I wanted a Yashica Mat, but I couldn’t afford one. When I did finally get one at a reasonable price it didn’t work. That is the gamble with junk bins sometimes. Actually, not only did it not work, I crashed my car when taking it to a camera repair shop. They said it was beyond repair…the camera not the car, that was just a brake light. So, I did a bit of research and given my love of Russian cameras I decided to get a Lubitel 166B. According to this site there is no comparison with the two cameras, but I was happy to try the Lubitel for the price, while I keep looking for a reasonable medium format camera. (ignoring the Bronica and Koroll I have).
As with most Russian cameras, they can be found on eBay in abundance for a reasonable price. This one was clean and everything seemed to work, but the pop up magnifier which helps with focusing didn’t really do the helping part. I really could not see the difference when I tried to focus. In the end I used the camera like a rangefinder, I guessed the distance and set the lens to that. To be honest it did look focused in the viewfinder.
This website says the camera was initially produced from 1980, which seems late for a twin-reflex camera. Mine is set to take 6×6 photos, but masks can be inserted for the 6×4.5 format. I have read that the camera is prone to light leaks and the back catch is weak. I did find mine quite weak and I when using it I was worried it would pop open, but it never did. There are a few Lubitel versions out there. On this website you can find details of this and other versions. This one is fully mechanical, no batteries are needed so you have to use a light meter. The speeds go from 1/15 to 1/250 with a B option with the aperture going from f4.5 to f22. There is a reminder dial on the side so you can remember what type of film is inside. That is as technical as it gets. you can find a full manual at butkus.org.
For my first roll I chose a black and white film, fuji acros 100 (I think), so I could develop it myself.
I really like the photo of my dad’s chair..he is alive right now, but it is still poignant. As you only get a few photos from a roll I tried another film, this time colour.
Using the camera by range only is tricky as you can see by the out of focus shots. Maybe I just need practice…or a Yashica Mat or Mamiya. But I do like the quality the shots have and I do like using the camera. Unless I can actually compare it to one of the more expensive versions of this type of camera I cannot comment on how much better they are. For me, this one is fine and fun.
I am keeping this until I get a better one.