Week 46: Zenit

I had some pictures of friends and their youngster, but after asking if they would be ok with me posting them, they hestitated, being worried about posting photos on the web (understandable).  So half this roll is off-limits as it turns out, so only a few decent shots to choose from.

I was shooting Portra 160 with my 1950s-era Zenit 3m with an Industar 50mm/3.5 pancake lens or my big bazooka Helios 40-1 85mm/1.5.  The Helios is an incredible lens, but man it is heavy.  It is also pretty imposing, looking as large as a modern 28-135 zoom, but much heavier.  People notice it.  The 3m has a strange mount, a M39.  Later Zenits, like my Zenit B, use a more typical M42 mount.  They are all pretty rugged cameras and of the two examples I have, both seem to be spot on in their shutter speeds and have no light leaks or issues at all. It does take a little getting used to the film counting mechanism (still not sure I have that worked out 100%) and the film take-up spool.  But they inexpensive, fully manual cameras, and the lens availability, esp with the M42 mount cameras, is excellent.

The Zenit with the pancake lens is a really nice, walk-around camera, but one of the things I don’t like about the lens is the f-stop.  On a film camera, I want to set my f-stop and have it stay set.  Setting the aperture on the Industar is a smooth turn, with no click-detents, so it can be easy to knock it out of your selected aperture.  With a dSLR and this lens fitted though, it is easy to use in aperture-priority and just glide from stop to stop or anyplace in between.  And it is a tiny lens, the smallest physical lens including the lens for my tiny Leitz-Minolta CL.  The Helios, in contrast, has a way to set the aperture, and then open-up wide for focusing and easily stop it down to take the shot.  That also takes a little getting used to as it is a ring on the front of the lens, so you set the aperture, twist a different aperture ring to wide-open, focus, and stop it back down.  But with my dSLR this is like the best of both worlds.  I can set it at, say, f8, and then just move the other aperture ring from stopped down at f8 to open at f1.5 or anyplace in between.

Here is a (digital) shot of the 3m with the pancake lens.

Zenit 3m

Zenit 3m

Enough yapping, on to the photos…

Industar, great colors

Industar, great colors

Helios 40-1

Helios 40-1, cold morning

Helios 40-1

Helios 40-1, last of the dogwood color

Let me take a selfie

Let me take a selfie

Helios 40-1

Helios 40-1, red oak, brown leaves

All developed at home, Jobo C-41 Press Kit.  As the weather has turned colder where I live, developing color film is almost a luxury.  Get the sink prepped for a hot water bath, stand over the steaming water as you eyeball the thermometer, watching it slowly climb to the required 102F/39C.  I’m not sure why I was ever intimidated by color processing, it is super-simple.  And the best thing, I can process 100,160, 200, 400, 800, all in the same tank at the same time.

7 thoughts on “Week 46: Zenit

    • Yes, from what I’ve heard, quality control is hit or miss. Both of mine work great, except in cold, when both have had issues with the mirror. They both lock the mirror up when you shoot, then drop it on when you advance the film. I have 2 Helios and 2 Industar lens, and they are all excellent, but I might have gotten lucky.

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      • The lenses I got with the cameras are great…I sold one for 5x what I paid for the set so not complaining. They are cheap in Europe at flea markets so I will keep buying if they have lens attached. M42 holds little interest for me, mostly a fun curiosity.

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