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Helios lens

Smena camera -symbol review

At the end of the 60s, LOMO realized the need to update the Smena line of cameras.

The family of devices in the Smena-classic building began in 1960 with the release of Smena-5. By 1970, the 9th model was already in the line and the devices can even be divided into worship. Change-5, -6, -7 - earlier, Change-8, -9 - later.
10 years, however. Shifts, indeed, look already archaic, it's time to change something.

Smena-Symbol began to be developed in 1968 precisely as the basis of a new line. The device received the word "Symbol" in its name for the weather symbols, which were supposed to control the exposure. And for the symbols of distances that make it easier to focus "on the eye."

It's clear here. A simple scale cannot be improved with anything special, except for ergonomics and care for an inexperienced user.

True, the situation with the name is still a bit confusing. Underlining the symbols in the title is a good marketing ploy.

This solution looked really quite fresh compared to their predecessors - Smena-8 and Smena-9.

However, Change-Symbol came out in 1971. A year earlier, in 1970, the production of the famous Smena-8M began, which had the same symbols. Not so interactive with T.Z. visualizations are implemented, but exactly the same.

In general, there were difficulties with the marketing positioning of the devices in the new line. The naming logic was very local. Apparently, there was no end-to-end strategy.

Another important feature of the new device is the interlocked frame advance and shutter cocking. Moreover, on the first prototypes, these operations, although they were interlocked, were carried out with a grooved head, access to which was in the front and rear cuts of the body.

The picture shows the Smena-Symbol prototype. Photo from
However, mass models were already equipped with a full-fledged trigger.

Let's compare the devices Smena-Symbol and Smena-8M. Both are new-generation cameras that appeared almost simultaneously. Both scales, i.e. in principle they compete in the same segment.

Both devices had millions of copies, although no one can compete with Smena-8M, of course.
Smena-Symbol is much larger. The design of both cameras is similar.

The set of shutter speeds is the same for the devices (1/15 - 1/250 + B)

Both have the same lens (T-43 4/40)

Both have weather and distance symbols, but the Change-Symbol has a slightly more interesting implementation of the weather, more on that below.

For Smena-Symbol, the pulling and cocking of the bolt are interlocked and carried out by the trigger, for Smena-8M these are separate operations.

Smena-Symbol has a massive release key in front, Smena-8M has a classic button. I traditionally do not like the front-located shutter buttons, but on Smena-8M the button is also inconvenient. IMHO, of course. So that's parity.

But Smena-8M has a slot for the release cable. Change-Symbol of such a nest is deprived.

The frame counter for Smena-Symbol is self-resetting, Smena-8M is not.

The Smena-Symbol has only a “hot” sync contact, while the Smena-8M has only a wired one.

Smena-Symbol has a rewind tape measure, Smena-8M has only a lifting head. But on Smena-8M, rewinding is practically unnecessary. It is easier to use a blank receiving cassette. I've always done just that. At Smena-Symbol, the receiving spool is non-removable, cassettes cannot be used for receiving.

The Smena-8M viewfinder is better. It gives the picture a larger size and it more closely matches the real frame boundaries. The Smena-Symbol has a viewfinder that covers more space, but lacks framing frames. True, the Smena-Symbol viewfinder is closer to the lens, hence slightly less parallax.

The Change-Symbol has a reminder of the type and sensitivity of the loaded film. Smena-8M does not.

Smena-8M has a depth of field scale (!!!). The Smena-Symbol does not.

The price of Smena-8M in the conventional "Soviet times" on the Web is indicated as 15 rubles, Smena-Symbol - from 20 to 25 rubles.

In general, there are a lot of differences and the difference between the devices is quite noticeable. At the same time, Smena-Symbol clearly occupies a certain flagship or image position, and Smena-8M is a more budgetary one.

But I repeat, they have the same symbols.

Smena-Symbol was produced for a long time - from 1971 to 1991. During this time, the device has changed a little, but purely visually, with tz. registration. Here, there was, for example, this - black. Photo from A description of all design options is beyond the scope of this article.

Smena-Symbol was actively offered for export. Here is its export version called Cosmic Symbol. Photo from Also, the names Revue-135 symbol or Panorama could be used for export.
It was planned to create several more cameras on the basis of Smena-Symbol.

For example, Smena-E. The device was equipped with an automatic shutter speed mechanism with aperture priority, which could have two values ​​- f4 and f 5.6. Exposure B was available in manual mode. Photo from

A light detector with a photoresistor was located in the upper part of the lens body. The sensitivity was set by rotating the ring around the lens.
In general, despite a lot of different kinds of projects, LOMO has not released a mass scale with an automatic exposure in the Change family. Although, by 1970, for example, there was already a FED-Mikron, and in 1973, Viliya-Avto came out.

Here is also an interesting device - Symbol-136. This device was conceived as a cross between Smena-Symbol and LOMO-135VS., From which the successful high-aperture lens Industar-73 2.8 / 40 was inherited. Also, Symbol-136 was supposed to have a slightly more advanced aperture calculator, also spied on LOMO-135VS. The calculator was located at the front of the lens.

Photo from
The picture shows that the calculator, in addition to the aperture scale and film sensitivity values, contains subject symbols.

The sector is clearly visible, in which the scale of symbols and dragging goes. It is clear that simultaneously with the change in the sensitivity numbers in the windows, the scale of the plot symbols shifted. Further, by directly rotating the aperture ring at the end around the front lens, it was necessary to select one of the symbols. At the same time, the aperture was changed to the recommended value, and the second point on the ring showed the photographer which aperture number was used.

Thus, despite the fact that the exposure in the camera is controlled, in fact, "by eye", nevertheless, the shutter speed is set according to the weather symbols, and the aperture calculator additionally adjusts the exposure based on a more specific situation, such as "object in the shadow". "Object in the snow", etc.

In fact, this particular device has the greatest right to bear the word "Symbol" in its name. But why "136"?

On the basis of Smena-Symbol, a stereo-camera Smena-Stereo was also created. The device was designed for filming 20 stereopairs in 24x30 mm format. The lens was supposed to be both T-43 and Industar-73. The shutter speeds of both shutters were controlled simultaneously, but the diaphragms were set on each lens individually.

Photo from
All the described devices remained prototypes and were not mass-produced.

It's time to look at my 1991 copy with the number 91134248.

Camera Smena-Symbol
Smena-Symbol was produced at LOMO (Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Association) from 1971 to 1991. The production volumes are large - 4.2 million units.

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

Aperture limit f16.
The shutter is central. Bounces shutter speeds: 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and V.

There is no autostart, but there is a central sync contact.

The weight of my copy is 363 grams (Smena-8M weighs 230 grams).

Control elements:

Compared to the Smena in the classic case, the new devices really look quite fresh and even spectacular. Smena-Symbol lies well in the hands and is securely fixed.

In front, to the right of the lens, is a massive shutter button. The key travel is soft and very long. The key is located low and for my taste, it is inconvenient to press it, although there is enough room on the right to place your fingers without blocking the key travel.

It seems to me that without changing the internal structure, simply due to a different shape of the key, it would be possible to make the use of the device more comfortable.

The viewfinder is set closer to the lens, which is good because reduces the effect of parallax.

Behind are:
- viewfinder eyepiece;
- frame counter;
- foot of the trigger of the shutter cocking and frame advance;
- a round reminder of the type and sensitivity of the film loaded into the device.

I already wrote about the viewfinder that it is light, but as far as I can tell, it does not give an idea of the real frame boundaries. The picture is too wide and lacks framing frames.
The trigger is retracted close and relatively tight. Its extreme position is approximately perpendicular to the plane of the film.

On the bottom of the device there is a tripod socket and a shutter release button when rewinding.
The back cover lock is located on the left side. The lid is hinged.

Above the Smena-Symbol from left to right are:
- rewind head with tape measure;
- flash bracket with "hot" sync contact.
Moving on to the surroundings of the lens.

The shutter speed is switched by rotating the ring closest to the body. You can change the shutter speed both when the shutter is cocked and when it is released.

Weather symbols are applied to the top of the lens base and there is a quadrant window to the right of each. When switching the shutter speeds, then in one, then in the other window, a white marker appears.

The windows are not located on the same line and it seems that the marker goes from one window to another, the distance is greater than the one by which the ring was turned.

I can't say that all this looks magical, but in Soviet technology there was always a clear deficit of interactive imaginative communication. Therefore, the appearance of such a purely image element is a great move.

The traditional exposure numbers are at the bottom and everything is simpler there. Numbers and risk on the ring.

The aperture is controlled by a ring on the front of the lens.

The f-stop numbers are duplicated by the film sensitivity numbers according to GOST.

It is assumed that an inexperienced user will set the aperture according to sensitivity, and the shutter speed according to the weather.

MDF lens 1 meter. The stroke of the helicoid is long, but this does not provide any advantages for the scaler.

Distance numbers in meters are duplicated by feet and interspersed with distance symbols - Half-length portrait, group of people, landscape.
There is no depth of field scale, although there would be a place for it.

Attitude towards the camera.

For 1970, it is a very relevant device. Such is the flagship student.

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