During my first year of Lomographic Studies, I only had a Fisheye Camera and Colorsplash Camera in my arsenal. I was literally craving for an LC-A so I decided to have a father-and-son talk with my dad about the legendary camera, hoping he might be impressed enough to buy me one. My plan backfired as he told me he already has a Soviet product in his collection, being a camera enthusiast himself.
I was led to an underground facility (it’s just the storage room) where he
kept this Russian treasure called “Zenit 122”. The camera was bought
from a war refugee back in the days and he never even used it once. My old man was really into Nikons so the 122 was kept in the back shelf. I call it a twist of fate as he handed me the camera to try out.
For your information, the Zenit series was crafted by KMZ (Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk) located near Moscow. It has a whole range of cameras, with this particular model being a 35mm single-lens reflex camera. In appearance, the 122 looks exceptionally crude compared to Japanese SLRs and it’s also quite heavy to lug around. Focusing is a chore because mine is a standard issue Helios 58mm lens, unlike the easier-to-use Zenitar lens of the 122K (122’s newer sibling). I don’t
really sound positive do I? Actually those characteristics embody this
antique as unique. It’s not everyday you get to shoot with a bulky Russian camera. Of course you’ll get weird glances and whispers over your shoulder but the output is worth having. It’s like you took a trip back to the 80s, finish a roll of film and come back to present day to develop them.
I did spend some quality time with my 122 before moving on to the Elikon 535 (refer to my review of the latter). In summary, I’d have to say the Zenit 122 requires a lot of patience to use especially if you’re one who’s accustomed to snapshots. But if you’re seriously into analogue photography, this is something different for you. With manual focusing, through the lens metering, flash hotshoe, full control over aperture and shutter speed; what more could you ask for? Furthermore,
it’s a legit Lomo camera so you’ll have no worries about sharing your experiences with the community. Here’s a tip: leave your shoot-from-the-hip attitude at home. This is the world of SLR we’re talking about.