Zenit E: Shutter Curtain Repairs


Getting half overexposed or simply way overexposed film back from the lab? It's time for an inspection, your Zenit is most likely suffering from old age!

So you get faulty exposures and you just don’t know why?

You go to the lab to pick up your film and you find out that they are all badly overexposed or they are half overexposed. This could be due to a faulty shutter curtain this is sadly a pretty common problem with old Zenits.

We’ll start off with a introductory story.

Stashed away at the attic in an old box is a lonely neglected Zenit E, the owner an eighty years old man, flips trough old dusty albums full of super nice pictures, washed by the essence of time. While swimming through memories of the old and sunny days, he suddenly realizes that his photography stuff is still packed up in the attic.

With crackling bones he rises out of his chair and makes his way to the stairwell. After a 4 minute climb, he arrives at the hallway on the second floor. While muttering about his old bones he reaches for the cord to pull down the ladder. While ascending the ladder, the man slips, and with a loud huff, he blowed out his last puff while breaking his back on the floor.

A few days later his children come to the house to remove the belongings of their late father. ‘If it still looks good, we’ll sell it on Ebay’, said his oldest son.

And so the old Zenit E found his way to a new owner via Ebay. The new owner didn’t know much about the camera and after fiddling with it for a bit he loaded a film and set out to shoot. He sent his film to the lab and after a few days, went back to pick it up and was horrified by the outcome…

’The Zenit is sick," he cried out and went to his room, crying for the rest of the day.

Now, this is a sad, but fictional story that leads us to a problem: faulty Zenits!

The shutter curtain may be the problem so let’s do a check up, pop open that sexy back and wind on, release the shutter and see if the curtain closes nicely. In case it does not, it will either not close at all or get stuck somewhere half way.

This is due to the curtain losing the tension after several years

But fret not! This is easily fixed, my friends!

“this is how it should be after releasing, nicely closed all the way trough”

There are but few things you will need for this repair:

  • a very small screwdriver, flat head
  • an unbreakable concentration
  • a potion for steady hands
  • a big pot of patience
  • about 10 minutes of your life if you are well prepared and handy with very, very small screws.
My set of super screwdrivers

Now, let’s get started!

So we grab our feisty little screwdriver, ready, steady, unscrew that bottom!

Use something to put the screws on, if you lose them…well you know what you are when that happens!

Now, the bottom plate is off and we get a nice look at the not so very interesting inside. We see here, a couple of screws…

So you should hold it like in the picture, we zoom in on the important part, to the left.

The two star-shaped screws are the ones that are in connection with the shutter curtain.

So the one we need is the one I am unscrewing on the photo’s below.

First, we need to unscrew the teensie tiny ‘locking’ screw. That done we can now turn up the tension on the curtain.

As you turn that screw, you can feel the tension building up, that is what we want but don’t go too far! If you do, the spring might break and that would be a very, very sad ending for your glorious Russian friend.

So you turn up the tension afterwards lock the screw by fitting in that teensy tiny locking screw. When you finally, got that screw back in it’s place and locked down the star shaped tension screw you can cock the shutter and release to check how it’s doing.

If it shuts like a train on all shutter speeds, you are a hero and you fixed this in no time! Bravo!

If not, you will have to unscrew the locking screw and turn up the tension some more and try again until it’s working smoothly again!

I left the locking screw on the bottom plate so that I could not lose it, unless I would drop the camera along with it.

Remember, this is a repair done by an amateur and I cannot guarantee that you will succeed with your own competence, as I cannot see if you are capable. Be patient and cautious as not to break anything.

Now, this tipster on repairing the Zenit E is sort of part of my guide to using this wonderous Russian camera.

That guide is to be found here: Zenit E: The Sturdy Metal Heart of Russian Photography.

More articles are coming up containing shooting tips and reviews on cameras. You can always contact me to ask questions about all sorts of stuff! Or, you can become my friend so that you’ll be posted with my new reviews and tips for ever and ever, aaand ever.

Thank you for reading and have fun!

All information for this article were taken from Tom tiger's Lair.
You can find more repair tips and photography tips and stuff on this site, have fun reading!

The Zenit E is one of the most popular SLRs ever. This camera oozes ‘60s Soviet charm with its built-in Selenium light meter and Helios 44-2 lens. Lightweight and functional, the Zenit E is ready for anything. Get your hands on this piece of photographic history here.

written by reminator on 2012-07-20 in #gear #tipster #zenit #35mm-film #tipster #camera-modification #zenit-e #minor-camera-repairs #tutorial #shooting-tips #repair #lomography


  1. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Outstanding... this can apply to a lot of cameras with cloth shutters!!

  2. reminator
    reminator ·

    Thank you very much, I haven't seen the problem with other camera bodies, nor have I seen how it works with other cameras. But I assume it is quite the same yes. The site of Tom Tiger has a lot more to offer!

  3. ester_s_ch
    ester_s_ch ·

    :D Genial :D

  4. materne
    materne ·

    looks about the same I fixed my zorki. I guess all those ancient russians have the same shutter-boddy

  5. anthropus
    anthropus ·

    Loving this article. I have a broken Zenit E too ;( On mine the shutter curtain is "ripped" at the seams/joints. In other words, it is not joined together anymore. How can I fix this?

  6. reminator
    reminator ·

    Hmmm, haven't found anything on fixing a ripped shutter curtain. You could try the page of Tom Tiger and links from that page may lead to other sites that could have usable info.

  7. schemerel
    schemerel ·

    just preformed surgery, all went well, the patient is stable, and the shutter works great, thanks !

  8. reminator
    reminator ·

    That's just great, good to know this article helped. And how is the doctor doing, no mental breakdowns?

  9. earlybird
    earlybird ·

    thank you @reminator problem fixed! great tipster!!

  10. reminator
    reminator ·

    @earlybird Awesome!

  11. madielz
    madielz ·

    So, I'm trying what you're suggesting... but did you have any trouble unscrewing the star screw? Mine seems to be very tight, and won't budge!

  12. andrethunder
    andrethunder ·

    Hi! I think I've got a big problem and I'm sad that my camera looks dead.
    I've lost the "teensie tiny ‘locking’ screw" and then the star-shaped screw broke :( It didn't even moved...looks like it was calcinated. I tried to put some lubrificant and tried to move it with a nippers but nothing resulted. :(

    Do you think it still have a chance to survive or its my zenit dead?

  13. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    This was a lifesaver for me. Managed to fix my first SLR :)

More Interesting Articles

  • Tinker on the fly: A color filter made from spoiled film

    written by dopa on 2014-05-25 in #gear #tipster
    Tinker on the fly: A color filter made from spoiled film

    Probably each one of you has been annoyed with failed film. This is particularly annoying when you get the developed film back from the lab, but you get blanks because the film was not exposed. It's either the film transport didn't work, or you have not taken the lens cap off, etc. Read on and I'll show you an alternative to just throwing away the film: Simply use it as a color filter for your camera, with the La Sardina for example.

  • December 5th Advent Offer: Looking for a terrific camera for the holidays? (Online Code: BRIGHTDELIGHT15)

    written by jacobs on 2014-12-05 in #news
    December 5th Advent Offer: Looking for a terrific camera for the holidays?  (Online Code: BRIGHTDELIGHT15)

    It's the most wonderful time of the day — Lomography Advent deal time! We're back and at it with a sweet 15% discount on all La Sardina cameras! Already have one? Well get another one, or treat yourself or your friends to any of our plastic bodied cameras using our continued discount today. The more, the merrier!

  • Shift School Paris Photo Competition: The Winners

    written by efrost on 2014-11-05 in #competitions
    Shift School Paris Photo Competition: The Winners

    It looks like it’s time to get out the cameras and pack your bags. Together with the Shift School Dresden, we offered amazing prizes, including an insider trip to Paris, where you can take part in photography courses and visit the world-famous Paris Photo Tradeshow. Of course, there’s also a ton of Lomography prizes at stake like cameras, accessories and film so that the winner can capture memories from the trip on film. And now to announce the winners!

  • Shop News

    LomoKino & LomoKinoscope Package

    LomoKino & LomoKinoscope Package

    Enjoy a truly analogue moviemaking experience with Lomography's 35mm movie camera and an accompanying accessory to watch your films with. View your masterpieces in the most analogue way possible with the LomoKinoscope. Get it now 20% off the regular price!

  • Newcomer of the Week: theisleofadventure

    written by icequeenubia on 2014-05-04 in #lifestyle
    Newcomer of the Week: theisleofadventure

    Rebecca was encouraged by her friend, also a Community member, hola_to_the_holga, to try her hand at film photographer after seeing an old SLR at her home. Now, she cannot thank her friend enough for getting her into yet another creative outlet aside from baking cakes and drawing. Let's get to know more about our darling Rebecca or theisleofadventure, our Newcomer of the Week!

  • Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    written by pripri2000 on 2015-04-22 in #gear #news
    Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    Capture the world and all its contours in vibrant, wide-angled photographs any time, any where! The LC-A 120 is an adventure of its own with lots of exciting functions to experiment with, like seamless long exposures or full ISO control. It's also super-fast and ultra-compact - perfect for your everyday. If you're worried about the Medium Format film, don't be! You are free to use any 120 Film you want and there are plenty to choose from. In fact, that's what makes this camera so versatile! Scroll through this gallery for a little taste of the glorious shots this nifty invention is capable of.

  • A View Split in Two

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-04-26 in #world #lifestyle
    A View Split in Two

    Inspired by the LC-A+ Splitzer aesthetic, we scoured vintage archives for brilliant examples of halved frames. Fair warning: We still need your undivided attention to fully appreciate the dualities.

  • Shop News

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens photos are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • Awesome Albums: Fun! Fun! Lomo'Instant Splitzer by gocchin

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-04-26 in #world #lifestyle
    Awesome Albums: Fun! Fun! Lomo'Instant Splitzer by gocchin

    The Splitzer is indeed a handy tool for creating superbly surreal and playful images, as perfectly demonstrated by one creative community member!

  • Newcomer of the Week: keis

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-04-26 in #people #lifestyle
    Newcomer of the Week: keis

    Most, if not all, of the photographs in Keis Iguchi's LomoHome were printed using traditional darkroom processes. He likens film photography to using cassette tape and relies on his favorite combination of LC-A and Ferrania Solaris 800 in creating evocative images. In this interview, our Newcomer of the Week from Tokyo Japan shares more about his affinity for analog photography.

  • Thesndx is our LomoHome of the Day!

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-04-26 in #world #news
    Thesndx is our LomoHome of the Day!

    From everyone here in Lomography, congratulations to thesndx for winning Home of the Day!

  • Shop News

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Whatever kind of film development you're after, you'll find it here! Now you can confidently shoot from the hip without having to worry where to develop those film rolls!

  • Faces and Places Through the Fisheye Cameras

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-04-26 in #gear #news
    Faces and Places Through the Fisheye Cameras

    Say "hello!" to these wonderful lomographs scoured from the community's most popular bunch and find out how you can earn piggies and have your very own Fisheye snaps be featured on the Online Shop!

  • Turning the World into a Pinhole Movie

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-04-26 in #world #lifestyle
    Turning the World into a Pinhole Movie

    What is it like to see the world with pinhole eyes? Fuwari Lab, a design collective in Japan, finds out.

  • Photo of the Day by arguspaul

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-04-26 in #world #news
    Photo of the Day by arguspaul

    What do you get when you combine some old negatives, a bottle of glue, and a lomographer's creative mind?