May 1st (well the whole week apparently) was International Commie Camera Day. Of course to the average person wouldn’t know a communist camera from a regular one. So what makes a camera communist? Last time I checked Cameras don’t hold to political ideologies (or do they?), but rather what makes a camera communist is where it was made and when. For the most part a camera is communist when it it well made in a communist country (so yes, those Chinese cameras that are still produced today, yep, communist). But for the most part a “Commie Camera” was one that was produced in the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Soviet cameras. I’ve had several pass through my collection such as a Lubitel 2 (great camera btw), a Keiv 88, and a Zorki 4. My current Commie Camera (pictured above) is a Smena 8m which I got from Michael Raso of the Film Photography Project after helping guest host several postcasts back in 2011 and 2012 (and continue to write show notes for). The Smena I have was built in 1979 and is an interesting camera to use. The photos it produces are surprisingly sharp for a plastic bodied camera but the real power is the T-43 40mm f/4 glass lens. However the camera itself is pretty hard to use, first off the film counter doesn’t work, at all, well it does, but it’s impossible to use to track your frame count. Advancing the film does not cock the shutter, you have to do that separately, which gives great opportunities for double exposures. No light meter, zone focus, aperture and shutter speed are done…weird. But it’s oddly fun, and when you can get a good image out of the camera, it’s good.
But despite all the troubles I have with this little camera, I like using it, not all the time of course, but it is oddly fun.
Having a new area to photograph helped alot, with nice abstract lines, a campus with lots of light, it really helped.
Maybe before next year’s ICCD, I’ll have another Commie Camera to break out.
ЛОМО ϹМЕНА 8M – T-43 4/40 ЛОМО – Kodak Tmax 100 (100TMX)
Dev: Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C