NaBloPoMo – Cameras – Zenit S

Back to Zenit cameras.  Particularly the early years. The original KMZ Zenit SLR was based on the company's Zorki camera line.  The viewfinder and rangefinder were removed, and the mirror mechanism and pentamirror or pentaprism was added.  This was pure Soviet innovation.

The prototype and pre-production/low production units were made from 1951 to 1953.  Production in quantities began with the "regular logo" Zenit in 1953.  Flash syncronization was added in 1955 resulting in the Zenit S model.   Which puts the Soviet SLRs right up there with the Japanese on being near the birth of the 35mm SLR (Asahi in production in 1952 evolving into the Pentax in 1957).  The Germans beat both with small production runs in the mid 1930s but WWII interrupted things.

This particular example was made in 1956.  If one notices,  I know exactly when the KMZ cameras were made.  The reason is KMZ always started the serial number with the last two digits of the year it was made.  Mind you that was not the year it was sold new necessarily.  Being a state run industry,  the factory did not have to pay attention to supply and demand.  Some years the cameras just languished,  other years,  they would not ramp up production.

Perhaps one wonders why I call it a Zenit-S?  When it is cleary not?  Well Zenit-S is the transliteration from Cyrillic.  Came with a cool metal cap.

Below one can see its very much a Zorki.  Uses the same M39 mount as the Zorki to reduce costs but with the Pentax/Asahiflex lens registration.  Not sure why they choose that distance since Pentax used a M37 mount at the time.  But the lens mount to film distance (lens registration) had to be increased to make room for the mirror anyway and it work out fine when both Pentax and KMZ went to M42 mounts.


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7 Responses to NaBloPoMo – Cameras – Zenit S

  1. crankypants says:

    This is very cool, how long have you been collecting? (maybe you mentioned it at the beginning of the month and I missed it, sorry) and where do you get them from? all over? I picked up and old Brownie I think it is (or something similar) at a thrift store for $5 just because I thought it was neat. neat! now I am not sure where it is. one of the boxes in here somewhere!!

  2. Lord Kalvan says:

    Crankypants, well been into photography off and on since a teen. Started collecting around the late 1990s. Sorta stopped adding to the collection even though there are a few cameras I want.Some were given, some bought used. Most were purchased from Ebay from all over before Ebay got too commercialized. Did you get the box Brownie or the Bakelite Brownie?

  3. crankypants says:

    Okay I found it. It's a Brownie Bull's-Eye camera and it seems to be metal.

  4. Lurkertype says:

    I have a mid-50's German camera you might be interested in, with attachments… can't remember the brand, but it was a big one.

  5. Lord Kalvan says:

    it uses 620 fim which is not available but you can rewind 120 on 620 spools and go from there

  6. crankypants says:

    hm, cool, thanks! I just looked on eBay, doesn't seem to be anything anyone is seeking! but it's a neat display item I guess.

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