Cosmic Trauma?

And so, the journey into film, and film cameras continues. This isn’t the beginning of the journey, but it is a good place to start.

I picked up this reasonable example of the Lomo Cosmic Symbol camera at Seaham car boot fair Sunday gone. I paid £5 complete with case, which is a canny price when you consider they are going for over 4 times the price on Ebay.


It is a Soviet mass produced camera with a joyous simplicity. When I got it home I made it an even greater minimalist triumph by managing to rub off the ASA and aperture markings on the front of the lens with some pretty non-vigorous cleaning. I nearly sulked, until I reminded myself it was a fiver and it was by no means the end of its usefulness. Cosmic Trauma averted.

I Googled a few photos of this plastic beauty and worked out how to set ASA to approximately 200 by looking at the settings on the photos. Happy with that, I loaded a roll of cheap AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 and made for the beach. I took my Olympus PEN-F along for the model shoot.

The camera is simple to operate. An aperture ring displays various weather symbols that Michael Fish would nod approvingly at. You just have to look at the sky and decide if it is cloudy with rain, sunny, or options in between. I chose cloudy (no rain).


Weather symbols on Cosmic Symbol

Then you focus by using the lens focusing ring which is marked in feet and meters. This is a zone focus camera, so you have to estimate distance to subject and set it on the focusing ring. And that’s it. Push down the lever mounted to the side of the lens. Yes, that’s where the shutter is.

So I rattled off about 19 to 20 exposures and then found I could not advance the film any more, so I called it a day, having composed various images of worn brick and the remains of a burnt out motorised vehicle.

Getting home, the film advance decided to work again, so I took a couple in very low light of my youngest daughter Sophie. Then it came to rewinding. It was bit fiddly, but involved pressing a button on the underside of the camera, taking hold of the rewind crank on the top, and moving the spool anti-clockwise. It felt like there was some serious friction during rewind. Hopefully the film isn’t chewed up. It made it back into the cassette anyway.

So, tomorrow, it’s off for development along with a roll from an Oktomat; that’s a story for another day.

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