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.