This is your last chance to pre-order your Petzval Lens and get the special aperture plates included for free! With estimated delivery in August (or even sooner), don’t miss out on securing your picture perfect portrait lens!

Have an account? Login | New to Lomography? Register | Lab | Current Site:

My Second Encounter with the Russians: Zenit 3M!

So here it is, my second encounter with the Russians! But this time, it's a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, the Zenit 3M! Read more about this camera after the jump!

I bought this camera from a retired architect who had been using it for, well, architecture, I suppose?

The Zenit 3M is a fully manual slr with no light meter. It has shutter speeds from 1/30 sec – 1/500 sec, and B for long exposures. It has a flash-contact, but no accessory-shoe to mount a flash directly on the camera.

The lens mount is the so-called “M37” screw-mount. It’s a little smaller in diameter than the “M42” which is more normal for a SLR. M37 is the standard mount of many older rangefinders, like Leica and FED, but the lenses are not cross-compatible (only for VERY close-up macro stuff) because of the difference in focal length.

There’s also a lot of dark-room enlargers that uses the M37-mount, and for enlarging the Helios works VERY well!

The camera looks very heavy, and that’s exactly what it is. It feels like as if it was cut from a solid block of iron!

Wearing this camera, you’ll never have to worry about getting robbed or anything. No one would ever have the courage to take on a guy who is heavily armed with a massive weapon like this, that says “Made in the USSR” all over it!

This particular one came with the original Helios 44, f-2/58mm (this lens is a classic! It has the greatest background swirl! It’s amazing for portraits!), a Hanimex f-3.5/135mm tele lens, and last but not least: the sought-after MIR-1 f-2.8/37 “Grand Prix” Brussels 1958, medium wide lens in very good condition! It looks just like new!

I immediately ran a roll of black/white film through it to test it, and it seemed to work as it should! The slow shutter speeds were a little too slow though, but after a quick search on the internet I found out that it was quite easy to fix it yourself, so that’s what I did.

I now own a very well working Russian SLR from the sixties with some great lenses. Of course, you need to know how to use it without a built-in light meter, either by using the “sunny 16 rule” or using a handheld light meter. But if you can work like that, it’s a really great shooter. It feels very good to use.

All images in this article were taken without a light meter (except for the portraits of the actual camera itself below)!

And I think I forgot to mention: It’s really good looking too!

written by michell


  1. sirio174


    the Mir 1b 37mm is a great lens!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. alex34


    Solid little tank ;-)

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. brandkow93


    nice review and lovely camera, i recommend the industar 50 :)

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. jawatembak


    great picture and review!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. saliminternationalekhan


    I have a Zenit S in my collection its almost exactly like a Zorki rangfinder camera in that it loads from the bottom and needs a long film lead cut, but I like the 3 series model as well becuase the 3m opens like a normal SLR from the side. It makes it easier to use short lead film.

    8 months ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Русский.