Smena 8m

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The LOMO Smena 8m is an entry-level 35mm camera from the 1970s Soviet Union, now mostly regarded as a toy camera. It is an extremely low-tech, fully manual, no-frills plastic box capable of shooting surprisingly decent photos. There is no focus aid - focus is set by guessing the distance to your subject and setting that distance on the lens. The frame counter is considered by many to be worthless.

The Bad

Taking pictures with an 8m is a true test of patience. Its shutter release is neither smooth nor easy to press, which is an invitation for motion blur that is only exaggerated by the camera's complete lack of heft. The manual shutter must be cocked before each shot using a lever on the side of the lens that will unfailingly get snagged on your finger when it comes back up, eliminating any chance you had of controlling your shutter speed.

The Good

A welcome surprise, however, is that this cheap piece of plastic actually features a coated glass lens. While the 40mm f/4 T-43 Triplet isn't a particularly fast lens, it gives nice contrast and saturation, and is certainly sharp enough to make good photos on 35mm film. In case that's not enough to perk your interest, this little plastic wonder also comes fitted with a leaf shutter and a PC sync socket, so this little toy camera can flash sync at any shutter speed!

The Record

The Smena 8m is probably world's most produced 35mm film camera. According to production records a total of 21,041,191 units have been produced over a time period of 32 years (1963-1995)[1]. This number includes its predecessor Smena 8, technically the same camera in a different design. A good discussion about this world record and its potential competitors in this race can be found in here[2].


Although the camera can be found in very numerous variants, finishes and colours, the actual design differences between them are usually in minor details only. As far as more important design changes are concerned, two basic production versions can be identified:

  • Early version - made in the early 1970s, is unique among 1970s Smenas, having larger filter thread size - M43 mm. Smena 8M name is printed in Cyrillic OR Latin only at the front plate. Film speed values for setting the aperture are indicated in GOST or ASA only - GOST units (in Cyrillic) can be present even at cameras with the Smena name in Latin.
  • Late (or typical) version - filter thread size is M35.5x0.5 mm (with prominent twin rings at the front of the lens barrel) - as in other Smenas of this period (i.e. Smena Rapid, Smena SL or Smena Symbol). Smena 8M name is typically printed in both Cyrillic AND Latin and film speed values for setting the aperture are indicated both in GOST-ASA and DIN, with new styling of the markings. There are however some rare (early production?) cameras with all the markings applied in the early version style (i.e. single Smena name and film speed values in GOST or ASA only) or cameras mixing new style of the body markings with old style of the lens markings.

Other versions, that can be encountered, include e.g. Smena 8M with the T-43 lens of the Smena 8 camera, or Smena 8AM equipped with a self-timer. These cameras were made by the LOMO factory on special order and did not come from regular production.