Designed as the camera for Youth (Smena or ϹМЕНА roughly translated is Young Generation or Relay), the Smena 8m was a staple camera from the Leningrad Optical-Mechanical Union (LOMO) that really was the most basic of cameras out there. This simple viewfinder camera will either delight or frustrate you as it can be fairly complex to work with, which is rather odd since it was a Youth camera.
Maker: Lomo (ЛОМО)
Model: Smena 8m (ϹМЕНА 8M)
Type: 35mm Viewfinder
Lens: Fixed, Lomo T-43 4/40 (T-43 4/40 ЛОМО)
Year of Manufacture: 1970-1995
Actually the best part about this camera is the lens, with most of the camera being plastic suddenly being presented with a glass Triplet Lens is a welcome surprise. But like most Russian optics you have a defined fall off around the edges but even they are pleasing. The camera is also light-weight and a rather inexpensive way to get into the world of Lomography as the camera was mass produced and was fairly prolific and one of the more popular cameras to come out of the factory.
I don’t often rail against a camera, but this has a lot of issues I’ve found. First off this is a cheap mass produced camera and the Russian camera companies were not exactly known for good quality control. The camera is just in general difficult to use, two steps for advancing and cocking the shutter, and a separate release for the shutter. You also have to hold down the shutter release when rewinding the film. The film shutter speeds are shown by icons (while the focusing is set in numerical meters) however on the bottom of the lens barrel is the actual numerical shutter speeds., and the aperture is tied to film speeds, which is listed in DIN and ASA. Some of the listed speeds are familiar like 250 and 32, there’s also 130, 65, and 16. I can only assume that they are tied to some of the GOST scale. Plus the aperture control dial probably isn’t that accurate so it’s just a wild guessing game, so if that’s your thing…go for it. And finally, the frame counter, don’t even try to get it to work, because it just doesn’t.
The Low Down
I’m not a fan of this camera, I’ve shot it only a handful of times and can’t seem to get the hang of it. It is really all about the love, and this is one that I have a general love-hate relationship with. Now I’m use to working with this “lo-fi” or “Lomography” cameras that can produce erratic and strange results that aren’t always perfect, and I’m cool with that. But this one…the Smena 8m…I just can’t find things that I even like or can fix. This time I approched it a little differently, using an external meter (Gossen Lunasix F), an external rangefinder (Ideal Rangefinder) and setting the aperture to roughly f/8 I actually was fairly pleased this time around while most of the images were underexposed (not the meter’s fault) it seems that the irregularities that creep into these cameras has hit my copy bad either the aperture is off or the shutter speeds or both so unless you really like this style of camera or style of photography I would warn you away from it.
All Photos shot in Downtown Milton, Ontario
ЛОМО ϹМЕНА 8M – T-43 4/40 ЛОМО – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C