From A to KMZ: The Zenit History Timeline

2013-07-31 2

Did you know that a lot of the tried-and-tested cameras and lenses that you know and love were once manufactured by just one camera company? From the Zorki to the Iskra, to the Horizon and even the new Lomography Petzval Lens, Zenit has been around to see quality camera production through and through. Learn more about the Russian optical manufacturer here.

KMZ factory. Photo via Cryptomuseum

Founded in Krasnogorsk, Russia, the Zenit factory dates back over 60 years to its original birthdate of 1942. Officially, the optical engineering company is called Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod (KMZ), meaning the Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk.

Later on, around 1946, they started producing more consumer-oriented cameras, such as the Moskva folding camera, FED, Zorki (based on Leica mechanics), and thus, Zenit became a photographic force to be reckoned with.

The evolution of the Zenit logo. Trivia: It’s a simple dove prism (nicknamed “tomb” by factory workers) with a refracted ray of light. Photos via Zenit and Cryptomuseum

1942: The Krasnogorsky Zavod plant is founded and open for business.
1946: A projector for Lenin’s library in Moscow and a charming set of opera glasses are the first production of the plant. The first home folding amateur camera “Moscow-1” is also produced.
1948: The Zenit trademark is created and introduced onto every product.
1949: The first Zorki rangefinder camera is introduced. These excellent items will live on for years as a mainstay of Zenit’s photographic line.
1952: The first Zenit single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera is introduced.
1957: The first pictures of the Earth’s surface are taken from space with Zenit’s amazing AFA-39 aerial camera.
1958: Zenit’s lenses win the Grand Prix in a Brussels-based optical competition.
1959: Zenit’s AFA-E1 camera supplies the first images from the dark side of the moon.
1965: The Zorki 10 compact camera wins a Gold Medal at Leipzig ‘s World’s Fair.
1966: The plant is awarded with Lenin’s order for outstanding service to the State and credited with fulfillment of the Seven-year plan of 1959-1965.

(1) The first Zenit photographic instruments. (2) This Zenit logo identifies the piece as one of the Soviet brand’s earlier models. (3) A Moskva folding camera, another camera line produced by Zenit along with Zorki, Iskra and FED. Photos via Süleyman Demir on Flickr

1967: The first Horizont panoramic camera is introduced!
1976: Zenit is awarded the Order of the Red Banner for innovation in technology
1989: The Horizon 202 panoramic camera is launched!
1992: The 50-year anniversary celebration is held. Everyone is late to work the next day.
1993: Zenit becomes a private, shareholder enterprise under the name S.A. Zverev KRASNOGORSKY ZAVOD Open-End Joint Stock Company.
1997: Compact cameras are introduced into the product line.
2000: Zenit wins the Victoria Prize and Laureate Diploma for excellence in design at the 8 th All-Russian design exhibition.
2005: Entering into a historic partnership with the Lomographic Society International, Zenit introduces the new Horizon Perfekt and Horizon Kompakt panoramic cameras. They are remixed as co-branded instruments of the highest quality. In addition, Lomography becomes a worldwide distributor for Zenit's range of SLR cameras, photographic accessories, and historical re-issues.

Some of the latest Zenit reincarnations available at the Online Shop. Photos via Lomography

2013: Zenit makes history once again with the new Lomography Petzval Portrait Lens. Based on the nearly two-centuries-old design by Joseph Petzval, this re-imagined and re-invented brass lens known for its swirly bokeh allows Lomographers to shoot both still photos and art movies using either analogue or digital cameras!

Zenit has certainly contributed immensely to the advancement of photographic technologies as we know it and we can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves for the future of film!

The Lomography Petzval Portrait Lens being reinvented by Zenit

The new Lomography Petzval (D)SLR Art Lens is a reinvention of the legendary portrait glass lens that first appeared in the 19th century. Our version is a high-quality glass optic that makes it possible for Canon and Nikon analogue and digital SLR mount cameras to yield the famous Petzval look – sharp focus areas with unique bokeh effects, strong color saturation, and artful vignettes. It’s a distinct look that goes far beyond using photo editing software and filters.

Fund this project on Kickstarter and help us bring back this extraordinary lens for 21st century photographers and filmmakers!

Sources include Zenit, Lomography, Camerapedia, and Wikipedia.

written by denisesanjose on 2013-07-31 #art #lifestyle #history #russian-cameras #fed #zorki #portrait #lens #zenit #vintage #analogue-photography #soviet-union #lomography #leica #analogue-cameras #kmz #iskra #timeline #petzval #moksva


  1. chourique
    chourique ·


  2. vgzalez
    vgzalez ·

    And they also manufacture the Belairgon lenses! :)

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