I have an affinity for plastic cameras. They generally take sub par photos full of light leaks and soft corners. They’re no good in the dark without a flash due to the fixed aperture and fixed focus. However, I have found a camera that has taken a spot in my every day bag. It’s Bakelite and metal, but it’s just the coolest darn camera for the money. It’s the Smena Symbol. I’ve written about it before, but I thought I’d share some more.
This camera is just too cool. I love the shutter speed dial around the outside of the lens that just has pictures of clouds and suns. I love the simple ranged focus, manual, and measured in feet. I dig the Cyrillic writing on it. But most of all, I dig the photos it makes. The sharp ones are tack sharp , and wide open the lens softens things up just right. Even handheld at slow shutter speeds it performs well.
It actually surprised me today. About 3 I decided I’d stared at my screen long enough and went for a walk. I’d had this idea to photograph the top of a building I see each day when I park , but after going to the location it seemed less interesting than I thought. No sweat because I still got to make some photos I felt were worth sharing.
The parking garage, however, brought me a little bit of fun and I’m glad I got out. I’ve said before that photo walks are good for the soul, and I certainly needed a break. I also wanted to see if this new Soviet-era camera – I dropped and broke my other one – was worth keeping. It’s a keeper.
What exactly is a Smena good for ? It’s good for stress-free photography. It’s f/8-and-be-there and quick to adjust when the lighting changes. The nice lens sharpness is a plus. If you pick one up make sure you stick with 400 speed film. ISO 100 is just too slow, and 200 will need to be pushed most of the time anyway. I think for my next outing I’ll throw some Tri-X in it and see how it turns out.