Cashing in on what made the Supersampler a success, Lomography brought out the Oktomat a while ago. Press the shutter, and over 2-3 seconds, you actually shoot EIGHT images in sequence.
All this in the space of a standard 35mm negative, it sounds too good to be true. But is it?
Let’s find out! Actually my wife gave me the Oktomat as a birthday present a couple of years ago, and what a surprise it was.
I was always particularly fond of the Lomography Supersampler, as you can see from some of my early lomographic images. The Oktomat brings 8 lenses and 8 shutters to the party.
There it was, all new and red and shiny, and promised twice the excitement of the Supersampler. Eagerly, we both went to work and shot some pictures. Two years and several rolls of film later, we’re still disappointed with this piece of plastic bleep!
We’ll get to that later though, let’s stay objective for now.
The Oktomat has 8 50mm-ish lenses arranged in a 2×4 landscape pattern. Over 2.5-3 seconds, it would expose eight seperate sections of your 24x36mm negative (or slide) at about 1/100th of a second each. The results could be quite mad, at least in every plastic shooters mind.
Exposure appears clockwise from the top left corner to the bottom left corner (when viewed from the front of the camera).
The Oktomat sports a fairly useless flip-up viewfinder, which is just a plastic frame really. It gives an impression of how little each exposure would actually capture, even though in practice you’ll find you won’t need it.
It works and feels like a “proper” camera: you’ve got the shutter button at the top right, just in front of the film winding lever – which in turn makes a nice change from sprocket reels you have to turn to wind the film forward.
Also at the top you have a film rewind crank, and a small button you have to depress and hold should you wish to end your Oktomat session and rewind the film. On the bottom we find a fairly accurate frame counter, and the fact that this camera has been QC passed and made in China.
An included handstrap completes the picture of what’s in the box, apart from a nicely written “manual” of sorts telling you what the Oktomat could be, in an ideal world.
THE MANUAL TELLS LIES
The manual contains several example illustrations and images, some of which featrue bikini clad ladies. Excellent! Sex sells I guess.
Upon closer inspection however, we get suspicious: none of the images in the booklet have actually been shot on the Oktomat! What a scam!
The absence of black lines in between images and the wrong image sequence order compared to actual Oktomat footage gives it away completely. I remember Lomography pulled the same trick with the Supersampler booklet. I suspect a prototype wasn’t ready when the manual went to print, or the results would look way too bad for advertising.
WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD
The inside looks like a fairly standard camera, with a film gate split into 8 compartments. The film moves from left to right via a sprocket to the wind up spool. Both are there for film transportation… at least that’s the theory.
In reality, the wind-up mechanism has too little power to pull your film out of the cartridge, but of course you only find that out after several rolls of wasted film.
Here’s why: Neither the wind up spool nor the sprocket are connected “hard” to the film winder – the result is, you could wind the film forward (hence cranking up the shutters), but hold the film in place with very little effort.