Pretty much everyone has heard of the Lomo LC-A, and if you're reading this then you probably own one or know someone who does. But what about it's lesser-known sibling, the Lomo LC-M? Never heard of it? Well read on...
The Lomo LC-M is one of the rarest cameras I own, and it took me ages to track one down. It was destined to be the successor of the hugely popular Lomo LC-A, but for some reason, it wasn't to be. Only a few thousand were made during 1986/1987, whilst production of the hugely popular LC-A continued until 2005.
As you can see in the photo, it looks a bit different to the LC-A. Some people think it's ugly - possibly a contributing factor to its (lack of) popularity. I think it looks lovely - the Russian text around the shutter is a great touch.
Apart from its looks, this camera has several major technical improvements over the LC-A. Firstly, its ISO goes up to 800, making it even better for shooting in dark/low-light conditions. This ISO setting comes with the cost of losing ISO25.
The camera also has a cable release screw-in hole. This is a very useful feature - I always found myself accidentally nudging or shaking my LC-A whilst holding the shutter button during long-exposures, leading to blurry pictures. It allows me to do self portraits thanks to a little clockwork shutter-release thingie I got. Or I can screw in a cable-release cord and do blur-free long exposures.
There are a few minor changes too - there is one light in the viewfinder (instead of the LC-A's 2); it takes two batteries (instead of 3); the nearest focus is 0.9m (instead of 0.8); and the shutter mechanism is apparently better/more-reliable but I haven't really noticed this.
LC-Ms are rather hard to find, but I got lucky and found a 'cheap' one on eBay. I initially had a few problems with the cheap camera. It had a few lightleak issues - easily fixed with new light seals. The camera was also missing it's ISO Selector dial which meant I could only use ISO100 films. I managed to get a broken LC-A from eBay, dismantled it and salvaged the dial. The LC-A and LC-M share a lot of the same parts so it was a relatively easy operation.
If you can find an LC-M, I really recommend getting one - mainly because of the rarity factor. If you can't find one, the nearest you'll get is Lomography's LC-A+ (it's basically an LC-A with ISO1600 and cable release hole - sounds a bit familiar?).