ZORKI-4 Russian 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by wabi-sabi, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. Does anyone know if the ZORKI-4 Russian 35mm Rangefinder Camera is a
    good camera, what are the pro's and con's?
  2. Yes and no, which is precisely the pros and cons. It can be a good camera if you get a good one, but it can also be a lousy one if you get a bad one. Quality control is the key with Russian cameras. That being said, the Zorki 4 is pretty good and has a bright viewfinder (if clean.) You might also look at the Zorki 6 though, which has one of the wider rangefinder spacings (what is that called, baselength? - the distance between the two rangefinder windows.) The numbering of Zorki models does not necessarily designate their order in terms of vintage. If you want to read more about them, click this link
  3. I love my Zorki 4K. The $45 dollars I paid was worth it for the black Jupiter 8 alone. Personally, I'd opt for the 4K instead of the 4 becuase winding is much easier (the 4K has a lever vs a winding knob). At one point, my 4k stopped working, but after a little poking and prodding here and there, "clack": it was back to normal.

    Easy to focus, usually with a nice lens, cheap so if it breaks then it's no big deal, and sturdy. I originally bought mine because I always wanted a IIIf and I wanted a body where I could start buying Leica glass and get the Leica later. I've done that and now I use the Leica and have the Zorki for a backup.
  4. I've got a 4k, which is the 4 with a lever wind, and also a 6. I prefer the 6 to handle/use (and the aesthetics of it, FWIW), but the 4k has the wider range of shutter speeds, and the smoother shutter release, at least of my two cameras. The 4k doesn't have strap lugs, which I find a pain, and the completely detatchable camera back can be a nuisance when trying to change film in a hurry, but the film take-up spool is superior in design (read easier to use) than that on the 6.

    Horses for courses ... your mileage may vary ... etc. etc. ... but at the usual price for these cameras you'll probably not lose out.
  5. It can be a good camera if you get a good one, but it can also be a lousy one if you get a bad one. And this applies to any camera under the sun, but somehow it always gets levelled at Zorkis like an accusation. Get one in good condition with the Jupiter lens, and it's a good picture taker. Bear in mind, in terms of sophistication, that it's a 1950s Soviet camera, though.
  6. I've found the first models to be fine cameras. Look for one in good condition from 1956, 57, 58 up through about possibly 1960. I think you'll be happy with it. Get the Jupiter lens, and be sure the date matches (or is close) to the camera. I think the early lenses were better, also. I have one from 1956 (the first year of production) which is as smooth and quiet as any camera I own and turns out great pictures.

  7. No not an accusation, just a reality - perhaps due less to the camera itself than the way they reach the market. The popularity of Soviet cameras due to price and novelty seems to attract more than a fair share of unprincipled sellers, so the buyer beware rules that apply to all used camera purchases seem particularly apt for the Soviet cameras. But the point is well taken - a bad camera is a bad camera, regardless of make, so my remark could be a little flip.
  8. Also you can put it in the loo!
  9. (like the loo shot, that's about what my film is generally good for too...)

    but back to the Zorki. One thing that can be said for it without question is that it's a good deal for the money. In good condition it performs as well (though of course not as smoothly and quietly) as a screwmount Leica; if it needs servicing, as of course any camera of that age might, it's an easy camera to service and a cheap one to replace (or to buy a spare for parts). Certainly not the best camera available but capable of professional results, rugged and reliable.

    Cons: Shutter has a bit of a clunk for a rangefinder; the eyepiece correction lever tends not to want to stay where you put it so you fiddle with it more than I'd like; and the rangefinder cam follower is not compatible with some Leitz, Canon and some other telephoto lenses that have a partial cam. But the russian lenses are good, so it makes more sense to use them (if (like me) making sense isn't high on your attributes list, the camera CAN be made to accept lenses like the Leitz 135 Hektor with a bit of tinkering).

  10. My Canon IIb is in Hospital for repairing. Meanwile I am using the Canon Serenar lenses (35, 80 and 135) with the Zorki body.
    In the end glasses do the pictures.
  11. Presently, I have a Zorki 4 with a Jupiter-8 and am very happy with that combination, but that Zorki 4 came from a PN friend. The original one that I got on eBay --advertised as being in excellent condition, everything functioning properly-- was a disaster.

    I gave it to my friend for parts, but as he's very handy in camera repair, he tried to fix it, but concluded it was only good for parts. He said the camera was badly abused and poorly "repaired" back in the Ukraine.

    Knowing I have a vision problem, he had recommended the Zorki 4 for its big, bright, finder, he felt badly that I got stung and generously gave me one of his own. He cleaned and lubricated the Jupiter 8 that came with the junk Zorki 4, which he tested and found to be really sharp aqnd good contast.

    My experience reflects the pros and cons of the arguments written above. I agree with comment re the loudness of the shutter. Not good as a spy camera, cause the shutter sounds like this-- caaaachunnnk!
  12. Luis

    Which brand of film works best for that purpose? Does it help to keep the film in the freezer? Or are digital methods better?


  13. Ross:

    You knotty bad boy :)
  14. Ross,

    Any 'Sheet' film I would say.

    tim in san jose

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