In this article, we will tell you about all Zenit cameras that have entered mass production and which can now be bought on the secondary market.
All Zenit cameras were produced at the KMZ plant. The very first SLR cameras of this family began to be produced in 1952 and ended in 2005, but we will not consider Zenit cameras that were produced after the collapse of the USSR, that is, after 1991.
Zenit was the very first 35mm SLR camera that went into mass production in the Soviet Union. This camera was developed on the basis of the Zorki rangefinder camera, which in turn was a copy of the German Leica camera.
This is a very small and stylish camera, which was created in an era when the USSR still tried to create something of high quality. This camera is not only a collector’s item, but can also be a great tool for taking cool photos.
Zenit-C is essentially an improved model of the Zenit of the first model, in which a sync contact was added and a modified mirror lifting system, which made the camera a little more reliable.
Like the first model, the Zenit-C is a really cool and stylish Soviet SLR that is well worth the purchase. The only drawback is the age of the camera, which is why it is now difficult to find a Zenit-C in good condition.
Zenit-3 is already a deeper modernization of the previous model. Engineers added a film advance lever to this model, which greatly speeded up the photography process.
This camera is still very high quality, but due to the fact that it no longer looks as charismatic as the first two models, but you still have to load the film from below, we advise you to give preference to the Zenit-3m camera.
The Zenit-3M camera is one of the best among all Zenit cameras, as it looks very stylish, built like a tank, and at the same time very convenient to use.
Unlike the previous model, an opening back cover has been added here, which greatly simplifies the film loading process, in addition, Zenit-3M was produced in a larger number of copies, which makes it more accessible in the secondary market.
The Zenit-4 camera was the first ambitious project of the KMZ plant to create an unusual and advanced camera. Zenit-4 had a leaf shutter with shutter speeds from 1 to 1/500 sec, a built-in light meter, and semi-automatic exposure control.
Since the camera was not very reliable and was not produced in very large quantities, it is now very difficult to find it in the secondary market in normal working condition.
The Zenit-7 camera was another ambitious project of the KMZ plant, but, according to tradition, it turned out to be just as unsuccessful. Planned as the base model for the professional line SLR cameras.
Like the previous model, Zenit-7 was just as unreliable, and it was also released in very small quantities, and in our time will be more interesting to collectors than photographers.
Zenit-E is the most popular SLR camera produced in the Soviet Union. The camera differs from the Zenit-3M by the presence of an automatically lowering mirror and a selenium light meter.
Nowadays, it is very easy to find a Zenit-E camera in good condition complete with a Helios-44-2 lens, which is one of the coolest Soviet lenses.
Zenit-B is a simplified version of Zenit-E which lacked a selenium light meter. There are no other significant differences between these cameras.
If the selenium light meter is not too important to you, and you like the Zenit-И more than the Zenit-3M in appearance, then you can also find this camera on the secondary market without much difficulty.
This camera, like the Zenit-E, is a fairly good camera, and nowadays you can find this camera in the secondary market in good condition.
Zenit-BM is a Zenit-B camera with a aperture control function and is, on the one hand, an improved version of the Zenit-B camera, and on the other hand, a simplified version of the Zenit-EM.
The camera was released in not very large quantities, and would rather be of interest to those who want to put a rare Soviet film camera on the shelf.
Zenit-TTL was developed on the basis of the Zenit-EM camera and was the first mass-produced Soviet film camera with semi-automatic exposure control and indication in the viewfinder field of view.
Zenit-TTL is a really good camera. The team of our site can safely advise you to look for this camera on online markets if you want a good Soviet film SLR camera.
Zenit-10 is essentially a simplified version of the previous model. Unlike the Zenit-TTL , the camera is equipped with a simpler selenium light meter.
Due to the fact that this Soviet camera was produced in not very large quantities, and does not have any interesting features, we advise you to pay attention to more interesting models with a TTL light meter.
The Zenit-ET camera is the another version of the Zenit-E, which was produced at the Belarusian Optical and Mechanical Association from 1982 to 1995.
Like the model described above, this Soviet film camera is not of particular interest. In addition, the cameras assembled at the Belarusian factory were noticeably lower quality than those that were assembled at the KMZ.
The Zenit-11 camera is a kind of hybrid of Zenit-TTL with an aperture control mechanism and a non-rotating shutter speed knob in combination with an selenium exposure meter of Zenit-E.
The team of our site also does not advise you to pay special attention to this camera, since there are much more interesting specimens on the market of Soviet film cameras.
Zenit-12XP is an improved version of Zenit-TTL, in which the dullness of the viewfinder has been eliminated. In addition, an LED indication in the viewfinder and a more convenient rear wall opening lock was added.
This, along with the Zenit-TTL, is another great example of a good Soviet camera, and we can advise you to look for and buy this camera.
Zenit-16 is the first SLR camera in the USSR with a light indication in the viewfinder field of view. This is an extremely unusual camera in which the designers of the KMZ plant turned on their imagination to the maximum, which, unfortunately, did not add reliability to the camera.
As in the case of other super experimental cameras produced in the USSR, this camera will be of more interest to collectors or those who like to endlessly repair cameras.
Zenit-18 is the first film SLR camera among all Zenit cameras in which exposure measurement is carried out on an open aperture. Unlike most Zenits, it uses a shutter with metal curtains with shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 sec.
Perhaps you might think that such an advanced camera created in the USSR could not be reliable. And you are right. The camera is extremely unreliable, and we advise you to pay your attention to the 19th model.
Zenit-19, like the previous model, has a shutter with metal curtains with shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 sec and a good light meter.
Unlike the 18th model, this Soviet film camera is more reliable, and we can advise you to buy it. Moreover, one of the best Soviet lenses, Zenitar-M f1.7/50, was installed on it.
The Zenit-Automat was already a fully automatic aperture-priority camera. This means that you just need to insert a film into the camra, indicate the ISO and start shooting without thinking about switching shutter speeds.
This film camera will be of interest to anyone who wants a Soviet camera and does not think too much about such things as shutter speed, aperture, etc white taking photos.
Zenit-AM is an improved version of the previous model, in which the cloth curtains was replaced with a metal curtains, which made the camera much more reliable.
This model was produced in small numbers, but due to the fact that the camera was quite reliable and was released relatively recently, you can still find a copy in good condition.
Zenit-122 is essentially one of the last film SLR cameras produced during the Soviet era. This camera has collected almost all the positive things that were created by the KMZ plant.
A clean and comfortable viewfinder, convenient film loading and unloading, a good light meter, pleasant ergonomics, etc., make this Soviet camera one of the best on the secondary market.