A couple of weeks ago I went on a walk organised by Analogue Wonderland and Ilford. I will write more about that later. But on that walk, I met lots of lovely people. One of whom I have been chatting to via Instagram. She mentioned that she had a camera that she liked but it had a light leak, I asked if she had a photo showing the leak. She sent this…
That was a pretty big light leak, so I offered to try and fix it.
The Cosmic 35 is the export version of the Smena 8. It arrived about a week later after getting a bit lost in the postal world and on opening the package I saw the issue straight away, it was hard to miss.
The second image is the light from a torch I shined through the back of the camera. Clear light shining through, therefore it would cause the issues in the photo very easily. But how to fix it? It wasn’t in a place where I could add a new seal so I thought I would try black nail varnish. It is cheap and easy to apply. It would be a bit ugly, but not too ugly. To be fair it is a cheap camera and the owner really just wants to be able to use it. More emotional value than monetary. I put some varnish on the inside of the camera and on the outside. Once it had dried, I added another layer, then another.
Nothing is getting through that. I shined the torch again and sure enough, nothing was coming through.
With that done it was time for a film test. I loaded a roll of expired Ilford Delta 100 in honour of the connection and took the camera on a walk into Wakefield. I kind of followed a route around some places featured in an exhibition I wanted to see. It was a lovely day for a change, we have been having a fair bit of snow and cloud recently. The blossom was out, so perfect for a camera photo.
Using the camera was easy and tricky at the same time. First, you MUST set the film counter manually and it counts down. I found this to be important at the end of shooting because if you try and squeeze in that last shot, the rewind mechanism could jam and this example did just that. I ended up taking the finished roll out in a dark bag. So, stop when the counter hits zero, don’t wait until you feel tension.
Secondly, there is no rangefinder or light meter so you have to do it all manually. The aperture is set on a small wheel around the lens. That could lead to fingerprints on the lens, it did cause me to accidentally move the speed setting a couple of times. I had to check the settings before shooting just to be sure. PLUS, the film winder doesn’t cock the shutter there is a lever for that, like on folding cameras. Another hindrance to off the cuff photography. The final issue is the viewfinder. There is a huge cut off between what you see and what you get. You have to be closer than you think. It is a literal representation of Robert Capa’s metaphoric quote. So none of my shots is as I envisioned them. I was also surprised by the lack of people along my route, it was a lovely day and I only really saw a postman.
What is with me and the lean to the right, I see that in a lot of photos if I am not careful. I must have a wonky body or eye.
I did notice the same markings on the edges of my photos that can be seen in the examples on this post. They kind of frame the photos. I thought it was a light leak, but having seen it in other photos, I think it is a reflection from the light box. A quirk of the camera.
So, did I enjoy using the camera? Yes, I did. it is a cheap but fun camera. I didn’t like that there were no strap lugs and you would have to use the case it comes in. I chose not to as it was a bit bulky. I think it would take a few rolls through the camera to get used to the cut-off and cocking the shutter without forgetting about it.
If you would like to see more examples from this camera, this blog post shows some taking advantage of the multiple exposure feature. If I was to try the camera again, I might try a few of those. I think I will try them with one of my own cameras at some time. For now, I am sending this one back. It isn’t a camera I would buy as I have plenty of cameras, lucky me. But if I wanted to get into film photography it would be a very cheap choice that could teach you all about aperture and stuff. I would be very tempted to paint my example if I had one, in funky colours…oh maybe I will get one.