Smena 8M Has Me Satisfied

14

I finally found the camera I've always wanted––I just didn't know it was the CMEHA 8M. It has the balance of control and lack of control that I want. And the details are charming.

As a child I wanted more control. As an adult (and graphic designer) I got TOO much control. This caused me to step back. Enter the Diana, followed by a Brownie, and then . . . Enter the CMEHA in its original box. I didn’t know what to expect. Some bloggers liked it but others described it coldly, not honoring the “toy” with their opinion one way or the other.

The first thing I noticed was the smell: acrid and amber, like the old plastic had been marinating in its own fumes for years in a closet. I loved it! The focus barrel pivoted smoothly like it was buttered. The aluminum was bright. The coated glass shone that futuristic purple haze when the sun hit it. The body’s industrial texture is honest and charming.

Once I loaded the film (kodak negative, 800) it became heavier and felt substantial. I left off the case since it had gotten stiff with age. Many users moan about cocking the shutter and warn that you will ruin shots by derailing the shutter speeds with your fingers. I found that if you’re awake and glad to be taking a picture, this will not be a problem. If you hold the camera from behind keeping your finger on the button, the cock will swing free and give a lovely cough. This may sound awkward but feels quite natural.

The viewfinder and exposure counter are not helpful. The shutter release is not soft but not too hard so I doubt this will cause any more hand shake than usual. The flash sync is fantastic! I used colored gels and sometimes just held them over the lens. In all cases the colors reproduced beautifully.There were some light leaks but not always and they looked great. I ended up with many photos I love.I love the rewind experience. I don’t like the kind where you pull out a tiny crank. The CMEHA instead has a classy knob that you twist like the tuner on a sound system.

The pictograms on the lens barrel are adorable and helpful. For the more technical, real numbers are indicated. The setting notches are splashed with a tiny blob of paint and remind me of the way little girls paint their nails. This next detail may only appeal to designers but the CMEHA 8M has a priceless lomo logo: a funny stylization in which the cyrillic “L” has been stretched and set atop the remainder “omo.” it looks like a satellite or a space-needle or the head of a robot. It’s clumsy and optimistic and beautiful!! Even the superficial details have me smiling. If nothing else this camera is a valuable member of my design object collection, but most importantly the CMEHA 8M delivers photographic results whether for personal memories or artistically flexible design and art projects. It has a satisfying balance of options and simplicity, control and lack of control. It’s my new favorite analog and will be hard to beat.

written by orlando_a on 2009-06-08 in #reviews #double-exposures #cmeha #soviet-design #fun #easy #smena #flash-sync-options #simple #8m #minimal #35mm #control

14 Comments

  1. dogma
    dogma ·

    Oh yee! this camera rocks!

  2. d_i_hunter
    d_i_hunter ·

    Yeah, it's a sweet little camera. I love the way the film counter works!
    You've taken some nice shots with it - 5 is great!

  3. sibu_sen
    sibu_sen ·

    Yeah!!! Smena is so quirky and wonderful, I love it too!!! Nice review!

  4. eyecon
    eyecon ·

    # 1 could be the cover of a great LP or CD......

  5. stouf
    stouf ·

    Super review ! And I really love the double (N°10) !

  6. thegroundabove
    thegroundabove ·

    I like my Smena 8m so much, I had to buy a backup for when I inevitably wear this one out.

  7. cinzinc
    cinzinc ·

    im thinking about adding this camera to my weapons of choice.hehe
    i like no.7 & 9, suits the song "walking on a dream"

  8. davethegrinch
    davethegrinch ·

    She's a charmer, that's for sure. I now have a light leak in mine. Nothing serious just wonderfully random. The film counter broke after the first roll which is actually good because I now always carry an extra roll of film around. I've taken to using the case it came with now that the summer is here and I don't always have pockets. I look like a tourist in my own town who's stuck in some kind of 1970's timewarp. I love the stupid camera it's so addictive.

  9. emptyjonz
    emptyjonz ·

    Wonderfull camera with more manual settings than a LC-A !

  10. violet_rayy
    violet_rayy ·

    Super review. I wish I could use this. I have shaky hands and think it would be better saved for people who can use it better than me!

  11. neurodiaz
    neurodiaz ·

    Great review bro. Smena 8M, simply awesome.

  12. jdfarrugia
    jdfarrugia ·

    I'm moving onto my third film with this camera and I'm loving it. While I'm not a big flash fan I'm getting interested in trying it out here. From what I read, the flash situation doesn't appear to be very straight forward with the 8M however. Do you have any tips or types of flash I can use with ease on this Smena 8M?

  13. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    one smena is never enough...

  14. carolinabhering
    carolinabhering ·

    i just bought mine and can't wait to shoot some rolls! by the way, amazing photos those of yours, in the article. hope i can get results as good as yours!

More Interesting Articles

  • Fuji instax Wide: The Impressive Instant Film

    written by ichdaschaos on 2014-11-03 in #reviews
    Fuji instax Wide: The Impressive Instant Film

    I've always wanted to have an instant camera, but what put me off were the expensive price of the film and the transience of the photos. But then I wasn't able to fight it any longer and bought myself an Instax Wide 210 set. Now, here is a review of the Fuji Instax Wide film.

    1
  • The Gevabox of Wonders

    written by stratski on 2014-11-18 in #reviews
    The Gevabox of Wonders

    Sometimes you see a camera and you just have to have it. I felt that way about this lovely little box camera. Looks don't mean a thing, I know, but in this case, the looks didn't deceive me.

    1
  • Finally, My Own Petzval Lens

    written by pearlgirl77 on 2014-11-20 in #reviews
    Finally, My Own Petzval Lens

    In April of this year I had the chance to test the Petzval Lens and to write a review on it for the German photography forum Kwerfeldein. The lens excited me from the very beginning, at the time it was introduced on Kickstarter. I was afraid that once I had tested the lens, I would want to have one of my own! Well, that’s what happened; a year later, I finally bought my very own Petzval lens.

    1
  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    written by tomas_bates on 2014-11-12 in #gear #tipster
    My Lomo’Instant Quick Tips

    I backed the Kickstarter project for the Lomo’Instant earlier this year and was thrilled to receive it last week. I love how the camera naturally encourages you to experiment with its different features, whether it’s through flashing your multiple exposures with different colors or trying different creative techniques after your shots has been ejected. Here are a few tips from what I’ve discovered from playing with the camera so far (and a couple of tips I want to try out in future)!

  • LC-A+ Goes To: Sevilla, Spain

    written by saidseni on 2014-06-23 in #world #locations
    LC-A+ Goes To: Sevilla, Spain

    Ever since I got my LC-A+, I've always taken it with me whenever I travel. This little wonder works awesome with any film, in every weather and cultural context. In Sevilla, Spain, it was no different.

    2
  • Fresh from the Lab: 1990

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-08 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from the Lab: 1990

    A weekend without a lomowalk seems bad, at least for me. One Saturday morning, I decided to join my friends in their lomowalk. It was all cloudy at first but it didn't stop me from going out and walking. I brought my new Nikon FM2 and some expired rolls, just to test my camera. Was it just me being sleepy, or was my Nikon FM2 acting up? My photos turned out grainy, pale, and, in my opinion, looking so 1990s?

    1
  • Shop News

    Colorsplash your World!

    Colorsplash your World!

    At 30% off you can now color your analog images with 12 different color gels. Experiment with 35mm slide film and play with the built-in color flash for the most intense colors!

  • Early Inspirations in Film Photography: A Tomato Project

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-10-21 in #lifestyle
    Early Inspirations in Film Photography: A Tomato Project

    I’m lucky enough and old enough to have grown up in an era where film was the only form of photography available. I’ve always had a passion for film but it was a certain series of images that inspired me and changed my idea of photography forever. Find out what that was after the jump.

  • LomoChrome Purple 120 and 35mm: Expect the Radical!

    written by myahcat on 2014-08-01 in #reviews
    LomoChrome Purple 120 and 35mm: Expect the Radical!

    I was given a roll of LomoChrome Purple 120 by a friend who was keen for me to try it out since he didn't have a medium format camera. I really didn't expect the results I got when I took it out for a test run on a bright winter's day in London.

  • Fresh from the Lab: Hari Raya Portraits

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-10 in #lifestyle
    Fresh from the Lab: Hari Raya Portraits

    A couple of weeks ago, my family and I celebrated Hari Raya after a month of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Since the first day I laid my hands on the Lubitel 166+, I've always had the thought of taking portraits of my family. So this year, I finally took them. Here they are: Hari Raya Portraits!

    8
  • Shop News

    Feed your LC-A 120 the finest emulsions and save!

    Feed your LC-A 120 the finest emulsions and save!

    Shoot more with LC-A 120 without breaking your budget! The Phoblographer Editor’s Choice Award Winner now comes in a Bundle with 120 format film at 15% off!

  • Lomography Day Trips: Bandung, Indonesia, Part 1 - Join Our Lomowalk!

    written by adi_totp on 2014-09-08 in #world #locations
    Lomography Day Trips: Bandung, Indonesia, Part 1 - Join Our Lomowalk!

    Where do I begin? Believe me, I know many places in Bandung. From a cozy cafe to where the famous street food and maybe even drinks can be found, to places for lomowalks, it would be my pleasure to show you all around Bandung - the city I love and the city of love!

  • Experiencing the Rainforest Adventure Experience

    written by Jill Tan Radovan on 2014-05-17 in #world #locations
    Experiencing the Rainforest Adventure Experience

    When I was a kid, one of my greatest joys was to go to the park. I especially loved playgrounds. It didn't matter how may other children there were, as long as I could have my turn to go on the slide and and sit on the swing. These days, enjoying one's childhood has become so different. Technology has stolen the interest of children in more physically demanding yet fun activities.

    1
  • Classic × Classic : Using a Leica M3 camera to shoot with the New Petzval Art lens

    written by shawnlin on 2014-05-07 in #gear #tipster
    Classic × Classic : Using a Leica M3 camera to shoot with the New Petzval Art lens

    I participated in the Kickstarter campaign and purchased my very own new Petzval lens. I can't wait to use with with my digital camera to experience its wonderful bokeh effect. I also wanted to try its effects when using a film camera but the lens has an EF mount. I didn't have a Canon camera. See what I did with it after the jump.

    8