The Vilia is yet another fully manual shooter from the later years of the soviet union from MMZ-BelOMO in Belarus. Unlike its obvious soviet rivals the camera styling is more akin to Japanese compacts of the era. But how does it measure up compared to its rivals like the Smena Symbol ?
Specification-wise these are quite closely matched. You’ve another triplet lens with scale focus matched with variable shutter speeds up to 1/250 sec plus a bulb setting. Both have an aperture that can close down from f/4 to f/16 and offer you either full manual setting or an easy to use exposure setting based on the sunny 16 rule. Both are self cocking with a front shutter button
BelOMO Vilia Specs
- Lens: 40mm 1:4
- Focus: Zone & Scale
- Metering: None
- Aperture: f/4-f/16
- Shutter: 1/30-1/250 +B
- EV 100asa: 9-16
- Filter-Thread: 46mm
The Vilia takes a different approach to the Smena series regarding easy exposure. You simply set the shutter speed to match as closely the ASA rating e.g. 1/125 sec if using 100asa (there are separate setting markings on the base on the shutter ring for this) You then use the aperture via a small lever under the lens to adjust for light conditions. This is coupled to a white dot under 5 weather symbol on the bottom of the viewfinder giving you a head up display.
Obviously like the smena you can set the shutter and aperture as you see fit in a full manual mode allowing you to shoot any speed provided you calculate the exposure
The viewfinder is a mixed bag. The weather HUD and parallax and frame marking are nice but mines remained a bit hazy even with cleaning.
The camera nicely offers both PC sync and Hot shoes flash. There is no cable release point and the tripod point is off centre if that bugs you. Unlike the Smena Symbol the lens also feaures a a Depth of Field (DOF) guide.
Lens wise the Triplet is okay and reasonable. But at wide apertures more distortion can be seen at the edges as you can see below. THis is less obvious closer and at narrow apertures
I think the Smena symbol’s T-43 has the edge for me but this works well enough and I think it looks better than the Smena. Otherwise they match their specs exactly.
I’m pretty bias here as I love the Smena 8m (the symbol is basically a refined self cocking version) but the Vilia is an interesting alternative. Over 2 million were sold from it’s production run from 1973-1986 Should get for around the 10 quid mark for working one with luck although you may need to pay a bit for postage as not that common in the west. The Vilia auto adds a selenium ring for metering (as ever check it’s working)
- Smena Symbol – Lomo’s rival selfcocking Manual shooter
- Smena 8m – Wonderful Lomo manual shooter
- Halina 2000/3000 – Plastic bodied Halina P&S series
- Diana Mini – Pocket modern classic manual P&S