Friday, 13 September 2013

A visit to the Lubitel Shop

In St Petersburg, visiting Loft Project ETAGI, at the ground floor entrance to the building, there's a shop called Photo Lubitel ('Lubitel' is the name of a Russian-made twin lens reflex camera which was the budget medium format camera of choice when I was at college nearly twenty years ago, and produced by the St Petersburg/Leningrad based factory GOMZ, later renamed LOMO). They have a website,, which doesn't have a lot of information in English, as more seems to be on their VKontakte site in Russian (they also have a second shop in St Petersburg, in Bolshi Gostiny Dvor). The shop had lots of FED and Zenit camera bodies, with a bargain bucket of them for 200 roubles apiece, as well as a good general range of secondhand Russian and Eastern Bloc cameras of all types. What caught my eye in one display case was a Kiev subminiature camera with a 350 roubles price ticket. Attempting to ask to see the camera, a boxed Kiev-30M was brought out from under the counter (it looked as though there were many such boxed sets in stock) for 700 roubles, although after trying it out, the advance was rather sticky, so another box was produced, this one for 750 roubles, which seemed to work fine. The first box had three rolls of Svema film inside, and, with the lack of a common language between me and the shop assistant, I bought the second box, and got them to throw in the three rolls of film from the first. Incidentally, the shop looks like a good place to buy film in the city, with a range of 35mm and medium format Foma, Ilford and Kodak films (although I wasn't buying any film, as I didn't use all I'd brought with me as detailed in my previous post).

Svema Foto 65 16mm refills

It seemed a shame not to shoot the Kiev-30M with the Svema film in St Petersburg while I was there. Inside the boxes of film, there's a sealed packet of black paper and foil containing a length of unperforated film; without a darkroom to load the film into the cartridges, I had to improvise by using the hotel wardrobe: inside, at night, with the door closed and all the lights off outside, it was dark enough to load the film. I loaded and shot both cartridges. Developing the film, on my initial inspection, it looked as though nothing had come out, but although very heavily fogged, some images were visible (the clearest image, despite heavy scratching, was at the very end of the second film, shot after my return). The best of the frames from St Petersburg are below.

Kiev-30M with expired Svema 64 film
Kiev-30M with expired Svema 64 film
Kiev-30M with expired Svema 64 film
Sources/further reading:
Soviet-era subminiature camera list on Commie Cameras
Kiev-30M variations on
Kiev-30M on