An odd but pleasing combination of battery-free all manual controls and a small size (fits in large pocket). made in the USSR in the 1980's.
Triplet 43/40 mm lens The aperture can be adjusted by this little ring around the lens. hard to do if you trim your nails closely. f4, 5.6, 8, 11, and 16. Shutter speeds are 1/15 to 1/250 (weather symbols for assistance) and there’s a B setting for longer exposures. don’t use ISO 400 and above in bright sunlight. It’ll get over exposed. Focusing is easy. just twist the lens barrel. It’s numbered from 1 meter to infinity with metric and British standard units.
The Smena Symbol is not ideal for people who have to shoot quickly and lack the time to adjust shutter speed and aperture and focus and crank the film. You have to think some before “just shoot”. It’s waterproof enough for some rain and going to the beach. You can take it pretty much everywhere else. It gives sharp pictures without a lot of fuzz or color distortion. So they’re not very “Lomographic” color-wise unless you modify your film. Definitely capable of taking more serious photos.
ODDS AND ENDS
Instead of a button on top to open the shutter, there’s a lever next to the lens. It’s more ergonomic than you’d think. There’s a hotshoe for flash on the top center, and a tripod screw on the bottom. No lens cap or hole for a neck strap, but it comes with a case that covers the lens and has a strap. Be careful when loading the film; the little tooth on the film spool (where the film loads onto from the cartridge) doesn’t catch the film sometimes. Try using tape if you have that problem. Focusing is unaided, since this is a very basic camera and lacks a range finder. Lomography.com doesn’t sell this camera anymore, but over 10 million were made before it went out of production in 1993 and there’s probably some floating around at a thrift store nearby or on resale stores online for thirty, twenty dollars.
Anyways, the Smena Symbol is easy to use (if kind of slow) and it takes excellent photos that can range from totally Lomographic to classic and composed. It all depends on what the photographer does. You have a lot of control. The LOMO Smena Symbol does not guarantee photographic awesomeness unless the photographer had it before buying the camera.