TsO 100 M Soviet slide film (re)shot in a Zenit ET

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. TsO 100M Soviet slide film on a Zenit ET

    Some friends were generous enough to provide me with an odd-ball film -- which turned out to be very late Soviet ISO 100 slide film (E-6). After posting here earlier on the film (link), Kozma Prutkoff and Simon Crofts especially were able to give me all the information that could be gleaned from the box itself, which was all in Russian. I debated, but finally decided that rather than use one of my Kiev, FED, or Zorki cameras, the ideal shooter for a late Soviet film would be a late Soviet SLR, namely the Zenit ET.

    What follows is the my version of Ten Days that Shook the Camera World-- the story of the red-August camera revolution.

    Since many people may not be terribly familiar with the Zenit, I'll take up the camera first.


    The Zenit was a KMZ SLR camera initially made in Krasnogorsk after 1952. There was also later production by belOMO in the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, now Belarus. KMZ also made the Zorki Leica copy and the Zeiss folder copy Moskva and Agfa copy Iskra.

    In fact, the Zenit is develops out of a Zorki with a built in prism instead of a rangefinder (just as the Contax S and the Nikon F grow out of the Contax RF) and was originally offered in M39 mount. Some of the earliest models were even bottom loading. Another legacy of the Zorki/Leica body is a rewind system that is very obscure to non-adepts -- the collar of the shutter button has a ring that has to be pushed down with the fingernail after the shutter button is rotated and locked down. Only then is the spindle able to rotate backward.

    Probably because of the limitations of the Zorki style body, the pentaprism of the early models was small and perhaps showed the least percentage of the actual scene of any SLR - not much more than 66%! (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenit_(camera)).

    In some Turtledove alternate-history novel something parallel to the Zenit might have had a part in the alternate history of Leitz itself.

    The model I have is the later Zenit ET (ЗЕНИТ ET) which has the M42x1 mount common to many of the later Zenits (there were also Pentax K mounts). It's a "rare" camera, only some 3,000,000 are supposed to have been made (source: http://www.rus-camera.com/camera.php?page=zenit&camera=zenitet), as opposed to 8,000,000 of the Zenit E camera.

    It has an all black finish and is quite heavy. I think not from lead weights like my plastic TIME camera, but from genuine tank-like construction. The area around the lens mount does look like it has been filed into shape by a junior high school shop class, but if you don't look too closely, it's nice enough looking and feels good in the hand.

    It also has an uncoupled selenium meter. Mine seems to work, but I found it difficult to reconcile the readings with my Gossen meter, so I just used the external meter. There is a needle in a window on the top of the camera, and film speed and readings are taken by twisting rings around the rewind.

    The camera has no automatic diaphragm mechanism at all. Its excellent Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 lens (née Zeiss Biotar 58mm f/2) is a preset lens. The preset works a little differently than usual in that the lens is set to the desired aperture, and then to open up the lens to its full f/2 for focus, etc., the preset ring is twisted so that its red dot is on the chosen f/stop. When you are ready to shoot, the red dot is set at f/2 and the aperture stops down to whatever the setting is, say f/22. Although this seems mad at first, if you just proceed and don't think about it, it works just fine in shooting.

    It has a cloth focal-plane shutter with speeds of B, 30(X), 60, 125, 250, and 500.

    It also has a hot shoe which looks fairly crude, but has a little plastic cover for it.

    It's a strange mixture of crude and refined. The parts that need to work do so, but the non-essentials are made as cheaply as possible. Reminds one of the Western intelligence assessments of Soviet military equipment.

    The film is somewhat of a mystery. When I posted (http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00WzWJ) the film box asking for help in understanding what I had, some of our ex-Soviet participants did not remember the film at all. There are pictures of the film box and the cassette in that post.
    Yet Kozma translated the box as showing that the film was made by a "Research Institute for Technical Photographic Projects in Kazan of TASMA Holding Group." This was in Kazan in what was probably still the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

    Tasma (TACMA) was one of two major film makers in the USSR, the other being the SVEMA plant in the Ukraine. However, according to our members and other sources (LINK) a much favored film in the USSR was the DDR ORWO film (ORiginal WOlfen = Agfa's plant in the East Zone). In any case, the film I was given was simply called TsO 100M and was an ISO 100 21º E-6 slide film, a film of whose existence only this box seems to attest.

    A US Army service has a translated notice for a Tso-22 film (LINK). A Google™ for TsO 100M yields only my own query here at Photo.net. There is also one reference to a Tso-25 film (LINK) which sounds like it may have been a copy of Kodachrome. With Photoshop, I was able to resurrect a picture at that link, somewhat more than in the display there.

    As it turns out, the roll of film WAS already exposed, so here is another in my ADX (accidental double-exposed) series that started with some Agfacolor film I found and re-shot. The original pictures, however, were mostly very faint. If I had known, I would have just developed it, but I didn't.
    Maybe the next time I'll cut off a few frames and develop those in D-76 or something to see if there are any images. Wish I'd thought of that before hand.

    The film came out almost completely cyan in tone. Some modest return of color was possible by extreme measures in Photoshop, but this is more in the league with some of Gene M's finds than any of my personal "old films" have been.

    The first picture of an uplink (do you have the launch codes?) shows the slide as it came out of the E-6 chemistry, a Photoshop restoration of a little color and finally a black-and-white conversion without the red channel noise.

  3. I think it likely that the first exposures on the film are somebody from my university who went to the Soviet Union, right close to the end, and had bought and shot a roll of TASMA TsO 100M. It looks like technical people (perhaps agricultural experts of some kind) and their dwelling. The second shots are familiar (to some of you) shots of the campus, etc.

    The following pictures show more pretty much only one of the exposures. On the left is a bust of some Soviet figure of importance, and the second picture is of a toilet, probably shot to show people at home how Soviet citizens lived (and crapped).

  4. The next set of pictures were more restorable. On the top is the Theater Department's red flags, and presumably the counterparts being visited.

    The bottom picture is mine of the campus lake, not showing much double exposure, but definitely showing the age of the film.

  5. Finally, more shots of the living facilities of the people being visited. On the top, a bathtub with a typical European water-heater-at-the-point-of-use. The shot I took on top of it is apparently a view of the ceiling when I accidently hit the shutter release. :(

    The bottom, the last one on the roll which had come off the spool and had been removed in a bag of dark with sweaty fingers (mine, but it doesn't seem to be my fingerprint?), so the terrible shape showing what I presume to be a kitchenette or some such. I included it because very dimly in the background are the faces of my local photography collective (the Southern Illinois Photography Club) and I told them I'd be posting a picture - well this is the best I can do. :)

  6. That's all folks!
  7. The tub on Left has some nice finger print on it also < Well it seams you have filled in for Gene M since he busy on his project : Very nice effort there JDM
  8. Actually both the last two pictures were covered with the tape I had used to attach the end of the roll to a new cassette, and this was also manipulated by the processor. I think the pictures need to be seen by newbies and other naifs who complain of noise on modern digital cameras at high ISOs. ;)
  9. Interesting effect. I wonder what this film would have been like if it'd been shot and processed in its prime? BTW, good choice of camera to take the photos.
  10. "The parts that need to work do so, but the non-essentials are made as cheaply as possible".
    Well put, JDM. It's a very acute summing-up of the Zenits in my possession. I have a couple of Zenit E's, but I don't often see an "ET" in the auctions. I have a great affection for these old cameras, and I really enjoy their weight, bulk and smell...What's more, with the Helios, they take very good photographs. That's an interesting experiment with the film, and a surprisingly good B&W image. Thanks for a very interesting post.
  11. Great post JDM, I liked the lake so much, I re-did it, hope you dont mind.
  12. JDM, I am amazed. You actually did developed that film. I thought you are jocking.
  13. Thank you for the post. Very interesting read, especially since I just got a Zenit ET myself. A relative of mine heard that I shot film, and gave me the camera. Mine came with at Helios 44-4 (58mm f/2), which does stop down automatically when you press the shutter release. I have a Helios 44-2 as well, which, at least in terms of build quality, seems like a better lens.
    The uncoupled meter confused me initially. Partly because I have never seen such a system before, and partly because the film speed could only be set in DIN or GOST. Well, soon figured that out. I ran a test roll through mine, using the meter, and it seems to be working reasonably well. I would not trust it for slide film use, but as a sanity check when using B&W film and sunny 16 it is ok.
    The rewind system proved a challenge as well, until I found out how it worked. Luckily, there are not that many buttons and dials on the camera to try.
  14. No Jack I don't mind. Nice job.
    When I did it, I was just pretty much doing the auto-processes with a touch of red. :)
    Yes, Kozma, at my place, we have a slogan: "no film too old..."
  15. Interesting story thanks JDM. The first "real" camera I ever had was Russian - a Cosmic 35 which came in a package with a Russian slide film which I used, have still got the slides somewhere. I subsequently had a Zorki 4K, I also ran Russian cars (Moskvich and Lada) - this was a time when they were exporting rather technologically old fashioned stuff at low prices for foreign exchange.
  16. Very nice, and I love both versions of the lake shot.
  17. The camera WILL stop down a lens automatically! It's just that you have a preset on yours. Put an auto lens on it & the camera will stop it down. I'm no expert on Zenits,but I don't think that's true of the original Zenit E.
  18. waite, you're just wrong in this case.
    SOME Zenits have automatic apertures of one kind or another, but this one lacks any kind of mechanism, button, or lever to push an aperture pin on any lens.
    The picture below shows this. Nothing inside the mirror chamber moves at all when the shutter release is tripped.
    I've got over a hundred M42 cameras so I'm fairly able to judge this matter, even though this is my only Zenit.
  19. I was a bit puzzled by this, since my Zenit ET has automatic aperture. But, according to Camerapedia, the Zenit ET comes both with and without automatic aperture. The Reds did not make things easy for us Classic Camera buffs :)
  20. Nothing inside the mirror chamber moves at all when the shutter release is tripped.​
    except the mirror & shutter, of course -- unless you've done something very, very wrong ;)

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