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!