANALOGUE LOVE.
  • Lomo LC-120 25th Anniversary Edition Lomo — To the 25th anniversary of the Lomographic Society. Black body, red leather trim, above the lens - in cream 8-bit font - "25 YEARS" and in white in regular font - "of LOMOGRAPHY", under the lens - 2 cream semicircles, between which "SINCE 1992" is written in white, on the back The 4-line lid is embossed with the inscription "25 YEARS NO RULES HAPPY MISTAKES ANALOGUE LOVE".

According to the catalog "1200 cameras of the USSR" it has the following modifications:

Specifications LOMO Compact-Automatic

  • The type of photographic material used is perforated photographic film 35 mm wide (film type 135) in standard cassettes. The frame size is 24×36 mm.
  • The case is compact plastic. The lens and viewfinder in the transport position are closed with metal shutters, the shutter button is blocked and the power source is turned off.
  • Shutter cocking is interlocked with film rewind.
  • The rear wall of the case leans back on hinges, a hidden lock of the back wall, an automatic self-resetting frame counter.
  • Lens - "Minitar-1"
  • Focal length - 32 mm
  • Relative aperture - 1:2,8
  • Lens field of view angle - 63 degrees
  • Focusing limits - from 0,8 m to infinity
  • Aperture values ​​- from 2,8 to 16
  • In automatic mode, an electronically controlled two-blade sliding shutter-aperture works out stepless shutter speed from 1/500 second at aperture 16 to a shutter speed of several seconds at aperture 2,8 (in very poor lighting conditions, shutter speed can be several tens of seconds).
  • There is a LED control for long exposure (more than 1/15 second). There is no "B" shutter speed.
  • The film sensitivity range is from 25 to 400 units. GOST (ISO) (from 100 to 1600 GOST units (ISO) for modifications "LCA +" and "LC-M").
  • The light sensitivity of the film is set by stopping the lens of a cadmium sulfide (CdS) photoresistor.
  • The power source of the camera is three STs-32 elements (a modern analogue of LR44, AG12, or one GP 11a element). There is an LED power supply control.
  • Viewfinder - optical telescopic parallax, with frame-limiting frames.
  • Focusing manual on a scale of distances (fixed values ​​0,8 m; 1,5 m; 3 m; infinity). The distance scale in the form of symbols is displayed in the viewfinder's field of view.
  • Flash sync - "X", center sync contact.
  • The flash sync speed is 1/60s. when manually setting the aperture from 2,8 to 16. In this mode, non-automatic exposure is possible.
  • The thread of the tripod socket is 1/4″ inch.
  • There is no self-timer.


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