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Published on March 14th, 2011 | by Rita


The Simple Joy of Photography with the Sprocket Rocket

There are a few things that we at Tru­lyNet have un­abashed af­fec­tion for, things like elec­tron­ic gad­gets or any­thing tech­ni­cal. It’s not hard to pull any one of our staff in­to a con­ver­sa­tion about the newest iPad, the lat­est and great­est DSLR cam­era, or the best dig­i­tal wine cel­lar. There would be few sur­prised read­ers if this was an ar­ti­cle about the newest in­de­struc­tible dig­i­tal cam­era, but we’re will­ing to bet no­body saw an ar­ti­cle about an ex­treme­ly ana­log cam­era com­ing their way. How­ev­er, that’s ex­act­ly what you’re get­ting, and we couldn’t be more ex­cit­ed about it.

From Lo­mog­ra­phy I had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to test out the Sprock­et Rock­et, which is eas­i­ly the least com­pli­cat­ed cam­era this pho­tog­ra­pher has ev­er used. In fact, when it came out of the box my first re­ac­tion was sur­prise over how light it is. I’m used to my Canon T1i, which, by DL­SR stan­dards is pret­ty light, but feels like a tank next to the Sprock­et Rock­et.

Be­fore I delve much fur­ther in­to the cam­era it­self, a word about Lo­mog­ra­phy. The mak­ers of all things ana­log, in­clud­ing pin­hole cam­era, Hol­ga cam­eras, var­i­ous fish­eye and panoram­ic cam­era, and a few pre­mi­um cam­eras in­clud­ing a TRL. They have what is most ac­cu­rate­ly de­scribed as a cult-fol­low­ing, in the best pos­si­ble way.

Us­ing the Sprock­et Rock­et was an ex­er­cise in min­i­mal­ism. I’m very used to tak­ing pret­ty good pho­tos, us­ing a wide ar­ray of set­tings, di­als, fo­cus rings and the oc­ca­sion­al speed light. On the Sprock­et Rock­et you get aper­ture con­trol that con­sists of cloudy (f/10.8) and sun­ny (f/16) which can be ob­tained by flip­ping the switch be­tween the cloud icon and the sun icon. Your shut­ter con­trol is N – 1/100, for day­time snap­shots and B (bulb) for com­plete con­trol over how long you ex­pose a pho­to. Last, but cer­tain­ly not least, is the fo­cus ring, 0.6-1m for close-ups, and 1m to in­fin­i­ty for dis­tance shots. When con­trol set­tings be­come this lim­it­ed, you’d be sur­prised how much more you have to think about what you’re do­ing. Pho­tog­ra­phy def­i­nite­ly be­comes a mat­ter of puz­zle solv­ing and cre­ativ­i­ty, which is awe­some!

Be­cause there are no mo­tor­ized or bat­tery op­er­at­ed parts in this cam­era the film has to be wound and re-wound man­u­al­ly. The rea­son this is im­por­tant, is be­cause you can eas­i­ly dou­ble ex­pose pho­tos. Some­times you do this en­tire­ly with in­ten­tion, but it’s just as easy to for­get that your cam­era hasn’t moved you to the next frame of film. The ex­po­sures are wide, gen­er­al­ly a sin­gle pho­to in­volves three frames of reg­u­lar 35mm film. If you don’t want your sprock­ets ex­posed they in­clude a frame that snaps in over the film as you’re load­ing it, just re­mem­ber that once you start on a roll of film you’re com­mit­ted to it, un­less you can find a dark room to open the cam­era to re­move the frame again.

When you take your film to the lab, pre­sum­ing you’re not us­ing your own dark room, make sure to let them know that the ex­po­sures are much wider than a reg­u­lar pho­to, and that the sprock­ets are ex­posed as well. At my film lab I be­lieve they end­ed up us­ing a 65mm car­ri­er to ex­pose the film. I then asked them to put the im­ages on a disk, be­cause I’m all about putting my pho­tos all over the in­ter­net. If you’d pre­fer to dig­i­tize your own neg­a­tives Lo­mog­ra­phy has a Dig­i­taL­IZA that can as­sist you, pro­vid­ed you’re us­ing a reg­u­lar size scan­ner.

There’s a neat joy that comes with wait­ing to have pho­tos de­vel­oped, in­stead of the in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of dig­i­tal. You tru­ly get to re-live the mo­ments that got cap­tured, and it’s a re­al­ly fun feel­ing. I’m not sure I’d use the Sprock­et Rock­et as my pri­ma­ry cam­era, but it’s a re­al­ly fun ad­di­tion to my pho­tog­ra­phy ar­se­nal. You can pur­chase the Sprock­et Rock­et di­rect­ly from Lo­mog­ra­phy for $89, or from Ama­zon” for a lit­tle less.

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About the Author

Professionally in healthcare, and semi-professionally a photographer, former student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and full-time student of human nature, Rita has been writing for Truly Net for many years. Born and raised in the Midwest, she spent years on Oahu, and has formed some very strong opinions about all things knitting, pie, and the best places to climb. She really enjoys good food, music and friends, and is perfectly willing to write about, and photograph any or all of those things.

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