The development and production of cameras was carried out by the Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Association until 1989. The Almaz-103 model was produced most massively from 1982 to 1986: according to official data, 9508 copies were produced.
The entire family was developed as the first domestic system camera, by analogy with existing foreign prototypes. This modular design allows you to quickly create any configuration suitable for solving a wide range of professional tasks. Almaz-103, like all other cameras in the family, had the ability to change lenses attached via a modern bayonet mount, change the type of viewfinder and focusing screen, as well as use replaceable dating covers and large-capacity attachment cassettes. For the first time on a domestic camera, the possibility of using an attached electric drive was realized. A relative innovation was the use in the design of a lamellar shutter with vertical movement of the curtains, which had previously been rarely used in the Soviet camera industry. The whole range of applied technical solutions in the aggregate was unprecedented for the domestic photographic industry, focused mainly on the production of mass amateur cameras. The complex original design required a fundamentally new technological level and production culture.
The type of photographic material used is 135 type film in standard cassettes. Frame size 24 × 36 mm.
The body is metal, with an opening rear wall, a hidden lock. The back wall can be easily separated from the body if necessary.
Trigger cocking of the shutter and film rewind. The trigger has a transport and working position. Automatic self-resetting frame counter. Film rewind - roulette head. It is possible to disable film transport and multiple shooting per frame (multiple exposure).
Mechanical focal plane shutter with two pairs of metal louvres, movement along the short side of the frame.
On the bottom panel of the camera there is a half-coupling and electrical contacts for connecting an attached motor. The mechanical connection of the trigger mechanism with the drive was not provided for by the Almazov design, so even prototypes of motor drives allowed only time-lapse shooting in Winder mode to be realized.
Synchronization speed: 1/60 sec and slower - for electronic flash units, shorter than 1/60 sec - for disposable cube type (long burning). There are two sync contacts "X" and "FP" on the body. On devices of later releases, only the sync contact "X" is left.
On the body of the camera there is no clip for attaching the flash. The flash unit is mounted on a removable bracket. To synchronize the flash with only the central sync contact, the bracket is connected to the camera via an electric cable with two connectors.
Tripod socket thread 1/4 inch.
Viewfinder with removable pentaprism and interchangeable focusing screens. The threaded barrel of the viewfinder eyepiece ring can be unscrewed and replaced with a rubber eyecup. Installation of a diopter lens (for photographer's vision correction) is permissible. The viewfinder is good, bright and reflects 94% of the frame area.
The focusing screen built into the camera can be changed, the device even has a button that unlocks the lock holding the screen. The screens themselves are even more rare than the Almaz-103 camera itself. The standard screen has a Fresnel lens, Microshot and Doden wedges.
Why hasn't the good idea of creating a professional camera found its way?
The camera was developed as a modular design. It was planned that this would facilitate and speed up repairs by quickly replacing an entire module. But this is what turned out to be the weak link of a professional camera. The designers did not take into account that after such a repair, an expensive and time-consuming adjustment of all interblock connections would be required. The qualifications of the workers who assembled the complex camera were inadequate. In August 1985, due to a large percentage of complaints, the production of "Almaz-103" was temporarily suspended.