Zenit TTl and 12xp

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jan_de_vos, May 9, 2014.

  1. Hallo,
    I am new to analog photography and am looking to buy an analog vintage camera. I was thinking of buying a Zenit camera, to be specific i was doubting between the 12xp and the ttl. The 12xp came with 3 lenses and the ttl with nice leather bag and just a standard 2/58 helios 44w. I have no idea which one of the two is better and weather Zenit is even a good buy. Any advice is welcome.
  2. Is there any specific reason you want to buy a Zenit? Analog cameras are pretty cheap nowdays and there are better choices both in terms of features and reliability (I know, reliability for a 30+ year old camera is relative...): Nikon (or Nikkormat), Pentax, Olympus, you name it. Even a Praktica would be a safer bet.
  3. The Zenit is the equivalent of a T-34 tank. Works well where it needs to, but pretty much looks on the inside like it was put together by a high school welding shop. There was a distinctive Soviet style to these things that make them a little awkward for people who didn't grow up with them. :)
    If you want to do FILM photography, honestly, I would recommend an "L" series Praktica ( http://www.praktica-collector.de/Praktica_L_line.html ). On some of them, the light meters still work, although any camera that old will always be somewhat of a gamble in that regard.
    I will also point out that unless you are wedded to manual focus, early AF film cameras, especially the early Canon EOS cameras are very cheap - lenses, still fitting digital cameras, somewhat more.
    Of course, these early AF cameras can be set to all manual operation if you wish.
  4. Yes, the Zenits do have a certain..er..charm as JDM has said, but you may be better served with a Pentax Spotmatic or Minolta SRT camera, which will give the old classic experience with more reliability.
    But if the Zenit is really cheap, by all means have a go at it, they do take good pictures and may serve you well enough to get that "film" experience.
  5. The 12XP is an archetypal FSU camera, great if you have big hands and strong wrists. I actually think it's a handsome beast, and the couple I have both work very well. As the others have pointed out, it's not the most lovable of cameras but if the price is right, with three lenses, I'd give it a go. Ask if the mirrors and viewfinders are still bright and clear; this tends to be a weak point as they tend to discolour with age. I did a thing on the 12XP some time ago.
    However, having said all that, some of the other suggestions offered above are probably more practical!
  6. I agree with the others. Probably ANY M42 mount camera from the 60s or 70s will do better than a Zenit, and will not be much more expensive. Some years ago I bought a Pentax Spotmatic with a f/2.8 Tessar lens on it for 40EUR/USD out of the grab bag of a dealer. Except for a minor problem with the mirror return mechanism (which is well known and easy to fix with a droplet of oil) it was one of the few cameras I could use right from the start. The design and the workmanship of the Spotmatic, by the way, is far superior to german made (or alt least german designed) M42 cameras such as the Edixa series or the Voigtlaender VSL1 TM, and I think the difference is even bigger between the Spotty and the russian cameras...
    Also, all older Zenit cameras have a rather limited range of shutter speeds (slowest speed is 1/30). You will not need slower speeds too often but having this feature for not paying more is not a bad business.
  7. I found an old Zenit very instructive when I started taking 35mm photographs, in that I had to think about every part of exposure, manually set speed, pre-set aperture, and evaluate the look of a picture on a plain ground glass screen when stopped down.
  8. There are a lot of better cameras going for peanuts due to digital supplanting them in the market. A classic Minolta or Canon or Nikon or Pentax or almost any of them will feel like a rolls royce next to the Zenit. But that said get what you want and what you'll like shooting. It's a personal choice after all.
  9. Everything for M42 made in Japan is better that Zenit. Unless you have a specific requirement or nostalgic matter. However if you want a real Soviet stile find working Zenit 3M and enjoy the brutality.
  10. I agree - I'd always pick a Pentax Spotmatic, Nikkormat FtN, Minolta SRT 101, Canon Ftb etc etc over any Zenit. Zenit was my first camera and it's certainly no thoroughbred. Just about their only virtue is their price in my opinion.

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