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Camera Smena-Rapid review and instructions

Smena-Rapid is a rather rare Soviet scale camera.

This Change is designed for special cassettes for fast film loading. This system was called Rapid and was proposed in the mid-60s by the West German company Agfa.
The history of fast charging systems is described in more detail in the review of the Zorkiy-12 camera. I recommend to take a look. Here I will not repeat myself on this topic.

I can only say that the principle of the Rapid system is simple.

Whereas in a conventional cassette the film is wound onto a take-up spool and thus pulled into the take-up cassette, in the Rapid system the film is simply pushed into the cassette.

The camera does not have a clutch of the receiving coil with the fork of the broach mechanism inside. The cassettes simply fit into the cases.

On the other hand, to the right of the frame window there are 2 gear wheels at once - for both rows of perforations on the film. It is to these wheels that the rotation from the shutter cocking lever and film advance is transmitted.

Wheels move the film with teeth for perforation. The film moves along the film channel and enters the slot of the cassette. Theoretically, when charging, it was not even necessary to put a specially cut film into the receiving cassette. It was enough just to lay it in the film channel so as to hook on the teeth.

In practice, this did not always work, and therefore it was better to manually insert the edge of the film into the cassette.

In the process of shooting, the film, under the pressure of the shifted section, was bent in the cassette and twisted into a roll.

It is clear that with this method of supply, the film does not roll tightly into a roll, and therefore the friction of the roll against the inner walls of the cassette gradually increases. "Pushing" the film into the cassette is becoming increasingly difficult. At some point, there is a risk that the perforation will simply tear.

Therefore, the cassettes for the Rapid system contained only 12 frames.

What to say?

Not surprisingly, the Rapid system didn't catch on. For me, from the point of view of the efficiency of charging, it is better to have 36 shots in the device at once than the ability to quickly change film 2 times.

Yes, and there is no radical simplification of charging, in fact.

Interestingly, I have 3 devices designed for Rapid, but not a single Rapid-cassette.

Obviously, in the USSR, equipped Rapid-cassettes were in short supply. The instructions stipulate the possibility of self-equipment of an empty cassette. To do this, you need to take a regular film, measure 60 cm (approximately 12 frames with tails) and carefully “shove” it into the cassette. Don't touch the emulsion with your fingers. And so that the dust does not cling.

I think you will agree that the pleasure is below average.

In general, most of the devices were exported, where Rapid also did not fly much, but there were fans of hype from new technologies. And there were film manufacturers who moved their product.

The Soviet user loved practicality and did not appreciate the fast charging system.

Therefore, despite a solid period of production - from 1968 to 1977, and a considerable amount of output - about 600 thousand copies. (together with Smena-SL) - the device is now quite rare.

Mass models of Smena-Rapid differ slightly. Since about the 70s, a quality mark has appeared on the top panel. Such an instance in the review. A little later, the engraving of the name was replaced with silk-screen printing.

The prototype had a little more differences, but to meet such an option, of course, is unrealistic.

Let's pay attention to the two-color shutter button and the difference in the weather symbols. Personally, the 2nd and 3rd icons of the prototype seem more expressive to me. Although the 1st is more interesting in the mass model.

The prototype also has a memo on the reverse side - brighter.

The device is designed for an amateur who appreciates style. Therefore, appearance is important.

A modification of Smena-Rapid is also the Smena-SL device. The only difference is the availability of the second bracket for accessories.

Smena-SL is an option for export specifically to Germany. The customer demanded that the abbreviation SL be indicated in the title. The Schnell Lade (quick charge) system was the German equivalent of the Rapid.

I have an overview of Smena-SL and the historical block is wider there. If you are interested in the topic, I recommend reading it.

The conditional competitor to Smena-Rapid was Zorkiy-12. Moreover, Zorkiy in the segment of simple, technologically advanced and bright (image) devices looked more interesting. Although, this is a semi-personnel device. But it was produced for a short time, and the volume was scanty.

Therefore, in terms of the Rapid system, there were no particular alternatives to Change. Well, from the point of view of just photographing, all more or less modern models of Changes are full-fledged competitors.

Today in the review is a copy of Smena-Rapid in excellent condition, manufactured in 1970 with the number 7044405. Now we will consider it in more detail.

Camera Smena-Rapid

Smena-Rapid was produced at LOMO (Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Association) from 1968 to 1977. The numbering of the devices was common with Smena-SL and therefore the production volume of the Rapid is unknown. Both models together produced about 600 pieces.

The standard lens is a fixed triplet T-43 4/40. Three lenses in three groups.

Aperture limit f16.

The shutter is central. Beats shutter speeds: 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and V.

Frame size 24×36. Smena-Rapid is designed for Rapid cassettes.

There are 12 shots per film in a stock cassette. Rewinding in the Rapid system is not provided.

There is no self-timer.

The Smena-Rapid model is not equipped with a flash socket, although it does have a wired sync contact.

The weight of my copy is 387 grams.


Smena-Rapid is a compact and visually quite attractive device. A very large viewfinder with mirrored glasses, a bright, interesting scale of weather symbols on the top panel - all together with a minimalist design creates an image of a modern, stylish device.

Technically, Smena-Rapid is the simplest scale. The device is designed for those who are not very inclined to dive into photography technology - who just need pictures. And at the same time, the user appreciates comfort and style.

In front, to the right of the lens is a massive shutter button. The key travel is soft and very long.

The front window of the viewfinder is shifted as much as possible to the left and has a mirror coating.

Behind are:
- viewfinder eyepiece;
- foot cocking the shutter and pulling the frame;
- a round memo of the type and sensitivity of the film loaded into the camera.

The viewfinder of Smena-Rapid is excellent. The picture is large and bright. Framing frames available.

The trigger is cocked quite easily and with a comfortable turn. Its design is a little unusual.

At the bottom of the device is only a tripod socket on the left. A cap with a hand strap is screwed into this socket. Inconvenient implementation, because the device with the strap cannot stand straight.

The back cover lock is located on the left side. There's also a sync socket. The lid is hinged.

On the top panel of Smena-Rapid - the beauty and pride of this device - a huge "interactive" panel with weather symbols. Interactive in the sense that there are boxes next to the symbols, and if this symbol is selected, a hatched marker appears in the box.

The marker jumps between windows as a wide, ribbed ring rotates around the lens base.

Not space, of course, but for the Soviet apparatus of the 70s, it looks fresh and original.

Although, from the point of view In terms of functionality, this solution is no different from exposure control for all other Changes, which also have weather symbols, although they are not so bright.
Also at the top is a frame counter window.

The quality mark is also visible from above and GOST is attributed from below. I have not found what kind of guest this is. Maybe you know?

The lens for Smena-Rapid is the same as for Smena-8M. Apertures are changed by a narrow ring on the front end of the lens. The aperture scale is duplicated by the film sensitivity scale.

I already spoke about shutter speeds - they are switched by a ring. The shutter speeds themselves are indicated at the bottom of the lens, only weather symbols are placed on the top panel.

Smena-Rapid has a traditional LOMO approach, in which an inexperienced user can set the sensitivity value instead of the aperture, and choose the shutter speed according to the weather symbol.

On the shutter speed scale, by the way, there is option B, which is not indicated in any way in the symbols. The marker just disappears completely.

The scale of distances in meters and feet, by the way, is also placed in the lower part of the lens. In the upper part there are symbols of distances in the amount of 4 pieces.

Deserves interest in the case of the device. The design of the case is rather unusual. Smena-Rapid is inserted sideways into the case. The cover has a cutout for a plug with a strap. The valve is fixed not with a button, as usual, but with a lock, well, let's call it a "portfolio" or something. I don't know what it's called exactly.

Also, take a look at the instructions below. Instructions for Change-Rapid come across even less often than the devices themselves. The instruction is atypical. It is printed on one sheet of paper.

In the 70s, manuals for cameras usually looked more solid.

Perhaps, in this way they tried to emphasize the ease of all this information for the user. Just take and shoot.

Attitude towards the camera

As I already said, the Rapid System, as a practical Soviet amateur photographer, seems useless to me.

Here is the scale of weather symbols on the top panel, it seems to me that it could be applied to some classic scale. Looks beautiful.

As a collector, I am happy with the find, of course. Still need to find a cassette. A couple is better. And even not to try in practice, what it is like.

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