Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ЧА...ЧА...ЧАЙКА 3!

Yes, that's what I said! What did I say? Chaika 3, I guess!

Chaika 3 means Seagull 3 in Russian, a half-frame camera produced by BeLOMO from 1971 to 1973, though mine is a "type 2" according to this site, produced in 1972 and 1973, though I'm not sure how the winding mechanism would work on a type 1. As the name implies, this is the third camera in a series, after Chaika, Chaika-2 and Chaika 2M (wait, isn't that already 3 cameras?). I chose 3 just because it looked cooler and kind of crappier than the others. It is all metal and is quite heavy for its size.

The winding mechanism and counter are on the bottom of the camera...or the side? After using it, and realizing how it doesn't really make sense that all of your shots are vertical, maybe the camera was designed to be easy to use held sideways. Maybe. The film counter is also on the bottom. The shutter advance is actually pretty easy to access (as in, it doesn't feel strange), but turning it over to see the counter is kind of a burden. Though, with 72 shots, it's not like you need to worry about running out of film quickly.

You can see the smaller frame inside the camera. Loading film was as simple as any 35mm camera. Through the entire roll, I was expecting to open it up at the end and find that the film hadn't advanced at all (especially 5 photos after the counter stopped at 72, and I decided to just stop shooting). But, it worked. No problems.

On top we see the main difference between this model and the earlier models, aside from design. This camera has a light meter, and it still works. You just turn it to match the bar in the window with the meter thing. If that makes sense. You can also, I think, set the film speed. I just now noticed this. 30, 60, 125 and 250 are the choices. I had it set at 60 (as I didn't even know this part turned). My shots were a bit overexposed, so I'll have to try a bit of messing about with it.
It also takes a flash, and the lens supposedly comes off (I haven't tried), but no other lenses fit the camera. Someone supposed that maybe they were planning for other lenses, but it never happened.
Okay, so how does it shoot? Well, I have to say...72 photos is just too many damn photos. I was seriously just aiming at whatever while driving down the street for half the roll just so I could get through it to find out what kind of output I would get. Next time I use it, I'm going for a smaller roll. The negative is pretty amazing...just the endless roll of tiny photos, one after another. That being said, it's a decent (crappy) camera. Grainy? You bet. The edges are nice and ragged (cuz I likes me photo edges). This is my 9th roll of film through the Nova home developer kit. The film was a new roll of Kodak Portra 400VC.

See? Tiny, grainy photos. Not that I expected anything less! The other thing you can do, since you have all these tiny photos, is to scan them together.

I've seen a few nice panoramics done with the camera. It might also be fun to tell a story.
Ladies and gentlemen...Chaika 3! For your viewing pleasure.
Next time, I'll probably cover using 220 film in place of 120 film in your cameras. If the mood comes up and slaps me in the a pleasurably painful kinda way, of course.


  1. I noticed the film speed dial is in GOST. GOST speed were basically 90% of ASA speeds (i.e. GOST 90=ASA 100, GOST 360=ASA 400).
    I've often mulled over a chaika, but Pens are so darned sexy.

  2. Look, I already have a problem with being able to resist buying new (old) cameras - you really need to stop posting these great entries because I'll have no money left for my university fees this year!

    That being said - you're right, this type of camera lends itself to diptychs and triptychs, and would clearly force you to think more about how shots fit together before you can mix and match after scanning.

  3. tom: thanks for the tip! very little info on this camera on the web. i've been wanting a half frame for a long time, just had to wait for one to jump out at me.

    catherine: i know! too many cameras. every time i say i have enough, i see something else i want! and not enough money to buy them...

  4. that's one cool looking camera. i've been craving a half-frame camera lately. not that i really need yet another camera, but you know how it is...

  5. Oh my god, this camera is absolutely fantastic. Where the hell do I get me one? 72 frames? That's heaven! And what fun effects. I'm jealous :).

  6. you do your community such justice !! I cannot wait to get me one.

    your nova home kit is intriguing too, it must add to the flavor