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 Just bought a really weird camera, analysis needed
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad

USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 05 2012 :  11:08:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Dear collector friends!

Here's a fun exercise for you all: I just bought an interesting contraption that seems to be made part from Smena 8M mixed with some other mysterious items. I don't know what is the reason for this modification, is this a poor man's SLR, because it seems to incorporate some kind of 90 degree prism. Waiting anxious for your thoughts or guesses what this thing is and what these other parts came from!

Best regards,
Vlad.


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Alexander K.
AlexanderK
Germany
284 Posts
Posted - Aug 06 2012 :  11:01:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congratulation Vlad!
It is the crazyist thing I have ever seen! Do you see anything , if you look through the big ocular?
Have you already tried to take some pictures with?

Regards, Alexander
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 06 2012 :  11:17:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Alexander,

Thank you! It's still en route to me, I just wanted to get preliminary opinions from forum members here, I will definitely post more information as I get it in my hands.

Cheers,
Vlad
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okynek
729 Posts
Posted - Aug 06 2012 :  4:23:26 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Very cool camera
My speculation that this is home made "KGB camera"
The big lens is decoy. Camera makes real pictures through hidden lens on the side of the camera.
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Jacques M.
France
1185 Posts
Posted - Aug 06 2012 :  5:04:40 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Vlad!

What a surprising camera! I wondered at first glance if it was not a combined still camera/movie camera. But the main lens is blind...
So, it looks like a modernized version of the 90 degree Fed finder, the only finder able to shoot in the corners...

Congratulations: it's the first time I see such a camera... By the way, what is written on the front?

Amitiés. Jacques.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 06 2012 :  7:58:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Okynek and Jacques. It says Leningrad on the front, I think the logo may have come from a radio. Okynek's idea makes some sense, it may in fact be some kind of spy camera... very interesting...
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
957 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 07 2012 :  12:01:24 AM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Vlad and All!

Yes, I think Okynek is correct. A spy or police camera. Made to look like a normal movie camera that a tourist would use, but takes 35mm photographs to the side while looking in the viewfinder at the back which probably has a right angle mirror to show the side view.

Also, looks like it has focusing. The metal work and screws visible from the back when opened look alot like the work done at the KGB workshop of KMZ, however having a fake or dummy lens may not be up to KGB shop quality. They would probably have used a real lens as the dummy, in my own opinion. But still ... alot of things about it do look like KGB , even the leather case looks like a type that they often used. The number above the lens "3538-76" may mean made in 1976 and the way that serial number looks also looks like the numbers on KGB cameras and, as well, like the numbers used on some BeLomo military and police cameras (so maybe made by the military or police).

Very nice find and I have never seen anything like it!

Regards, Bill

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Jacques M.
France
1185 Posts
Posted - Aug 07 2012 :  03:05:38 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

What about the key which looks like a movie camera's one? Is there really a winder?
If yes, the inscription "Leningrad" could make sense...

Eager you receive your camera, Vlad, so that you could tell more about it!

Jacques.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 07 2012 :  08:49:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Bill, great to hear from you!

Thanks so much for your analysis! This camera starts to sound more and more exciting! I will definitely post my own experience with it once I have it my hands!

Thanks again!
Vlad.
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
957 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 07 2012 :  11:30:08 AM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looking closely I can see that the exposures were made through a built-in yellow filter, so probably exclusively meant for using black and white film.

The big 'cine' winding knob looks to be non-functional ending on the inside with just a nut and bolt.

There seem to be full controls for adjusting the aperture, adjusting the shutter speed, and adjusting the focus. I think the focusing distance will be set by the dial on top, toward the back, using the numbers visible next to the dial (now you can see 15 - 30 ... so probably the focus is set to about 22 meters at present).

Probably the camera came with a screw on handle that attaches to the bottom, like many amateur movie cameras have. Maybe it fit into the side pocket of the leather case when not in use.

All in all it looks like some pretty high quality photographs were able to be taken by the camera.


Regards, Bill

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 08 2012 :  8:17:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Bill,

thank you again for your attention to this! Regarding the winding knob, I believe I see some mechanism on that nut and bolt on the other side of the winding knob that may connect to the corresponding rod on a gear disc or whatever that part is called when the camera is closed. It may seem it does serve some function. I will verify when it arrives. I was told by the seller than it's not a fake lens on the camera and is somehow functional with the 90 degree prism inside. I am not quite sure how to understand it quite yet until I once again look by myself when it's here.

Cheers,
Vlad.
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1364 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 12 2012 :  7:49:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
According to what I see this is an useless camera conception.
It is made from two smena 8M bodies in one side we see a hole with a filter from Mikroma a Knob from Lubitel counter window, a counter dial from Smena 5/6/7/8/9 and a key from an unknown table clock.
In the top it seems to be dials from Blick rangefinder Original Smena 8M rewind knob, release buttom, and original shoe.the opening of one of the doors come from an 8x30 binocular eyepiece cover and its cap comes from Kiev magazine 16 movie camera the strap and leather case comes from Quarz Super eight movie camera. the lens is the original 8M's I believe the rear leather finish comes from Voskhod and as I know the Leningrad scutheon cames from a television set
that is all!
Regards
LP
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 13 2012 :  10:04:32 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello Luiz,

thank you very much for your thorough analysis, this is incredibly helpful in ! What do you think the top cover comes from and what do you think of Bill and Okynek's theory that it may be from a KGB workshop?

Thanks,
Vlad
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okynek
729 Posts
Posted - Aug 13 2012 :  11:51:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Vlad I probably misspoke. I do not believe that this camera made in real KGB workshop. Quality and workmanship (while it pretty good as we can see on the pictures) is not up to KGB standards IMHO, and choice of Smena 8M as a core platform, IMHO would be strange for KGB at list. I do believe that this camera possibly made by some curios person or even privet detective for surveillance. And considering all what Luiz found this person should be connected to some camera repair shop to get all these parts for modification. Camera parts not sold in the Soviet stores, you know.
But this is only my speculations. I can not wait when you receive camera and give us more inside about it!

Edited by - okynek on Aug 13 2012 12:43:25 PM
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
957 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 13 2012 :  7:08:08 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello All,

I agree with Okynek that the camera may not be KGB workshop made, however, although Luiz is probably correct in the parts that are used to make the camera, it is not a useless concept considering that it takes 35mm film, has a lens which appears to focus, aperture settings and speed settings. This means that it can be used for surveillance by someone who willappear to beusing a movie camera while actually taking 35mm photos of a subject to the right of them. This can be quite useful for all sorts of police agencies, public or private.
As well, most cameras that have the capability to photograph secretly at a right angle will be using an F-21 camera and so the negative is quite small and can be lacking in detail.
So, not a useless concept if spying of some sort is required.
And not so badly made that a KGB origin could be ruled out, although it may very well have been made for some other agency. Both the serial number over the shooting lens, the number "14" on the inside where the film cassette goes, and the construction of the interior are enough for me, in my own opinion, not to rule a KGB workshop out. Maybe a smaller workshop in an outlying province who had to make something sooner than Moscow could deliver?
It is an exciting and unique find, in my eyes!



Regards, Bill

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David Tomlinson
RCCCUK
United Kingdom
187 Posts
Posted - Aug 14 2012 :  02:30:19 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Vlad,

An interesting camera, which I did consider bidding for myself. One thing that I do note, the serial number at over 3000 suggests that a considerable number of cameras were made, which is very unlikely. It is also in the format used by Tochpribor, the manufacturer of Kiev movie cameras, so perhaps it also includes parts from these cameras. The two digit part of the serial number was used by Tochpribor between 1960 and 1984 to indicate the year of manufacture.

David.
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Henk Mantel
Jo Lund
Germany
25 Posts
Posted - Aug 14 2012 :  04:19:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello Vlad,

What makes me think is this strange combination of the two lenses, if I have seen that correctly. It is 40 mm , but what does the Meopta add to this focal length.
All in all the whole thing appears to be some sort of school project. Something like "we made our own spy camera". It is a bit to crude to be the work of a professional.
When you have received the camera it will also mean that my guessing comes to an end, that´s a pity.

Henk


HM
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
957 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 14 2012 :  09:22:05 AM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Henk,

I think the Meopta is a yellow filter meant to help hide the shooting lens and would also help to add clarity to images made with black and white film. Also, I'm not so sure that kids in the Soviet Union during the 1970's were encouraged, or even permitted, to make spy cameras.

I agree with David that the serial number probably dates to 1976 (and so maybe the camera is from around that time). I know that with many KGB cameras there were numbers in the serial that represented the date, but the other numbers did not always represent the amount of cameras that were produced but had some other meanings if any (department number, or maybe just a somewhat random serial number for a piece of equipment ... nit just a particular model of camera as in public series production).

It does seem that the serial number is rather prominently shown and so must have been used by some agency to keep track of and make records of the use and whereabouts of the camera.

Regards, Bill

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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1364 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 15 2012 :  11:46:31 AM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
In time! the key came from Vesna table clock!
LP
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1364 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  3:09:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
This same camera and pictures are published in
http://mostlyharmless.collected.info/login/
LP
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  5:46:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Luiz, yes, PetaPixel had picked up this story. I have finally gotten this camera just now in mail, it's even more impressive in person, I think I will make a youtube video and will post it here this weekend, it's better to demonstrate it than just post pictures.

Cheers,
Vlad.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  7:17:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Ok everyone here's my video overview of the camera.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/U0nCKp4qNQw


Cheers,
Vlad.
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1364 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  8:53:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad!
A very good movie! I found delightful the shutter cocking cord!
also the gears for focusing and change speeds.
The top and bottom plates are vey well machined.
I noticed a broken pivot in the film cover side and some difficult in openings for loading.
The only part i did not understood was the little cube at camera bottom side near tripod mounts
An interesting piece of conversation!
Regards
LP
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  10:30:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Luiz,
Thank you for kind words, it's my first video of such kind.
I fear that I may have broken the fort door hinge while shooting this video, I will try to glue it but it's a pity! I am still not sure about the bottom peace, it almost look like it's a mount for something... The gear work on the camera is amazing!

Cheers,
Vlad
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Yuri Boguslavsky
fedka
USA
209 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  10:57:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit fedka's Homepage  Reply with Quote
People in the USSR sometimes had a lot of spare time and a lot of resources at work, and being quite smart and handy could do some side projects (I know:-).
But this exceeds any reasonable camera modification.

I would think they meant to disguise this as a movie camera with the fake lens and that clock winding lever. One would expect a mirror in that viewfinder on the right, but it is not there, maybe lost and modified later?

The movie is great. It made me smile. Great entertainment:-)
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
957 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 17 2012 :  11:43:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad,

Nice film you made. Thanks! Looks like KGB to me. The quality and complexity is present. I have had a few KGB disguise cameras that were handmade and this has many of the same construction features as far as the gears and mechanisms, etc. Also, the case for it is exactly the type used for some KGB cameras.

I have a movie camera that shoots to the right using an F-21 hidden in it. Much the same idea, but with yours you get a bigger negative and so more detail available.

Maybe there was a right angle viewfinder that attached to the accessory shoe on the top, but is now missing. The thing on the bottom looks like some kind of electrical plug, but maybe used to attach a movie camera grip handle, along with the tripod screw mount. Also the case seems to have a compartment where the handle would fit.

No doubt it would be useful to have the bubble level on top so that you would get the proper angle if you were taking the secret photo while looking down at the camera pretending that you were not even making a movie, while snapping a photo of the person or thing to your right!

You should make more movies for us!

Bill

Regards, Bill

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3508 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 18 2012 :  10:03:09 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thank you very much Yura and Bill! Bill, that makes a lot of sense for this thing on the bottom to be for the handle! Too bad it's missing! Once again it's quite an ingenious construction! Thanks everyone for your input on this, I will place this camera in the wiki catalog under spy cameras section as soon as I take some more detailed photos as these are from the seller.

Cheers,
Vlad.
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