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This time - a Zenit-S from 1956

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by John Farrell, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I bought this last week on a local online auction. The seller said the mirror didn't work.
    When it arrived, I found that the mirror glass was broken, in addition to the mirror not cocking, and the camera also lacked a takeup spool - It's a bottom loader, like a Zorki or a prewar Leica.

    I have the instructions to replace the mirror cord - the mirror is operated by a pulley arrangement. There was a cord in the camera, which didn't look original, and was not installed correctly. I replaced it with a length of linen cord.

    I found a mirror in my selection of camera parts. It wasn't as deep as the original, and needed packing to match the original's thickness, but it works. I need to adjust the mirror position, though, to get correct infinity focus.

    gray1720, Gezza and steveandthedogs like this.
  2. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    The infinity focus has been adjusted. The mirror position is changed by movement of the 2 screws, seen in front of the prism, here.

    steveandthedogs likes this.
  3. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    You're beating it into a ploughshare?

    Seriously, it always amazes how anyone can happily grab a screwdriver and go diving this far into a camera's innards. Scares the daylights out of me.

    John Farrell likes this.
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Going in is not a problem.
  5. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I can second that! I was loony enough to try to learn on Prestor (not Prontor - Prestor!) shutters, and several patients died on the operating table before I got the hang. It's been a while now, I wouldn't be so confident today.

    I'm guessing that the Zenit is a relatively simple and well-documented shutter? It's certainly an interesting beast, you can see the Leica-copy (but which one? Zorki?) ancestry in the body shape with that mirror rather bolted on to the top.
    John Farrell likes this.
  6. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Yes, the Zenit is relatively simple - it's based on an early Zorki. Reputedly, the bottom cover will fit a prewar Leica. It's a surprisingly petite camera, the same length as a Pentax ME, and not as tall. Now what I need is a takeup spool, and I can try it with film. I have a collection of parts, from cameras I've scrapped, so I might see if there's a spool among them that will do the job.
    gray1720 likes this.
  7. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I have a takeup spool - Chris Sherlock gave me one, from a scrapped Leica. I had to grind a little off the end, for it to fit the Zenit. I loaded it with film, and tomorrow, I'll take it out shooting.
    gray1720 likes this.
  8. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    He's a top bloke - I think more of my Retina II came out of his part bin than the camera I sent him!
    John Farrell likes this.
  9. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    The second film I processed today was from the Zenit. Like the Praktiflex, this has a flary lens. It is capable of reasonable detail, though, if direct light is kept out of the field of view.


    steveandthedogs likes this.
  10. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I see what you mean - the difference is startling! I'm assuming it's an uncoated lens? Is it early enough to be the odd Zenit thread - what was it, 39mm, but a different pitch to LTM?
    John Farrell likes this.
  11. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Both this, and the Praktiflex lens are 50mm f3.5, both are coated. The Praktiflex lens is a Tessar, and the Zenit lens an Industar. The Industar has the same thread as a Leica, but the focal distance is different, to allow for the mirror box on the camera.
  12. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    Thanks - I knew there was a reason the early Zenit lenses were different, obviously hadn't remembered why!
  13. JMK

    JMK Well-Known Member

    It all depends I suppose on what you are used to. I have no mechanical training what so ever but after several attempts I learned (taught myself) how to strip, down and repair motorcycle gearboxes. I have not done one for many years now but taken in a methodical way they are relatively quite simple.

    UNLIKE computers, I can work one - sort of - learning to use photoshop is an ongoing process, and repairing one is out of the question. Basically if it moves slowly I can generally fix it, electrons are moving to fast so I can't
    John Farrell likes this.
  14. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Cameras are straightforward enough to fix, so long as you recognise your limitations. I've learned by experience that lens shutters are best sent off to a repair technician. Focal plane shutter cameras, though, are more straightforward, especially ones as simple as this Zenit. Someone had already, at some stage, replaced the shutter curtains, and done a very nice job. The problem here was the mirror cord (and the mirror). I have a copy of Maizenberg's Russian camera repair book, which gives instructions on cord replacement - it looked like someone had a go at it without instructions, didn't pretension a spring, and used a length of knitting wool as a cord.
    I learned how to work on mechanical things back in the 1970s, when I trained as a telephone exchange technician - very useful training.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  15. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    If something isn't working and is of small cash value it can't really be made any worse by having a go.

    I've always liked the Cyrillic script on the older Russian cameras.
  16. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    It depends on what you call "small cash value". I paid nearly 50 pounds for this camera - almost anything this old has been rising in value for some time. The original Zenit model, the one before this, is on Ebay for very high asking prices.
  17. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    £50 is not now a huge sum of money to anybody who is buying cameras. To somebody who is homeless it is. A repairer will charge more than you paid for it to repair it anyway.
  18. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Twenty years ago, I was able to buy unhappy film cameras - like a locked up Canon FT - for around 3 pounds...cameras like this have become fashionable. Doing my own repairs means I can save money.
  19. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    It can still be a fair amount of cash to someone interested in film cameras but on a very limited budget.

  20. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    Such a person would presumably go into this with no false illusions though.

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