Looks can be deceiving, even when it comes to cameras. Whether we like it or not, we sometimes judge the camera we're interested in based on its appearance. Does it look good? Does it look like it can take good photos? How's the build quality? What about the materials? These are just some of the things that usually go run through our heads when we're shopping for a camera. It's good to ask questions, really, and in the case of the Russian-made Zenit 312m, you might be surprised with the answers you'll get.
The Zenit 312m is a 35 mm film SLR that was introduced in the market in 1999. It was manufactured by KMZ and belonged to a line of 35 mm SLR cameras that featured different mounts, designs, and body material. The 312m followed the Zenit 212k, a camera of similar styling and design. Some would even compare the two and see uncanny similarities with their rounded ABS plastic bodies and general placement of controls. However, the 312m uses M42 screw mount lenses while the older 212k featured a K-mount.
Going deeper into the looks of the 312m, it's a vast departure from Zenit's usual camera styling that was characterized by bulky sizes and square features. The 312m adopted a more rounded, space age-like look that makes it quite the conversation starter. While it's not a rare camera, its unusual aesthetics surely make it stand out. Aside from creating a quirky look, the ABS plastic body also had a couple of advantages — lighter weight and better ergonomics. Without the lens, the 312m only weighs about 540 g and that's pretty great if you're out all day shooting. The flowing molded body also afforded better handling to users.
Looks are not the only thing the 312m could be proud of, it also has some neat features that can improve the user experience. The 312m came with a lens that's considered to be the more modern version of the famous Helios lens — the MC Zenitar-M2s 2/50 lens. Users can try out a variety of shots with the standard lens including macro photography. Colors are quite vibrant and there's also a tinge of bokeh that can be found in the background. And since it uses the M42 mount, users can try out other lenses to achieve different results as desired.
Some other nifty features include diodes in the viewfinder that help with exposure correction, a combined focusing system (matte ring and wedges), and a semi-automatic exposure metering with the help of the TTL system.
While it's not the best SLR you can get in the used market, it might be worth looking into especially if you're a fan of Russian cameras and quirky camera designs. And we almost forgot to mention that it's affordable! A quick search on the net will lead you to sites offering it for USD 50 or slightly higher depending on the condition.
Photos Taken by Our Community Members
Film: 35 mm, 24 × 36
Shutter: fabric shutter, 1/30 sec to 1/500 sec , "B" mode
Lens: MC Zenitar-M2s 2/50 or Helios 44-M-5
Mount: M42 screw
Flash Sync: 1/30 via central sync
Viewfinder: 20 × 28 mm or 65% of frame area
Focusing Screen: fresnel lens with a matte ring, micro-raster, wedges
Dimensions: 143.7 × 97 × 115 mm
Weight: 820 g
Power: two 2 × 1.5 (3V) D386 Mallory type, Seiko SB-B*, SC-32, MC 0.105