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Camera Elikon-535 review

Elikon-535 is a simple scale Soviet camera.
It belongs to the Minsk group of the Elikon family.
Elikon devices of various models within the framework of BelOMO were produced at two enterprises - at the Zenit plant in Vileika, and at, in fact, MMZ in Minsk.

In Minsk, they made Elikon-autofocus, the only Soviet serial autofocus camera (I have a review of it), Elikon-5 and Elikon-535.


Elikon-5 is a prototype of a compact camera with a built-in flash and manual exposure control.

As often happened in Soviet photo history, Elikon-5 did not become popular and was released in single copies. A very rare device.

Elikon-535 is a simplified version of Elikon-5 without a built-in flash.


It is difficult to say what exactly prevented the launch of Elikon-5. The Elikon-4 model had a flash and was mass-produced in Vileika. The Elikon-5 shutter is a little more complicated, but the Elikon-535 has a similar shutter and was also produced.


Most likely, the matter is simply in the general disorder of the photographic industry in the late 80s, rather than in some specific structural difficulty.

One way or another, the Elikon-535, a soap-type apparatus, was mass-produced in 1990-1991. This camera is the latest in the BelOMO line of cameras and the smallest in the Elikon line.


Now the device is not rare, it is easy and inexpensive to find it. There are two color options - black, as in the review, and gray.

I have already expressed the thought many times that the Soviet photo industry did not collapse under the onslaught of imported professional DSLRs, which we never learned how to make.

Dumped the domestic photo industry with cheap automatic soap dishes. With flashes, motors and automatic exposure. Press the button and take the film to the developer. Nothing else is needed.

In the early 90s, there were attempts to create a Soviet soap dish. Let's remember the same Elikons.

We all know how it ended. And I want to offer "to think" this moment:

Why did the Soviet photographic industry persist until recently to make wide-angle lenses with a focus on the state-of-the-art lens on domestic soap dishes? Yes, there are several exceptions, for example, Zenit-35F. But this is precisely the exception.

The classic Japanese soap dish brought the photo to the masses, having realized only 4 things:

1. Broaching the frame and cocking the shutter by the motor. You don't need to twist anything. The unit is always ready to shoot.

2. Built-in flash. At the most common ISO200 film speed, the flash always “on it” is truly the freedom to shoot anywhere, anything.

3. Automatic exposure and here also input of sensitivity by DX-code. The user just needs sharp pictures. Therefore, the shutter speed is as short as possible, and the aperture is closed. Is there not enough light? Well, that means we are increasing both. And we do not complex about this. The mass photographer in the 90s does not need any freedom of choice of exposure pairs.

4. No need to focus the lens. This is also very important because otherwise, the user needs, first of all, not to forget about focusing, which is already a lot! Secondly, it is already necessary to assess the distance by eye and twist something there.

And after all, imported cheap soap dishes did not offer autofocus to the user. No, all this will happen much later!

In the 90s - no autofocus, just a wide-angle lens and focus fixed on the GFR. At the same time, the depth of field simply covers the entire space from a meter and a half to infinity. The device does not know how to focus itself, it just does not need to be focused.

At the same time, the wide angle of the lens is very convenient. In a small room, a lot of people will enter the frame at once. What else is needed in most cases? It is now possible to store 100,500 photos in your phone.

And in the 90s and on film there are no more than 36 frames and printing photographs costs money and you need to store them somewhere. Therefore, the more people in the frame, the more rational it is.

Which way did the Soviet photo industry go?

Motors are a problem. They did not know how to make small-sized and powerful enough motors. Well, at least for a civilian photo. Let's take this as an incorrigible reality.

The Soviet Union knew how to integrate flashes into compact devices. Moreover, in Japanese soap dishes, when the flash is activated, no automation works anymore. The flash fires at a constant power. The distance is unknown, so there is no need to control the exposure.

Let's say that in terms of the built-in flash, domestic soap dishes were not much inferior to imported ones. Our power was lower. And in terms of electronic "brains" - they are needed there at a minimum.

Automation. There is also an ambush. Digital electronics did not take root in Soviet photography. Difficult, expensive.


I don't think that the shutter parameters of the Minolta C10 (my wife's device from the 90s) are more advanced than, for example, those of Viliya-Auto. Rather, the opposite is true. The Japanese simply do not overload the user with technical details.

And they do not complex about simplicity. They just sell this simplicity.

In general, our electronics were at a level sufficient +/- for soap dishes. But somehow everything was uncertain and not reliable enough. Perhaps the point is precisely in the features and disadvantages of analog electronics. Perhaps - the time was like that.

But this is also an objective reality.

But the Soviet photo industry did not want to give up focusing.

Why am I emphasizing this? Yes, simply because this is a conscious decision, in contrast to the factors described above.

The laws of optics are the same for everyone.

But on Minolta C10 with its FR of 35 mm - they wrote FOCUS FREE and that's it. And I personally liked her pictures.

And in Elikon-535 with the same FR 35 mm - focusing is needed. We did at least a few distance symbols.

Here is the reluctance to put wide-angle optics on Soviet soap dishes. Mostly lenses with a focal length of 38-40 mm were used.

35 mm like the Elikon-535 is rather a rarity. LOMO Compact automatic machine with its Minitar-1 2.8 / 32 is generally a unique case.

Although, after all, a wide angle would just allow using the focus on the GEM. And again, the wide angle is very convenient.

Yes, wide angle distorts the picture. But is it confusing for cell phone users of their EGF 28 mm?

Also, a good wide-angle is quite expensive. Optical schemes MS Mir-24N 2/35 and Mir-10A 3.5 / 28 - include 8 lenses each.

But on the same Minolta C10 - is there really a good wide-angle? I don’t think so.

In general, what do I want to say with all this?

The need for focusing is one of the factors that made the Soviet versions of soap dishes less attractive against imported ones. And besides that, there were enough shortcomings. But focusing is one of them.

And the uniqueness of the situation is that this drawback, I think, is based precisely on the overestimated requirements of Soviet GOSTs for the quality of the optics of budget cameras.

Simple wide-angle optics gave too much distortion, and the focus on the HGF did not provide the required sharpness.

Like this. Lagging behind in many respects, we nevertheless set a very high bar in optics. And alas, this also did not improve the market position of domestic technology. Where not throw, everywhere a wedge.

Something like that. Of course - all the description above is just my personal considerations.

And we finish with the historical block and move on to reviewing my copy of Elikon-535 No. 2075036.

Camera Elikon-535

Elikon-35SM was produced by BelOMO at MMZ from 1990 to 1991, about a year.

The volume of the issue was 150 thousand copies. For those years, this is a lot.

Scale apparatus, focusing on a distance scale.


Fixed lens Minar-2 3.8 / 35, MDF = 1.2 meters. Aperture limit f16.

The mechanical two-blade central shutter is combined with the diaphragm.

Bounces fixed exposure pairs from 1/90 + f3.8 to 1/500 + f16. You cannot change the combinations of shutter speeds and apertures.

Elikon-535 is equipped with a flash bracket with a "hot" sync contact. The sync speed can be any.

The device does not have a self-timer.

The weight of my copy is 155 grams.

Control elements:

The device is really compact. It lies well in the hands, the controls are in convenient places.


The entire body is made of rough plastic.

The front viewfinder window is large and yellow-coated. In combination with colored and contrasting inscriptions, it all looks bright and fresh.

On the front of the body, a lens is placed in a small superstructure.

When the device is not in use, the lens is covered with a sliding shutter. When the shutter is closed, the release button is blocked.


A tiny and rather stiff focusing wheel is on the right in the cutout of the lens add-on. The meanings of the distance symbols are also in the slot, but already on top.

Distance symbols include Portrait, Group Portrait, Architecture, with intermediate values indicated simply by dots. There are no numerical designations of distances on the device, but they are given in the instructions.


At the back is the rear viewfinder window. The picture in it is tinted and not very large. There are framing frames.

On the right, in the upper part, there is a gear wheel for moving the frame and cocking the shutter. This wheel also fits on the right end of the body. It is quite convenient to use it.


Below is a 1/4 inch tripod socket, a shutter release button when rewinding, and a leash for entering film sensitivity.

The device is mechanical, but you need to enter the sensitivity, because she participates in the calculation of the exposure.


On the top panel, we have from left to right:
- rewind head with tape measure;
- bracket for flashes with "hot" sync contact;
- the release button is red;
- frame counter window.

The release button is well located and has a soft stroke.


The window of the frame counter is covered with transparent plastic and the attention is focused on it with a large white arrow. I even thought there was something else, less obvious, located there. But, no, just a counter.

All exposure control is located under the lens superstructure and is implemented by two sliders.


The first runner - on the bottom panel has already been mentioned. They need to set the film sensitivity. And the same skid moves the risk on the rib between the bottom and front sides of the body. The risk is covered with transparent plastic.

The second slide is on the front panel under the lens. With the help of this runner, you need to set the weather symbol opposite the risks (see above). Moving this slide directly switches the shutter modes.

Those. the choice of exposure couples is ultimately influenced by: a) film sensitivity and b) weather symbol, which is quite logical.

By moving the second slide, in addition to the weather symbol, you can also control the aperture. Its values ​​are indicated to the left of the weather symbols. At the same time, the excerpts are not signed, although they could fit. Yes, and it would be useful, perhaps.



To open the device, you need to slide down the leash on the right side of the case. The back wall is folding.

Attitude towards the camera.

Although not entirely correct, I will compare Elikon-535 with Smena-35. Painfully similar stylistically.

Elikon, by the way, is not more compact.


For a novice user, Shift offers a similar in meaning, but mechanically different mechanism for controlling the exposure. The aperture can be set according to the sensitivity, and the shutter speed according to the weather symbol. Ultimately, the result is similar.

However, for the more experienced photographer, Smena also offers separate control of shutter speed and aperture.

The question is, does a more experienced photographer need a Change?

In general, I like Elikon-535. He would have appeared early - in the early 80s, when the lack of electronics was not so conspicuous - would have been a popular device among tourists. Compact, simple and wide angle.

Source fotoussr.ru
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