Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trials and Tribulations of using the Smena

I was so excited to take photos with that Smena 8m camera I bought on eBay a few months ago. I bought a bunch of film, loaded it up and took 27 photos in a day and a half. I got creative. I double exposed some stuff, tried different lighting, different fields of depth...I used all the settings and dials and whatsits.

As I was waiting for the bus on my way to work I took the last picture. Which was perfect because I pass the photofinishing place downtown when I get off the bus. All I had to do was wind the film inside the camera, put it in its little plastic cylinder and give it to the person at the desk. The prints are pre-paid with this film, so everything after taking the photos was supposed to be easy and satisfying.


I started turning the little dial to wind the film.

I turned it, turned it, turned it.

Wind wind wind wind wind wind wind.

It didn't feel like anything was going on in there. But what do I know? Nothing about 1970s cameras from Soviet Russia, that's what. I thought that since I couldn't feel the winding actually happening, I would just over-wind the hell out of it to be sure that it's completely wound. That way nothing could possibly go wrong! Right?

Then I opened the camera.

The film was not wound.

I repeat, I opened the camera and the film was not wound.


I slammed it shut and was all bummed out about it for the rest of the day at work, so I talked to the boss about it, who has a little more experience with film cameras than I do and always has to listen to my problems because I talk to him about them while he's tattooing and can't go anywhere for hours. He said that if I go into a darkroom I could manually wind the film up.

I went into the (windowless) bathroom, shut the door almost all the way, took the film out again and...
the entire roll of film came right out of the plastic casing! NOOO!

So, friends, that's where I gave up on the smena for now. I shoved all the stupid ruined exposed film back into the camera, slammed the back of the stupid thing shut and put it in my backpack. It's been there for two days.

Good thing stuff's going better with all my toy cameras because if it all went like that I'd just give up and go directly back to digital.


Speaking of toy cameras, I found some really cool ones that look like little juice boxes so you can sneak them into kindergarten classrooms or diners or the back of minivans or whatever.

I really like the apple one.


  1. here's a trick to working with film in the field:

    take a jacket, something heavy. zip it up. put the camera in the jacket. tuck in the neck and waist openings. insert your hands through the arm holes, from the outside in.

    now you have a "darkroom" in which you can manipulate the film as you need without exposing it. you have to work blind of course but it's better than nothing.


Digame entonces.

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