Zenit EM with Industar 50-2: A Small Lens for an Urban Adventure!


The tiny Industar 50-2 is probably the smallest lens for a reflex camera. It’s well-suited for my old Zenit EM, a camera built as a tank! Enjoy this strange Zenit adventure in search of urban geometries!

I bought the Zenit EM some years ago. This camera is a little evolution of the legendary Zenit E, another great camera! (I wrote an article in Italian about Zenit E). The EM model is different, because this camera has the advantage of the automatic closure of the lens (this camera works in stop down mode, so if you push partially the shutter button you can close the blades so you can see the depth of field). For a correct evaluation of the depth of field, the Zenit E remains the best camera, because the viewfinder is plain glass without Fresnel lenses and without micro prisms; meanwhile the EM with these aids to focusing make the viewfinder less suited for an accurate analysis of the DOF.

Here is the camera (very similar to the Zenit E, with same selenium cell exposure meter, and still 100% okay!):

The shutter times are the same for all members of the Zenit camera family: I have a Zenit E, an EM, a TTL and a 122, all with exposure times between 1/30 and 1/500s, and Bulb. It is possible to make a T pose by a rotation of the shutter button.

Another advantage of the Zenit E is the rewind switch, coaxial to rewind button, easy to use, with a simple rotation of the gear (in the E model you need to push a button all the time you rewind the film).

Two comments about the lens: the Industar 50-2 is a Tessar scheme (four lenses in three groups), a very sharp lens, well contrasted, with great “vintage” tones. The lens is not automatic so you must close the diaphragm (lens blades) manually before taking a photo. The same lens is available in a M39 mount for Fed and Zorki rangefinder cameras. So, if you’re interested in this lens, check the version carefully before buying it!

Here are some photos. The lens is a “slow lens” that is not suited for “decisive moment” photos, but great for its tones and its sharpness. Enjoy this “Urban lines hunting!” All these photos were taken with a fresh Fuji Superia 400 film and not cross processed.

Inside a car park during a snowing day:

Two photos with the lines of the arch of a railway bridge:

Two photos of the stairs of the “Monumento ai caduti di Como,” dedicated to the soldiers killed in the World Wars:

Here some photos of the main train station of Milano, “Milano Centrale.” As you can see, this lens gives good greytones with a pleasant contrast.

Here is the the main train station of my city, “Como San Giovanni” and the stairs outside the station:

Good greytones at night!

Zenit E v.s. Zenit EM:

Zenit E is my preferred camera when I need an accurate analysis of depth of field, when I want to concentrate on the composition, because the plain glass viewfinder allows you to concentrate only on the scene, without distraction caused by Fresnel lens and others focusing aid.

Zenit EM is better in low light conditions for correct focusing of the subject. I use the E model mainly outdoors in sunny days, and the EM model in cloudy and rainy days.

Both cameras have the same exposure meter, the same time selector,same shutter and the same weight—both are HEAVY!

Zenit EM has two little rings to attach a strap; no rings in the Zenit E model.

Zenit E doesn’t have the capability to use automatic lenses.

Note: Another great lens is the Helios 44-2, which I use on my Zenit E. Both lenses are interchangeable between the two cameras. But Zenit EM allows the use of automatic lenses as the more recent Helios 44M-4 to 44M-7!

So, enjoy both cameras!

written by sirio174 on 2012-04-23 #gear #review #geometry #zenit #lines #50mm-lens #zenit-em #lomography #small-lens #user-review #industar-50-2 #tessar-scheme #urban-geometry


  1. alex34
    alex34 ·

    I do like the fact that the Zeniths are built like a tank, even if I slightly prefer my Prakticas. The Industar is also a fine lens, got one myself recently-great performer, if really ugly! Good article!

  2. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    Great review and images, but i prefer prakticas, the shutter mechanism on zenits is far to unreliable, out of the 4 ive had the shutter on 3 has gone.

  3. sirio174
    sirio174 ·

    @brandkow93 I use manly a Praktica MTL 5, very reliable, but the shutter is NOT quiet... Zenit shutters are less noisy, and after a professional CLA (remove the old soviet lubrificant and substitute it with new one) these cameras become very reliable!

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