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.
…and the Zorki led to the Dark Side. Or to the Zenit, which is the same thing for all of us who own one.
We were saying in the last article about Zenits that they basically came from the Leica. Let’s see how.
In the 1930s imports in the Soviet Union were scarce and the official economic doctrine put great emphasis on autarchy, so the great plan of the commies became to produce everything at home… by breaking any patent laws if necessary. Many implements of Soviet manufacture, especially consumer goods were close copies of Western models, and cameras were no exception. Well, as close as the Soviet production model, which clearly didn’t favor quality, allowed.
…and God (Oskar Barnack) saw that it was good, but it had no rangefinder, so in the second day He created the Leica II… It was more or less like that.
What? Leica? Barnack? Weren’t we talking about Zenits? Fear not, for everything will become clear… as Lynda Blair said in The Exorcist, in time.
Serious now. Why did I put the Leica here? Because the Leica is a not-so distant relative to the Zenit. Genealogically we could put it all like this: the Zenit comes from the Zorki, which comes from the FED, which in turn comes from the Leica II. In other words, the Zenit is the grandson of the FED, Leica’s Soviet evil twin.
Am I going to write bout Zenits in the same blog I write about Leicas? Did I go crazy for good? Do we photogs make love better than common rabble? The answer to these and other relevant questions is Yes Madam, Yes Indeed.
We will save questions number two and number three for the future, as each deserves a post of their own for sure. About question number 1, I’m not only writing about Zenits, but I’m dedicating a whole section to this. No, I barely sell any Zenit, but there’s the remote chance that someone reaches this blog innocently looking for info about them and inadvertently misclicks into my store, which would be great, instantly to be mesmerised by the sight of that very expensive Zenit I’m selling. So maybe it’s worth the shot.