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Cosmic/Smena Symbol

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Both the Cosmic Symbol and Smena Symbol are the same camera. Cosmic Symbol is merely a name used for export. Therefore for the rest of this page we will use the name Smena Symbol to refer to both. According to
Princelle these cameras were made between 1973 and 1993. No production figures are given - but Princelle estimates that between the start of production of the original Smena in 1952 and 1992 - 10s of millions of Smena cameras were made.

The Smena Symbol is essentially a simple little camera. However unlike more modern designs - it has proper focusing and exposure control. In use the shutter speed, aperture and focus distance can all be adjusted in the normal way. However as its name suggests - there is a clever system of symbols marked on the lens/shutter which allow correct focus/exposure to be set without any real photographic knowledge or aids like a light meter. See at the bottom of this page for
further details on use.

At least in the UK - Cosmic Symbols are fairly common and Smena Symbols probably also exist in large numbers. Value is strictly in the under the 10 range.

(All photos taken with our
Epson PhotoPC650 camera.)

Photo of Cosmic and Smena Symbol cameras

Closeup of lens/shutter


Lens Type

3 element (coated) T-43

Focal Length


Maximum Aperture


Film Type

35mm standard cassette

Picture Size



 5 speed + B

Flash Sync

X and M?



Filter size



Further details on the use of the Smena Symbol

The camera is marked up for both normal use with shutters speeds/aperture stops - and also weather symbols. If you have a separate light meter you can ignore the weather symbols and just use the camera like any other manual camera.

If you choose to use the weather symbols - then you get fairly accurate exposure control (at least good enough for print film) - but at the expense of control over depth of field.

First thing to do is to set the film speed on the dial inside the lens. This dial is marked in DIN as well as ASA and settings between the ones actually marked are allowed. Obviously this setting needs to be done only once for the whole roll:

Aperture/film speed dial

Then it is just a matter of selecting the appropriate weather symbol - which selects the correct shutter speed to use. The manual warns to make allowance for early morning and twilight conditions as well as being in deep shade despite the day being very sunny:
Weather/shutter speed exposure scale

Other than the weather symbol - the only other control to be adjusted on a picture by picture basis is the focus. This too can be controlled by symbols if you want - but is also marked in feet and metres:
Focus scale in metres/feet and symbols

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All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.

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