Thank to the 166+ viewfinder you can experiment a different new kind of shooting approach. The viewfinder is surely more luminous than in the predecessors: it’s easy to create images just as they are in your mind: the viewfinder is really big, with the same dimensions of the picture it will be impressed on the medium format film frame. This feature is useful in order to have the real idea of how much density of information (i.e. the proportion and relationship between the subject area and the back panorama area) is going to be impressed on your film frame.
The big difference between the original Lubitel (the 166U – Universal) is that in the new one the viewfinder is completely renewed and really improved. The original viewfinder was made by a curved glass, so it was a little difficult to understand what was inside the frame and what was not in the frame: the viewfinder covered only the 80% of the real image on film. The Lubitel 166+ viewfinder is made by a perfectly flat glass, which covers completely the real image (100%).
Limitations of the TLRs
All the TLRs (Twin Lens Reflex cameras) have the problem of the parallax error, just as in all cameras that have a separate viewfinder (rangefinder cameras and zone focus viewfinder cameras): «in such cameras, the eye sees the subject through different optics (the viewfinder, or a second lens) than the one through which the photo is taken. As the viewfinder is often found above the lens of the camera, photos with parallax error are often slightly lower than intended, the classic example being the image of person with his or her head cropped off. This problem is addressed in single-lens reflex cameras, in which the viewfinder sees through the same lens through which the photo is taken (with the aid of a movable mirror), thus avoiding parallax error.» (source: Wikipedia)
So in the Lubitel 166+ you will reduce your errors in composing the picture, thanks to the better lens and the better viewfinder. I think that this is a very important point in favor of the choice of this really amazing camera…
Since I started working with the Lubitel 166+, I tried to explore the main features and functions of this amazing camera. It’s easy to realize the change of user experience in comparison to other camera models, due to the lack of an automatic setting (it has no battery) and the absolute freedom of settings. Since it's a fully manual 120 camera, I started exploring all the different technical features: let’s start from the basic ones.
The first amazing thing you should know about the Lubitel 166+ is that it has glass lens: the shooting lens is the Triplet-22 f/4.5 75mm lens; I’m pointing out that it’s glass, because of the fact that usually Lomography cameras have plastic lens (the so called “toy cameras”). The Lubitel 166+ is not responsible of the usual color shifting effect present with other Lomography cameras, due to a correct refraction of light.
Shouldn’t the Lubitel 166+ be a 120 film camera? Sure! But one of the most important feature is that you can also load the 35mm in it. This really cool feature is possible thanks to the Lubikin set (which is fully included in the package), so that you can convert your Lubitel 166+ into a 35mm camera: the really amazing thing is that the format of final images is a vertical panorama, with exposed sprockets holes. That’s a really unique and peculiar result, because it’s a frame format that simply doesn’t exist in the entire analog camera catalog. The use of 35mm film in this camera it’s entirely different, because the final image will be 58x33mm, with exposed sprockets.
Once you put all the pieces of the Lubikin set inside your Lubitel 166+, you can upload your 35mm film: there’s a frame counter on the right side of the camera, but you should set the 35mm Film Counter to “S” by rolling the 35mm Film Counter Wheel forward. The sprocket holes should be lined up evenly on the gears.
It’s really important to use the rubber hood to cover the 120 film Counter Wheel’s red window, because 35mm is more sensitive to light, so it’s really important that all light windows are completely closed! If you don’t do that, your pictures will have a lot of light leaks, or the entire film will be exposed.
Next to the 35mm Film Counter there is a small window where a white dot appears. As you shoot a new image and advance the film, the white dot will indicate when to stop advancing the film. Each time you see the white dot, you have advanced one full frame.