Do you have questions?
Write us! We will be happy to answer your questions within 12 hours!
Your question
Have a good day!
Helios lens

Camera Zenit-122V review

Once upon a time, about five years ago, I published a conspiracy post about the secret meaning of the letter "B" in the indices of Soviet cameras.
As you, of course, know, in the names of Soviet cameras, in addition to the digital index, one or two more letters were often indicated. Additional letters marked the model, which seemed to be similar, but with slight differences.

There was no strict index application policy. Often, a letter was simply added to the name, for example “M”, although in another example a new full-fledged model was “born” and with smaller differences.

The letter "M" is useful. It means that we are dealing with an upgraded model. For example, Zenit-3M, Zenit-EM, Zenit-AM, Zorkiy-3M, Kyiv-4M, Kyiv-19M, etc.

Yes, the quality of modernization sometimes left much to be desired, but the letter "M" is a symbol of development and progress. And everyone understands its meaning.

But the letter "B" is, on the contrary, a symbol of regression. It was put on simplified models of cameras. Moreover, there is no data on why exactly “B”, what this letter specifically means.

In the comments to that ancient post, readers offer several interesting versions of the transcripts. Go see it, it's fun. But no one has offered a definitive or official version.

It is also interesting that several enterprises at once marked simplified cameras with the letter “B”, and for a rather long period of time. I now know Lubitel-166V, FED-5V, Zenit-122V and Zenit-V.

There is another version with the name about the latter, but I adhere to the conspiracy theory in this case.


I did not have a Zenit-122V apparatus for a long time. Among similar models, I always tried to get the more technically advanced version into the collection first. But now the time has come.

Today we are considering Zenit-122V.

The simplification of this device is that it does not have a self-timer. The self-timer is a unit that KMZ did not produce on its own, but purchased from the watch factory. In the 1990s, communications between enterprises began to break and self-timer mechanisms became scarce.

Therefore, part of the release of Zenit-122 was without a self-timer. And these devices were called Zenit-122V.

Let's take a closer look at the camera.

Camera Zenit-122V
The Zenit-122 camera was produced at KMZ from 1990 to 2005. I have no information about the release of Zenit-122V specifically.

SLR camera.

The standard lens is Helios-44M-X 2/58 of various modifications, both coated and not.

Lens mount - M42 × 1 thread. Working length - 45.5 mm. Blinking aperture supported.

The shutter is made of cloth, curtain-slit with a horizontal stroke. Beats shutter speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, V.

Flash synchronization at 1/30 wired and through the central sync contact.

The size of the viewfinder image field is 20 × 28 mm or 65% of the frame area.

Eyepiece magnification - 5X.

Focusing screen type - Fresnel lens with frosted ring, microraster, Doden wedges

The device is not equipped with a self-timer.

The weight of my copy without a lens is 540 grams.


Zenit-122V differs from the base model only in the direct absence of a self-timer to the right of the lens. In place of the self-timer, at least my copy has a smooth rectangular area.

The body covers are all the same plastic. The quality of the plastic is low, the rear door backlash and creaks.

At the same time, on the case of the 122nd model there are ergonomic bulges and holding the device may not be as pleasant as the previous models, but it is much more convenient.

On the front panel on the right you can see the socket of the wired sync contact. The nest is located close to the plastic casing of the mirror shaft. I assume that not every flash plug could be connected in this position of the socket.

Behind is the viewfinder eyepiece, and to the left of it is a swivel battery cover with a coin cut.

The device is designed for writing from two elements of the STs-32.

On the topic of choosing a replacement for Soviet batteries, I have a special article.

Zenit-122V inherited its viewfinder, in general, from Zenit-E with all its atavisms of twenty-five years ago. The viewfinder covers only 65% ​​of the frame area and the picture in it is relatively small.

But Doden's wedges are available. There are 3 LEDs located vertically on the frame of the viewfinder, on the right. 2 red around the edges and green in the center. This is a semi-automatic exposure control system.

The system is activated by half-pressing the shutter button. If the button is not pressed, the system is disabled and does not drain the batteries.

At the bottom of the device is only a tripod socket. It is in the lower part of the mirror shaft exactly along the axis of the lens.

From the top of the Zenith-122V from left to right are:
— film sensitivity selector with a rewind tape placed in the center;
- bracket for flashes with a sync contact;
- shutter speed head;
- release button;
- in front of the shutter button there is a plastic sinking shutter release button for rewinding;
- head cocking the shutter and transporting the frame;
- a small frame counter window.

Due to the swollen casing of the pentaprism, the shutter speed head is partially recessed into this casing. Switching shutter speeds has become a little less convenient.

The trigger is plastic, does not have a transport position and is rather protruding backwards. I think the triggers often broke.

There is only one GOST / ISO sensitivity scale on the selector.

Exposure calculation on Zenith-122V is as follows:

1. On the selector it is necessary to set the sensitivity of the film loaded into the camera.

2. We point the device at the subject and press the shutter button until it reaches a certain tangible stop, but not completely.

The blinking aperture is covered and the electronic system for measuring light and calculating exposure is turned on. The light level is measured at the working aperture.

4. We look at the viewfinder at the LEDs.

If the top is on, there is a lot of light. You need to either reduce the shutter speed or cover the aperture.

If the lower one is on, there is little light. Either increase the shutter speed or open the aperture.

You can change both shutter speed and aperture with the half-pressed shutter button, i.e. aperture will change immediately in the working position, and exposure metering will work.

The optimal exposure is when the green LED lights up.

It's also normal if any change in exposure turns off one red LED and turns on the other, but the green one doesn't turn on.

The rear wall lock is hidden, to open it, you need to pull up the rewind knob.
Attitude towards the camera

Zenit-122V is a product of the 90s. A device with reduced functionality, but without any logic of creating some simplified and therefore budget model. Well, there were no self-timers available.

And where is it easier and more budgetary? It is interesting that at about the same time, in the line of higher-level Zenit-AM, the Zenit-AM2 model was also produced without a self-timer. This time there was no letter "B", but, I think, only because the index "-AMB" would have looked quite strange.

But the fact is that Zenith-AM self-timer is electronic and does not depend on the supply of the watch factory.

Either they unified the logic of the rulers, or there were also difficulties with electronic components, not only with mechanics.

I also have a detailed video tutorial on how to use the Zenit-122. The only difference is that the Zenith-122V does not have a self-timer. The rest you may find useful!
That's all for me.

Made on