This week has been interesting if a bit delayed. Sunday 4/28 was Worldwide Pinhole Day
, for which I shot my ONDU
. I also attempted to use my Schlemra
, but I broke it. The repair/upgrade story should be coming soon.
The SMENA 35 is a late Soviet pocket viewfinder. In operation and features it is very similar to the older SMENA 8M. It features a 40mm f4 lens. Aperture is set by a ring on the front of the lens which has an alternate scale for film speed. Shutter speed is set using weather symbols on the top of the lens barrel. There is an alternate scale under the barrel which shows 1/15 to 1/250 + B. Focus is via zone (guess) only.
By design, the camera uses the Sunny 16 rule to expose films up to 250 ASA. In practice an auxiliary meter or simple knowledge could be used to expose for higher speeds.
I loaded mine with HP5 400ASA and took it out on a wet day last week. We shall see if anything interesting happened.
SMENAs at Commie Cameras
The eBay search doesn't differentiate well between the SMENA 35 and other SMENA 35mm camera, but they are listed and are relatively inexpensive. Do watch the shipping, though, as many are coming from their original Soviet homes.
The FED 2d had a more difficult learning curve than I expected. Our photo walk day was overcast and I was metering using only the Sunny 16 rule. The shutter speed knob moves easily and I know a number of shots were improperly exposed. Fortunately Portra 400 is very forgiving.
The green skin was a real attention getter, which is always fun in a crowd of camera nuts.
I was initially unaware that the eyepiece had a focus adjustment and was dismayed that it was extremely fuzzy. The adjustment is almost too easy; I found it easily bumped. The biggest issue, however, was a dislodged spring on the pressure plate. At first the camera was jamming and tearing film. Once I discovered the source of the problem it was easily fixed.
The FED 2 is not nearly as polished as my Leica M3, and I suspect it is not up to the standard of a Leica III either. For what it is, though, my ‘FEDka’ was interesting to use and produced some nice images. The challenges were worth the effort.
As my collection grows, I find more cameras to learn about. The FED cameras were a long-running, well-respected series of Leica copies and derivatives produced by a Soviet orphanage/commune/factory named for the founder of the NKVD. As odd as it sounds to modern ears, children at the Felix Dzerzhinsky commune were expected to produce products and earn wages to improve their own lot in life.
My FED 2d was copied from the Leica III. FED 2’s were produced from 1955 to 1970. I don’t know where in the production run mine falls. It came from the Ukraine via eBay and is clad in green painted leatherette. It also came with an original brown leather case. I loaded it with Portra 400 and took it on a photo walk at Odiorne Point with friends.
FED history – click the Information About Soviet Cameras link (sorry about the frames, beyond my control)
The Chaika II is a handy little camera. It easily fit in my pocket and took decent images. The half-frame format would be nice for a travelogue, as you can fit up to 72 images on one roll of film. In this case, I was impatient so I spooled a short roll of HP5 and carried it for only a few days.
I had a better time with the scale focus than usual; my shots were actually in focus. A maximum shutter speed of 1/250 and 400ASA film meant I was usually shooting with minimum aperture and high depth of field. Part way through the roll the film advance began to skip, producing a few interesting double exposures. Strangely, the problem cleared after a few frames.
Once I reached the end of the roll, I hit a snag. The camera has no rewind crank. A bit of study revealed that the film type indicator on the bottom of the camera doubles as a rewind wheel. It’s not obvious, but it works.
The half frame images confuse my scanner. In most cases I let the machine scan them as pairs. The resulting diptychs are often cooler than the individual images.
Ilford HP5+/Rodinal 1+100 stand developed 60 minutes