KMZ has it's own web pages at http://www.zenit-foto.ru/
If you interested in Russian made cameras, not just Zenit, DELPHI has a club for Russian and Ukrainian Camera Enthusiasts
Information available on net in Russian:
History of Russian Cameras
List of Russian made lens for 35mm cameras
Lens resolution data (wide open) for Russian made lenses
If you are interested in Zenit Cameras, Anders Loberg recently started a Zenit Camera user group!
The camera had bayonet mount, but was sold with rings that allow to
mount M39 or M42 lens.
Instant return mirror (?)
Two models have been made: one with F and X sync contacts and self timer;
another one without self timer and only X-sync contact.
Shutter: 1/30-1/500, B (cloth, horizontal)
Flash: switchable X/F sync, hot shoe, sync at 1/30
Metering: uncoupled selenium meter
Finder: Fixed pentaprism with ground glass screen.
Non automatic diaphragm
Instant return mirror
It appears that models before 1968 had M39 mount (?).
Instant return mirror
Models from 1983 had brighter viewfinder.
(Note: not all models have hot shoe ?)
Similar to Zenit TTL, but with larger mirror and match-LED instead of
Instant return mirror
Veiwfinder image 92%.
Shutter release button on back, DOF preview, back door opens down,
ASA switch is at the bottom, quick-load system.
Similar to Zenit 16 but without meter.
Shutter: 1-1/1000, B (metal, vertical, electronic)
Flash: switchable X/F sync (?), hot shoe, sync at 1/60 before 1983 and 1/125 after 1983
Metering: TTL match-needle manual
Finder: Fixed pentaprism with split image rangefinder and ground glass collar in Fresnel screen.
Battery: ? (2xLR-44 seems to work fine).
Instant return mirror
Interchangeable backs (There is a provision for the back to be removed, but I am not avare of any other backs were made for it).
Self timer, shutter lock, battery check.
Gost (ASA) settings are on the bottom plate.
There are reports that shutter is not very reliable, but easy to fix.
(I am not sure that such a thing existed ...)
Shutter: 1/30-1/500, B (cloth, horisontal)
Flash: switchable X/F sync (?), hot shoe, sync at 1/30
Metering: TTL open-aperture, electric contact
Finder: split-image rangefinder and microprism collar in ground glass screen
Battery: 2xLR44 (or A76)
Instant return mirror
Finder image 65%
There are basically three different views on Zenit cameras:
1.(Radically bad): Very bad and completely useless
2.(Balanced): Quite a good camera for the price, capable of producing good photographs
3.(Enthusiastic, but rare): Cool camera without any extra - CULT camera
My personal view is close to variant 2. And even after using whole bunch of manual cameras, I still think that Zenits are very attractive cameras for the price.
Note: due to virtually nonexistent quality control in former Soviet Union there are some very bad made Zenit cameras. Fortunately, as time goes, there are smaller amount of them around because of the "selection of the fittest" :-), but be careful.
The only Zenit model I (AB) used was Zenit EM, which I bought in Canberra for 30$ (it's Australian dollars). It has automatic diaphragm, selenium meter, limited shutter speeds (1/30-1/500) and slow flash synch (1/30). I liked it. It is heavy and is very stable in hands. Worked flawlessly. It has what I consider to be the best depth of field preview of all screw mount cameras I saw. Slight pressure on the shutter release button would close the diaphragm. Release the button and the diaphragm opens.
Tolga Yurek about Zenit 12XP:
Positive: Very Solid, Very cheap, Very large selection of incredibly cheap russian lenses, most are optically good, some are excellent
Negative: Small viewfinder image (<70%?), Not the brightest viewfinder.
Stanley Buck about Zenit:
Boat Anchor. Crude, heavy, and clumsy to use.
From Pavel B. about Zenit ET:
Very good camera for very small amount of money. Also, cheap lenses which have great optics (sometimes even Japanese lenses are not as good and this is true ! ) Only problem is not enough slower shutter speeds (should have at least 1/15 and 1/8 )
Anyway - great camera and lenses!
From Craig Zievis:
Zenit Photosniper 122s. I've had my Zenit for 3 months and am very impressed by what I got for the cost. I'm actually getting better pictures than I got with my EOS. The only thing I don't like is the focus screen and the fact thats it's not auto.
From Brad about Zenit 12XP:
Very solid, has been dropped, covered in mud, seen plenty of work and never let me down.
From Tomas Brunclik about Zenit 12S-Photosnipper:
The camera Zenit 12S has, unlike the 12xp, TTL match-needle and not LEDs. I bought it in Czechoslovakia about in 1985. What it did it did good. Good, solid and cheap set for wildlife photography. I had only two problems during 5-years use:
1) One rainy day water got inside and the metering become almost nonfunctional. Repaired by repair-service without problem.
2) It performes quite badly in counter-light conditions. Not only veiling (it was not so bad), but often also non-uniform exposure. I think it was caused by reflections inside the camera body (it is not as black as should be).
From Tom Piel:
Zenit E: Built Like a tank, I've took it along to several airshows and it never let me down, I also own an Eos system but I still use the Zenit next to it. I even found an old Photo Sniper system which I'm restoring. There are loads of lenses to be found for this old system and cheap. So If you want a cheap SLR system and you don't want to spend much money on it, its really worth considering.
From Mikko Tiihonen
I had the Zenit TTL for 2-3 years without problems until the shutter broke. Glue used to attach cloth to the spindles had turned into something like broken glass, propably as a result of extreme changes in temperature and humidity. I had several good lenses with 42mm screw, so I bought a Cosina Lite, wich also has 42mm screw. Cosina is as heavy & reliable as Zenit, with 1/2-1/1000s plastic shutter. Cheap Zenit and Carenar lenses have served me very well for over 10 years now, and I'm thinking of purchasing a Zenit body for taking b/w pictures.
From Andy Campbell:
This (Zenit B) was my first 'Real' camera. It had a Helios 50mm F2 lens. It cost me 20 UK pounds and, when I look back at the shots I got, the results exceed those I have had since with more expensive Pentax cameras - I believe some of this is due to the fact that you really had to know what you were doing with the Zenit and some of the automatic features of modern cameras have turned the whole photographic business into one of 'point and shoot'. I am now resurrecting my old Zenit ( I hope the shutter is still good) in the hope of capturing some of the old photographic expertise I used to have in photographing my one year old son.
A thoroughly good camera for the cash strapped photographer !
From Kent Nunamaker: I have a collection of Russian & Ukranian cameras including Zenits from the first model (39mm thd.). I am now using the 12XP and am very happy with it. It's heavy because it's not made of plastic. Speeds are limited but adequite. The meter works most of the time, but I rarely use the meter. The camera has a solid, steady feel, and it always works! I've owned "better" cameras that quit when I needed them. I just like manual cameras. When the photos are good, I take the credit for it, and yes, when they're bad, I'll accept the blame, but I have no love for the present trend of "point and shoot" SLR's. By the way, if there are any bad Russian lenses, I haven't found them yet.
From Devid Roche: A few years back I bought my first SLR from a friend heading overseas - a Zenit EM for A$20. The camera took some great photos and encouraged me to take up SLR photography a bit more seriously. So I bought myself a fully automatic Canon EOS- 500n and gave my Zenit on permanent loan to a relative. Now I'm finding the photos from my Canon are lacking the sharpness and contrast I was able to achieve with my Zenit, and I'm ruing the decision to ever part with it.
From Matt Ball:
I am a young student photographer so I don't really have much experience but I was overjoyed when my dad passed his old Zenit onto me. The great photo's he'd managed to take were out of my grasp on this camera though because it packed in on me a few months into my course. When I get some money I'll be getting it fixed if possible, I still think it's a great camera and I never suffered from any camera shake even on very long exposures because of it's heavy nature. Stands up to the nasty Scottish winters as well...
From Al Thompson:
I bought my old clunker Zenit E at a Southern California swap meet (flea market) in the mid '80's for $15, figuring it would at least make a good paperweight. After all, I had a Leica, two Minox 35's, A Hassy CM, and a couple of 2.8 Rollei TLR's (with a Xenar and a Planar).
One day I needed to shoot a closeup of an excavated bronze age relic. For some forgotten reason none of the other cameras had the characteristics I wanted for the shoot. I used the Leica, but for insurance decided to try out the old SLR Zenit and its Industar. What a stupid name for a lens. Nothing pedigreed like Planar or Xenar. (Of course Elmar isn't a very swift name for a lens either!) Anyhow, I did the shoot and almost fell over when I saw the results. The Industar shots were superb. They were razor sharp and undistorted around the edges, and the color was right on.
I put a new battery in a small Konica lightmeter and slipped it onto the Zenit's shoe. A polarizer and lens hood were also added. I like the old beast better than the new Jap point-and-shoot zoom wonders, two of which I also have.
The Zenit never lets me down because of a dead battery. I enjoy its all- mechanical simplicity and infallibility. And Industar has new meaning for me. It is my favorite lens for 35 mm work. Maybe I just got lucky, but I don't think so. The lens on my 2,1/4 square Kiev SLR is also great. So far, Russian lenses have been excellent, probably even better than the Jap lenses. I have since acquired a Fed-2 and its lens is also top notch.
Zenit and Fed are the way to go if you want pro quality on a trash bin budget. But you have to learn a few things about photography like the old photographers did. After a while a lightmeter isn't even necessary for most shots. A 500th and f-11 at infinity with Kodak MAX (wide lattitude) still works wonders. The Industar is also great with black and white. I now cherish my cheap boat anchor.
From Mike About Zenit 12XP:
I knew a fellow mountain climber who took this thing (Zenit 12XP)
with him to the top of Mt.Blanc (over 5000 mtrs.)
The temperature was below -26 and he told me about quite a few Yashicas and
Fujicas that got frozen and refused to budge. Need I say that he brought a lot
of pictures back?
Oh, yes, he also had a Sigma zoom lens on it, and most of the time we used that instead of the binoculars. Better view and better magnification.
From Ashley Pomeroy:
My previous experience with photography was restricted to various Lomo compact cameras, and I wanted to upgrade to a proper SLR with interchangeable lenses. The Zenit (E, in my case) is the cheapest way to do this, and so far I'm happy with the results. Having honed my teeth on even cruder cameras, the lack of automatic anything isn't a problem, and extra lenses are stupidly cheap on eBay (decent wideangle lenses go for less than 10 pounds). The only drawback is that I don't have a case, and the camera's tripod mount is on the extreme right-hand side of the body, and because it's very heavy my tripod tips over.
From Wim Koekebacker:
I have 4 Zenit cameras, two of them are Zenit-ES's so I can work with different films when using the Sniper. The Zenit-B (I still regard the B the ULTIMATE Zenit)is mainly used for flash photography wheras the Zenit-EM is, and has been for the last 25 or so years, the workhorse of the lot. Despite the lack of modern gadgets found on modern japanese plastics these cameras are built like tanks. If treated with care and respect these cameras won't let you down and will last a lifetime. Be careful though with the selenium meters. Don't expose them towards direct sunlight for longer than a few minutes or they will become inaccurate in due course. So always keep the camera in its leatherette even on trips. By doing so the meters on my Zenits have survived without deterioation. My oldest Zenit-ES dates back to 1973!! Almost 30 years old ...
From Antonio Correia:
I first started photographing(as many others) with a Zenit EM. I've worked with Canon, Nikon, Minolta, and other russian cameras such as Lomo, but the best pictures i've taked yet, were taken by my EM. Truelly a work of art!!! Now, i have a Zenit E, that i am dissassembling, to learn how things work in there. I allsow have a fotosniper, that i've bought for 75 EUROs, and is the best thing for bird photography. Superb!!!!! Presentlly, i'm trying to buy a Zenit 19. Good luck with your zenit.
From Bogdan Chendran:
I have this camera (Zenit 19) for almost two years now and I have some problems with the electronical part (russians are really BAD in making electronic stuff). I have to change all the wires in it. Mecanically it is very strong. Good camera for the price.
From Paul Tiffany.:
I've got an Zenit EM (c. 1979) and I've had mine for around 15 years. It cost nothing, I found it at the dump outside of the western Queensland town that I grew up in.
I thought that one roll of film wouldn't hurt. And it's never missed a beat yet. Recently it came with on a hertiage rail tour as back up to a Pentax K-1000 and a ME Super. (Seems like everything I've got is in the old clunker vintage). Its taken many a perfect picture including a trip in 93 to Birdsville!
I love the camera because of it's main advantage of going without battery power, batteries always go cactus wrectus when they are needed the most. It is a great camera and I'll be hanging on to mine for the future.
PS I like the cult status that they are getting!!
From David M. Oates About Zenit 19:
I owned a Zenit 19 from 1982-83 It was a great camera to use and certainly was an improvement over Zenit TTL I had used previously. Mine was a M42 screw thread only. Bought it from "Richards Cameras" Wakefield West Yorkshire (UK). Sadly the shutter developed a fault and fired at any speed that took its fancy!. Still I always remember this cameras fantastic standard lens I didn't find another that drew as well at that one until I bought into the Contax system (via Yashica). Nice to hear that some of these 19's are still in use all these years later I remeber it fondly.
From Wim Koekebacker :
I got this camera (Zenit 11) on Ebay. It is in new, mint condition and I already used it. Works just like my other Zenits. The shutter, on the other hand, is not a smooth as my other Zenits. Also, the original documents came with it. Interesting fact is, that this camera is made by Belomo. It has plastic parts (top and bottom) and on the KMZ web site can be read that KMZ declares this camera to be a "not ours" one!
From Larry :
My first SLR (Zenit TTL),rugged as hell,a bit of a dim viewfinder but great fun. Cheap lenses.
From Piotrek B. :
I have two zenits 122 and 19. I bought zenit 122 (with Zenitar 2/50) one year ago and I'very satisfied. It's very good camera and it isn't very heavy as older models. I bought zenit 19 (with Zenitar 1,7/50) one week ago so I can't say anything about it (it's not tested yet) exept one thing it's terribly heavy.
From Viktor S. Poór :
I have stuied the photographi with a Zenit TTL. It's ideal to it. A very massive, "weatherproof" model. I like it, but 1/30 shutterspeed is a little bit slow for macrophotgraphy.
Dad had two Zenits, probably the E model. They had the external light meter, which never worked accurately. He took some great photos over the years, but both eventually died when the cloth shutter disintergrated (the repair quote was over $200 which wasn't worth it). I recently purchased an old SLR with the pentax-type screw lens so I can use all his old lenses and macro rings. I looked at a Zenit, but decided against it due to the shutter problem.
From Jean-Luc Louicellier:
(About Zenit-19): A GREAT camera ! very large viewfinder, very very accurate lighmeter, original and efficient ergonomy. Mine is 22-year-old and works great. Seems to be easy to maintain/repair too. A very good and very attractive M42 camera.
From Henderson Tozer
I got a Zenit EM off of Ebay for $12 just becuase it looked interesting. I already had a minolta which I thought was great. When I recieved the camera I loaded in some film thinking that the results would be interesting as I did not quite trust a camera made by the USSR. When I got the pictures back they were the sharpest and most vibrantly colored pictures I have ever taken. At the time I was taking a photography class so I decided to use the Zenit for fun. Not only did I find it better than my minolta but my pictures are to be published in my schools magazine as a special (I did a documentary of my high schools championship track meet). Zenits are better than they are cracked up to be.
From Matt Bradbury:
I now have two of these tank-like brutes (Zenit-E) along with a ES-Photosniper. I'd never use anything else apart from a Zenit, built to last unlike some of the quality i have seen in the build of other cameras. A Zenit always raises a smile among photographers (How many started with a Zenit?) and the photosniper attains instant attention! (Fortunatly not yet from the police!) Long live ZENIT!
From Kaushik Chattopadhyaya
Zenit 122 is a nice camera with basic features. The price tag is highly reasonable and yet it had compromised on the quality of its normal lens(helios) which is great. The depth of field preview facility coupled with the shutter relaease button is very handy. In India zenit is a widely known camera and for its reasonable price tag it is much in demand. My opinion is that zenit has a good future in India especially in basic slr and rangefinder segments. It is disappointing that zenit does not have a marketing wing in India,forcing the consumers to rely on the grey market. Indian market is surprisingly large and far from being saturated - it is infact untapped. If kodak,olympus,canon can bring out low end and mid-end products specifically for India and meet with resounding success why not zenit. Another way to revel the Indo-Russian relationship which has so successfully survived the ravages of time. Come to India there is a lot of space under the sun!
From David Popp:
I bought this camera on a fleamarket in Germany. I was looking for a cheap camera for my journey through Australia in 2004. It was my first contact with SLR's, and so I decided to buy a cheap one. It's a really heavy brick and quite reliable. My mates on our Oz-tour had EOS cameras, one suddenly stopped working - A$400 to repair - and one doesn't take clear pictures anymore. The Zenit had no trouble at all and it was easy to find cheap lenses in pawn shops and in ebay. I reckon it's a very good and reliable beginners camera. Now I'm thinking of buying a Praktica MTL5, because of the shutter speeds.
From Chris Lee
Say what they will, zenit and nearly all of the commie cameras are truely great. they are fun to use, give great results and are agricultural in manufacture, and I mean that kindly. I also have a TAL2 200mm astro telsescope and its fantastic! Beats the yankee plastic ones outright! and it comes in a great big baltic pine box, which will double as a coffin when I cast this mortal coil..now what else would you want.
From Luke Krancioch:
I started photography with a Zenith TTL which I will always remember fondly- it never gave any trouble despite the abuse thrown at it over the years. Although now I'm mostly using Nikkormats I still wont touch automatic cameras with a bargepole and recently bought this Zenit EM at a car boot sale for virtually nothing- I'm looking forward to reliving those old days again via this little gem which seems to be functioning 100%
From Hilary Cuerden-Clifford
I had the version with the Selenium meter in the face of the pentaprism. I bought it second hand, so my comments might be tempered by some previous problems the camera had - though cosmetically it was faultless.
It was the worst camera I ever owned. Heavy, but of only moderate quality. It had arcane features such as a lift to set rotating shutter dial (acceptable on Leicas up to 1960 but very poor on a 1970s reflex). It was very poorly designed and took low-quality photographs (light leaks, sticking shutter, problems with focus etc). I got rid of it with pleasure. I don't think that it had a single feature worth praise.
What was your impression of Zenit?
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