SMENA 8M, 35mm camera

I got this one as an exchange item for some old LCD TV. It is 35mm film compact camera made in USSR. Having quite a big monopoly on the eastern market, Soviet Russia manufacturer brought over 30 million of these to the markets. SMENA 8M is a very lightweight camera. It is made mostly of cheap plastic, springs, levers and dials. No electronics at all. No light meter, no mirror, no motor to move the film.

It has fixed lens at 40mm, f/4.0. It is made of aluminum. Mine wobbles a little bit while rotating its focus ring. Whole thing is packed into lens unit, which is shutter, aperture and optics.

SMENA 8M has no film advance mechanism. You need to manually rotate right dial to move film which goes together with frame counter. I find it a little bit confusing as it rotates more than full circle each time.

Film load, unload is completely manual. You need to be careful while unwinding the film as everything has some quite high, loose tolerance. Avoid light leaks, do not push hard if something is stuck. Better disassemble it first and fix unwinding dial. Simply screw it more not to touch viewing glass. This is the second most popular fix in this cameras. First one is blocked shutter. Mine camera fortunately is fine in this area.

Everything is packed inside lens unit. Preparing to take photo is to push the lever located on the lens. Shutter button moves down a shaft which presses shutter lever. Shutter has 3 blades. It goes as 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and bulb which means that it stays open as long as you hold shutter button depressed.

You do not control aperture in direct way. Either you set film sensitivity in ROST/DIN measurement. Of course this also means that you set aperture, but to do this you rotate inner ring just around the optics. Black one. It is very diffucult to do this while framing and taking pictures. This could be defined as aperture priority. You just set it and forget. It is build that way to avoid changing it at all. You are asked only to take pictures with broad depth-of-field, which means that everything should be in focus. ROST 65 means ISO 100 which gives f/8.0. Pretty high, but good enough to have everything in focus and sharp. Intentionally.

You cannot check focus. Just set it to particular value of distance in meters and keep your fingers crossed. You have some icons specifying closeups, group photos and landscapes. You need to be at that very distance from the subject. Keep that in mind.

You can control shutter speed both wich icons and specific shutter speeds. Starts with sunny conditions at 1/250, ends with rain clouds at 1/15. It is just a suggestion. Remember if you try to over or underexpose from the target exposure you need to change the same amount of stops in some way at aperture dial. That is why you should do this only if you experiment and know what you actually do.

Conclusion

I got this with no idea what I will do with this later. It is complete, working but frankly speaking I think that I will take lens and mount it on some DSLR and forget about the camera unit itself. Will try to write later about this idea.

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