BelOMO Chaika-II Anniversary Vintage Camera
BelOMO Chaika-II Anniversary Specifications
|Manufacturer:||Minskiy Mekhanicheskiy Zavod|
|as part of BelOMO|
|(modern day Belarus)|
|Made in:||Minsk, USSR|
|(modern day Belarus)|
|Lens Mount:||M39 Screw Mount|
|Format:||135 Film (half-frame)|
|Dimensions:||11 x 7.7 x 3 cm (body only)|
|11 x 7.7 x 4.8 cm (with lens)|
BelOMO Chaika-II Anniversary Review
The BelOMO Chaika-II Anniversary is a special edition of the BelOMO Chaika-II (БелОМО Чайка-II) that was produced by the Belarus Optical and Mechanical Enterprise (Белорусское оптико-механическое объединение) in its Minsk factory to commemorate the 50th year of the Soviet Union. The Russian word chaika (Чайка) translates into “seagull” which was the call sign for Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first female ever to go into space and the woman who this line of cameras is named after.
Besides the greenish grey body, the anniversary edition is completely identical to the regular Chaika-II (which had black leatherette). All models in the Chaika line are 35mm half-frame cameras which means that you can take two vertical images on every horizontal frame of 35mm film, effectively doubling your photo count per roll. Shutter speeds ranging from 1/30 to 1/250 seconds can be selected by rotating the dial embedded in the top plate. The frame counter can also be found on the top plate by the recessed film advance lever. The shutter button is located on the front next to the Chaika-II badge and above the flash sync terminal and has a standard cable release socket.
Unlike the Chaika-I which has a fixed lens, the Chaika-II accepts M39 screw mount lenses and comes packaged with an Industar-69 28mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Unfortunately, due to the shorter half-frame flange distance, most other M39 lenses will not focus properly on the Chaika-II without modification. Likewise, the Industar-69 will neither focus to infinity nor cover the entire frame on conventional 35mm cameras. One likely explanation for the presence of a seemingly useless removable lens is that the Industar-69 can also be used as an enlarger lens for printing.
I’ve always been fascinated by relics from the Soviet era and this Chaika-II is no exception. I love all the little details on this camera like the seagull diacritic on the “Й” and the polished strap eyelets on either side. I had actually spent weeks watching eBay auctions for numerous Chaika cameras when I came across this particular Chaika-II at a local flea market. The guy was asking $20 for it which was a great deal when you consider that the ones I had seen online had been selling for $50 and up but I talked him down to $17 anyway.
Find your very own BelOMO Chaika-II Anniversary on eBay.
McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 92.