Yes, back to Zenitology it is. I’ve been doing some assignments with my alloy digital camera in the last weeks so I haven’t had much time to shoot something classic and classy like this Zenit 3M. I didn’t plan on doing Zenitology today but when I went to my studio and almost casually picked this Zenit 3M its sensuality numbed my reasoning. As if I ever had much of it.
While I was touching it, caressing it, feeling it against my face… yes, we left-eyed folks are just so lucky that we must push the camera with our whole face in order to get our good eye actually see something through the viewfinder. I mean, while I was doing all this, the urge to shoot something analog and chrome and SLR came to me. Hi, my name is Baron I, and I am a cameraholic.
Look at this. Just LOOK AT THIS. No? Nothing special? Look twice. It might look like a Leica II with a Leitz Summar but it is not. This, boys and girls, is a FED S with a 5cm f2 “FED Summar” collapsible lens attached.
Why is it special, you say? Well, first of all, less than 2000 (yes, two-thousand) samples of this camera were ever made, and not all of them were supplied with the “FED Summar” lens. Add to this that this was produced in 1940, before WWII spread to the Soviet Union, so we can assume that at least some of them were lost during the war; plus, it’s 75 years since it was made… in short: it is a very exclusive item.
There are things I will always love about the US. For example, when they have to demolish something big instead of doing the sensible thing they stick a big chunk of dynamite on it and blow it up. I love those chaps. That’s what happened with Kodak’s oldest film facility a few days ago, it was mid-july and them lucky guys at Rochester NY, the holy city of Kodak, were lucky enough to have a second Independence Day fireworks display, with some delay. Boom went the dynamite and with it more than 90 years of filmmaking industry crumbled unelegantly. This was very indicative of the current state of affairs in Kodak nowadays.
Yes, I’m going to bash Kodak. About the title: I didn’t mean the ‘I will love you forever’ kind of special, rather the below 70IQ kind of special.
And finally came the first Zenit. Zenit = Russian for zenith. Zenith = directly above from you. Well, well, what are you, Soviet Union, trying to tell me here?
Serious now. Yes, I know what you guys are thinking: it looks like a Leica II with a pentaprism on it. God, you’re sharp. See, I don’t know why, maybe it’s because copying has stuck so hard on Russian culture since the good ol’days of the Soviet Union, but all descriptions of an old Zenit in evilbay auctions look very much the same. Try to google this sentence: “the simplest approach was taken”, and you will find a zillion pages speaking about the first Zenit. All those people are literally and shamelessly copying from a JL Princelle, a prophet of sorts, of whom someday we will talk here…
Lo! Back to Zenitology! This is the last Leica-2-like Zorki, the Zorki 2. It is a somewhat rare camera today, as not too many were made. They’re more collector items than shooters as they don’t offer anything that a regular Zorki or FED can’t do, besides the self timer, which is a feature I have yet to use in a camera. The Zorki 2 is not an o9k camera.
At the time the Zorki 2 hit the market (or its commie counterpart, whatever it is), the Alpa Reflex and the Contax S, the first practical SLR cameras, saw light. They were simple models that exploited the technology of the first 35mm SLR camera, the Exakta, implemented it on more convenient rangefinder-based bodies, and gave them a feature that today we give for granted on an SLR: the pentaprism finder. The first usable SLRs were born. Yes, I’m saying that the Exaktas were a disaster and completely unusable, get over it.