Zenit E focus problems

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by andrea_ingram, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Since the little knob thing for the shutter fell off my other Zenit 'tank', I splashed out and bought another for the price of a large Mocha [last of the big spenders!]. I screwed in the Helios lens from the other one and shot a roll of cheap colour film just to see what it would do. All seems ok apart from the variable focusing. Is this the fault of my 'expensive' body [the camera, not mine] or it it the lens or compatibility of the two. Would welcome your thoughts.
  2. Or is it just me? BTW; it is an old Zenit E.
  3. Maybe the focussing screen is not properly adjusted. On most SLRs there are adjustment screws around the focussing screen which are accessible after removal of the top cover and prism. The screen must be adjusted for proper height and tilt.
  4. That's a great old motorbike. Also looks like a neat place to shoot some pictures when the racing is on. You can display your pictures at an easily-viewed size directly in the body of the message if you keep the width under 511 pixels and add a caption. Larger photos can also be displayed by including an html img link in the message.
  5. Andrea, probably the best part of a Zenit(h) is the Helios f2 lens, which is a Russian copy of the prewar Zeiss classic design Biotar - but of course, you knew that already, didn't you? I've never used a Zenit E in anger, but I did use a Zenit B for several years with the same lens, back in the late 60s and early 70s. The B is just an E minus the selenium meter, BTW. Strange to tell, some things fell of my Zenit B while I was touring Jusgoslavia on a Yamaha 650 in the early 70s, so clearly KMZ's quality control hasn't got any better. Anyway, seeing as the focussing system on these most agricultural SLRs is about as basic as can be, ie plain ground glass, the acid test should be whether you can focuss properly with your "new" Helios F2 fitted to your "old" Zenit E body, or vice versa. KMZ must hold some kind of record for the most number produced of a single model SLR with their Zenit, probably close to 10 million or so now. Apart from the very early ones that had an M39 thread lens mount, pretty soon after they went over to the M42 Praktica/Pentax mount and they've stayed with it ever since. (Although I do have a c. 1963 KMZ Start SLR, fitted with the same Helios F2 optics, but with a breech lens mount unique to the "Start" - a most unusual camera, and well worth collecting, by the way!) My point is that any M42 Helios F2 lens should fit any Zenit camera with the same mount, never mind the year it was made - which is the first two numbers of its serial number, by the way. If yours is focussing properly through the viewfinder but not producing the same sharpness when you develop the pix, and it's gone the same way over at least a couple of films, so it wasn't a one-off developing error - then try reversing the situation. Fit your old lens to the new body. You should quickly find just where the fault is. If it comes down to a particular dodgy lens, just give it the heave-ho. It's not worth paying a camera mechanic $50 to sort it out when you can buy 2 complete cameras for less than that. If you do end up going that route, try and get a late-model Helios lens with the fully automatic diapragm, not that xxxxxxx-awful preset ring system that my Zenit B had. I actually have a very nice spare one from a Fotosniper Outfit I used a few years back, if you're interested, but the postage costs from Oz would probably be more than several Mocchas and henceforth several local complete Zenits! LOL from PN
  6. The focus of the zenit is adjusted by adjusting the mirror, not the viewing screen. Unscrew the lens and look into the front of the camera.Hold the mirror up, and look at the bottom right, you will see a screw sticking up. This is what the mirror rests upon.Moving the screw in or out changes the focus of the mirror.
    To adjust, put the camera on a tripod facing a distant object.Open the back of the camera and put some sort of ground glass on the film rails. Carefully focus the lens. Then look in the viewfinder and see if it is in focus. If not, adjust the screw under the mirror until it is.
    Hope this helps.
  7. Many thanks for all your help [again] despite the fact that the information contains data that renders me an interloper with this camera [1973 it seems - oops!]. I shall give the adjustment a go anyway.
    BTW; I must say I have been made to feel most welcome on this site and i'd like to thank you all for this. However, I shall stick to questions about my older cameras in future.
    As for the Velodrome, it is a fantastic venue and we have Olympic champions and medallists training there [In fact i trained the women's tandem kilometre paralympic champions last year :)] but photography - or at least what I pass off as such - is an escape from that world for a momment or two.
    Thanks again
  8. Yeah, "tank" is not the right image for a Zenit. Maybe "tractor". Or perhaps "Trabant"....
  9. I think we draw the line at autofocus. And maybe in the future, perhaps the group's creators will expand the definition to those cameras that either had selenium-cell meters or those that used no-longer-available mercury batteries.
  10. I own several Zenits. The later model Helios lenses (e.g. 44-6) cannot be used on the Zenit B or E because they have no manual switch and those old Zenits have no stop down mechanism since they were designed for preset lenses.
    One of my own Zenits has an un usual focussing problem, the focus with the shutter cocked and uncocked is different. After cocking the shutter I noticed the mirror moves slightly.
  11. Thanks David for mentioning the this mirror problem also. My first experience with a Belarus-made Zenit-E of 1982 showed that it's not only the mirror screw that matters. (It does matter too, since I needed to take the adjusting screw out by several turns!) The small wheel that makes the mirror mechanism go up and down is made of plastic (!), and it leans on the mirror lever when the shutter is cocked. I wonder if it has ever worked as it should. This makes the mirror rise from the adjusting screw one or two mm in the cocked position, just enough to mess the focus completely, so you would have to guess if the distance in the Tessar is 1.5 or 10 meters... Luckily I had access to a wheel of a (bad) 1988 Zenit-12S that was made of metal. The only problem: the upper part of the wheel was too large. To keep the instant-return feature I had to cut some 2 mm of metal from the flat end (which lets the mirror lever fall back down). Then I put the mirror mechanism back, screwed it from the underside, and re-tensioned the return spring (2-3 turns clockwise). It was not necessary to open the whole camera to do this. The mirror wheels are visible when one unscrews the 2 black screws of the mirror compartment and removes the protective black cover. Then it's only the 3 screws under the bottom cover that hold it in place. But how to tell if the Zenit-E is made in Belarus or at KMZ? The Belarus ones have a kind of bird on the bottom plate, whereas the KMZ ones have the typical rectangular logo. Besides the KMZ have nicer chrome finish, and the film return (release) button is shiny metal and not black plastic. In order to resurrect a "birdie" Zenit, you need a KMZ Zenit for metal parts. At least the plastic wheel needs to be made a bit smaller I think. The KMZ ones seem to be better in this respect.

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