Back in my first struggling steps into the broader world of film photography, I came across this strange camera. Now, I knew about Hasselblads and also knew how expensive they were, but the seller informed me proudly that the Kiev 88 is a direct copy of the Hasselblad but at a far better price. I ended up getting the body, two lenses (but never used the second one??) and a pair of film backs. Oh, the seller also threw in a Zorki 4 with a pinholed shutter. I had to admit; I liked working with the 88, I lucked out and got the CM versionRead More →

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 →

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 →

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally had a chance to work through some backlogged film testing for the Film Photography Project. For the most part, this has been testing the Russian/Ukrainian film stocks from the Svema company. This is actually a really good film! First off a little background, Svema, or Свема, combines the first letters of two words: Светочувствительные Материалы, which translated means “Photosensitive Materials”. Svema was the Kodak of the USSR, founded in 1931 the company produced paper and black & white films, after World War Two, Svema gained Agfa’s colour technology when the Russians overran Germany and took theRead More →

Comrades! 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 theRead More →

I’m not often one who will get a new camera and throw it into a project that has been going very well, and hoping that I’ll get something decent. I usually test out the cameras first. But when I was given a Lomo Smena 8m from Michael Raso of The Film Photography Project it must be a good camera. And well the manual was all in Russian so I just launched right into using it. The results were…interesting. I carried it with me over the course of Sunday errands so there’s really no rhyme or reason to the images, they’re shot straight from the hipRead More →