Zenit: someone use them?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Antigen, May 6, 2016.

  1. Huss

    Huss Member
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    Hmm. Seems easy enough to do it in one stroke. I'm wondering if it is to protect the advance mechanism, in the way Leica did with their dual stroke M3 before they changed it to the single stroke model.
     
  2. Sewin

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    Following a leave of absence from Zenit's I'm currently enjoying using my basic Zenit B with preset lenses.
    Feels comfortingly solid when compared to some of my other SLR's.
     
  3. Bud Hamblen

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    I used to use a Zenit 12xp until the shutter broke. The curtain was only glued to the drum and came unstuck. I still have the Helios lens, which is much better than the body was.

    Bud
     
  4. G1DRP

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    I've just bought a Zenit B body for £6.50 and have run a roll of film through it, using a Helios 44M preset lens. The images all look sharp and evenly spaced.
    It was great fun shooting with it and it reminded me of my Zenit EM, which my Dad gave to me in 1980.
     
  5. Fin

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    I briefly owned either an 11 or an E in the early 90s. I bought it cheap and It gradually fell to bits then the shutter totally jammed up after about 3 or 4 films. I ended up giving it to a friend who took it apart and couldn't figure out how to put it back together.

    I'm half considering buying another just to try to give one a chance, and half thinking I really don't need any more cameras. I don't, do I? Do I?
     
  6. Jeff Bradford

    Jeff Bradford Member

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    I bought a Zenit E to mount Soviet M42 lenses. It works as it was intended, but I have since transitioned to a Spotmatic - a much more enjoyable camera to use. For one thing, the mirror slap in the Zenit is like triggering a mouse trap in your hand. I think it was intended to function in sub-zero Siberian weather.
     
  7. Sewin

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    My Zenit B seems to be working fine. One problem they suffer is slow curtains.
    It's quite a straightforward fix, they say, but when I first did it on a Zenit I attacked the wrong screw and sheared off the nut :redface:

    I now know how to do it correctly by learning the hard way.
     
  8. Theo Sulphate

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    Never had one; rarely see one.
     
  9. Sewin

    Sewin Member

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    They sold in the thousands over here in the UK in the early 70's.
     
  10. Theo Sulphate

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    Yes, it's a bit surprising. The only cameras we saw from behind the Iron Curtain (*) were the Exakta and (briefly) the Hanimex Praktica. I knew the history of the Exakta and was fond of it, but the Praktica seemed very short on features compared to other lower-priced cameras of the time (e.g. SRT-100).

    The first and only Zenit I encountered was in a Venice (CA) pawn shop around 1970 when I was a teenager. It was an SLR with non-instant-return mirror. The pawn shop owner, thinking I was an idiot, says to me: "it's a Leica". But, since I had a job as a Russian translator and ЗЕНИТ was clearly visible on the camera, I quickly corrected his remark.

    (*) our designation for eastern European countries aligned with the Soviet Union. The Russians hated that term and forbid their translators to use it in official translation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  11. Sewin

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    :smile: I was just about to ask which budget alternatives were easily available to you, seems like it was Praktica.
     
  12. blockend

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    The UK importers promoted Soviet cameras heavily in popular photographic magazines of the day. Any Japanese camera sold for several multiples the cost of a Zenit in Britain, and the cheapest "branded" camera was about twice the price of a Praktica. Eastern Bloc goods like cars, motorcycles and electronics sold well over here in spite of dismissal by journalists. I don't know if the appeal was political or pragmatic, but as the country was generally broke in the 60s and 70s I suspect the latter.

    Zenits sold well in the hobby market to people who couldn't care less what name was on front of the camera so long as they could control the aperture and shutter speed manually, and maybe change the focal length. Trainspotters, wildlife photographers, social photographers have left a photographic legacy through their cheap Zenits. The Newcastle documentary photographer Jimmy Forsyth used a Zenit in his later years, most famously extolling its virtues it on to "The Tube" rock show with Jools Holland in the 1980s.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  13. Sewin

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    Well I never knew that Jimmy Forsyth used a Zenit.

    He documented my home town Newcastle in the 60's when I was growing up.
     
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  15. blockend

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    In his early years he used a box camera, and was photographed later with a medium format folder, a ZI or Agfa. By the 70s and 80s he'd embraced 35mm and used a Zenit. I can't find The Tube interview but recall Jools Holland asking why his photographs worked so well. Jimmy said "because Zenit makes good cameras".

    His 35mm images have been printed large for exhibition and there are no compromises on sharpness.
     
  16. Sewin

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    Yes blockend,

    I've seen pictures of him with a box camera and a folder.

    And to think he only had one eye!

    I should really buy copies of his books for nostalgia reasons.
     
  17. Theo Sulphate

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    The U.S. is a funny place. The true budget alternatives were the Kodak Instamatics and other low-end "snapshooter" cameras. For the enthusiast who couldn't afford the entry level SLRs like the Pentax SP500 or SRT-100, there were simpler rangefinder cameras like the Canonet 28 or a Yashica.

    In over 20 years of swap meets I rarely saw those Prakticas; they just didn't sell well here. Our gear-oriented photography magazines, Popular Photography and Modern Photography, did their best to create lust for Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax, Leica, etc. as if nothing else existed.
     
  18. MattKing

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    There were a few more Prakticas in Canada. The vagaries of international distribution were responsible for a lot of differences around the world, just as they are today with respect to things like pricing and availability for film and darkroom materials.
     
  19. shoe

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    Zenits are wonderful cameras. Yes they are a bit crude, primitive and simple , but using them gives numerous advantages over other slr's. I would definitely leave them at home for sports or action photo's. I have the following zenit 3m, c,b,e.ttl, and 12sd.
    1- They will slow you down . They are the perfect thinking mans slr .
    2- The viewfinder on the early models are bare . This puts all your attention on composition.
    3- The M39 and M42 mount opens you to a new world of vintage optics.
    4- Lets face it they are cool !!
     
  20. Sewin

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    I went out for a walk in the forests the other day with my better half and the dog, so picked up the Zenit B.

    Commenting on how heavy the B was, my wife said why not just take that nice little camera in the case

    ................................................. it was my lightmeter. :smile:
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

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    I was given two Zenit Es, one export model with a broken shutter ribbon and defunct meter, one domestic with accurate meter and working shutter but very dusty; both have Helios 44-2 lenses which are seeping oil. They're in the "screwmount for repair" box, along with Pentaxes H1a & SP1000, a Mamiya, and a Yashica TL1000.
    The Praktica LTL3 works perfectly. Go figure.
     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I also have a Zenit E with torn-off shutter ribbon, but from incidential cases we just cannot deduce anything. Of my SLR's of different makes the Zenit is the only one with a ribbon issue, but I got several non-KMZ cameras with other issues...

    A question: had any camera designer of any make a lifetime of 50 years in mind?
    Thus failing and non-failing can also be matter of accidential choice of material (as on this case likely the rubber cement).
     
  23. 4season

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    Yes, for me the "Soviet Invasion" didn't begin until after the USSR ceased to be a country, and then it was with Kiev, not Zenit cameras, and I still had to order them from out of state (I was living in Hawaii at the time). But I got the impression that most of the commie camera action was further out east in places like Atlanta, Georgia and New York.

    Price-wise, by the early 1980s, cameras like Nikon's FG were affordable enough to attract the likes of my thrifty sister, and if you knew someone who was traveling to Japan or had access to a military base exchange, there was the possibility of additional discounts there as well. Got a Nikomat or Asahi-branded Pentax Spotmatic? Common sights here and a sure sign that they didn't come through the official USA import channels.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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  25. Huss

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    And it looks like they may beat Nikon and Canon to the mkt for a ff mirrorless..
    I'm looking at the simple electronics in my Zenit 12SD (the meter) and seeing the probs they had getting that working. Yeah, good luck w the FF digital camera!
     
  26. nusproizvodjac

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    Zenit was my first camera, my dad bought it while on a business trip back in 1979. It is an EM with Helios 44-2 lens. I've been shooting a lot with it, but as of recently the advance lever is very tough to move, and sometimes won't even work.
    Feels like it is skipping some gears. When the lens faces downwards, it advances and shoots as it should, but when tilted upwards, it fails. It either shoots and doesn't lift up the mirror, or simply doesn't respond to the shutter button. I've read
    about this problem, some spring seems to fall out of place and causes this, but I haven't found time to disassemble it yet.
    All in all it's a really nice camera, and quite heavy too, about 1.1kg with the lens attached. It always reminded me of Boris the Blade from Snatch and his famous ''heavy is good, heavy is reliable, if it doesn't work you can always hit him with it'' line.
     
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