Buying a donor camera

A project log for L2 Camera

Fully manual twin-lens reflex instant film camera

Vladimir GorsheninVladimir Gorshenin 11/24/2020 at 10:100 Comments

An ideal donor camera for the project has irrecoverably damaged body, but a functional shutter, lenses and a viewfinder. Do such exemplars exist? They do and I found at least two among ten Lubitel cameras I bought within the project.

I bought all of the cameras on the Internet, except one which I found in a photo shop. My recipe for searching and buying a Lubitel camera is as follows:

  1. Monitor eBay and local East European web sites (listed below)
  2. Search for a Lubitel-2 model using the following keywords: Lubitel, Ljubitel, Любитель
  3. A decent camera should cost between ten and fifteen dollars without shipping

Several notes on the recipe. Currently the project works with the Lubitel-2 model only. I'm planning to adjust the design to support other models, Lubitel and Lubitel-166, later. Questions about price are always tricky. The lowest price I paid for a Lubitel camera was $2 (the one I bought in the photo shop, which sold it for spares). The highest price I encountered was around $100. From my perspective, it makes sense to pay these money only for a serviced camera with some kind of warranty offered by the seller or, at least, with sample shots provided. From my experience, even if the Lubitel camera looks like a brand new one, it requires re-hauling for sure. This project uses only components of a Lubitet camera, therefore, my suggestion is a $10 tag. That's the price which I paid for the most of the camera.

Working on this project I developed a way to revive used Lubitel cameras and bring them second life. Therefore, if you find a piece that doesn't match the image of the ideal candidate for project, please firstly consider repairing it. I believe, bringing to life a used Lubitel camera is better for our planet than producing a new plastic camera like the Lomography society does.

Soviet photo industry produced more than one million Lubitel camaras. Most of them settled down in East Europe. Here is the list of local classified ads web sites.

Use these web sites responsibly and on your own risk, beware of fraud.