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I used to do analog lomography.

I want to switch to digital. I can already take pictures with a crappy digital machine (my smartphone) and edit them. I know it is not the same as lomography, but it is the result that counts for me.

I am looking to buy a good camera (limited budget, say 500€). My main concern is that I am able to print out pictures big, so high resolution is required (which my smartphone does not provide).

Another concern is color. I want to achieve very nice colors.

I am weighing my options between a digital SLR and a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

In the DSLR category, I would opt for nikon d5100, possibly with the f1/1.8, 35mm lens. In the MILC category, I don't yet have a favorite (but am considering the Olympus PEN E-PL2).

Everybody seems to say that DSLR is better then MILC, but is this still the case? I don't want to take super-realistic pictures, but I do want sharp ones with high color contrast. I realise that the discussion MILC versus DSLR is an extensive one and I don't want to get into that in general.

I am tending towards the D5100, but I was just wondering, for artistic pictures, with lomo-like effects, couldn't it be that MILC cameras offer better color values and overal composition? And the DSLR is not worth carrying the extra weight?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

In short, it doesn't matter. You'll be able to get similar results in either case. Either type of system is able to deliver the sharpness, resolution, and color contrast you are looking for.

Instead, consider how you'd like to use the system in the field, what lenses are available, and so on. It is not the case that MILC cameras offer "better color values and overall composition", but it may be that the smaller, lighter designs make composition easier for you.

For most people who choose DSLR cameras over mirrorless these days, the main advantages are higher image quality from larger sensors, the greater immediacy of an optical viewfinder, and the greater maturity of the systems as a whole (lens selection, flashes, professional support). The higher image quality is probably unnecessary for your purposes, and the viewfinder issue is a matter of your own preferences. The last, though, is worth considering — but given that even the smaller systems generally have the basics covered, might not really be a big deal.

When people talk about "digital lomography" they usually mean one of two very different things.

The first is something like what the Hipstamatic iPhone app aims for: to focus on serendipity and on non-repeatable, almost chaotic processes where taking the photo is almost as important as the result. If this is your style, you may enjoy the Lensbaby Muse — available for most DSLR systems and for Four Thirds (you'd need an adapter for Micro Four Thirds; only the more expensive Composer Pro comes in a native m4/3rds version). And, you might want to go with in-camera JPEG over RAW, because the capture is the process. (Possibly with digital filters set before, rather than after. Here again most consumer-oriented cameras in both categories are loaded with special effects options, so it's not a big deciding factor either.)

The second approach to digital lomo is more about creating digital art with photography as a starting point. Here, you'd want to start with high quality RAW files and work from there — with most of your real work in post-processing on your computer. And again, cameras from either type will be excellent.

So, get a camera you like and you won't go wrong.

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Lomography, which is explicitly a film-based style of photography, is really more about the style than the gear. There is nothing to say you can't achieve "lomo-like" photos with a digital camera, but I don't think sensor format or camera design will have any real impact on that (other than the possibility that a LARGER sensor will make it easier to get thin DOF).

What you really want to look for is the right kind of lens. Fast (wide-aperture) lenses are certainly one way to get more lomo-like, but probably not the best. The lomography style is highly saturated colors, distortion effects, thin depth of field, OOF effects, glow and soft focus, etc. Saturation is something you can manage entirely in post with creative curves editing in photoshop or even simply a strong boost to saturation/vibrancy once you move to a digital format, so lens or camera gear aren't going to matter here at all.

As for the other effects, the best option is probably a LensBaby. LensBaby offers a range of specialty lenses and accessories to achieve optical effects that are key in lomography, such as distortion or creative DOF. You can get tilt/shift lens mounts or special effects lenses to achieve all sorts of lomo-like stylism if you just pick up a LensBaby.

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1  
I guess I should note, the LensBaby might burn up your whole budget, but I still think it is the single best investment if you are interested in digital lomo. As I mentioned, lomography is all about spur-of-the-moment semi-wacky creative style...the body doesn't matter as much as the lens for doing that digitally, and even if it busts the bank short-term, I believe it will help you achieve your lomo-like digital goals over the very long term. –  jrista Dec 19 '12 at 22:20
    
I agree. That said, though, the new cheapest Lensbaby, the $80 Spark is only available currently for Canon and Nikon DSLR mounts, so that might steer you in that direction. (The other Lensbabies come in Sony, Pentax, and 4/3rds mounts as well.) –  mattdm Dec 19 '12 at 23:09

I'd like to add that for the lomo-style photography, you can get good results from old film glass. As @jrista stated Lomography, which is explicitly a film-based style of photography.

Because of the flange distance on mirrorless cameras, you can get almost any lens mount adapter for that system. It's still doable with SLRs but the shorter flange distance is still a better advantage over DSLR for film glass.

You can get good deals on auction sites but then again, you have to know what you're looking for or know what you want.

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