Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by pj_hardwick|1, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. I got this old Zenit3M camera recently without a lense - and was wondering if anyone knows anything about this camera. I'm wondering too, I can see that the mirror isn't down, like it should be. Does this mean I have just a paper weight? What type of lens does it take. Are they hard to use?
    Thanks in advance
  2. Hi PJ, the Zenit 3M is a wonderful 35mm SLR. The mirror being up is by design, this camera does not have an instant return mirror, you will need to wind first, and then the mirror comes down, ready to compose your picture. When you trip the shutter then, the mirror flips up again, and so on. This lens take M39 screw mount lenses, same thread as leica screw mount, but leica lenses will not be compatible with it, as the lens register is different. The standard lens you are looking for is an Industar-50 f/3.5, a tessar copy. It is a great little lens and there plenty of them on eBay.
    One more thing, as leicas and other Russian cameras of this period, you will need to wind the camera first, and then change the shutter speed wheel to the desired setting, by lifting it and assigning correct value. Setting the shutter speed before winding the film advance lever, can damage the shutter mechanism. Good luck and go and take some pictures.
  3. Thank you for your response, Ralf. I really appreciate it. I'm glad we didn't buy any lenses yet, as we figured it would take a 42. Thanks so much for all the good info.
  4. Many of the Zenit (Zenith) cameras are M42 mount, but I think that this one may be M39 - a Leica-like mount, but sometimes in 39mm x 1mm pitch.
    I think the most common lens for it was an Industar 50mm f/3.5, as Rolf says.
    Google™ for (Zenith,Zenit) +3M and you'll find lots of discussion of the camera.
  5. Addendum - most of these Soviet lenses were made in multiple mounts (39mm, 42mm, even Pentax K) so you need to make sure what you have found before buying.
  6. Zenit 3M comes either two standard lenses Industar 50 or Helios 44. They are M39. Optics of that type used to be cheap but not anymore. Some people considered them better than M42 analogues and deprived the stock inflated the price. Otherwise Z-3M is outdated but fine example of the photohistory
  7. Wow - this may be confusing in getting the right lens - but thank you for the info - better to know.
  8. Probably the only reason your Z-3M does not have lenses that someone take it out used M39-M42 adapter and have it attached to either modern film or digital camera. Good luck to hunt M39 down might be not a trivial task.
  9. I don't know what kind of automatic aperture mechanism, if any, this camera has, but I think one way to get an M39 Soviet stop-down lens might be to just go ahead and get one of the later, and fairly cheap, FED cameras with a lens, and use its lens for both bodies. Many of these have Industar lenses.
    The Industar is a Tessar copy. If you can find one, a Helios may be a better lens- a copy of the 58mm f/2 Biotar, one of the all-time classic lenses. I personally have not yet seen one in M39, but they do exist.
  10. JDM,
    Those are two different lenses M39 for Zenit has something like 45 mm of the working distance and M39 for FED is 28.8 mm. The lens construction is also different. They would fit but work as macro lenses. M39 for Zenit 3M also does not have any automatic aperture. Industar for early Zenits are I-50. For M42 zenits its I-50-2
  11. Well, I wondered - that's why I said "think" - but I knew if I was wrong, and I am, then someone would straighten me out. Since I have no M39 non-rangefinder FSU cameras, I couldn't check on it myself.
  12. Interestingly enough, the few Zenit 3M's I've come across down here have had the Helios-44 2/58mm fitted, and I've always understood that both the Helios and the Industar 50 were "standard" lenses for the 3M . Given the choice, I'd take the Helios, any day.
  13. Can anybody reassure the or define the difference so the the OP can recognize the Zenith 3M (SLR lenses ) from the RF
    type? I suspect sellers often don't know or identify them properly. I guess having them in my hand and knowing there'S a difference I might be able to see something's not right but looking at an auction?!?
  14. I used that camera as my main one for 10+ years. It is a great one. Get first a Helios-44 58/2, those are good copies of the Biotar. There is no RF equivalent for that lens so you can't go wrong if you look for one in M39.
  15. The difference of M39 rangefinder and slr mounts can be seen here: This is a rangefinder mount Industar-50 lens. It can be turned into SLR lens by removing the "lens register adapter" and a rangefinder coupling ring. So if you buy this lens you also get a gratis macro ring...
  16. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    In a standard lens, you only have three choices; the Industar 50, the Helios 44 or the rigid Industar 22 which was standard on the even older, original Zenit; a more primitive version of the I-50. I have this one, and have recently got a Helios 44 (on a 3M). I prefer the I22 for being 50 rather than 58 mm, and for being small, but it is f/3.5, so I use fast film a lot. Also, the preset aperture control on the Helios is handy.
    This site by Nathan Dayton shows (small) pictures of the lenses.
    Click on M39 on the left, and look at the difference in size between the Helios and either of the Industars.
    The RF lenses are here:
    and click 'M39 Leica' on the left. There are RF versions of the Industar 50 and the 22, but they're much longer than the SLR versions. Most I22s are collapsible, and look completely different.
    If you get a good photo of the back of the lens in an auction listing, you should also be able to see if there's a RF cam ring sticking out around the lens, just inside the mounting thread. If the listing photos are that good though, the seller probably cares enough to describe the thing properly. I have seen M39 stuff listed as M42 before.
    Consider getting one from a dealer, though it will probably cost you more. I got my Zenit from Fedka in New York (fedka.com; I have no connection, etc.). He has a Helios 44 listed for 55 USD.
  17. Tõnu Tamm
    Now that is fascinating.
    Won't work for the older M39 rangefinders, though, they lack the extension.
  18. Yes JDM, this trick works only with the rigid Industar-50.
    A few hints if anyone wants to try it: the extension tube has a retaining screw on it's side that needs to be removed first, and the rangefinder coupler has left-handed thread.
  19. Zenit 3M is a capable camera and IMO the last elegant Zenit camera. The old fashion shutter does not allow instant return but it is not a big deal. At least you know if the shutter is cocked or not! And it is much quieter and less prone to vibrations than many other shutter designs even if the shutter release is a bit crude.
    The viewfinder is the major default as it shows only 80% of the picture. Frame tight...
    As a standard lens, I would favor the Helios 44 as it is much faster than the Industar-50 (don't forget you don't have slow speeds...) and is preset diaphragm mechanism, not the latest technology but way better than the manual diaphragm of the Industar-50.
    Enjoy it as I do!

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