Lomography offers an automatic version: the Lomo’Instant Automat, which is the most advanced automatic instant camera according to the Lomography. It can promise correct exposure for any lighting situation. It boasts a 35mm-equivalent focal length with an aperture range of F8 – F22, making it ideal for casual shooting, street photography and fun portraits. Although we were shooting our sleek black ‘Playa Jardin’ model without any accessories, the Automat comes with a kit of creative accessories and can use separately available lens attachments (wide-angle, close-up and fisheye) to expand its creative possibilities.
The camera can automatically adjusts shutter speed, aperture and flash output for each shot. There are also plenty of other ways to control the exposure and creative effects. You can use exposure compensation of ±1 to brighten or darken your shot, and you can choose to use the flash or turn it off. Shooting modes A or B give you the choice between Auto mode or Bulb mode (up to 30 seconds), and you can take as many multiple exposures as you’d like before printing your final print.
Its focus can achieve through a simple 3-zone focus system (0.6m / 1 – 2m / infinity), which is controlled by rotating the front lens ring element. And if you want to be in the shot, you can set the camera up on a tripod and use the lens cap as a remote trigger (both instant and timed release options are available).
The included strap causes the camera to hang in portrait orientation and you have to move the strap out of the way to use landscape orientation, but the placement of the shutter button and viewfinder makes it comfortable to shoot either way.
Selecting options and shooting the Automat are intuitive, but the results aren’t always predictable. I found that I needed to set the exposure to -1EV whenever using the flash, and the viewfinder wasn’t very useful for framing my shots — I have countless examples of photos with my subject falling off the edge of the frame, especially when I was trying to use the close-up focus zone. The exposure was also unpredictable in more difficult lighting situations, such as scenes with a lot of sky or bright light. In general, I found that most of my shots were overexposed and I wished that I had at least another stop of exposure compensation to play with.
As I got more comfortable predicting what would be a good (or fun) shot, I found I was using the Lomo’Instant Automat primarily as a social snapshot camera. If I wasn’t after a brightly (flash) lit mid-distance portrait in a low light scene, then I had to be careful that the ambient light was relatively even throughout the scene in order to avoid over-exposure.