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Oswalds Russian camera, why didn’t he use it ?

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Oswalds Russian camera, why didn’t he use it ?

Since I got interested in the JFK case, I wondered why Oswald would have used that  Imperial Reflex.   The Imperial Reflex has zero options.    Nice on a sunny day, shooting from the average distance to an object or person,  but otherwise…  nope.      

I had read Oswald was interested in photography, and in the evidence listings  a number of different cameras were mentioned.   At first glance the Russian made Smena-2 to me looked to be one of the better ones IMO.

But so far I have found nothing that suggests Oswald actually used that camera in the USA ?   Marina stated that Lee had trouble finding the right film for it in the USA ?  

That sounded strange to me as the Smena-2 uses 35mm film that is pretty much standard.  It was already common in the USA in those days, and it still is in analog photography and Lomography.   So I didn’t really see the problem Marina was talking about.    

For all I know Oswald used it in Russia, so he must have known very well what film it needed, and he must have known it was available in the USA.   

I would have to see it for myself,  it’s a Russian camera , one never knows….  So I got one and it  arrived today !

I have to say I liked it right away, it’s  a small pocket size camera.  It feels nice in handling.  Not too heavy, not too light.    All buttons and dials typical for a 1950’s camera for the amateur enthusiast.    Given the max. aperture at f4.5 It can be a little problematic in low light conditions,   but that was  pretty much standard for a camera from those days.   The St is a little off, not unusual.   It is not a high-end camera, by no means,  but it is well made.    The Smena simply is a decent little camera for a friendly price (ok, in Russia).   

So, now the film problem….  everywhere I looked on the internet the only thing is : “the camera has no rewind”.    The only thing to consider is that you need an empty cassette to feed the exposed film into when shooting, you'll feed the film frame per frame in the empty cassette… and that’s it.    

And b.t.w. one CAN rewind the film !  Simply turn the advance know the other way round if you would want to !   E.g. like when you have advanced one too many frame and want to go back.    It doesn’t have a “rewind-release” button,  but it will turn in reverse.  It is not one way only, people could think so because of the mentioning it has no rewind, and film needs to be fed into an empty cassette… 

The camera can take any normal 35mm cassette and on the other side you need an empty 35mm cassette that will take the film in.   Once you have this first empty cassette filled, you’re good to go forever as the cassette that had the unexposed film is now empty, just move it to the other side in the camera (and flip it !). 

So, why didn’t he use his Russian camera ?  It has all the option one needs to shoot in different circumstances.

And as said, the  Imperial Reflex has only one fixed setting, no options

The Smena is simply better overall 

More reasons, IF you would have to sneak up to Walkers house to take pictures, what would you prefer ? A small pocket size fairly modern camera like the Cuera-2 or the bulky  Imperial Reflex that has a very awkward view finding method (waist level view finder, will look like you’re always looking up at things)

Dimensions (w x h x d) :

Imperial Reflex =  90 x 175 x 90mm

Cuera-2              =  70 x 115 x 55mm

The Smena-2 fits nicely in my vest pocket, the Imperial Reflex - even when closed - never would.

So why didn’t he use it ? Was it broken ?   Was there more to it ? All the testing was done with the Imperial Reflex, the Smena was never really considered, they showed a picture of it to Marina and that was it. 

I can only assume they only found 620 film negatives and no 35/135 negatives ?  But as we do not have a detailed list, impossible to know. 

It may be nothing, but taking into account the BYP, the pictures of the Walker house… I’d keep it in mind.  Marina said he had difficulties finding the correct film, somehow this is like saying it was not totally impossible… so perhaps some of the pictures where taken with the Smena, but perhaps they were never tested….

Please note the one I have has the Smena (some say Cuera) font a little different, but as said it is technically identical to LHO's, to top dial looks a little different but has the same functionallity. 





Edited by Jean Ceulemans
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Or did he use it ? When/why ?  

I'll get there later, as I really really really think he has used his Russian camera in the USA

So why where they stressing it was all about the Imperial Reflex (that was allegedly used for the BYP and Walker House Pictures)

I know about the marks, and the lab seems to have proven the Imperial Reflex made the BYP

The Walker House pictures......mmmm.... not so sure...    

In evidence :

- some rolls of 35mm film,  in case there is any doubt about them being available, well there's a couple... as I said it's just standard 35mm film

So about some problems in getting the right film as Marina stated ? NO WAY 

- some 620 film (for the Imperial Reflex)

Rather interesting is the "?" next to the exposed films

On the unexposed they seem to be sure (no "?" there)

But on the exposed, it's always "?"

Did they want to check it out first,  see what's on it, before we make it final there was something in those pictures ?

I mean a film is exposed or not..., so we have :

3 exposed 35mm films (could have been used in the Smena-2)

1 exposed 620 film (Imperial Reflex)

That's 3 films and possibly a lot of pictures, where are those ?




Edited by Jean Ceulemans
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Some things to consider :

- LHO destroyed his Walker file (according Marina when he was trying out an indoor BBQ)

- why would he keep the Walker pictures ?

- were the negatives of the Walker-pictures also destroyed ?

- lab reports are there for the BYP and 1 neg.

- I have found a statement that said the Walker House picture also had these marks

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