For those who don’t know, Soviet cameras were produced by the USSR around the 1940’s and were patterned after German models. Very little is known about the specific details in the history of Soviet photography, but most of the Soviet cameras were built for simple use and easy repair. Nonetheless, Soviet cameras remain a favorite among analogue lovers for their reliability and unique results.
The Zenit 35mm SLR camera is one of the most popular Soviet camera brands, created by the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory (KMZ). The Zenit was based on the Zorki camera, a rangefinder transformed to an SLR. The Zenit-E camera is the brand’s most famous model. Vintage Zenit cameras are usually heavy and sturdier than the Leica.
Read more about the Zenit.
The Horizon is a swing-lens panoramic camera produced by the KMZ. Vintage models of the Horizon (then named Horizont) are made out of metal, but current ones are made out of plastic. The current models are sold as Horizon Perfekt and Horizon Kompakt. The Kompakt is smaller than the Perfekt, and it allows double exposures.
Read more about the Horizon.
Zorki is another KMZ-produced rangefinder camera patterned after the Leica II. It is cheaper than the German counterpart. It has many variations, the Zorki 4K model being the most popular. These cameras are no longer in production and are only available in secondhand shops.
Read more about the first model of Zorki.
The Moskva is a folding medium-format camera made by the KMZ as well. It’s very portable and can be used to shoot 6×9 cm negatives. It uses an earlier technology of bellows. The disadvantage of this camera is that it’s really fragile and easily worn out in heat, humidity and prolonged usage.
Read more about Moskva.
The Kiev is a camera produced by the Arsenal Factory in Kiev, Ukraine, hence its name. It has two medium-format camera models, the Kiev 88 and the Kiev 60. The Kiev 88 is patterned after the Hasselblad 1600 F, while the Kiev 60 is a patterned loosely on the Pentacon Six. Kiev attracted a lot of amateurs and enthusiasts because of its cheap price.
Read one of its models, the Kiev 88.
The FED is a rangefinder camera also patterned after the German Leica II. It was named after the factory Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. It is known as the Soviet Union’s first 35mm SLR camera.
Read about one of the models, the FED-5.
The Smena camera is made by the LOMO factory. The material is bakelite or plastic, and the configuration of the camera is totally manual.
Read more about the model Smena-8m.
The Chaika is a 35mm metal-encased half-frame camera made by BELOMO factory. It was named after the call sign of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.
Read more about the model Chaika-2.
The Sport is one of the earliest known 35mm SLR cameras. It was manufactured by the Soviet factory GOMZ and patterned after a prototype camera named Gelveta. Similar contemporaries are the Asahiflex and Contaflex.
Read more about the Sport.
The Lomo camera is one of the Soviet camera brands that still is in production. It’s most famous camera, the LC-A (then produced by LOMO), is remodeled as the LC-A+ by the Lomographic Society. Another popular camera made by the same factory is the Lubitel, a twins reflex camera.
What’s your favorite Soviet camera? Do you prefer the older or newer models? Leave your thoughts below the comment box.