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Aiming with Your Smena Symbol

After a couple of rolls using my Smena Symbol and framing many pictures horribly, I finally found out how to frame subjects right and get better pictures from my Symbol!

Photo by clare_eee

I don’t know how many of you have tried out your Smena Symbol and ended up with horribly framed pictures like the one above. I have… Unfortunately for more than a couple of rolls.

When I first got my Symbol, I was so excited to get a roll of film into her and start shooting. And so, I brought her to my hometown, Sandakan in Sabah, to shoot. I was worried about framing my shots as I had read an article reviewing the Symbol, which said that it was pretty hard to estimate the framing as the viewfinder is not compensated for parallax error.

Even so, I was determined to use her and began shooting. My first roll turned out somewhat iffy. And as I had read, it was incredibly hard to estimate how to frame the shot.

Nevertheless, I loved shooting with my Symbol and so loaded her with another round of film. I ended up with somewhat similar results to the first roll of film

Photo by clare_eee

But on my 3rd roll, I brought it to Central Market in Kuala Lumpur for an outing with a couple of friends. Shooting was a lot of fun, but I when I got my film back, most of the pictures were horribly framed.

However, I managed to learn something about my beloved Symbol. The lens seems to magnify the object that you are photographing, while the viewfinder kind of decreases the size of the object you’re viewing. These to things combined make you feel like you’re too far away from the object, when in fact you are too near.

Photo by clare_eee

And since the viewfinder is not placed above your lens, instead it is a little to the left, taking vertical shots is a challenge. I still haven’t found a solution to it.

Photo by clare_eee

The best thing to do is to take horizontal shots and from a significant distance. Or if you’re taking of something close, whatever you see through your viewfinder, imagine it 2 times bigger and frame your shot accordingly.

Hope my tips helped!

written by clare_eee


  1. bloomchen


    thanks for sharing.

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  2. superlighter


    I only use it once and I don't remember how it work, however the lenses is not bad at all!

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  3. clare_eee


    @bloomchen :) no problem @superlighter yeah, the lenses are really good and produce really sharp images~ ^^

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  4. sayekerink


    Hi there! I bought symbol early 2012. I've loaded it with an expired film, I didn't finished the roll though. Did couple of shots. Will shot more soon. Thanks for sharing! I am still learning how to handle this symbol. If you have more tips/info, do tell me. hehe. Thank you so much! ;]

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  5. neanderthalis


    I have a Smena 8m and the view finder is all the way to the left. I take my pics using my right eye normally. All my shots were miss-framed and way off because I misjudged with my left eye. Now I just look over the top of the camera and skip the viewfinder all together. I like the Smena lens. I hope you get a lot of use out of that camera. :D

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  6. clare_eee


    @sayekerink :) glad to hear you got a symbol. It's a wonderful camera and easy to use once you get the hang of it! :) I'll definitely write more tips once I learn more about my symbol! :D
    @neandethalis the smena 8m was one of my first camera choices, but the placement of the viewfinder put me off... so I got the symbol~ ^^ hope you continue shooting with it... even with the miss-framed shots..

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  7. gauthierdumonde


    The first thing I did this morning was looking through the Symbols viewfinder, I lined it up (leftside) with a wall in my house and watched careful where it stopped at the right end (it was a chair) and then I took a shot. Then I took my SLR with 50mm lens on and it gave the same angle of view, while the Smena Symbol has 40mm lens. So Clare_eee has a point, the viewfinder of the Smena does not cover the range of the lens. But when I tried again and watched the Smena’s viewfinder again I noticed the angle of view was really small, like an 85mm. How could that happen. Well my nose was in the way, so my eye was like 1.5cm from the viewfinder. Nex,t I literally made eyecontact with the viewfinder, my eye touched the finder, quite uncomfortable but the angle of view widened a lot. This ofcourse does not correct the parrallax error.

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  8. iamtheju


    such a strange little camera. I have one on it's way to me in the post as i speak so i'll post post my successes and (more likely) failures as soon as i get my first roll of film developed.

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch & Italiano.