A Potato with Eight Lenses


I recently acquired a Lomography Oktomat — a film camera with eight lenses and eight separate shutters that fire sequentially to produce eight subimages over a single 35mm frame. Apart from the fact that it captures eight images, the Oktomat is the barest collection of cheap plastic parts that could be called a camera — the focus, the exposure time, and the f-number are all fixed, and the viewfinder is a deployable pair of iron sights. It is a potato.

But what a fun potato! You actuate the film advance lever (which winds up a little clockwork mechanism), push the shutter release, and in a series of (very audible) clicks and whirrs, this little orange plastic box shoots a 2.5 second-long filmstrip! It’s a little analog gif-maker!

And because the image quality is so laughably bad, you can really play with this camera. It captures not images, but the suggestion of motion. Toss it up, twirl it around, spin it on a tabletop. Do all the things you most definitely would not do with your delicate and expensive SLR.

I took the Oktomat to a trip to Boston, and it was a blast. Sadly, though, at about the 15th exposure, I may have turned the film advance lever with a little too much gusto, and instead of advancing the film, the mechanism ripped through the film perforations. After this, the film refused to advance, and the following 21 exposures ended up stacking on top of each other.

Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with this camera, and I love the results it produced. I doubt I’m going to stop using it anytime soon.


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