The Best Soviet 35mm Film Cameras

In this article we will tell you about the 4 best Soviet 35mm film cameras, as well as which one is right for you and how to buy it.

the best soviet 35mm film cameras

Among the variety of analog cameras, a special place is occupied by Soviet 35mm film cameras, known for their unique characteristics, relatively good reliability and, most importantly, affordability. In this review we will talk about the best Soviet 35 mm film cameras in our opinion, and to be more precise, about: Zenit-122, Kiev-19, Kiev-4AM and Zorki-4K. These cameras represent the final era of Soviet camera technology and continue to inspire photographers around the world with their unique style and image quality.

In this article, we decided to choose two SLR cameras and two rangefinder cameras for you. Each of these Soviet 35mm cameras has its own advantages and distinctive features that will be useful for certain purposes. Let’s take a closer look at these cameras and find out which option is best for you.

The Best Soviet 35mm SLR Film Cameras


zenit 122 zenitar

Zenit-122 is a Soviet 35mm SLR camera that continued the famous Zenit series, symbolizing accessibility and reliability. Produced since the early 1990s, it is an improvement on previous models while maintaining classic design features and functionality. Equipped with a standard Zenit M42 mount, it is compatible with a wide range of lenses, allowing the photographer to experiment with different types of shooting. The camera has a mechanical shutter with a shutter speed range from 1/30 to 1/500 seconds, as well as a B mode. The built-in light meter ensures accurate exposure, which is important for obtaining high-quality images. Zenit-122 is ideal for beginner photographers due to its ease of use and versatility.


  • Versatility: Thanks to its compatibility with a wide range of lenses, Zenit-122 offers great possibilities for creativity.
  • Easy to use: Ideal for beginners thanks to its easy controls and intuitive settings.
  • Reliability: Despite common myths, the 122 model is a quite good camera in terms of reliability, especially considering that the camera was produced relatively recently.
  • Affordability: The relatively low price makes it an affordable choice for a wide range of photographers.


the best soviet 35 mm film camera

Kiev-19 is a Soviet SLR camera produced by the Kiev Optical-Mechanical Plant in the 1980s. This camera stands out among others for its combination of build quality, ergonomics and functionality. Equipped with a Nikon F-mount, the Kiev-19 allows the use of a wide range of high-quality lenses. The camera has a mechanical shutter with a shutter speed range from 1/2 to 1/500 seconds and a built-in exposure meter with an LED indicator, making it easier to select optimal exposure settings. Kiev-19 is ideal for photographers who want to combine classic shooting techniques with the ability to use some of the highest quality lenses made in the USSR.


  • Compatible with Nikon lenses: Provides the ability to use high-quality lenses with a wide range of focal lengths.
  • High-quality lenses: The Kiev-19 camera was equipped with probably the best lenses made in the Soviet Union.
  • Build quality: Sturdy and reliable, suitable for use in a variety of environments.
  • Ergonomics: Conveniently located controls allow you to focus on the shooting process.

The Best Soviet 35mm Rangefinder Film Cameras


the best soviet 35mm film camera

Kiev-4AM is a rangefinder camera produced since the 1970s. This model is a continuation of the famous Kiev line, known for its rangefinder cameras, which were valued for focusing accuracy and build quality. Kiev-4AM is equipped with a detachable Jupiter-8M 50mm f/2 lens, which is famous for its sharpness and good bokeh. The camera offers a shutter speed range from 1/2 to 1/1000 second. The Kontaks’ stylish, classic design, compact size and light weight make it convenient for travel and street photography. Kiev-4AM is an excellent choice for those who appreciate classics and strive for high image quality.


  • High focus accuracy: The rangefinder mechanism ensures precise focusing, which is critical for portrait and street photography.
  • Lens quality: Jupiter-8M is known for its sharpness and classic image quality.
  • Compact and lightweight: Ideal for travelers and street photographers.
  • Classic design: Elegant look and feel of classic photography.


Zorki-4k camera

Zorki-4K is a rangefinder camera that continues the traditions of the legendary Soviet rangefinder cameras. Produced since the mid-1970s, it is an improved version of the Zorki-4 model with the addition of a convenient film advance lever. This model is equipped with a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 lens and offers a shutter speed range from 1 to 1/1000 of a second. The Zorki-4K features reliability, rangefinder accuracy, and build quality, making it a popular choice among classic photography enthusiasts. The camera is ideal for portrait, street and landscape photography, offering the photographer complete control over the image creation process.


  • Compatible with a large number of lenses: Having an M39 thread, the Zorki camera is compatible with a huge number of rangefinder lenses for this thread.
  • Lens quality: Jupiter-8, like the Kiev camera, provides excellent image quality with good resolution and contrast.
  • Wide functionality: Unlike many other Soviet cameras, it has a good set of shutter speeds and classic ergonomics.
  • Durability and reliability: Zorki-4K is one of the last Soviet mechanical rangefinders that had wide functionality.

Which One Is Best For You?

The choice between Zenit-122, Kiev-19, Kiev-4AM and Zorki-4K depends on the personal preferences of the photographer and the specifics of his work.

The Zenit-122 is perfect for beginner photographers due to its simplicity and reliability, as well as the wide selection of lenses available, making it an ideal choice for learning the basics of photography and experimenting with different genres.

choosing the best soviet 35mm film camera
Zenit-122 photo example

The Kiev-19 is suitable for photographers looking for quality and compatibility with Nikon lenses, providing opportunities for more serious and creative work, especially in genres where control of depth of field and composition is important, such as portrait or landscape photography.

Kiev 19 photo
Kiev-19 photo example

The Kiev-4AM will appeal to those who value rangefinder focusing accuracy and ease of portability, making it an ideal tool for leisurely photography and travel. In addition, this film camera is ideal for those who want a truly stylish analog device.

kiev 4 photo
Kiev-4AM photo example

Finally, the Zorki-4K combines classic rangefinder capabilities with trigger-loading convenience, delivering great reliability and ease of use, making it a great choice for everyday shooters, street photography and those who prefer a classic approach to photography.

Zorki-4k photos
Zorki-4K photo example

Ultimately, each of these cameras offers a unique set of features that can satisfy the different needs and desires of photographers, from beginners to seasoned experts, as they explore the world through an analog camera lens.

Criterias of Choice

When choosing the best soviet 35mm film camera for you, it’s important to consider a number of factors that depend on your personal preferences, shooting style, and goals.

The first step is to decide on the type of camera: SLR cameras will offer you precise composition and a wide range of lenses, while rangefinder cameras stand out for their compactness and quiet operation. The lens system plays a key role, as the wide range of optics available allows you to expand your creative horizons. No less important are the criteria for the reliability and durability of the camera, especially if you plan to use it while traveling or in extreme conditions. Ease of use, including camera ergonomics and access to key functions, is also important to ensure comfortable shooting.

Preparing for shooting

Budget is a significant factor as the cost of analog cameras can vary significantly. Additionally, additional camera features and capabilities, such as light meter type, multiple exposure capabilities, and whether there is a built-in light meter, can greatly influence your choice.

On our website we have highlighted models such as Zenit-122, Kiev-19, Kiev-4AM and Zorki-4K as the best 35mm cameras, taking into account their build quality, reliability and unique opportunities for creativity. These cameras are an excellent choice for photographers who value the traditions and quality of Soviet camera technology.

Zenit-BM Helios 44M

However, we understand that each photographer has their own selection criteria based on individual needs and preferences. Therefore, we recommend that you carefully review the different models and their features to find the camera that will perfectly suit your needs and help you realize your creative potential. Eventually, the best camera for you is the one that meets your unique needs and helps you develop your photography skills.

Buying Your Best Soviet 35mm Film Camera

When purchasing Soviet 35mm film cameras such as Zenit-122, Kiev-19, Kiev-4AM and Zorki-4K, it is important to carefully inspect each part to ensure they are in good condition and functionality.

Start by inspecting the exterior of the case for scratches, dents, or other damage that may indicate abuse. Check the cleanliness of the lens and viewfinder and make sure they are free of dust, mildew and scratches, as this can significantly affect the quality of your images.

fim lens

Next, test the performance of the shutter and the correctness of switching shutter speeds to make sure that the shutter does not stick and the shutter speeds correspond to the specified ones. Smooth operation of the focus ring and aperture is also critical, as any binding or difficulty in adjustment may indicate a need for repair.

If your camera has a built-in light meter, check its functionality, although it is worth remembering that in older models it may not work due to outdated electronics.

The lens deserves special attention: make sure it is free of scratches and internal dust, as fungus inside can be a serious problem. Check the condition of the bayonet for damage and make sure that the lens is attached to the body without gaps.

fim camera shutter

Don’t forget accessories such as lens and body caps to protect your camera from damage. The presence of the original instructions and packaging can be an additional advantage, indicating careful handling of the camera.

Ask the seller about the origin of the camera and its history of use. This will give you an idea of potential problems and the overall health of the camera. If purchasing online, do not hesitate to request additional photos and detailed information about the condition of the camera.

In-person inspection is always preferred, but if this is not possible, please carefully review the information and photographs provided to make an informed choice.

film camera body


Having studied the features and advantages of such best Soviet 35mm film cameras as Zenit-122, Kiev-19, Kiev-4AM and Zorki-4K, it becomes clear why Soviet 35mm cameras continue to be in high demand among amateur and professional photographers.

At a very low price, these cameras offer decent photo quality and classic functionality. This is especially important in this day and age when film camera prices continue to rise and show no sign of stopping.

These 35mm Soviet film cameras will be of interest to both professional photographers and beginning fans of analog photography.

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