I've never used this type of "Lo-Fi" cameras... One very basic question:

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Are there cameras of this type, with a few controls, say 3 shutter speeds, 3 f-stops and 3 focusing distances, or something like that?
Which lenses are considered the best ones in general?
 

Donald Qualls

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It's a pretty nebulous definition, but overall, I'd say the "lo-fi" term mostly refers to the expected image quality. Box cameras, Holga/Diana, plastic fixed-everything 35mm "not quite disposable" cameras, most 110 and 126 cameras, many of Polaroid's less expensive offerings, the biggest common factor is that most have a pretty basic lens and little or no attention to keeping the film flat, as well as depending on depth of field for every image.

It's short for "low fidelity" after all...
 

AgX

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To give you two examples:

Agfa Isola 1
meniscus lens , 3 focus settings , B & M , 2 stops , PC

Agfa Isola 2
triplet lens , continuous focusing , B, 1/30, 1/100 , F6.3, F11 , PC

Both got transport and cocking coupled, with anti-doubleexposure feature. Release on body, telescopic lens.
 
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Would you say when a lo-fi photographer wants a bit more control and image quality, they use a non lo-fi camera because better quality lo-fi cameras don't exist?
 
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To give you two examples:

Agfa Isola 1
meniscus lens , 3 focus settings , B & M , 2 stops , PC

Agfa Isola 2
triplet lens , continuous focusing , B, 1/30, 1/100 , F6.3, F11 , PC

Both got transport and cocking coupled, with anti-doubleexposure feature. Release on body, telescopic lens.
Thanks, AgX.
 

Donald Qualls

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Would you say when a lo-fi photographer wants a bit more control and image quality, they use a non lo-fi camera because better quality lo-fi cameras don't exist?

Well, let's ask that question this way: I have a Baby Ikonta from the 1920s-1930s. It has a Derval shutter, speeds 25, 50, 75, and B -- but it has a Novar Anastigmat lens with front element scale focusing (which is only f/6.3, stops down to f/22). I don't consider this lo-fi; the Novar is capable of very good images and there is enough exposure range to use ISO 200 film in Sunny conditions -- but still go down to Cloudy Dull or Open Shade, meaning if I choose my film for the expected conditions, I can generally get correct exposure.
 

AgX

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Yes, the term lo-fi is ambiguous. To show this I hinted at the mechanics above. There is a wide range of consumer cameras. Even excluding SLR- and RF-cameras, the rest below those forms a range without fixed groups.

One better just take a model out of this range that, for whatever reason, attracts one, without following advices. Later when using it one still can contemplate on benefits and shortcomings.
 

Sirius Glass

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As others posted the term ambiguous is too vague. I suggest you start looking a 35mm Point & Shoot cameras which come in a great variety.
 

Don Heisz

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I think most "lo-fi" photographers are out to get "lo-fi" effects - flash blow-outs, colour shifts, heavy grain, messy focus, motion blur - and don't necessarily use "lo-fi" cameras to do it.
 
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I thought -but it seems I was wrong- some of the so called lo-fi cameras (and I imagined plastic lenses most of the times, but not always) belonged to an upper class level: made for some people who preferred a few f-stops, a few speeds, and a few focusing distances, but yet without great glass and also without great mechanical quality metal bodies. But it looks like those are not common: a middle point between lo-fi and classic cameras...
That's why I asked, then lo-fi photographers just use real cameras when they want some more control and some more IQ...
What I find interesting in photography -apart from creation and human condition reflection- is having control over exposure and depth of field: that is, using photographic materials and equipment the ways we decide to use them, to say clearly what we want to say... I would never use a point-and-shoot...
I don't seek highest IQ as top of my priorities either, even if I get it with my Arca Swiss or with my Hasselblad while working with tripod.
But I see little fun in cameras with fix shutter speed and and fix aperture or fix focus.
 

Craig75

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Probably don't need a lofi camera if Yr worrying about lens performance....

But if you want manual controls and use m mount cameras there are plenty of lofi lenses been put into that mount
 

ciniframe

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Juan, it might be helpful to look at some really good work done by professional photographers using a lo-fi camera, in this case the $40 Holga 120n. Search for ‘David Burnett, Holga photos’ and ‘Michael Kenna, Holga photos’.
These will show what is possible with this type of camera, but obviously working within the limitations of such a type.

edit; I see you are located in South America so price and availability may vary.
 

flavio81

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Are you implying they're all equally horrible?
I don't think that's even possible...

Define which characteristiscs your "best lo-fi lens" needs to have and I'll do my best to recommend you a lens.
 

wiltw

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Two different issues
  1. Low range of control of shutter & aperture
  2. Relatively lower quality optics
Typically 'box cameras' were 'easy to use' because they were simplistic in control...no adjustment, except option for flash photography when appropriate.
 

Sirius Glass

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your "best lo-fi lens" is like producing a self eating watermelon.
 

dourbalistar

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Juan, it might be helpful to look at some really good work done by professional photographers using a lo-fi camera, in this case the $40 Holga 120n. Search for ‘David Burnett, Holga photos’ and ‘Michael Kenna, Holga photos’.
These will show what is possible with this type of camera, but obviously working within the limitations of such a type.
Also check out the work of Troyce Hoffman. He's made some incredible landscape images with a Holga:
https://www.troycehoffman.com/theamericanwestmountains
https://www.troycehoffman.com/theamericanwestdeserts/

This article has some more background and information about his process:
All the photos are taken with Kodak Tri-X film with a red filter that is then push processed to ISO 1600, this combination I feel creates a very dramatic effect that conveys the raw and unforgiving nature of the land.
 

zloch1

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Back when I was in art school one of my teachers called it “point and pray” photography.
 

Donald Qualls

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Back when I was in art school one of my teachers called it “point and pray” photography.

Lots of pinhole cameras are in this category -- they have no viewfinder or extremely primitive ones (alignment marks on the top and ends, for instance). OTOH, they're often such wide angle that getting too much in frame is more of a problem than cutting off your primary subject.
 
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