The Shkolnik (“Student” or “Pupil” in English) camera was a rather obscure Russian plastic camera manufactured by the BELOMO plant in Belorussia between 1962-1969. About 500000 of these simple box cameras were made between 1962-1969. It shoots 120 6×6 film with a fixed focal lens of about 75mm. Best focusing range is 3.5 meters to infinity.
I came across this absolutely gorgeous camera on eBay after searching for “bakelite cameras.” I love all bakelite cameras and own a few, but this one is super special. Not only is it considered rare, it shoots amazingly sharp and beautiful pictures. The design looks distinctly Art Deco. They were so inexpensive that any child could afford one. I understand that once the 35mm Smena became popular, use of this camera dwindled. People just weren’t that interested in preserving them, thus they are becoming increasingly harder to find.
I had the lucky advantage of being able to buy a Shkolnik with the original box and “passport” in Russian. It has an N setting at 1/60 and a bulb setting. Three apertures: 8, 11, and 16. It even has a cable release socket! Film loading is relatively easy. Access is from the bottom. There is a twist knob to open it. There are spring loaders on either side and it winds on the right. Careful though, the winding knob has a tendency to have it’s grooves worn down a bit so take it slow.
I love the feel of this camera in my hands. It’s larger size makes it fun to use. I took it out on a sunny day to a local sculpture park where I live. The subjects were big, bold and simple. I used Kodak Ektachrome 100 and had it cross processed. The results were amazing.
If you come across one of these for a good price, please don’t hesitate to add it to your collection!!!