5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Smena Symbol – by Nathalie Porter

August 28, 2018

Despite shooting film for almost nine years now, until recently I have never taken a picture on black and white film. It just wasn’t my thing. But when I got two rolls of Ilford XP2 Super included in a random film assortment, I knew I wasn’t gonna get a better opportunity to finally try it. Being in a bit of a gear selection overhaul at the time, most of the cameras I owned were pretty new to me but I wanted to use something that I knew a little bit better, so the camera I ended up with was my trusty Smena Symbol.

It’s a camera often overlooked in favour of its sibling, the vastly more popular Smena 8M, which it seems like a bit more refined version of. Not as flimsy (although obviously still far from what you’d call a great build quality), there’s a bit more heft to it, as well as more convenient controls. But the lens is the same – the humble 40mm f/4 that can produce surprisingly decent results while retaining a bit of that Lomo charm. This is why I’m always coming back to this camera after all these years – there’s just something about the images that it creates. The results are simply very pleasant, striking a good balance between quality and character whenever I’m not really aiming for any specific kind of look.

And that’s how I approached my first black and white pictures. After a bit of research I knew more or less how the XP2 looks but didn’t have any particular vision in mind – I just let my Smena do its thing and once again it delivered. The familiar combined with the new produced results I’m very happy with.

You can see more of my photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathalie-porter/

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bent_Brent
    August 29, 2018 at 1:59 am

    Well, it should be your thing – those are really great.

    And proof you don’t need a gazillion dollar camera and lens to take great photos.

    Nice.

  • Reply
    Tobias Eriksson
    September 3, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Yes, great pictures! Art house style photographs with pocketable plastic!

  • Reply
    Ken Hindle-May
    September 7, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I really like these images – they’ve got that Lomo-esque combination of central sharpness and vignette that just makes you want to look at them. This might trigger another totally unnecessary GAS attack, but it least it’ll be a cheap one.

  • Reply
    Chris Pattison
    October 4, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Nothing wrong with the Smena, or your photographs. I had the Smena ‘Cosmic Symbol’ as you sometimes find it in England. It was a car boot sale bargain. All went well until I decided to give it a gentle clean and wiped off the markings on the front of the lens!

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