Getting to Know Astonuts and His 40+ Rolls with the Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera

We are honored to hear from Community member and car enthusiast Christian a.k.a. astonuts about his daily analogue routine and his self-imposed challenge to reload the Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera as many times as possible. His Simple Use camera has already been reloaded more than 40 times. The said challenge is chronicled in an alternate LomoHome named usedsimpleuse.

Keep reading and find out more about Christian here!

Credits: usedsimpleuse & astonuts

Christian and His Journey with Film

Hello! My name is Christian, I’m French and am 52 years old. I am a classic car fan, a car spotter. I started analogue when I was 14 years old with a compact which gave bad results like blurs and cut corners. I bought a second-hand Canon AT-1 when I was a bit older because I wanted to control every parameter. I didn't want autofocus, I didn't want a program and even aperture or speed priority. At that time, I was looking for very sharp films and was very academic. Later I took fewer photos and found the SLR too big to take it as often. I gradually slowed taking photos.

Credits: usedsimpleuse

When digital came I waited until it was small and was really enthusiastic about smartphones. That made me do car spotting more seriously with Instagram where I started using @astonuts on social networks. I began to have success on Instagram and took more and more photos but I gradually took less and less pleasure in taking photos and even in the events I attended. It was like taking 1500 photos in a day and wanting to see everything. You know, that FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) effect is linked to social networks… Getting bored made me think about changing and I decided to take my old faithful AT-1 again. I rediscovered the intact pleasure of shooting analogue and manual.

Credits: astonuts

Getting analogue again made me read many articles to learn more. I discovered pushing and pulling films and tested some 40 cameras in two years… Now I am slowing down and wish to use only several. My daily cameras are an Olympus XA2 and a Lomography Simple Use. Then I use my AT-1, my Clack for 6x9, two SX-70 cameras (one for SX-70 film, one for 600 film). I have tested a Canon EOS 300 with 28-80 zoom but I noticed it leads me to shoot without thinking like with digital stuff!

Gathering analogue knowledge, I also wanted a very small camera I could have every day in my pocket. The Olympus XA2 is a very good camera but its sensor trigger doesn’t work with gloves or for quick shots. A fix-focus could thus be a good choice too. At first, I tested a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Small clone (by Jelly Lens) which gave very nice results including 36 exposures films contrary to the legend it was fragile. BUT the 22 mm lens, if good for street photography, is not the best for car spotting.

Credits: usedsimpleuse

40 Film Rolls and Counting: the Analogue Challenge with Simple Use Reloadable Camera

I then heard about the Lomography Simple Use which has a 35 mm lens and fun look with color gels for the flash even if I am not a fan of using flash… To get even more fun I chose the pink one. You never have problems using a Simple Use in the street because it looks like a toy so everyone thinks you can’t take serious photos with it which proved wrong! Also, it’s really great for car spotting when so many people are scared of you taking a photo of their car…

The Simple Use has a "wavy" shape that looks a bit like a styling fad but really helps for holding it, especially with one hand. This and the easy-to-use trigger (even with gloves) allowed me to use it in "fastest draw" shots when seeing a car passing by. The fixed-focus, single speed is definitely an advantage for an instant reaction.

Also, its small shape makes me put it naturally next to my nose and vertically, like an extension of my eyes and I often think about composition through its visor much more than with a bigger camera which requires thinking longer before actually taking it. This leads to the paradox that, even if you can take shots very quickly, you think more than with an autofocus camera that could bring you almost the same reaction. I can take the example of the Canon EOS 300 that I recently bought which makes me shoot without thinking like what bores me with a smartphone. Meanwhile, the Simple Use makes me shoot better! Sometimes I just put the Simple Use to my eye, look the scene through it but don't take a photo just because I don't find the right angle or framing.

Credits: usedsimpleuse

Like for some other cameras, you will find articles saying it looks fragile by people who didn’t test it for real. Of course, the first two or three times you reload it, you are a bit unsure how to do it but, believe me, it’s much easier than with a bottom loading Leica!

Then, if it looks like a toy, it makes really good photos. Once you accept it’s a “real” camera, you can load any film in it from expired ones to so-called professional films. What I noticed is that 400 iso was the best but with much sun, 200 also works and 800 can be used in winter. Anyway, the C41 films are quite easy to use. I have had more issues with some black and white films.

In fact, I have realized that I take the task of using a Simple Use much more as a challenge and love publishing killer photos made with a simple, all-plastic camera. Same when I say I have reloaded more than 40 times mine to people who think that camera would fall in pieces when reloading it. In fact, there’s something very satisfying in trying to get the best out of it. A bit like the disposable cameras contests, with added ecological impact!

In the future, I think about testing slide films like pushing a Kodak Ektachrome +2 to 400 iso and also testing interior and night shots with Kodak T-Max 3200 pushed +3 to 25600 ISO (sic!)

Credits: usedsimpleuse

Check out his LomoHomes as astonuts and usedsimpleuse and follow him on Instagram as jaidespellicules for his analogue works and astonuts for his digital works.

written by cielsan on 2022-02-15

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