Smena 8m-intro

The Smena 8m is a basic, but fully manual camera which was manufactured by the LOMO factory in Russia between 1970 and 1993.

It is very low tech and housed in a cheap plastic casing, but surprisingly contains quite a decent lens (40mm f/4 T-43 coated triplet).

Originally it was intended to be a cheap, first camera for Russian youngsters during the communist era. The name itself roughly translates to ‘the young generation’. Along with cameras such as the LC-A and Holga, it has since become popular for lo-fi and experimental photography. Although the 8M was designed as an entry-level camera, the coated lens and leaf shutter means it wil take some decent pictures if one invests a little time to get to know it’s intricacies.

Before shooting, it is necessary to cock the shutter with a lever on the side of the lens barrel. Film advance is not connected to the shutter, so it’s possible to make multiple exposures on one frame. The exposure counter is temperamental at best and the viewfinder is less than reliable.

Aperture diameter is set using a sliding ring around the lens and can be adjusted between f/16 and f/4. Shutter speed can be adjusted by turning a ring at the base of the lens barrel. The camera is capable of speeds from 1/15 to 1/250. There is also a bulb setting which keeps the shutter open for as long as the shutter-release button is held. This allows for long-exposures and night-time photography. Focus is set using another ring on the lens barrel. The 8M will focus between 1m and infinity.

This may sound unnerving, but the 8M is quite easy to use with a little practice. The shutter-speed ring has a small icon for each setting, ranging from a sun to a dark cloud. The idea being, that the aperture should be set to the film speed (f/16 for ISO400, f/8 for ISO200, etc), then the shutter-speed should be set using the icon for the current lighting situation. The focus can be set by selecting the distance of the subject, then all that remains is to cock and shoot.

I’ve found the 8M to be quite simple to use so far and have been very impressed with the quality of the pictures. I believe the fully manual nature of the camera, the bulb setting and the coated lens more than make up for the small flaws mentioned previoiusly.

Where to buy a Smena 8M: sell them for a ridiculously inflated price, but eBay is the best place to find one. I picked mine up for around £15, including shipping from the Ukraine.

POSTED BY omarkhayam