Zorki Cameras?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by josephbraun, Jun 2, 2009.

  1. Thinking about buying a Zorki with an industrar lens from the FSU. I'm looking for a 35mm rangefinder and they seem like really nice cameras for the price. Does anyone have any experience with these guys?
  2. Hey Joseph. First of all, you run the risk of becoming addicted to the FSUs. I started off with a blue Fed2, and now I also have three Zorkis, and still counting. Ive been lucky from what I hear, as I've only gotten one "non user" due to a shutter problem that the seller never mentioned, or was aware of. I have a Zorki 4, and a Zorki 4k that I use ( along with the Fed2) on a regular basis (sp). The only difference between the 4, and the 4k that I can determine is the 4k has a rapid film advance lever as opposed to the 4 that has a film advance knob. I'm really quite pleased with both the Industrar, and the Jupiter lines of lenses. Very sharp, and contrasty for my B&W work, but I've not run any color film through them. There are alot of the FSU cameras on "the Bay", but the majority are coming from Eastern Europe, and it can be along wait. I've also recently aqquired an Orion 15 28mm, and a Jupiter 9 85 mm that both fit my Fed, and my Zorkis, as well as any other 39mm screw mount body.
  3. I've got to admit to being an un-fan of the Zorkies. I used a couple of 4s, back when they were new, and found them less than reliable. I also didn't have too much success with the built-in viewfinder. Given what else is available, I can't see much point in getting a Zorki.
    The Kievs, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter. I have yet to find one that I don't like, although I'm prepared to accept that the Kiev 5 is a pretty strong contender for the "uggliest camera ever" award.
    If you really want to go the screw mount route, then I'd suggest either a Fed 3 or 5. Some of those aren't half bad, in my opinion.
  4. There's a much bigger risk than getting addicted to FSU cameras. You might just get addicted to the lenses, and buy much more expensive Bessa rangefinders to protect the rear lens element. Happens to the best of us.
  5. In the world of classic rangefinders, there are two kinds of people: those who like Leicas and those who crave Contaxes. For the former the FEDs, Zorkiis and such like are the "cat's meow". For the Contax craver, and I am definitely one of them, there is nothing like a Kiev, unless, of course it is an actual Contax from before the war.
    In both families, there are also a lot of inexpensive "counterfeits" - things like a Zorkii turned into a rare Luftwaffe Leica (mine is a Swedish Army Leica in gold and rosewood). The Kievs tend to be a little less exuberant, and usually just run to nice, all-black Contaxes, thus rectifying the fault of the original Zeiss factory in making them only in chrome. My 'Leica" isn't much a shooter, very soft lens, but the all black Contax II that I have works beautifully, smoother and nicer than lots of real Contaxes. My Kiev, badged as such, is a little rougher in feel, but also takes superb pictures. I only mention them because they don't cost much more anymore than the FSU originals, and it is such fun when the real Leica and Contax owners choke up at the sight of them. ;)
  6. I've been using a Mir (basically a Zorki-4) regularly since about 2003, as well as a couple of FEDs. If you get one in working condition - or better yet, one that's been CLA'd - they can be truly outstanding little cameras. Sure, they don't have meters, and you're "limited" to a 1/500 or 1/1000 top speed, and the internal viewfinder is only for 50mm lenses; they don't pretend to be do-everything cameras, but what they do, they do quite well.
    Lens quality can be pretty hit-or-miss on the older lenses, though - especially on the supposedly more desirable fast lenses. I love the collapsible 50/3.5 Industar-22, and it's hard to go wrong with the 50-something/2.8 Industar-61; your mileage may vary. :)
    A lot of people like the Kievs, because they're a sort of poor man's Contax, but I have some serious doubts about continued availability of shutter repairs to them; Zorkis and FEDs have utterly ordinary cloth focal-plane shutters that will probably always be repairable or replaceable, but the Kievs and their crazy Rube Goldberg shutters... I wouldn't bet on.
    I'm actually coming to like the Fed-3 more and more; not as aesthetically pleasing as most Zorkis, and doesn't have any strap lugs, but the viewfinder is nice, and the film advance is much, much nicer. As an added bonus, they're usually cheaper than the Zorkis, too. :)
  7. JDM, I can just see the Leica/Contax Philes going postal when you take these to a swap meet! Do you give them the bit about "rare war relics" too?!
    I've had about 4 different Kiev 4 models. All worked and are working fine. The Jupiter 8 lens is really sweet if you get a good one. Surprisingly the beaters seem to be the best....
  8. When I posted about the "Leica" a while back, I played the innocent who was amazed at how pristine it was, even the lacquer still smelled fresh, etc. I thought I had laid it on with a trowel.
    Some very nice person, very gently and with great tact, suggested that maybe it might not be a "real" Leica.

    There was a time, of course, when these things first started showing up at swap meets, etc. where a lot of innocents were really "taken" by these things. Here is a link about these wacky cameras (link ) with some particularly outrageous examples.
  9. The Zorkis are very serviceable cameras. They are quirky. Once gotten used to, they're a good choice for interchangeable lens RF cams. I agree that the Fed 3 and 5 are easier to use. Also, I have not fallen into one of JDM's camps set, so I like my Kiev too. Of the lot, the Fed 3 is the one I am most likely to take out shooting.
  10. I've had a few Zorkis and I have to say the only one I'm fond of is the Zorki 1 (I have the "d") http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Zorki_1 the first one I bought many years ago. It's the most like an early Leica and forms the basis for many of the "Fake" Leicas coming from the FSU. Although, a bit of a PITA to use, much like the early Leicas are.
    After that one I have not found any of the later models worth the time or money. They were supposed to be better than the Feds but I'd have another Fed 2 or 3 before a Zorki. And before either of these I'd get another Kiev. The 4 and 4a are close to a Contax in feel and workings so I'd recommend one of those. A Kiev 2 or 3 are even closer to the Contax II but their prices are getting pretty high so one might as well go for a real Contax, they're usually equal or cheaper.
    And as Russ points out, the beater Kievs are usually the best as they were the ones that actually worked and got the most use... one labled "Mint" I'd be weary of as it must not have worked properly from the start. Although, my own Kiev 4a makes a liar out of me. It was basically perfect, in the box with the original wrapping paper when I got it and even before I had it serviced it worked just fine. So, I guess one can get lucky.
  11. Thinking about buying a Zorki with an industrar lens from the FSU. I'm looking for a 35mm rangefinder and they seem like really nice cameras for the price. Does anyone have any experience with these guys?​
    Which Zorki? Usually if unspecified it it Zorki 1 with collapsable I-22. I have one. Really nice and sweet, it used to belong to my father, restored by the best repairman in FSU. But it has got I-50 (collapsable) which is even better. Feels like prewar Leica. Bit the only problem is that KMZ stopped Z1 production in 1958 or something. So be prepair to deal with 50 year old camera.
  12. Those people came to look a my Zorki 1
  13. One FED, Zorki, Kiev, etc., is never enough. You are about to slip into the black hole of FSU camera ownership, from which there is no return!
  14. I had a Zorki 4K years ago, and gave it away, didn't like it. A few years later, I got another, and again, gave it away. Last year, I got a Zorki 4 (not '4K') and liked it. I then realised why I didn't like the 4K models : they didn't have strap lugs, so you had to carry them in that clunky case. My '4' has strap lugs, and it makes all the difference. I've since been told that there are 4K's with strap lugs, though I've not seen one.

    In the interim, I bought a Bessa R3A, and it's a world apart. It's also a deal more expensive than the Zorki, and it hasn't stopped me liking the Zorki, even though the viewfinder is pretty primitive compared to the outstanding Bessa's. No framelines either, but I use one of those turret viewfinders on both bodies, so that's not a real problem.

    I had been put off the '4' because it didn't have lever wind, but a knob wind. In practice, there's no significant difference, and indeed I can advance the film in the '4' turning the knob with just my thumb. More to the point, I've never lost a picture simply because I couldn't wind fast enough.
    If it's a modest price, as it usually is, I think you'd be nuts not to give it a go. If you don't like it, you can resell it and your losses will be minimal.
  15. Wow, thanks for all the replies... This will be my first rangefinder. I've shot with pretty much every other kind of camera before. I was considering buying a Fed 5B but perhaps i'll take a look at the 3 as well. Is the 5B any good? what's the difference between the two? The only thing that bugs me about the Zorki is the tiny view finder. Also, do i change the diopter when i put on different lenses to know what my field of vew is?
  16. The dioptre adjustment doesn't have anything to do with changing lenses or field of view, it's a personal adjustment to suit your eye. If you wear glasses, for example, and they hinder you from getting your eye close enough to the viewfinder, the dioptre adjustment will allow you to see a clearly focussed image through the viewfinder with your glasses off, that's all. Other cameras achieve a similar result by putting correction lenses in the eyecup holder, so this is a relatively convenient way of doing it.
  17. I love the diopter adjustment on both the Feds, and the Zorkis. Now I'm wondering why the Japanese makers never went that route. Joseph, if you want to see the field of view for different lenses you need to get a separate view finder for each focal length. Or, if you're lucky enough to get a good deal (like I was) there are turret style units that cover all the focal lengths that were available for the cameras.
  18. The 5B is a perfectly good camera; from what I've heard, it's basically the same internal "guts" as the earlier cameras, just in a different body. That said, there are three important things to know about the FED 5B:
    1. Many people agree it's the ugliest FSU camera of all time. (Well, after the stereo version of the Lubitel, anyway.)
    2. It's a newer camera than the older models, duh; with FSU cameras, there's a widespread belief that newer = poorer quality. As far as paint, engraving, and leatherette covering goes, there may well be some truth to this.
    3. Most of them come with the quite desirable Industar-61L/D lens (53/2.8), and the pair often sell for less than an I-61 on its own. This has produced a widespread joke in FSU camera circles: "I bought an Industar 61, and got an incredibly bulky rear lens cap, free!"
    Quite a number of people are willing to put up with #1 and #2 for #3... That's how good the I-61L/D is. :)
  19. The ugliest one is FED4. The brightest viewfinder is on Zorki 3. Than is Zorki 4. Zorki 6 is accaptable. FED3 and 4 are OK but both are bulky. FED5 5B 5C i do not have.
  20. Of course, you can never make do with just one Soviet camera.
    The FED-2 is still sort-of a Leica-look alike; but by the FED-4 they had "innovated."
    The FED-4 may be a better shooter. On mine the selenium meter (calibrated in GOST speeds) still works perfectly once you get a table for GOST to ASA (as it was) conversion.
  21. JDM,
    Lucky you. I have not figure out how to work selenium light meter. I am pretty positive that it is OK it was specifucally fixed for me but I always have a Luna-Pro. Your Red-FED is looking good. Mine are all black. Kinda boring.
  22. I have 47 Zorkis and FEDs (mostly Zorkis). I used to have more but I thought I was getting a little obsessed. My favorite Model is the Zorki 1 but from a user standpoint The Z4 or the Z6 are probably the best bet. The Zorki 6 even has a hinged back. An expert on FSU camera repair (Maizenberg) said the most reliable model was probably one called the Mir (Peace). It was an early Z4 without the low speed shutter train--hardly anything to go wrong. You never know if the camera you get will work. Soviet quality control was HORRIBLE. If the cameras was built toward the end of a month (there's no way of telling) it was probably thrown together and is junk. And FSU camera from the '50s, '60s and '70s that looks like new probably looks that way because it never worked properly.
    I like the FSU Zorkis and FEDs because they are emblematic of the culture that made them--and a part of Russian history.

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