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Zenit 11 - Weapon of Choice: A Soviet Tank

When everyone around me is in the fuss of getting the best DSLR in the market today, I stumble upon a childhood relic. A relic of Russian decent kept away in a South East Asian attic: A Zenit 11 slr.

Many of my friends always talk about the idea of getting a Nikon or Canon DSLR and make their pictures come out the most beautiful they have ever taken. I have a Canon 450d and tell you the truth, I’m bored with it. Going through the interwebs, I luckily stumbled upon a local ad posted for an old Zenit 11 slr. The seller did not even know what she had so decided to open offers to whoever would be willing to buy the camera. I being an “el Cheapo” myself, decided to throw in an off the hook offer ( a lot lower than what the market tells me ) and prayed hard she would budge. She did an decided to throw in an electronic flash…Now I have my Zenit 11, named “Zoe” and I got my own heavy duty Russian wonder.

The Zenit 11 was produced in the 80s and in a sense grew up together with my generation being born in 1986. It uses 35mm film giving me a lot of options in the “El Cheapo” film department. Its made of metal giving it that Soviet tank feel, a little heavy but sturdy. It came with a Helios 44-m prime lens, with 50mm and f/2-f/16 aperture settings. No zoom, I need to apply one golden rule of Lomo: “Get as close to your subject as possible” and I did (looking all suspicious doing it). With the m42 screw type mount, there are still available lenses for upgrades and for specific purposes. Like old slrs it had a very dim viewfinder (mine has some dirt stuck inside it giving me this magical kaleidoscope feel) but its still workable for night shots. The good thing about it is when you set your framing and dept of field you pretty much get how the picture would look like through the viewfinder. The light meter is selenium but uncoupled to the viewfinder (mine is broken so this doesn’t really matter). Shutter speeds vary from 1/500-1/30 and a “B” setting ( which I have been looking for in a long time in film cameras ) . With all these settings ( all being all giddy with a new toy ) I took it around for a walk and a roll of lucky 200 film.

I took as many possible light conditions as I can to see how it would work and I’m pretty satisfied with the results. Even in low light I just had to open my aperture a little more and I get the bokeh that I like. In bright sunlight (and even against the sun) I still get crisp details. I haven’t tried it with the bulb setting yet ( and oh I will take advantage of that ) but with lower shutter speeds it still delivers the results i need. All in all it gave me a tingle of delight ( that feeling when Christmas is near and you know you’re going to get good gifts ) when my photos came in and the only thing I wanted to do was reload that next roll start shooting with my Soviet tank ( and hopefully not start any wars..;D)

Now Im sticking to this old thing, bringing it with me all the time ready for anything that catches my eye. My message to my friends now about photography “it’s not the spear, it’s the Indian”….

written by manfromuz


  1. magdalenagabriela


    great review, nice gallery (#2!!!!); i've got a zenit 12xp (there are hardly any differences) myself and i can't imagine any better lomographer's friend!!:)))

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  2. stouf


    Cool review ! You're a good Indian ! 8D

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  3. herbert-4


    Nice gallery, especially #2. These are generally good cameras. They take pictures exactly as good as the photographer. Spend a little money at a repair shop and get her CLA'ed (cleaned, lubricated, adjusted). You'll find your viewfinder brighter, and they might even get the meter to work. Enjoy.

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  4. panelomo


    wow - nice find! :)

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  5. manfromuz


    thanks guys...appreciate the comments...will be doing the CLA when I have time to get to shop @herbert-4... :D
    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  6. renaishashin


    Nice review :DD Nice camera :DD

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  7. paramir


    nice review! hope you'll many pleasureful miles riding your tank... :)

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  8. xbluemindx


    Photo 5:Harrison :)

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  9. dogma


    Grat job man!

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  10. simonjamesonweston


    this looks a good camera and a built in light meter (if it works) - plus they seem really very cheap on ebay for a mid 80's version

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  11. dyluzo


    Hi i just saw a ZENIT-C for sale on line in perfect condition .Do you know anything about it .It is from the 50 's just wandering if any one knows what kind of pic it shoots.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. cruzlui


    korek ka dyan!brod!! its not the spear .... its the indian... dipende yan sa pumapana !! at nag hahanap ng magandang target !! very nice !! ( it depends on the archer who aims for a nicer target !!)
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. rav_bunneh


    A lot of people seem to be shooting with this camera these days. :3

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. mikkokam

    Excellent review! I like this camera a lot. I've only tested 2 rolls with one, but all the speeds seem to be OK and even the meter works. first results with many various vintage lenses from 17 mm to 135 mm, including wild lenses such as a 85/1.5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikkokam/sets/72157625313098314/
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. danmeakin


    I just picked one of these up from eBay on a whim, can't wait to start shooting. This review is great, hhopefully I've made an ok choice :)

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  16. kshen


    Hello, I just got my zenit11 from Ebay, and I was so disappointed as the shutter curtain and mirror seems to be stuck at times. do u have any experience in this?

    about 3 years ago · report as spam