MMZ-Belomo made more half-frame cameras than any other Russian/Soviet manufacturer.
|RafCamera - Russian
Lenses, Accessories, Manuals
(1984 - 1989) Comes with a 28mm, manually-focusing (f2.8-16) lens. This ultra-compact (about the size of many 16mm cameras), inexpensive (they currently sell, new, for about $40.00) camera came in two models. This version appears to be designed, at least originally, for the western market. The name of the camera and the name of the lens appear in English, and "made in USSR" appears on the back. The lens focuses from infinity to 0.9 meters (parallax indicators in viewfinder). The shutter and aperture are integrated into a "manual-programmed" exposure method. First the film speed is dialed in -- oddly enough DIN markings from 15 - 27 (ISO 25 - 400). Then the aperture is selected, or alternately six idiot-weather symbols (which appear on the other side of the same ring). There is no meter. The idiot-symbols or the f16 rule are your guides. When the aperture is selected the shutter speed is also selected. At f2.8, the speed is 1/60; at f16, the speed is f250. This is not the first camera or the first submini to use this approach. Built-in hot shoe with cover. No PC contact. Built-in tripod socket and cable release socket. Filter thread of 22mm. Strange, but effective, depth-of-field scale on the lens barrel. A wrist strap threads into the cable release socket. DIN-ASA conversion scale on the back. Body pops apart to load the film. Comes with clear plastic lens cover. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, new versions may exist. The rewind handle on these cameras are very fragile and break easily. It's best to remove the film from the camera in the darkroom, outside of the camera. Scales in yellow or red. The quality of the lens is good, but the shutter/aperture tends to be erratic.
(1988 - present?) Basically the same camera as the Agat 18 except for the following items. This model appears to be designed, at least originally, for the home market. The name of the camera and the name of the lens appear in Russian, and "CCCP" appears on the back. The film speed is dialed in -- oddly enough ISO markings from 25 - 1600. This is a much wider range that the Agat 18. There is no DIN - ASA conversion scale on the back. The lens cover is black (instead of clear) and is attached to the wrist strap so you can't lose it (nice idea). The f-stop scale is the same but there are seven idiot symbols instead of six (I guess you can be a "finer-tuned" idiot with this version). The main difference between these models is that with the18K, you have the option of using a rapid film cassette system. That is, the take-up spool can be removed and an empty 35mm cassette can be installed instead to takeup the film. This makes for quick removal of film, if pairs of cassettes are loaded ahead of time. For the normal shutterbug, it's a pain because the take-up spool is looser than normal in this model and has a tendency to fall over when you are trying to close the camera. But I'd still opt for the Agat 18K over the Agat 18 due to the increased film speed range.
(1965) This was the first in a compact, well-made series of half-frame cameras. 28mm (f2.8-16.0) focusing lens. Close focusing to 3 feet. Speeds of B, 1/30 - 1/250 which are set with a small dial on the top of the camera. It has a PC contact (but no flash shoe), cable release connection, and tripod socket. Exposure is strictly manual with no built-in meter or exposure guide. The shutter release button on this series is on the front of the camera, and unfortunately a little too easy to push by mistake as you are advancing the film! This model is easy to identify from its rectangular shutter release button. Unlike the later models, this one did not have an interchangeable lens mount. It also lacked a filter thread on the lens. It had a nice little film speed reminder on the bottom of the camera, but some people are confused by this and think that the camera has some sort of built-in meter! Despite its proto-typical flaws, it is a well-made camera. Perhaps the oddest thing about this camera is that the film rewind knob is on the BOTTOM of the camera. The film is NOT loaded upside down, as in some cameras. Instead, it is put on the bottom so that the viewfinder could be placed on the FAR left edge of the camera! It is estimated that 180,000 cameras were made.
(1967) It is really the same as the Chaika II. The only difference is the leatherette is now a more attactive tan. It is not marked "50th Anniversary" (of the 1917 Revolution) on the camera, and there is no record of how many were produced -- probably very few!
(1971) A new body style and some new features. It has the same interchangeable 28mm f2.8 lens with a Leica 39mm thread. Apertures from f2.8 to f16. The main difference is the addition of a selenium meter to the top of the camera. First, dial in the film speed into the meter (GOST speeds from 16 to 500). Next select a shutter speed from 1/30 to 1/250. There is no B setting on this model. Next, point the camera at the scene and turn the meter dial until the needles match. Finally, transfer the f-stop setting to the lens. But there were other changes and improvements as well. For example, parallax compensation marks were added to the viewfinder and cold flash shoe was added to the top of the camera. A PC contact was on the front of the camera. The square shutter release of the original model made a return, but the cable release connection is completely gone. The camera does still have a tripod socket however. Another change is that the film advance lever and counter are now on the bottom of the camera. The inconvenient rewind dial on the Chaika II is replaced with a much more convenient rewind dial -- on the bottom. Over 500,000 of these were made.
(1972) It is really the same as the Chaika 3 -- without the meter. Other than that, the only change was that the "B" setting was added back in. It is estimated that 350,000 were produced.
see MMZ-Belomo Chaika
(1970) 28mm (f2.8) lens. Used Agfa "rapid" cassettes and had a spring motor built in. Great idea but the film was hard to get. Selenium meter around the lens. Speeds of 1/30 - 1/250. Focusing to 0.8 meters. Hot shoe and PC contact. Cable release and tripod socket. A 24x24 version may have been made.
(1970) An advanced version of the Rapid. Available with either a 28mm (f2.8) or 30mm (f2.8) lens. The features on this camera were the same except that this model came with two shutter releases for dual exposure settings.
see MMZ-Belomo Chaika
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