I previously wrote about loading film into my Smena 8M camera in this post. I even took the camera to Gumeracha to finish off a roll of Fuji film. Well, I’ve finally had my first roll processed and scanned by the guys at Film Never Die in Melbourne, and the results are interesting, to say the least!
Gary at FND emailed me to say that the roll was ripped. I checked the camera and, lo and behold, the frame advance wheel inside the film chamber had jammed tight. That explains why I had such a hard time rewinding the film! Needless to say, the tiny plastic spikes on the jammed wheel had ripped through part of the film. Luckily, Gary was able to get them scanned for me, for which I have to thank him.
So, the results are a mixture of light leaks, exposure to light when I opened the back before rewinding the film, torn film, irregular frames, poor focus, and overexposure. I’m cool with that because I expected it.
Here’s a good example of what this little Russian Smena lens is capable of. The photo is well exposed, nicely saturated (Fuji 200 ISO film), and mostly sharp across the frame. You’ll notice that there’s no vignetting at all, but there is some ghosting of the bright white parts of the giant horse. It looks like some reflection off an inner surface inside the lens, the plastic surfaces inside the film chamber, or some transmissive property of the lens itself.
Yet another good example of the surprising sharpness and quality of this Smena lens. No vignetting at all, and at around F11 (I think), excellent sharpness and depth of field.
One great thing about the Smena 8M is that it allows for easy multiple exposures because the shutter cocking lever is not connected to the film advance. I layered two photos of thick leaves to get the image above. Again, nice and sharp.
I can’t post without the obligatory sunset photo. It sure was a gorgeous sunset that evening ! Just look at those colours ! Proving once again that the little Smena lens can make some pretty serious photos of excellent quality. The real issue with the camera is the engineering standards inherent in the plastic mechanics. If the Smena lens is a reliable Toyota Camry car, the Smena body is a cute but cranky Leyland Mini from the 1970s.
And now, onto some of my favourite dreamy photos from this camera. Remember how I said that one of the wheels jammed tight as I was rewinding film? Well, it tore a nice line through half of the film, which you can plainly see in the following images.
This one just about has it all: multiple exposure, torn film, light leaks, and rough framing. But I love it ! When I was rewinding the film, the wheel got so stuck I had to open up the back just to check what had happened. When I saw that the film was only part rewound, I quickly shut it again. It’s possible that the light exposure affected this frame, but I’m not sure.
I love the giant light leak in this one too:
Finally, a softly focussed sunset image. I’m pretty sure I forgot to change the scale focus on the lens for this one, resulting in the softness. But I think it’s dreamy and serene.
So, a mixed bag of photos from this camera, as I expected. More than a few times my finger found itself stuck over the cocking lever, meaning that the shutter stayed open longer than I would have liked. The camera is also very light, which is a boon to carry around, but also means possible camera shake when using slower shutter speeds.
Since this Smena has packed up on me, I’ve ordered another one. They’re cheap and cheerful, but can produce some surprising results, as long as you don’t aim for perfection.