Zenit with 39mm lens thread

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Ian Rance, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. My local shop has a Zenit camera (just called Zenit - the first SLR) with some lenses to fit like the 90mm and they look nice and the camera works well as far as I can tell.
    Before I head back to perhaps buy into the 1950's Zenit system I was wondering whether it is worth it - are the lenses and cameras good enough to use for todays photos? I have only ever tried a borrowed Zenit E which I did not get on with but the early Zenit seems very smooth and nicely built.
    Thanks for any guidance.
  2. My wife has a Zenit with a different lens on it than the standard and she swears by it. Takes great pictures, a lomo feel w/o loss of quality. Not sure what you're looking for, but it's been a great camera for her.
  3. I don't know about Zenits, but former soviet cameras are a mixed lot. Some are quite good.
  4. Zenit C, I believe, because if it is just a *Zenit* w/o any index it is a relatively rare and rather prized possession. But do not forget that camera made when probably comrade Stalin was alive so it most likely needs an overhaul.
  5. It will certainly offer a retro experience - no automatic diaphragm (you have to close the aperture by hand), no instant-return mirror (you have to wind the film to see anything through the viewfinder again). If this example is in good condition and works properly, the lens should be as good as any Tessar type of the same period.
  6. Even the later models are fairly simple, shall we say. I wouldn't like to say "primitive", but most things that the camera will do for you these days, like stopping down the aperture, are missing on a lot of Zenit models.
    I think they were built by people who used to make tanks and such, but in any case they are fairly insensitive to bad conditions, and with a little cleaning may well work despite age. The lenses are often extremely good, being sometimes improved copies of German Zeiss prewar and East German postwar lenses.
    They should also be of interest to Leica copy collectors, since basically the Zenit is (as a descendent of the Leica copy Zorki*) what the Leicaflex would have been like if the Soviets had conquered all of Europe and there had been "Peoples' Enterprise Leitz".
    Like the Fremen in Dune, they exist in "vast numbers", so "rarity" is a very relative term when compared to Leicas or Kodak Ektras.
    *hence the M39 mount
  7. JDM if it is "square-top" Zenit it is extremely rare. It is unlikely but someone can just get lucky. If it is a production Zenit it is less rare but 38K of Zenit vs 233K Zenit-C is still relatively rare thing.
  8. Ian Hi!Can you post a picture of the camera? The M39 Zenits [most of them] were made from the same shell and mechanism as the Zorkis [with a lever wind added]. A reflex mirror and additional space to accommodate the same were made by way of extending the middle part to hold the lens mount and the Penta Prism VF. The lenses for Zenit M39 were the same as the lenses for the Zorkis and Feds. But to keep the focusing distance they cut down the lens barrel's rear cylinder to a smaller size by the same length by which they extended the central part of the camera body that was extended to accommodate the mirror reflex. So the Zenit M39 lens will appear flat, so-called "pancake" often. It will look the same as the "Eagle eye" M42 Industar 50 lens for the SLR. Only the thread mount will be M39.
    Though the same lens will fit the Range Finders like Zorki and Fed they will not focus unless you add a spacer to the back of the lens. Such spacers are not easily available. The M39 Zenits will make picture as well as those made with the Zorkis and Feds. sp.
  9. The picture above is a Zenit M39. This early model has a Knob wind. Notice that except for the central part the rest of the camera is a Zorki , similar to the Leica II, including the shutter button, rewind release and speed selector. sp.
  10. Relax Kozma, I said 'relative,' didn't I?
    I "heart" Krasnogorsk ;) after all.
    I personally own a relatively rare all-black Zenit ET, only some 3,000,000 made, as compared to the Zenit E (8,000,000). :p
  11. Subbarayan, is it yours camera? I heard that this early I-22 with lever are really good performers, despite the fact that they do not have any diaphragm "facilitators". I guess that focusing with F-8 would be a challenge.
  12. JDM, I have only late Perestroika time poor quality and broken Zenit 122. I do not mind to have Zentit. It is a piece of history did not it. Kind of "Sputnik" moment for Leica. In a way it is an engineering marvel.
  13. Hi KP; This not my camera. I copied it from a web page. I have a few Zorki 1 cameras that have the same build, except for the Reflex arrangement. I also have an M39 lens that I use on my Praktica with a ring adapter to M42.
    All the M39 Soviet lenses are manual stop down. None of them has any "facilitators". Only the I-22 and the I-50 & I 50-2 have diaphragm rings in the front face. [The internal optical design is the same in all three except for the coating, according to Maizenberg]. All of them perform well. So You have to turn the camera around to view the scale markings. The I-26 onwards they put the diaphragm adjuster on the barrel rings with the scale seen from the top.
    Only the Helios, Zenitar and other lenses made for SLRs [M42 & later] have diaphragm pins for the automatic lenses and pre-set rings for the others. sp.
  14. The one on the left is for the Zenit M39. The one on the right is for the Zorki, Fed, Range Finders. Notice that the one on the left has only one cylinder between two rings. The one on the right has another cylinder to the rear. Both have the same thread mount. But the focusing Register distances are different. Their optical design is the same, as in the earlier retractable lenses I-10, I-22 and I-50, according to Maizenberg. They changed only the shell, to this "ugly" shape according to many photographers. :)) All these lenses are of very good quality. Of course, when we buy used ones after some 50 years, since manufacture, it is likely that some one would have meddled with them. But they are fairly simple to disassemble and correct, provided the screws are intact or spares are available. sp.
  15. Zenit 3M cameras have an m39 lens thread, as do some early Zenit Es.
  16. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    I have a Zenit 1 (the camera was just called Zenit, but the '1' is necessary to distinguish it from all the later models). I love it. In fact, only the first of these was made 'when Stalin was alive'; he died in '53, and a few of these were made in late '52.
    The I-22 (like all Industars, I think) is a Tessar, and coated. The only thing I don't like about it is the lack of either a preset aperture control or click-stops on the aperture ring, so you have to take the camera away from your eye to stop down. The Zenit-C usually has the I-50, which is a redesign of the I-22, so may be a little better optically.
    The OP mentioned a 90 mm lens; I'm not aware of a 90; there's a Jupiter-9 or Helios-40, both 85 mm; I have the Helios-40 - it's enormous! Both are quite good portrait lenses. there's a table of the lenses available in the M39 Zenit mount on Nathan Dayton's site:
    (the top table). Lenses in this mount are rare, like the cameras, and people will try to sell you 39mm rangefinder lenses, inisisting that they will fit (and they do; they just don't focus).
    Relative to later Zenits, the camera is tiny, and I like the feel of it in my hands. The Zenit-C is the same size.
    Because of its age, it's not unlikely there will be pinholes in the shutter blinds. You can get proper repairs done; but I painted the blinds of mine with fabric paint when pinholes developed, and the repair has lasted about four years so far. You will only know about pinholes when they show up in the pictures, because the camera loads through the bottom; you can't inspect the shutter without dismantling the camera. The Zenit-C also has a string inside (it resets the mirror, I think) which could conceivably wear out. You could ask to leave a deposit, and run a quick roll of film through the camera to see if the shutter's ok, before buying it.
    One other thing, with apologies for being ornery; Subbarayan, you posted someone else's picture from Flickr without linking it; what's more, having traced it back, I see that picture (its here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s-demir/6547705017/ ) is marked All Rights Reserved; if we photographers won't respect each others copyright, who will?
  17. Thanks for the help. I too thought it would be a good idea to borrow the camera to try - and see if it works. It was very clean condition and not 'messed with'. The string that pulled the drawbridge up (mirror) worked fine.
    The lens I tried was a 90mm f/3.5 which worked very well and was like new really. I will report back when I have the camera.
    PS. Looking down the viewfinder made the everyday street scene look like old Russia (really!) being somewhat misty and dim with curved edges. Quite inspiring really...
  18. Ian,
    are you sure about 90/3.5 lens? To my knowledge there is no such lens ever made by USSR industry for Zenits. It may be "Industar-24M", 3,5/105? Well may be our uber-specialist of WEB Pentakon JDM von Weinberg knows better but lens are unlikely made in USSR.
  19. I'm sorry I was a bit out with the lens. It was a Roeschleign-Kreuznach Telenar 90mm F3.8 finished in bright aluminium. Was that an East German optic? It fits and focuses correctly.
  20. That IS interesting. Probably self-made gadget.
  21. Sorry about the picture Peter; I thought that it was in the public domain as am item of information and not as a work of art. sp.
  22. I'm sorry I was a bit out with the lens. It was a Roeschleign-Kreuznach Telenar 90mm F3.8 finished in bright aluminium. Was that an East German optic? It fits and focuses correctly.
    Just a note to say that Kreuznach probably refers to Bad Kreuznach, home of Schneider, located in Rheinland-Pfalz (Rheinland Palatinate) in the former West Germany
  23. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    A little information about Roeschlein lenses in Camera-wiki:
    That Telenar may be for a Braun Paxette. I don't know whether the film-to-flange distance will be right for a Zenit. It would be good to hear whether it focuses reasonably!
  24. That Telenar may be for a Braun Paxette. I don't know whether the film-to-flange distance will be right for a Zenit. It would be good to hear whether it focuses reasonably!
    Looks as if it doesn't :):
  25. I now have the camera and 3 lenses. The lenses are a silver 1960 Mir-1 37mm f/2.8, a silver Helios 58mm f/2 and the 90mm - which does not hit infinity so was for the Paxette. It gets to about 20 feet so will do for portraits. The whole lot was a tenner so not breaking the bank. Sadly the second curtain is gummy so picture taking is off the cards.
    The store has a range of Paxettes so I may add one if needed to go with the 90mm.
  26. what is a number on camera? Helios could be a performer. It is not the original lenses. Mir is good. May have a Brussels 58 gold medal marking on it.
  27. Camera is 60009519 and yes, the 37mm has the Brussels 1958 marking. The camera says 'made in USSR' on the back. I will take a photo of it tomorrow and add here.
  28. Zenit-1 last production year is 1956. You most likely got Zenit-C, but if the letter C is missed and the flash contact is present is rather unique export variant. How is it spell on the front plate Latin or Cyrillic? Zenit or Zenith?
  29. The Roeschlein Telenar was made for the Braun Paxette. It has 39mm thread and rangefinder coupling but the lens register is NOT compatible with LTM. On the other hand, since the Paxette has a leaf shutter, it needs a longer lens register and it is very similar to the lens register of the 39mm Zenith. I once met a guy who uses Paxette lenses on Zenits. When stopped down, the (back-focal) DOF is big enough to cover the small difference between Paxette and 39mm Zenit lens register.
  30. If you have a Zenit 3M (1962-70),with the 50mm Industar it's very compact and sold alongside the M42 Zenit E etc for a long time.Mine has worked without any problems, excepting it's a bit basic.
  31. I once met a guy who uses Paxette lenses on Zenits. When stopped down, the (back-focal) DOF is big enough to cover the small difference between Paxette and 39mm Zenit lens register.
    Don't understand this - if a lens will focus on the focusing screen, it will give a sharp picture, If you put a lens on a body with too short a register, all that will happen is that it will focus from beyond infinity to not as close as normal.
  32. Well, I did not try it myself, but this guy told me that the Paxette lens register is just a tad shorter than the Zenith M39 lens register.
  33. Well, I did not try it myself, but this guy told me that the Paxette lens register is just a tad shorter than the Zenith M39 lens register.
    If this is the case, i.e the Zenith M39 body is too fat, then it might well be that Paxette lenses need stopping down to squeeze sharpness out of them at infinity. I thought you meant the other way round :).
  34. Oops, I thought in my phrase " I once met a guy who uses Paxette lenses on Zenits. When stopped down, etc" it was clear that "stopped down" refers to the Paxette lenses.
    Also, lenses with M39 Zenith mount are hard to find even over here in Europe/Germany, Paxette lenses are much easier to find (the Paxette was referred to as "poor man's Leica" back then - or even as "schoolteachers' Leica", since teachers were not very well paid back in the 50s). So there is no reason to use Zenith M39 lenses on Paxettes, although this would be possible.
  35. This topic is great timing for me. Yesterday at a local market I acquired a Zenit 3M with a black Helios 58mm f/2. I had assumed it would be M42 but as I had the Praktica FX with me I tried to mount the lens and quickly discovered it would not fit. But I decided to purchase it anyway because the price was right, the Helios is a well known lens, and I figured I could use it on M42 with an adapter (or even just use it with the Zenit). It came in what I assume is its original black leather ever ready case replete with a little chrome trim.

    First impressions of the 3M seem promising. It's easy to load, handles OK and it certainly gives at least the impression of being solidly built (whether this is in fact really true I don't profess to know). I love the way that setting the timer will see the mechanism fire the mirror, whilst not immediately after depressing the release, at least a couple of seconds prior to the shutter opening. That's pretty sophisticated for a 1960s Soviet design I reckon.

    It still seems to be working well enough. I've fired the shutter through all the speeds several times in front of a TV set. They all seem to be in the ballpark, and a ground glass over the film rails indicate the focus screen and the film plane agree nicely at distance and close range. I'm not entirely sure the shutter isn't capping just a little on the faster speeds, but if so, I don't think it is too bad, so I put a roll of Pan F Plus in it this morning, because after acquiring a later version of the Helios with a number of issues I'm keen to finally try one out.

    Incidentally, it was a bit of a mystery initially. Rather than being labelled a Zenit, the camera is simply called a "Global". Some investigations reveal that the Zenit 3M cameras sold in Australia were marketed under the name Global. The following web page has a photograph (at the bottom of the page) of a "Global" 3M that looks identical to my purchase.

    Does anyone have any words of wisdom to offer about the pros and cons of procuring a M42 mount to M39 lens adapter? There are several listed on ebay. I gather that by going to a larger lens mount, infinity focus can be maintained fitted to an M42 body. Being a pre set lens, it would be a great match for my FX, which awaits the dollars I need treat it to a Biotar eventually.
  36. Sorry for the update delay but I have took the Zenit back to swap for a working Zenit C. I attach a photo below of my new kit.
    Brett, I wish I had some words of wisdom but I am still struggling myself. I think this gear is worth the effort though as there is nothing like it these days.
  37. That's quite OK, Ian, I ordered an M39-M42 camera adapter for the princely sum of AUD$2.99 so we'll see how that goes in due course. That's a beautiful looking kit you have there, and very nicely captured too, I might add. I've put a film in my 3M so I will run off at least a few shots with it to assess its operation. I do quite a bit of photography with other SLRs like my various Contaflex models or a Hasselblad, none of which feature an instant return mirror, so the 3Ms lack of frills won't be too much of a stretch for me.

Share This Page