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Cosmic, dude

This is the Cosmic Symbol or Smena 8m. Mine was made in 1977, which is when Star Wars was released. So this is the camera that came from a long time ago in a country far, far away.

Mine was also made in the same year that Olympus stopped making the EE-2. What a difference. But what a difference in the markets they were selling into.

I can’t remember how I came by this camera, but it must have been very cheap judging by the rust. I think it was in a job lot that had been stored in someone’s garage.

That paddle at the side of the lens is the shutter release

It is supposed to have a sharp and contrasty 40mm lens. I’ve got to say that my first experience with it was underwhelming. The pictures were low contrast and muddy-looking. It feels a bit like the LC-A in that people rave about the lens, but what they show is the effects of contrasty cross-processed film. I can get the same punchy results with a Konica site foreman’s camera that won’t rust. Anyhoo, what do you get for your money?

You get a basic plastic zone-focus 35mm camera with fully manual controls. Where the Olympus Pen EE-2 had clever automation, the Symbol is purely manual. It’s probably easier and cheaper to provide manual adjustments than to create reliable automation. The shutter speeds are hidden on the bottom side of the lens and you have to turn a ring on the front of the lens to set the aperture. I suppose having manual controls doesn’t mean they also have to be ergonomic. There are cut-out windows on the side of the lens that show a white marker to indicate which combination of speed and aperture are right for the weather. Basically, the camera will do a sunny-16 (or dull 8) estimation for you. No substitute for a meter but better than guessing.

The white square below the striped cloud shows that the camera is set for light cloud/ haze conditions.

The focussing is by zone, or estimation. There are symbols on the lens for portrait, group and distant view settings.

Even without a meter it can still be used for knight photography

And that’s it. There are no other features or gadgets. But what it doesn’t have can’t break. There are no batteries included and none needed. The shutter is only cocked by winding on, so there is protection against double exposures. The lens is a modest triplet design, so should be OK if stopped down a bit. Basically it’s a manual point-and-shoot that will work well enough and was produced in huge quantities.

Or even action, if you are careful

One nice feature is that it has a film speed reminder on the back, although I prefer to use tape as it can’t be knocked to a different setting.

If you find one, it may come with its case. This is an awful affair made of a thick vinyl material with a shiny surface. It looks like patent leather and feels thick and stiff. But it does provide a strap to carry the camera around with.

I should clean it

If you are looking for one on that auction site, try searching for Nomo as well – the case has the Cyrillic script for Lomo stamped on it.



Author: fupduckphoto

Still wishing I knew what was going on.

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