During Women’s Fashion Week 2011, we were running around Hall F of Marina Bay Sands with a La Sardina lomography camera taking pictures of the attendees lookin’ all different kinds of smokin’ (pardon the pun). The first thing that many people said to us when we whipped out the camera was: “That looks like one of those old-school sardine cans!”

Well, that’s because it is meant to look like one.

It’s somewhat apt that the La Sardina range of lomography cameras allows you to “view the world through a sardine can” (clever tagline, FYI). The analogue line just recently launched its Caviar metal-edition cameras that scream analogue vintage luxury the moment you see one in the flesh. These brass-coated babies come in 2 variants: the red-gold Beluga and the sky blue-gold Czar. Trust me: they look gorgeous and feel like they have more weight than your average plastic Holga or Blackbird, which is something I like. Nobody wants to hold a flimsy camera that feels like a toy. Such is the opulence in a rarefied form of photography: when you go niche, you go niche.

The La Sardina Caviar really is for the beginner (like me) who is interested in the textured appeal of lomography and wants to embark on double-exposure heaven. I’ve seen way too many pictures of here-but-not-there double-exposed shots of my friends with their heads in London and hands at Timbuktu, during their rad Laneway Festival and gig outings. Yes, I’m talking to you, Ryhan (she’s our photographer).

Shah Salimat shot with a La Sardina Beluga

Shah Salimat shot with a La Sardina Beluga

It’s simple to the point where it’s idiot-proof. All you have to do is insert a special battery into the Fritz the Blitz flash, load up your standard 35mm film, wind it up & you’re set to go! And when you want to process the film, there’s no need to explain to the trusty ah pek how the pictures were captured: all the pictures are in regular formats. *tempted to crack a Covergirl tagline joke but thou shalt refrain*

Did we mention that the Fritz the Blitz flash really reminds us of the cameras in the 50s with the huge, bulbous flash adorning the camera? Probably very useful to hit other paparazzi in the face/lens/other fragile parts when they get too close to your camera, but you’re no paparazzi, so it’s nice to go back to the olden days once in a while. The flash syncs perfectly on time with the capture button, so there’s no need to worry about missed shots. The flash has 3 intensity options for different distances, so it adjusts its power depending on the distance you set it for. There’s definitely a distinct change of flash intensity in each option, but we’ll have to wait to see the pictures to determine if it translates to print.

The wide angle lens ensures you don’t cut anyone else out of your frame, especially when you don’t know how the shot’s going to turn out like until you’ve processed it. What I love is the two-way option for double exposures: either use the Rewind Knob or fiddle with the MX Switch. Personally, I love darker shots because it has a certain mystery to it when your subject isn’t illuminated as harshly, so we actually detached the Fritz the Blitz flash in good lighting conditions and only used the flash once we were inside Hall F instead. Can’t wait to see how those shots turn out!

The viewfinder is really cool: the inverse Galileo-type built-in V viewfinder sits like a mini-telescope on top of the camera’s body. Other nifty features include a Bulb setting for night shots and long-exposure shots, a screw-in cable release option and a 1/4′ tripod screw for the three-legged toting counterparts of analogue. The colour filters (Sky Blue, Yellow, Red) are uber-pretty and there’s even a diffuser that caps directly on top of the flash and can be taken off easily. Fetch.

Down to the technical stuff: the lens has a 22mm focal length, a 36 x 24mm exposure area and a fixed 1:8 aperture. It also has a fixed 1/100 normal shutter speed and a special programmed shutter speed in the longer-exposure Bulb mode. It has a two-step focusing: 0.6m-1m and 1m-infinity. Probably not as good with those flower macro shots we see on Canon/Nikon/Olympus testers but great to capture random people your loved ones at the beach or, you guessed it, camwhore shots. For the record, I don’t need the viewfinder to get a camwhore shot because my hand recognises the perfect angle to frame my face in. Beat that, gurlz.

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The La Sardina comes with the original open-spine La Sardina book with lots of pretty pictures and inspirations, but the Caviar line also comes with a special book called The Caviar Diaries (another TV show joke comes to mind but no, I shall save it for another time). Written by well-known Lomography community member Wil6ka, the book documents his tongue-in-cheek journey to different places where caviar is produced. Because the camera is called the Caviar.

*ba dum tss*

Getting back to serious business, the La Sardina Caviar is really the belle in the analogue crowd. She may be pretty and easy to get to know, but don’t underestimate the power in her punch. Judging by her books, she’s pretty witty too. I think I’m going to stay with this belle for a while.

Wait, you wanna take my belle away from me? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Okay fine, but you’ve gotta show us your style by taking part in our Popspoken x Lomography contest! It’s really simple and entries close 18 November, so get crackin’! (But can I keep the gorgeous seafaring wooden case?) :D

xx Shah