The Chaika 3 / Чайка 3

The Chaika 3 was the third camera from BelOMO/MMZ called “seagull”, the call sign of the first woman in space, General-Major Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. The Chaika cameras were half-frame cameras for 135 film, built between 1963 and 1973 by MMZ/BelOMO in Belarus. Half frame again? Yes, but this solid camera does not only have a heroic name, but also features full manual control and a built in light meter. And the name is written in really cool cyrillic letters. And who could resist a small camera for only 1.500 HUF?

About the camera: The Chaika 3 is a manual half frame viewfinder camera. Beside the palstic covers on front and back, it is fully made of metal. The camera measures the light without batteries, using only a selenium light meter above the lens. A mechanical calculator on top of the camera helps to calculate the right aperture. Like on the Zorki 10, the film advance lever and the exposure counter are on the bottom of the camera. The camera strap is screwed in the tripod mount, which is on the side of the camera, quite clever for taking landscape pictures. Less clever is the missing cable release connector. The camera has a cold shoe for a flash and a PC sync socket. Although the lens is removable, there are no other lenses for this camera, as it was designed to be used with an enlarger.

Taking pictures: The light meter / calculator works quite easy: first set the right film speed (the camera uses GOST film speeds), point the camera to the motif, select your preferred shutter speed (1/30, 1/60, 1/125 or 1/250) and the calculator shows you the right aperture. Set this aperture on the front of the lense. Then guess the right distance and set it using the meter scale on the lens.  The minimal focusing distance is 0.8 m. In low light, attach a flash to the accessory shoe and the PC terminal. To try double exposures, press the little rewind button while advancing the film.


       

Brand BelOMO
Camera Chaika 3
Year built 1972 (like me), built from 1971 to 1973
Serial number
Lens Industar-69 1:2,8 f = 28 mm  (equals 40mm on full-frame)
Film format 135 film 
Special features Built in light meter & calculator
Accessories
Manufactured by BelOMO or Belorusskoe Optiko-Mechanichesckoye Obyedinenie, Minsk, Belarus
Date of purchase 05.2010
Price 1.500 HUF/ approx. 6 € 
Place of purchase Soós Fotó Budapest

Tips&Tricks: Before you buy, always check the selenium light meter: when the lighting conditions change, the needle on top has to move. If the light meter is broken, you can still use the camera with an external light meter. It never happened to my camera, but the shutter might get stucked. This tip should fix it.

Film purchase & processing: Every 135 film can be used with this camera. Remember to convert ASA to GOST when setting the film speed. Processing can be fun: every laboratory accepts the film, but the prints can be one per print or two pictures on one.

Further reading:
http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?1087055749 (Overview of the different models)
http://www.flickr.com/groups/russiancameras/discuss/72157624090859894/ (Great review and instruction)
http://mayflyaway.blogspot.de/2009/09/chaika-camera-shutter-not-working.html (Fix for shutter problem)

Pictures:

The Chaika Flickr group
My pictures on Flickr

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