I’ll be the first to admit, the relationship between me and Soviet-built cameras has been a rocky one. My first experience with Soviet cameras was with the Zenit B (this camera’s meterless cousin), it’s lack of automation was my downfall. Next a Zorki 4 with a pinholed shutter curtain, the Keiv 88 wasn’t too bad. I had excellent shots with a Fed-2, and a tonne of problems with a Smena 8m and I don’t even want to speak on the Zenit 122K. But after hearing James Lee (who loaned out this camera originally for review, I have since purchased my own) talk about how greatRead More →

When it comes to bare-bones Mechanical SLRs, the Zenit 122K is as bare-bones as they come. This mostly plastic camera comes from the rather odd times right near the end of the Cold War and Soviet rule in Russia. I mean it’s pretty basic even for someone who just wants to learn how to use an all manual camera. But oddly enough the camera still looks cool, in fact at forty yards you might think it a Contax RTS III or similar camera with a squat prism and all black with white lettering, but don’t be fooled this camera is no Contax…not by a longRead More →

What is it about Soviet-made cameras that attract such a cult following? I mean they are notorious for breaking, or just being of poor quality right off the factory line. But what is the mark of quality? For the West, we look at cameras such as the Leica and Hasselblad which are precision built cameras with a great deal of research, development, and quality checks before they get into the hands of photographers. But for the Soviets, it was something that could be quickly built, easily repaired, and put into everyone’s hand. And the FED-2 has that mark of quality. But these were far criesRead More →

There’s something strange about the Smena 8M, it wasn’t my first experience with Soviet cameras and certainly wasn’t going to be my last. But the Smena 8m made me both loved and despised the cameras from the Soviet bloc. The camera is simple to the point of being demining, a chunk of plastic that has little to offer a photographer. Other than a strange joy and annoyance in general operation. Every time I used it, I wanted to give it away, tossing more images than those I kept. Yet now looking back at the three rolls I shot through the camera the resulting photos aren’tRead More →