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Film Camera Review, LOMO Smena 35 35mm Viewfinder Film Camera

Film Camera Review: LOMO Smena 35

A chic, fun, and easy-to-use zone-focus Russian LOMO camera with a Triplet-43 40mm F4 lens.

One of the chicest and the cutest of all compact 35mm film cameras in my collection is undoubtedly the all-plastic-bodied LOMO Smena 35, the latest model of the Smena viewfinder camera series. A product of the LOMO factory in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, the Smena 35 is an update of the popular Smena 8M.

Throughout its production from 1990 to 1993, the Smena 35 was produced in various colored plastic bodies with the front and backplate in black, white, red, yellow, titanium grey, and blue. The front plate of the Smena 35 is adorned with a feature line emphasizing the 'Smena' logo across the top plate. The color of this line varies from yellow, green, white, orange, and blue.

LOMO Smena 35, Front right

The lens faceplate comes either in white, or black or one that matches the body color of the camera. White the Smena logo may appear in white, grey, or black, the '35' model designation is based on the colors of the feature line. The plastic tip of the leaf shutter lever and hot shoe cover are normally seen in red.

    Smena 35

    This is just a quick overlook of a cool little camera I bought for cheap money. Simple and straight forward in its design, I like it and look forward to trying it.

Technically, the all-mechanical Smena 35 is similar in its basic construction to the Smena 8M. It has the same plain tunnel viewfinder as the Smena 8M, the multi-coated three-element Anastigmat T-43 lens with aperture setting from F4 to F16, and shutter speeds set from 1/15 to 1/250 second as well as B.

Basic Camera Features

Everything you do on the camera is manual, be it loading or unloading the film, setting the ISO film equivalent, advancing the film frame, doing the mental on the Sunny 16 rule for aperture and shutter speed setting, actuating the leaf shutter, and releasing the shutter itself.

LOMO Smena 35, Front left

The Smena 35 runs without a battery, the camera does not come with a self-timer, and the dial for film ISO speed setting is just a guide you may refer to for setting the exposure. The strength of the camera rests reputedly on the very sharp and competent multi-coated  40mm Anastigmat T-43 lens, a 3-element in 3-group design.

The lens mount and its housing are central to the control and functions of the camera. At the front end is the ribbed focusing ring with focal distance settings both in graphic icons at 1, 1.5, 5, and 10 meters and corresponding metric distance measurement.

LOMO Smena 35, Front

Surrounding the front element of the lens is the aperture control ring, indented with two colored marks, the lower indicating the aperture opening, and the upper indicating the film ISO speed you are setting the camera to.

Located behind the focusing ring is the shutter speed ring which will adjust the leaf-spring shutter for Sunny 16 lighting ambiance, or shutter speeds from B, 1/15 to 1/250 second.

Adjusting the weather icon from Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Cloud, Full Cloud, and Rain Cloud will correspondingly change the shutter speed setting from 1/250 second down to 1/30 second. Nudge the pointer beyond the Rain Cloud setting and the shutter speed will go into Bulb mode.

The shutter is actuated by pulling the red tab back over the apex of the housing until it clicks into position. You are now ready to take the shot. Press the shutter release button and you are off.

LOMO Smena 35, Top

Other than that the top plate of the camera is otherwise simple and uncluttered. Besides the film rewind crank and the shutter button which also functions as the rewind release knob, there is the hot shoe.

Please Note!

A feature not available on the Smena 8M, the Smena 35 requires the shutter release button to be pressed and locked to the 'R' position to disengage the film forward gear before you can rewind the film back into its canister.

On the Smena 8M, all you have to do is press and hold the shutter button while you rewind the film back into its canister.

The film rewind crank on the Smena 35 has to be pulled up from its rest position to enable you to insert or remove the film canister in the film box. This also requires you to press and hold the shutter button while you pull up the rewind knob with a jiggle or a small turn.

LOMO Smena 35, Back

On the back of the top plate, from left to right, are the viewfinder window, film frame counter, and film forward thumb crank. The film back has a sculptured thumb rest feature. Set the film counter to frame '1' by turning the numbered wheel from left to right only after you have loaded the film and done the two blank shots.

LOMO Smena 35, Bottom

The Smena 35 has only the tripod socket on the bottom plate.

LOMO Smena 35, Film box

The film box is standard as per most film cameras. Slit the end of the film tab into the vertical slit of the take-up spool and make sure the film is tensioned flat across the film frame and the perforations are fully engaged with the take-up spool tooth before closing the back to do the two blank shots.

Viewfinder Readout

The viewfinder readout of the Smena 35 is a plain glass 1:1 tunnel view of the image you are framing. The view, however, may be slightly blocked by the red tip of the shutter lever, a clever idea to indicate that the shutter has not been cocked.

LOMO Smena 35, Pair

Using the Camera

The basic approach to having fun with the camera is to understand how to set the camera for use. It is very simple, really - set the aperture of the lens based on the film ISO speed you use, adjust the shutter speed to the ambient lighting condition and you are never far off from getting the perfect exposure.

LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 01

A more adventurous option is to work around the camera's aperture setting for more creative effects. You can, for example, use a large aperture (F4) for a close-up image to get a more blurry background, or the opposite for the all-in-focus shot of the landscape.

LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 02

Just remind yourself that for each step that you enlarge the aperture (say, from F5.6 to F4), you should also increase the shutter speed (from 1/30 to 1/60) to compensate for the increased light, and vice versa.

LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 03
LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 04

Multiple Exposures

No worries at all on the Smena 35. Just cock and release the shutter again, and again, after each shot, until you are ready to move on to the next film frame. I have yet to try this out myself.

LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 05

Parting Shot

Again, loading and unloading the film roll, and rewinding the film back into its canister is an advanced feature on this camera, and needs the care, knowledge, and technique to be done properly. Have fun!

LOMO Smena 35, Sample Image 06

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