The Zenit E is the 35mm SLR camera based on the Zorki rangefinder series!
The Zenit 35mm SLR camera (sometimes spelled ‘Zenith’ in English manuals) was produced by the same crew who brought us the Zorki rangefinder camera – Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod, a mechanical factory in Moscow. The latter served as an inspiration for the Zenit – they took out the rangefinder, put a ground-glass screen in its place, and adjusted the thread mount to make room for the mirror. Early models resembled the first batches of the Zorki, only that the Zenit is obviously larger, to accommodate SLR features.
By late 1960’s, KMZ had started mass production for the cameras, developing an instantly-returning mirror, leading to the birth of the Zenit-E. It was cast in a one-piece aluminum body, which makes the camera sturdy. The selenium light meter calculates the light and allows you to adjust your aperture and shutter speed – making it easy to nail the perfect exposure.
In its 17 years of production, a lot of variations had emerged – some of them in honor of special happenings, one of which was the 1980 Moscow Olympics. This is typical for cameras during 1979-1980, as a promotion for that event. Some of them sported the official Olympic Tower logo, while commemorative Zenit E’s had “MOSKVA 80” printed on it.
kylethefrench likes the Zenit-E for its’ versatility. “The best thing is that it lets you look at your picture as you take it, like a 1970s digital almost, what you see is what you’re gonna get. It allows you to get the macro distance correct every time for sharp close ups. You can even go ahead and throw on the Holga filters for fun, do what you do, the Zenit-E allows you.”
mantozauras shared a tip – “Using black and white films you can get an old ‘retro’ look, and with slide films and cross-processing you can achieve nice contrast and beautiful colors! You can also easily use the doorspy mounted on the Zenit E camera lens (Helios 44-2) and get a look like a fisheye lens!”
Photos 1-12, 24-29: mantozauras