March 12, 2011

Lomo Smena 35 (ломо Смена 35)

A Russian plastic camera with a plastic lens in a faded cloth case. Mixed Roman and Cyrillic lettering on the camera case. And a set of neatly folded, somewhat yellowed operating instructions, with the serial number of the camera and the production year (1972) hand-written on it. When I picked up the Lomo Smena 35, I didn't know anything about it. But I knew that I found a thrift store gem.

The camera is fully manual: focus, aperture, and shutter speed, conveniently labeled in numbers on the bottom of the lens and corresponding weather icons on the top of the lens. And the shutter and film winding mechanisms are independent of each other, meaning that it'll do double exposures as well as endlessly overlapping panoramas. What more can you ask for?

Detailed instructions explain exactly how to operate all the controls... just not always in perfect English. For example: "With stopping down the lens, the near limit of field depth will approach the camera while the far limit will run away." Although I intuitively understood the meaning of this sentence (small aperture = greater depth of field), it took me reading it several times before I could wrap my mind around the words. But there's something so amusing about imagining the depth of field literally running away from my camera! Just reading the instructions felt like a little adventure.

I loaded the Smena with a roll of color film and, after having set the aperture to f4 on the dial on the front of the camera, I taped a Sepia 2 filter over the lens.

And I was ready to go! An afternoon at First Landing State Park provided ample opportunities to try this fun and funky camera, film, and filter combination.

Through the lens of the Smena: looking up in First Landing State Park. I'm still loving all the bare trees.

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