October 4, 2010

My first camera - Smena 8M (Смена)

I got my first camera when I was 10 years old. My uncle gave it to me on my birthday. My joy was endless when I took my first picture using “Svema 65” - 35mm black and white film. My father, who was my first guide on photography, helped me to develop my first film and print the images in our small bathroom. I still keep my camera and old black and white negatives as an important nostalgic piece to remind me of an earlier life.

Smena (Russian: Смена) is a series of low-cost 35 mm film cameras manufactured in the Soviet Union by the LOMO factory from 1953 to 1991. These cameras were designed to be inexpensive and accessible to the public, made of bakelite or black plastic for the later models, and totally manually operated. Even winding of film is separated from shutter coil. All parameters should be set manually and without any helping system. 

The word "Smena" (Смена) is roughly translated into "Young Generation" in English. True to its name, the Smena line of cameras were designed to provide inexpensive, accessible, and excellent photography tools to the hard-working young Soviets of the time. The popularity of this line was so enduring, that Smenas continued to be produced until the late 1980's. The 8M model is the late 70's to early 80's incarnation of the Smena lineage. Its look is classic Russian design. Largely crafted in lightweight plastic, the Smena has a brushed aluminum nameplate and lens housing, striking a somewhat bizarre mixture of materials. It feels toy like in your hands, yet offers surprisingly robust controls and funky, icon-based exposure calculation. Wild looks aside, the Smena shines most brightly through its lens.

  • Lens: Triplet 43, 40 mm, f/4, 3 elements
  • Focal range: 1 m to infinity, scale-focus
  • Shutter speeds : B, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250
  • Shutter type: 3 blades diaphragm shutter
  • Apertures: f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16
  • Film type: 35 mm film
  • Size: 70 x 100 x 60 mm
  • Weight: 289 g

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