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Balboa VS Drago

My money is on Drago for this one

The Soviet camera industry didn’t copy too many american designs. Most of the time they designed cameras based on German and Japanese concepts; They were not fools: German and Japanese stuff are as good as it gets when you talk about cameras.

The Moment is a strange beast in the Soviet camera world. It is to the Polaroid 95 what the Kiev 6C was to the Pentacon Six: a model very much inspired in the original, so much that it couldn’t be sold in the West because of flagrant patent infringement. It wasn’t an exact copy and there are a few different details, but the Soviet Pola has Land genes in it.┬áThe insides are pretty much the same, as the instant photography system was copied exactly, but there are many different things.

The Soviet Moment looks much more like a camera from the thirties than the Polaroid 95, which in the 50’s already looked retro: the lens assembly of the Polaroid is rather innovative and complicated compared to the one on the Moment, which even has a reflex finder like earlier folders. The shutter of the Polaroid is especially made for people that do not know too much about photography; this path was strictly followed by Polaroid in the subsequent decades. The shutter of the moment is a more classic design; in fact, it is probably a part adapted from other cameras.

As far as I know, the lens of the Polaroid is a simple doublet lens, while the lens of the Moment is a Triplet, as can be deduced by the letter ‘T’ in its name. The Soviets used to name their lenses by their optical design, pretty much like Zeiss. As for the max speed, the moment is 6.9 and the Pola is f11. Yes, the Russian lens is better, but we have to admit that the Polaroid lens is more than enough to take 8x10cm images that will not be enlarged. I must add that the Russian camera industry actually making something better than what they were copying, at least at a design level, should give any collector the creepy jippies. In wanting to be better than the Polaroid, the Moment aimed to the stars. And actually crashed.

The bellows of the Moment is of better quality, being leather. Ironically, the synthetic bellows of the early polas have been aging better, as natural leather, being organic, is more likely to have issues like fungus, mold, etc. I think that all this differences are more likely to be due to use of available parts and a rather conservative approximation to design than to a genuine attempt to improve the original Polaroid 95 model.

I love both cameras and, from time to time I load them with regular photographic paper and shoot a few negs. I love to hate them.

My money’s on Drago for this one.

I have one spare of each. Just saying.

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