Lubitel 2

This camera was a lucky buy at a camera fair I was selling at. It was on the next table and when I asked the price, the seller said £9 as it was in rough condition. I thought that was an absolute bargain and snapped it up. The only real damage I could see was the filter door was broken and that had nothing to do with the function of the camera. I tried to find out what kind of filters came with the camera…none, you had to buy them after.

The first thing I noticed, the viewfinder was surprisingly bright. I have tried a Lubitel before, the 166B version. This camera seems a little more robust than that one, but it still felt a bit toy-like. Then again, it also reminded me of a Honda Cub and it will probably work forever, no matter what you do to it. For a camera that is called “amateur” in Russian, it performed surprisingly well. The only real issue I had was with focusing, like the 166B, it was hard to see any discernable difference in the viewfinder as you focused. That was fine, I mainly kept it on infinity.

The Lubitel was made over a long period of time, from 1954 to 1980. I could not find any serial number or markings to identify when mine was made, but I am going to guess at the later end of the scale due to that fact. There are no symbols or any form of writing under the filter compartment, which this site says points to the later end too.

I loaded mine with a roll of Ilford HP5 and trundled off to Sheffield for the day, then finished it off in Huddersfield. Both are very Northern English towns. I developed the film in 510-Pyro and here are some of the results.

The very first shot is one of my favourites from 2022. I love this camera and its like, they are throw-in-your-bag and just work cameras. Simple, easy to use, and just work. Their prices are starting to rise, I suspect the reason being people want an original one over the ones made by Lomography and sold at a ridiculous price.

I grabbed this camera when I wanted to finish a film I had started with another camera before that one jammed. It is so easy to load and there are no restrictive functions, meaning I could wind on without it stopping. This means there is also scope for double exposures as you can see in one of the photos from the first set.

These were taken in Leeds on a Rollei Retro 400, which curled more than any other film I have developed.

Well, what a super fun little camera. If you can find a cheap one get it, but I wouldn’t pay the prices charged for a new one though. You can buy a second-hand Rollei for what that would cost.

You can find a copy of the manual here and a great review with a useful list of links here.


26 thoughts on “Lubitel 2

  1. c. rúnda says:

    One of my favorite basic cameras! They can take surprisingly good photos. Mine has the Cyrillic Любитель 2 nameplate with a brown leather case. Looking as new, it was a gift from my подруга so I’m sure to always keep it! Пока-пока!…Cailín

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clare Williams says:

    Great photos Peggy! I am still halfway through the film on mine. It’s XP2 so will have to send it off for development when I finally finish it. I think the wind on wheel needs servicing, it’s very hard to wind on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roger B. says:

    What sharp images that Lubitel produces! You’d have to make some humongous enlargements to see any difference between your shots and those from a good Rolleicord. That camera’s a go-to for shooting b&w scenics and architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kurt Ingham says:

    Really cheap cameras can be lots of fun! These days I don’t even have enough time to use my ‘expensive’ (relatively)collector cameras. Back in the mists of time when I was an impecunious pro, almost all folding cameras were amazingly cheap-the market barely distinguished Zeiss from Ansco. $10 for a 6×9 Voigtlander was amazing ‘bang for the buck’ Sadly all those negatives were lost in a flooded storage space

    Liked by 1 person

  5. brineb58 says:

    Great results!!! I have a few Lubitels, the first one I bought in the 1990s to participate in a “Krappy Kanera” show. I was shocked at how well the lens performed, nothing crappy about it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kurt Ingham says:

      actually they ARE pretty crappy if you enlarge at all, look at the corners, and check detail definition-compared to any ‘real’ 6×76 TLR (Rollei, Yashica, Mamiya, Ricoh, etc) But you can still make some great images with one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Roger B. says:

        Kurt, how does a Lubitel rank against, say, an Argoflex? Or an old Ricoh TLR? Or a Tower (Sears) TLR? Or any other 1960s-era gear with external gear linkages between viewing taking lenses?


  6. Kurt Ingham says:

    A ‘good’ Lubitel (Russian QC was not the best) – probably compares well with those you mention. In most cases the older ones really need a thorough lens cleaning. The later Ricohs were much improved. But the Voigtlander Brillant (the model for the Lubitel) -will almost always give better sharpness and contrast.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nic says:

    I have a couple of Lubitel cameras and to be honest, I was not expecting much from them, a notch above lo-fi cameras, no more. Surprise! Pictures are pretty good, some vignetting for sure but sharpness is very decent. One mandatory accessory though to avoid blurry pictures: the cable release to trip the shutter without moving the camera (which is very light).
    Of course, this is not the same league as a Rolleicord but it is not as cr*ppy as we can read here and there.


    1. Peggy says:

      I have had some practice with slow shutters and light cameras. I brace them against my body or pull on the strap around my neck for support. So rarely use a cable release, it is a good suggestion though.


      1. Kurt Ingham says:

        absolutely..using a c.r. for med. slow speeds (1/30th, etc) and bracing it as Peggy does, makes a big difference. Used to be common place, but somehow cable releases got relegated to time exposures only

        Liked by 1 person

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