Zenit E SLR

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by grahams, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. Now before anyone jumps up and down I realise that this is not strictly a classic by reason of the fact that it was made in 1978, but as production started in 1965, bear with me please. I found this virtually mint example at a brick-a-brack stall at the car show last weekend - exchanged a fiver for it (thats GBP 5.00 or $9.00 to those across the pond) and it's in really pristine nick. It is one of the limited production Moscow Olympics commemorative examples. What I find hard to accept is that there was no iris diaphragm automation designed into this camera. The lens is a Helios 44, 58mm f2.0 in M42 mount, with a diaphragm pre-set ring. Production of the model EM, with diaphragm automation, started in 1972, and it is virtually the same camera. Why would production of an inferior model such as this, continue alongside an improved model, for over six years?
  2. The Zenit E is a certain classic, regardless of when it was made. Like the Citroen 2CV, it is timeless in its utilitarian je ne sais quois. I love mine, both in spite of and because of its limitations and its crude simplicity.

    Inferior model? How so? Because you spoiled Amerikanski have to manually stop down the aperture?
  3. Sorry. You're a Brit, not a Yank.
  4. I love mine I even have a T-mount 135mm to go with it. Also a Zenit B and an Em and a TTL and a 122. the reason for the production is that it created jobs.
  5. "Why would production of an inferior model such as this, continue alongside an improved model, for over six years?"

    In order to meet production targets for one of the "five year plans." The diaphragm "automation" on the other models wasn't very sophisticated - just a direct linkage to the shutter release. It was your finger doing the work of closing down the lens as you pressed the button.
  6. Daniel - Don't worry, I've been called worse...
  7. C.U. - Interesting info - thanks.
  8. My PhotoSniper has the Zenit ES, (bottom shutter release) and the Tair 3 lens uses the first half of the trigger pull to stop down the lens, second half trips the shutter. Somewhat confusing with the two distinct clicks for the shot, still a hoot to shoot.
  9. As I recall, the 3M (a prettier camera, some think) was produced for 5 years after the E was introduced. The main difference between the 3M and the E was the instant return mirror mechanism and the meter. I also want to say the first E models had a M39 lens mount (like the 3M) and not the M42 mount.

  10. I thought the expression was: "I've been called worse by better." :>

    This thread has amplified the Zenit-E bug that I was starting to get. It definitely is on my list of cameras to "exercise" soon. I picked mine up just yesterday, and thought that.

    The matter of the longevity of the design is interesting. Throughout the history of FSU cameras and lenses, there seem to be many instances where a basic design was kept for years and years, with very little change. I suppose that in the West one can find examples of what might broadly be called the opposite: instances where good simple designs were abandoned after a short time seemingly without good reason, even though the mechanism worked very well. Change for the sake of change?
  11. I like the Zenits, with the lens wide open the plain screen is like looking out of a picture window!! but like someone has mentioned already the 3m is probably prettier,

    As to why a preset iris in 1978 I can think of at least three reasons

    It is cheaper
    In my (not vast) experience almost any issue with an automatic lens involves a sticking or non working stop down mechanism, while I have never had to do more than clean and lube a pre set control
    Innovation is often led by customer demand so imagine the scenario...
    'Comrade I would like a new camera that is more expensive to produce and uses more resources but takes no better a picture'
    'Funny no one has ever complained before..............' :)

  12. wot about the Zenit(h) C, with base opening like a Leica; same camera. I find the basically same camera, same 58/2 Helios lens, over how many years? post war; appealing, particularly when it is possible to take creditable photos.
  13. East German wisdom: How would cars look like if they were invented by socialists? - Not at all; we would still be improving horse and charriot up to today.

    6 years are a comparably instant moment, damn close to "immediately" (in the next 5-year plan. - The last started yesterday.)

    Maybe they had backorder for the "E"? See it simple: The Russian people needed cameras Zenith made some, capable of taking pictures.

    Why would the government have limited emigration of more than one camera per family if there had been plenty like in our cabinets?

    Have fun with that baby as I did with my M39 version.
  14. "Throughout the history of FSU cameras and lenses, there seem to be many instances where a basic design was kept for years and years, with very little change."

    You mean like the Argus C3?? (It wasn't just the FSU!) How about the Nikon F which stayed in production after introduction of the F2? Or the Exa 1 a/b/c series? (same camera, different mount, gradual replacment of metal parts with plastic..)
  15. The Soviet era cameras were phenomenally popular in Britain from the 'sixties to the early 'eighties and, the importers (Technical and Optical Equipment or T&OE) one of the leading camera companies in the UK. At one time it seemed that every photographer in the country had a Zenith, Zorki, Kiev or that ultra cheap classic, the Symbol.

    The truth is that, despite the calumnies, most Soviet cameras were astonishingly good value. Yes, there were quality control problems but, once you had a good example, it could keep going for years.

    I've got a very soft spot for the Zenith E and its distant East German cousin the Praktica Nova that did an immense service for the British photographer by stimulating the Japanese importers into a frenzy of price cutting and feature adding which did us proud!
  16. A more modern example - The Nikon F3 survived from 1980 to 2000 and there is still some new-old stock available. Why mess with perfection?
  17. a little advice-

    don't put a Super Tak on it,unless you want it to be permenent-lol
    I'm still trying to figure out how to get mine off.
  18. I got a Super Takumar 2/55 stuck on a Zenit the other day. I think I damaged the lens removing it.
  19. Dan-

    this is a 1.8/55-

    how the heck did you get it off?
  20. Set the shutter on B open it and push the locking pin in from behind with a sharp object then turn. Inless the pin fell in a retaining screw hole for the lens mount. then you must decide what is worth more the camera or the lens. I know my choice.
  21. I've already tried that.The pin is not hanging up.

    I'm thinking of taking the lens apart.
  22. as I recall from reading it somewhere what happened was that after a certain date in time Zenit-E production was moved to a plant in Belorussia, where it continued to be assembled till 1982 whereas KMZ was busy making -ET(my favourite), -EM, whateverelse...
  23. Thanks for all the input, everyone. I'm going to feed this one some film camera food and shoot some shots over the next week or so. I'll post anything interesting. And I'll keep the Super Taks in quarantine!
  24. Don Mckeith asked (about the Super Tak stuck on the Zenit) "how the heck did you get it off?"

    My usual resort: Brute force, as I recall. But I don't recommend it.
  25. Daniel-

    I'm about onr inch away from using a sawzall
  26. Is there any reason to prefer an 'E' to an 'EM'?Aren't they the same camera except for the meter & the automatic diaphram?Most of the meters on the EM's you'd find today are A couple of stops off ,of course,but the ability to focus with the lens wide open is a real convience!& you can't use a lens on an 'E' unless it can be stopped down manually!That excludes alot of lenses!I love Zenits,But give an 'EM' over an 'E' anyday.
  27. Waite - You are correct, the main difference between the E and the EM is the ability of the EM to use auto-diaphragm lenses. Have a look here for more info.

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