The Start - the "USSR Exakta"

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by John Seaman, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. Startf.jpg
    The Start was made at the KMZ factory around 1960. Although it's said to be inspired by the Exakta, it's actually quite a conventionally laid out camera much in the style of the Zenit. The features which relate it to the Exakta are the interchangeable finder, external button for stopping down the lens and operating the shutter (at a different position though), and the film cutting knife.

    The lens, which has a 12 blade aperture, attaches with a Canon style breech lock fitting unique to the Start, you offer the lens up to the camera then turn the locking ring clockwise. Only one lens, a Helios 44 58mm F.2 was made in this fitting, which probably accounts for the limited success of the Start – although a non automatic adaptor for M39 lenses was supplied.

    The shutter button, which is probably the largest on record, is rotated to change from automatic to manual stopping down. The pressure needed to operate it is disturbingly high. The prism slides off backwards after moving the release button. The focusing screen, which is surprisingly bright with a large split image rangefinder, is also interchangeable.


    The film cutting knife is on the left, to use it you unscrew the button next to the rewind knob.

    My Start came via Sweden from a seller who said it was film tested. I was puzzled at first by the speed setting, luckily I did not break it by changing the speed before winding on. However the marked setting didn't seem to bear any relation to the actual speed. The problem was that the setting knob was out of position, I just had to slacken two set screws and turn it to the correct position and all was well. The only real problem is that the flash terminals don't work. I don't know when I will get around to using it, all the events I like to photograph are cancelled, and getting film developed is problematic.
    Gary Naka, Jochen, cameragary and 4 others like this.
  2. Interesting, John. I did not know about this one. I look forward to seeing some images.
  3. Looks reassuringly robust John! That shutter release is something else. Is that a bulb mode lock showing the arrow on the front of it? I think if you had just handed me this I'd have thought that was the dof preview lever, and then searched high and low for the shutter release.
  4. The lens mounted shutter button normally stops the lens down from maximum to taking aperture as it's pressed, then it actuates another button behind, on the camera body, to trip it. If you turn the button through 180 degrees, the lens stops down to the taking aperture and behaves as a non automatic lens, that is, the aperture opens and closes as you turn the aperture ring. Of course, the mirror stays up until you operate the advance lever again.
  5. Very like Miranda cameras, which also followed the PAD shutter release style of the Exaktas. An interesting camera, John; thanks for the write-up.
  6. Thanks for sharing that John.. I have seen photos of this but now seeing it up close is a real treat.. flash is something I so seldom use or need... that you don'T ddo your own (B%W) developing surprises me!

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