During our day spent walking around Karakol, we passed an antiques store and I told Farrell we absolutely had to stop in there and visit before we went back to the guesthouse. Having recently purchased another Soviet-era film camera, I was in the mood to look for more and smitten at the thought of finding an especially kitschy specimen in a small-town antiques shop.
It did not disappoint! Look at all of that Lenin paraphernalia!
Sasha, the owner, graciously allowed me to get my grubby hands all over several of his cameras and patiently put up with my attempts to speak Russian.
“Это работает? Нет? Это? Да? Сколько? И это? Очень интересно! Пожалуйсто. Спасибо, до свидания!” (This works? No? This one? Yes? How much? And this? Very interesting! Please. Thank you, goodbye!)
Introducing, the Smena-6! Ta-da!
Truth be told, he had a Smena-7 that I thought was cooler, but he was fairly certain that it didn’t work. This one might possibly work, but it’s always a gamble when buying old cameras. The interesting thing about this model is that it doesn’t have a rewind function, so it comes with an empty, reusable film cartridge that you wind the film into as you take pictures. If I can figure out how to explain to whatever film developer that I’ll need to get that piece back, then I’ll attempt a test roll.
I only paid 300 som for this one (about $8, same as my Smena 35), and after doing some research, I’m glad he didn’t ask for more money than that. At some point during its long history (my estimate is that it was made in the early 1960s), the top part of the camera was busted and repaired with the silver knob. It seems like it still functions, but my hopes and dreams of having stumbled across a rare and valuable collectable are dashed.
Sasha had many cool things on display, and my wild shopping spree of two cameras in a span of a few weeks left my mind and wallet easily swayed, so I bought this little calendar too.
Nearly a month later, I’m still pleased with my purchases, but I’m tempted to go hunting for even more interesting antiques around Bishkek now.