Zenit Z122, is it worth trying?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by csirre, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. Hello,
    I am very new to the M42 world and had never thought about jumping into it but one day I came across a picture of Zenit Z122 via Google and fell in love with its look. Z122 is one handsome camera, so I have tried to find info on it. So far I have found not much, and this surprises me as the camera has been released for over 20 years and over 1,000,000 unit has already produced (not sure if this statement is correct, I got it somewhere on the internet).
    Doing research on Z122 gets me some info about the M42 world. What interests me is that, though having the same lens mount, not all M42 lenses function on a particular M42 body. And here are my questions:
    1. Is Zenit 122 (M42) a reliable camera? Please share with me your impressions.
    2. Do Mamiya and Tarkuma (M42) work on Z122? Or I have to stick with Russian lenses specifically designed for Zenit cameras?
    3. So far I believe Bessaflex TM is the best M42 camera, where can I find one?
    Thanks & Best,
    Chanchai A.
    PS: Please feel free to educate me on M42 matters, especially the body-and-lens combination matters. Thanks.
  2. one day I came across a picture of Zenit Z122 via Google and fell in love with its look.​
    There are many beautiful M42 cameras, but I find the Zenit butt-ugly...
    Is Zenit 122 (M42) a reliable camera? Please share with me your impressions.​
    I cannot say. But there are many good and high-end M42 SLRs that still work fine (like the Fujica ST901)... and it is easy to adapt M42 to various other, more modern SLRs like Canon EOS and Pentax K. The current Zenits seem to be vastly overpriced.
    Or I have to stick with Russian lenses specifically designed for Zenit cameras?​
    I am pretty certain that it will take all M42 gear.
    So far I believe Bessaflex TM is the best M42 camera, where can I find one?​
    eBay? But I would rather go with another modern film or digital SLR and use adapters with my gear.
  3. Well There's no shortage of M42 type cameras out there or lenses for that matter. I'm not so familiar with this model.. seems like a relatively modern version of the Zenith. Physical appearance is often a matter of opinion and I say "you bang her ..you brought her" That means why not! All russian cameras seem to have some quality copntrol issues and you get some good one and some bad ones so in this regard it's always a gamble. If you're interested in film cameras this is a good
    family (M42) as it was the most adopted lens system in the world and there are literally 100s of lenses available.Russian, Japanese, German etc. I'm sure all M42 lenses will fit be they Mamiya or the very excellent (Pentax) Takumar series.
    You mention the Bessaflex as possibly the best.. this was a recent ..tribute model from Cosina. Indeed it was built to a very high standard of finish and would be hard to beat ... only 800 made etc. But c'mon we just want a good camera here and whether a Prakitka, Pentax, Mamiya or other Zenith models, they all have their advantages and disadvantages. I suggest you buy the Z122 and a lens and jump in. Later you might want to try some others they are generally plentiful and affordable! I do recommend you do some research on the design and learn the foibles of the M42 systems. While they all basically fit some "stop-down" features work differently with different camera models. This stop-down aspect is how the aperture works on the lens. The earliest models have no means to stop down. the user must stop down to make the exposure and open up again to compose the picture The semi automatic lens have a spring that allows the user to preset the aperture and still compose with the aperture fully open. These need to be reset after the exposure. A fully automatic lens automatically returns to full aperture after the exposure. Get the camer aand make some pic.. you'll figure out the rest yourself.. therein lies the fun!!
  4. You might be interested in the Zenit users discussion group on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/groups/zenitusers/discuss/
    This post in particular relates to the 122 http://www.flickr.com/groups/zenitusers/discuss/72157623608198796/ Mention is made of the 122 being available in both M42 and Pentax K mount, so you might keep this in mind if you decide to shop for one.
  5. ,,Zenit Z122, Is it worth trying?"
    - No.
    Forget about it. I would rather choose Praktica, MTL5, not to mention some vintage Pentax, Yashica and Fujica cameras.
    Zenit cameras are indeed capable of delivering nice pictures... when they work...
    Lenses are not bad but since the poor quality control it depends of Your good luck. I will highly recommend Zeiss Pancolar, probably the best M42 lens. Pentacon, Takumar and other lenses are probably of the same very high quality with Pancolar being the best.
    Good luck with Your choice.
    Maciek Stankiewicz
  6. Zenit 122 is definitely not a best example of M42 SLRs. It v/f covers only 66% of frame, it has very limited range of exposures 30-500. The reliability of the camera may be very bad. I have very negative experience with Zenit 122. But it because that my Helios 44-7 attached to it was also very bad. Latter I figured that out, but 20 years ago it caused me painful frustrations and loss of confidence to the Krasnogorsk engineering. On the other hand nowadays it is very hip to shoot Zenits. I do no get it but why not? If you mount it on the mono-pod Zenit made a very efficient self-defense tool...and still you will be able to make photografs. And if you would be robbed...big deal you can get another one for a few bucks. Just find yourself few good Helioses.
  7. Yeah, there are so many M42 camera bodies that you shouldn't get this one unless you are really into the mystique of shooting with old Soviet gear.
    You can stay 'Red' and do better with almost any 'L" series Praktica. Like all 60-70s cameras, their meters may be shot, but they work otherwise. I personally prefer the L, L2, L3 ones that were sold without meters from the start.
    And of course, old Pentaxes, and lots more Japanese M42 cameras.
  8. Thank you guys for informative inputs. Seems like Zenit has not many fans, thus this answers my curiosity about why not many reviews and why the camera is not popular. Thus I will be staying with my current systems (which are Minolta MD, my favorite so far, Leicaflex and Canon FD) and 'stop' thinking about acquiring another.
    Thank you again, I was right expecting to post the question here!

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