Lubitel 166B

The Lubitel 166B is the first camera that I used from the collection (see the home page). This is a brand new example, boxed and complete with case, user manual and cable release. It dates from around 1980 or so. It takes 120 roll film, readily available today in colour or black and white and you get 12 6x6cm pictures on each roll. It has an f4.5 75mm lens that gives a reasonable field of view - equivalent to about 49mm on a 35mm camera.


The Lubitel 166B is often described as a toy camera because it is cheaply made from plastic but the lens is not bad and it takes perfectly reasonable pictures. There is some vignetting but no more than on some other similar cameras from that era that are sold as ‘real’ cameras - see the Zeiss Ikon Nettar page for example - a very nice quality camera. The Lubitel 166B is a great camera to use as it is light weight and has a bright ground glass viewing screen for composing the shot with. In practice I found myself setting the distance to the subject by guessing and using the scale on the lens. There is a pop up magnifier to aid proper focussing but it is quite tricky to use. I didn’t use the case as it is difficult to get the camera in and out when you need to but it is good to have for longer term storage - it does keep the dust out. I found myself using the shutter release cable a lot, so I tied it to the strap with a bit of string! This is better than using the the little lever on the lens...

There is no light meter so you need to either guess the exposure (which gets easier with practice) or use a separate hand held meter. I guess more these days but do also use a separate ‘Western Master V’ meter which I will soon feature on its own page. I actually use this Western Master meter with a lot of cameras that do have built in meters, because the camera’s meters are often not reliable as they get older.

One thing that you do have to watch out for with the Lubitel 166B is the catch that holds the back shut. This is flimsy and is easily caught on things such that the back will open, potentially ruining you film. I have had a couple of lucky escapes with this ‘feature’ of the camera. It does at least make you take better care of the camera because you don’t want anything coming too close to that catch.

These were taken in February 2006: