Smena 8M is a full-manual camera produced by the legendary LOMO company back in the USSR eras. It is also one of the favorite gears for lomography enthusiasts nowadays.
Debuted in early 70s, Smena 8M was launched as a low-price consumer camera for Russia’s domestic and Eastern Europe markets. Due to its cute boxy shape and plastic construction, it’s well described as a funny “toy camera” by photo hobbyists today. However, the name “toy camera” doesn’t imply that it lacks any essential features of a real manual camera. You can take total control of focusing, aperture and shutter speed from a Smena 8M. Its 3-element lens system, inherited from the optical professionalism of LOMO in those days, is not bad at all too.
It takes a little skill to shoot with a Smena 8M: Load films with higher ISO (says 400 or 800) and keep the aperture at f/8 or smaller (Aperture ring? It’s a dial in front of the lens!). By adjusting the shutter speed according to lighting conditions it will give you nice pictures even if the focusing distances are not matched perfectly to the ring indicator. Experience tells us that leaving the aperture wide open will make pictures out of focus readily. Picky photographers may find its viewfinder not very accurate too. Composition with the main object placing too close to the viewfinder frame may easily result in undesired cropping .
Aha, we shouldn’t complain too much. Smena 8M is for casual photos taking after all. In fact it’s one of the official products in Lomography’s online shop in recent years. While compared to an LC-A, Smena 8M’s tunnel effect is relatively subtle. On the other hand, it doesn’t come with a mechanism to prevent multiple exposure and it’s one of the reasons I prefer it to the highly popular LC-A.
The following album was taken with my Smena 8M: