Should you buy a Sprocket Rocket?

The Lomography Sprocket Rocket is a film camera made in China and designed by Lomography – an Austrian company dedicated to making analogue photography using film a modern and fashionable pastime again. But is it any good? Should you buy one? Will you like the images? and is it fun to use? We asked those questions in Episode 01 of The Camera Challenge. Watch it here.

What’s remarkable about the Sprocket Rocket is that it exposes all of the 35mm emulsion leading to photographs which show the sprocket holes along the sides or top and bottom. They look great. Here’s one I took of Gabriel on holiday:

Sprocket Rocket - Gabriel - The Camera Challenge
Sprocket Rocket – Gabriel – The Camera Challenge

The camera itself is large and plastic. A plastic body, plastic back and a plastic lens. It’s also available in a wide variety of exceptionally bright colours. The black is classic and very Art Deco, whilst the red is sumptuous and the pink shocking.

The standard price in the Lomography shop for delivery to the UK is £79. It’s often on sale, there may be an occasional discount code, and several Amazon dealers have it at a discount. It’s beautifully packaged, which is a shame because you can’t really keep the packaging after ripping into it to extricate your camera. It comes with a beautiful book and an instruction manual in language after language after language.

Lomography Sprocket Rocket - boxed
Lomography Sprocket Rocket – boxed

You can focus choosing a flower or mountain, set an aperture for cloudy and sunny and click the shutter; that’s all.

It’s a shock when comparing the Sprocket Rocket camera to modern cameras with their disease of knobs, dials and touchscreens as there are precious few controls. You can focus choosing a flower or mountain, set an aperture for cloudy and sunny and click the shutter; that’s all. That frees you to point and shoot. In fact it frees you creatively to explore composition rather than worry about technical aspects of the photograph.

The plastic lens is optically very poor – it’s the sort of thing a four year old would be thrilled to get in a Christmas cracker but not something you’d expect on a premium film camera. The effect is great though.

The viewfinder is simply a hole with an approximate view of what the exposure of the film will be. It’s as close to the lens as possible to reduce parallax error so the lens obscures the bottom of the view. Your view of the composition has a large bump of the lens in the way. It’s not too obtrusive.

It has manual wind-forwards and wind-backwards knobs which mean it’s easy to forget to wind your film on and you can get accidental double exposures. Some of these can be fascinating accidents and others a terrible waste of two decent photos. Here’s one Gabriel took by accident in The Camera Challenge Episode 01.

Sprocket Rocket - Double Exposure - The Camera Challenge
Sprocket Rocket – Double Exposure – The Camera Challenge

I’ll leave you to judge which of the options this is!

There’s an ingenious tripod mount crossed with a strap holder on the bottom of the camera and a hotshoe for a standard electronic flash on the top.

The images have very strong vignetting – the light falls off rapidly towards the corners – which gives a strong atmosphere to your shots.This is even more pronounced if you use flash. Here’s a picture of Joseph.

Sprocket Rocket - Joe - The Camera Challenge
Sprocket Rocket – Joe – The Camera Challenge

He’s a Belieber in film.

Do remember to ask them not to cut your negatives though, as a machine will slice through your beautifully exposed panoramic shots.

What about developing films and your prints? Well, developing is easy with so many high street photography shops still developing films or taking them in and sending them away for you. Do remember to ask them not to cut your negatives though, as a machine will slice through your beautifully exposed panoramic shots. Printing them is another issue, though. Because the whole of the film is exposed most high street photography shops can’t print your images. You’ll either have to scan the negatives yourself (more on how to do this in a future blog) or send your films away to Lomography or another specialist Lomo developer.

Is it fun to use? A resounding “Yes!”
Do I like the images? “They’re wonderful!”

Buy one here from Amazon. Your only problem is which colour to get:

Superpop Pink?

Sprocket Rocket Superpop Pink

Superpop Yellow?

Sprocket Rocket Superpop Yello

Superpop Blue?

Sprocket Rocket Superpop Blue

The product images shown in this post are taken directly from the Lomography website. Thanks!

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