I had longed for something like the Vilia for a long time, manual controls,wickedly sharp and contrasty lens and a design that reeks of the long gone regime we all know as the Soviet Union. However, after receiving the camera itself I realized everything isn´t how you picture it to be, and getting there takes effort. Learning to know the camera is half the fun, but this was something else, this was like trying to get to know a deaf Chinese. And I don´t even speak Chinese.
After spending disturbing amounts of time reading up on the Vilia and Smenas, like anyone longing for deadstock love does, and every time arriving at the conclusion that a love like this has to wait for the opportune moment, i.e receiving money that hasn´t a particular purpose except buying ridiculously awesome cameras. I realized that everything Russian usually winds up all over the earth but particularly the old Soviet countries. And as predicted, my camera (or my being able to afford one) was found in Ukraine.
I got the camera cheap. And I do mean cheap. Like really cheap. For a camera, ridiculously cheap. The shipping cost double the camera, that´s how cheap.
After counting the days and hours until my package arrived, the package arrived.
After anxiously wrestling the wrapping and packaging I brought it to the light of it´s new home and loaded it up with cheap ASA 200 colour film. All well and idyllic like a painting of the british country side.
Only days later the tragedy begun. I got the first roll back, and all images was out of focus. And not the handsome “Holga vignette out-of-focus” but a distinct and obvious “the-focus-ring-was-at-the-other-end-of-where-it-should-have-been”. Well, maybe my guesstimation was of. New pack of film rolls. Results back from lab. Horribly out of focus. A few closer pictures made the cut, but only a select few. And I handled the lens with such delicacy, I thought to my self.
After a repetition of this procedure I gave up, it wasn´t me, it was the camera. The camera celebrated for it´s razor sharpness and brilliant colours. Well, the colours was all there in all their glory and splendour giving even the most everyday picture a touch of extraordinaire.
But the sharpness shone like a light house beacon of not existing.
I went to my old upper secondary school where I knew my old photography teacher would know the answer, as I imagine him having such a knowledge for old cameras there is probably nothing I could bring through that door that he wouldn´t be able to take a good picture with.
And as predicted, he solved it. The front lens didn´t hinge on to the focus ring which made the lens either only move a bit every time or stay still at somewhere around four meters.
Joyfully I shot away with the now fixed and therefor superior power which is the Vilia.
But after shooting some three rolls of film (which most of still isn´t developed) the shutter gave up. It still opens and closes, but instead of the precision that is fundamental to the operation the camera shoots at random speeds and not when I press the trigger with my oh-so-privileged trigger finger but when I wind the film forward.
Now my Vilia sits quiet waiting for a second visit to the photographic teacher, while I wait for the films to prove if we fixed the lens or not. In the meantime I will dream away in the lomographic shop for another camera to keep my ,for now, crippled Vilia company.
If it works out I´ll probably post a second review of how brilliant a working Vilia is.
This camera was not purchased from anyone even remotely related to the LSI, and whoever he was he´s not responding to emails.