Zenit-122 is a Soviet 35mm SLR camera with a TTL exposure meter manufactured by KMZ and BeloOMO plants from 1990 to 2005.
The team of Sovietcameras.org believes that the Zenit-122 camera is one of the best Soviet cameras, and in this article, we will tell you why this is really so. This pretty SLR camera has collected almost all the best that was created in the Soviet camera industry, so let’s talk about everything in turn.
- Type: 35mm SLR camera
- Manufacturer: BelOMO plant
- Production period: from 1990 to 2005
- Format: 24x36cm on 135 film
- Lens mount: m42 thread mount
- Lens: Helios-44m f2.0/58
- Viewfinder image field size: 20×28mm
- Shutter: focal-plane shutter with speeds from 1/30 to 1/500 sec.
- Viewfinder: SLR with non-removable pentaprism
- Lighmeter: built-in TTL light meter
- Flash synchronisation: sync socket “X”, sync speeds from 1/30 s and longer.
- Selftimer: mechanical
- Weight: 820 grams
Zenit-122 was equipped with Zenitar m2s or Helios-44M-X 2/58 lenses of various modifications. These lenses are a further improvement on the Helios-44 lens (which came with Zenit-3), which in turn was a copy of the German Carl Zeiss Biotar 2/58. If you look at the photographs taken with these lenses, you will realize that they are not much inferior to the German original.
These lenses allow you to take truly beautiful photographs. At an open aperture, Helios lenses produce a fairly sharp image and a wonderful characteristic swirling bokeh.
The camera has an M42 thread mount, which made it possible to use a huge number of different lenses produced in the USSR and outside the borders of this country.
The camera had a familiar shutter with shutter speeds of 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, and B. For the forties of the fifties, this is a good set of shutter speeds, but for the 90s this set of shutter speeds is already quite meager. This, in our opinion, is one of the few shortcomings of this beautiful Soviet camera.
Zenit-122 has a very convenient shutter advance lever and no less convenient film rewind crank. The camera also has a very convenient frame counter, which looks quite modern, in comparison with what was on Zenit-E and Zenit-TTL.
Zenit-122 is one of the last Soviet SLRs because all Zenits that were produced after it were already Russian. In addition, Zenit-122 is the last decent camera produced at the KMZ plant. All cameras produced at this factory after Zenit-122 are disgusting freaks, whose existence is a big mistake. Their appearance alone is depressing, and the build quality is even worse than that of all other Soviet cameras.
Zenit-122 is a decent camera. Despite the fact that the body is made of plastic, the build quality is still not as bad as in the latest models. The camera has a pretty good appearance, and the shape of the body helps to hold it in hands more conveniently.
In addition, the camera has a fairly bright viewfinder with ground glass and wedges. That is, you should not encounter problems while focusing with Zenit-122. Like Zenit-TTL, this model has a depth-of-field preview mechanism and a rather convenient TTL exposure meter.
But just like the previous Zenits, this model has a hopelessly outdated shutter with shutter speeds from 1/30 to 1/500. Against the background of Japanese, German, even Ukrainian Kiev cameras, this set of shutter speeds looked rather miserable.
The Soviet Union copied Japanese and German cameras quite successfully, and in light of this, it seems very strange that Soviet engineers could not copy a shutter with normal shutter speeds. And this is doubly upsetting because if this camera had a normal set of shutter speeds, it would become serious competitors to many Japanese or German cameras of those years.
So, what can we say about the Zenit-122 camera? Despite the huge number of minor flaws and frankly outdated engineering solutions, Zenit-122 is one of the best Soviet cameras. First of all, due to the fact that this is the newest Soviet camera, and most likely it will be easy for you to find it in good condition. Secondly, this is a fairly convenient camera, which has almost everything you need to solve the photographic tasks you face.
In addition, you can use with this camera a huge number of very cool Soviet lenses with an M42 threaded mouth, which provide simply amazing image quality, especially considering their low cost.