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 #control #minimal #35mm #cmeha #soviet-design #simple #fun #flash-sync-options #easy #smena #double-exposures #8m

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!

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