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Camera Zorkiy-S review

In 1955-56, the Soviet photo industry experienced a massive introduction of sync contacts into new cameras.

The leader in the number of new products and manufacturability of solutions is KMZ.

In 1955, at the KMZ, the synchronizer was simultaneously (!!!) received by all the models of cameras for narrow film produced by that time at the enterprise. So, Zorkiy-S, Zorkiy-2S, Zorkiy-3S, and even Zenit-S appeared.

As it is not difficult to guess, the letter “C” in the name was indicated for the presence of a sync contact in the camera.

It is interesting that the previous models without a synchrocontact - continue to be produced in parallel for some time - a year or two. Therefore, in 1955-56, the range of KMZ products for narrow film was nine models of cameras. Seven Vigilant and two Zeniths.

Let's also not forget that in 1955, Moscow-4 came out - also with a wired synchro-contact.

Other businesses were not far behind.

In the same 1955, Smena-2 and Lubitel-2 came out - both with a synchrocontact, and in 1956 - Leningrad, of course, also with it.

On the FED, flash synchronization also appeared in 1956 after an upgrade of the second model.

That's right - a lot at once. It is felt that there was a single plan for the development of the photo industry. And, as they say, they followed it.

Why did I call KMZ the leader in terms of manufacturability?

All new devices from KMZ had a synchronizer with an adjustable flash ignition lead time.

LOMO implemented this option a little later - in 1956 in Leningrad. Smena-2 and Lubitel-2 (and Moscow-4 from KMZ) did not have lead adjustments, but they have central shutters. Here the situation is slightly different.

On the FED-2 with a curtain shutter, the synchrocontact appeared in 1956 immediately without adjustment.

Let us now understand a little about the relevance of synchrocontacts in general at that time and in adjusting the lead in particular.

First, was it fundamentally possible for users to use flash before the advent of the sync contact?

Of course it was.

How was the synchronization done?

Manually - at shutter speed B.

Hereinafter, these are my technical assumptions. Who has real data on the use of outbreaks in the periods described, please share.

But I will continue.

On flash calculators, there are 3 factors - sensitivity, aperture and distance. Exposure is not taken into account (although they are all synchronized on the central shutters). Simply, it was assumed that the exposure that the film receives outside the flash burn time is negligible.

Therefore, hold down the shutter button at shutter speed B and activate the flash. Something like this.

What outbreaks were common in the USSR? Interested in the 50s, but we will start from the period before the Second World War - from the end of the 30s.

Well, first of all, I don't think outbreaks were common at all.

Although photography in the Soviet Union was a fairly mass hobby (recall children's pre-war cameras), and the issue of the sensitivity of photographic materials was very acute, it still seems to me that not everyone could afford a flash.

Secondly, it is likely that magnesium flashes still dominated. Photo from

In the 1930s, disposable flash lamps were already mass-produced abroad. Inside such a lamp is aluminum or magnesium foil in an oxygen environment. There is also a filament coated with a highly flammable compound.

When current is passed through the lamp contacts, the filament becomes hot, the composition ignites and ignites the foil. The foil, burning in an oxygen environment, gives a bright flash.

The general principle is similar to magnesium flashes, but the products of combustion (smoke, sparks, smell) - everything remains in a glass bulb and does not get outside.

I think that in the USSR, imported lamps were scarce and expensive. Only professionals from institutions could use these.

I have several similar lamps (imported, unfortunately, and more modern) and there is no lamp for them.

The Soviet version of the lamp for disposable lamps also existed. It was called FO-1v. Both photos are from the web.

When this outbreak appeared - I do not know, but a number of sources indicate 40-50 years.

Therefore, it is quite possible that before the Second World War in the USSR there were no own flashes with disposable lamps - only imported ones.

Okay, moving on to the 50s.

The first Soviet electronic flashlight Lightning EV-1 of the MELZ factory appeared in 1955. Coincidence? I don't think :o)

More models followed.
1957 - Kharkov Luch-57
1959 - Tallinn NormaFIL-1

Here are the specifications of the Lightning EV-1:
– Power supply: 300V from a 330-EVMTSG-1000 biscuit battery
– Synchronization: PC contact
– Guide number (125 GOST units): 28
– Radiation angle -50 degrees, readiness time 5-10 s
– Number of impulses from a galette battery: from 1000 to 1500
– Light pulse duration – 1\2000 s
- ceiling diameter - 145 mm
- handle diameter - 53 mm
- height - 230 mm
- weight: 0.7 kg; weight with battery: 2 kg

What did amateur photographers of the USSR use for lighting before the start of mass production of Soviet electronic flashes, i.e. the whole end of the forties - the beginning of the 50s?
Again, I think that flashes at the amateur level were still used quite rarely.

Abroad, electronic flash units have been mass-produced since 1945-46. But besides the understandable difficulties with the purchase of imported and expensive equipment, the user also faced a banal inconvenience of use.
In 1956, the film “Case No. 306” produced by Mosfilm was released on the screens of the country. When this movie was being shot, electronic flashlights had not yet been produced in the USSR. So a flash appeared on the Soviet screen, very similar to the GDR Blaupunkt Reporter. Its technology was borrowed from the West Germans (this is the Mannesmann Multiblitz Press flash). In the film, the actors were filmed with a non-working flash. This product weighed 4.76 kg, and with an external power supply - almost 8 kg, so the actress was pitied, and she was filmed with only the upper half of the product, without heavy batteries.

Like this. Flash. Eight kilos.

In general, until the mid-late 50s, Soviet amateur photographers did not have electronic flashes.

What happened? Magnesium powder has most likely already left the scene. Well, it's kind of dangerous.

Probably, it was then that the system with disposable FO-1v lamps became relatively common.

By the way, to set fire to a disposable lamp, you do not need batteries with a high voltage. If you paid attention, then the battery for Lightning EV-1 gives 300 volts (!!!) This is the weight, the price, and the risk, I guess.

I don’t know, can such a battery be electrocuted?

To ignite a disposable lamp, 4-5 volts is enough, and the battery is placed in the handle.

How did flashes synchronize before the mid-50s?

In the photo from FO-1v above, several models of external synchronizers are visible.

Only now it seems to me that a similar synchronizer from KMZ was still produced later - already in the 60s. However, I don't have any hard data on this. Information in the sources is very scarce.

And in the illustration (probably from the instructions) - the complete external synchronizer is not shown.

According to the passport, such a synchronizer with one-time flashes ensures correct operation with shutter speeds no shorter than 1/25 and in any case requires individual adjustment.

Therefore, it seems to me that they were often synchronized still manually on V.

Finally, in the mid-1950s, impulse flashes appeared.

For example, Luch-57 even already fully implied installation in a bracket for camera accessories. Illustrations from

I will not say, but I will assume that the first Lightning EV-1 was regularly attached only to the bracket.

In general, progress has been made, and since 1955, Soviet devices have acquired synchronizers.

Synchronizers without lead adjustment were designed only for electronic pulse flashes. It is clear that in the 55th, and even on Smena-2, this was only a reserve for such a solid future. Although, the plan for the strategic development of the industry was carried out, of course, clearly.

But there were still very few electronic flashes. Disposable lamps were still in use for a long time. That's what they need to adjust the lead.

Let me explain a little what it is. To begin with, on the example of a curtain shutter.

I think many people know that when working out short shutter speeds, the second curtain starts to close the frame window earlier than the first - it has finished moving and completely opened it.

In fact, a gap between the curtains “passes” in front of the frame window. This is done because the speed of the curtains is technologically limited and the first curtain simply does not have time to open the window during the time allotted for a very short shutter speed. Those. the shutter just moves longer than the shutter speed lasts.

Therefore, the duration of short exposures is set by the width of the gap between the moving shutters.

The “burning” time of a pulsed flash is very short. The duration of the light pulse of Lightning EV-1 is 1\2000 s. This is the shortest of all exposures at the time.

If the flash fires when the gap between the curtains passes through the frame, then only some part of the frame will be exposed.

Therefore, the concept of “synchronization shutter speed” appears - this is the shortest shutter speed at which the second curtain starts moving only at the moment when the first one has already fully opened the window. Those. at this shutter speed, there is a moment when the frame window is fully open.

It is at this very moment that the flash should fire. Neither earlier nor later. This moment lasts, of course, less time than the synchronization shutter speed itself. The timing must be very precise.

Responsible for the exact response time - synchronizer.

The central shutters open fully at any shutter speed, but the flash should still fire exactly at the moment of full opening.

With disposable flashes, everything is both a little easier and more complicated at the same time.

It's easier - because the lamp burns out, of course, quickly, but still, its burning time is much longer than that of a pulsed flash.

Harder, here's why. If an electronic flash fires conditionally instantly, then a disposable lamp needs time for its contents to flare up at full strength.

Those. you need to set fire to such a lamp a little earlier than the frame window is fully opened.

Different lamps have different time required to ruin. It was indicated on the packaging. The synchronizer on the camera made it possible to adjust the ignition of the lamp ahead of time exactly at this particular time.

For example, with Zorkiy-S, you can set the lead time from 5 to 25 milliseconds. Lead 0 is used for pulsed flashes.

Let's summarize.

The appearance of synchronizers in Soviet cameras from 1955-56 did not mean that it was possible in principle to use flashes. This possibility has existed before. Although, over, it became more convenient.

Soviet-made electronic flashes that can synchronize without preemption appeared exactly at the same time. But it took some time to fill the market, and the prices were, like everything new and complex, solid.

Therefore, devices with a simpler synchronizer were able to implement this functionality - only apparently much later. And I think they didn’t really want to buy the latest electronic flash for the budget Smena-2.

The new line of KMZ devices with adjustable synchronizers, on the one hand, was designed, among other things, for obsolete lamp flashes, on the other hand, it made it possible to use an existing set of flashes comfortably, correctly and without adjustment.

Well, and considering that flashes of the late 50s are now a GREAT rarity, unlike cameras, I will still assume that the use of flashes was not an everyday thing then.

By the way, the external synchronizer at KMZ was produced exactly until 1966, at least. Until that time, the enterprise, so to speak, supported the operation of cameras without a sync contact.

Possibility to adjust lead time, i.e. use a variety of disposable flash lamps - remained on Leningrad devices - until 1968, and Zorkiy-4, at least until 1967 (I have it and I can make sure), and possibly until 1973 (production has been discontinued).

But, at the same time, starting with the Kristall apparatus (1962) and further - to Zenit-3M, Zenit-E, Zenit-EM, i.e. until 1985 - on these devices there was a simplified possibility of adjusting the lead, from only two positions - for impulse flashes and for disposable ones.

Here, I wonder why such a simplification was introduced? Have disposable lamps been standardized in terms of burn-in time, or have they left an unclaimed option for show?

I think the second. If disposable lamps were actively used in the 60-70s, there would be significantly more of them now. Lamps, at least.

On the Zorki, on the models Zorki-5 (since 1958), Zorki-6, and Zorki-4K (until 1978), the synchronizer setting was also already simplified.

Something like this, and we return to Zorkom-S.

Over the years of release, there have been several modifications of this camera, but a detailed description of them, as always, is beyond the scope of this article.

I will briefly dwell only on the main differences between the modifications.

First, there are three engraving options on the top panel. In the review - the second option, and earlier and later - in the photo from

Secondly, in very early modifications, the knurling on the heads was vertical. A later and massive version is vertical-horizontal knurling (like the device in the review). Photo of early Zorkiy-S from There were cases with heads with different knurling on the same machine.

Thirdly, on the occasion of the World Festival of Youth and Students taking place in Moscow in 1957, a limited batch of Zorkih-S was released in specially designed boxes with such an engraving on the back wall. Photo from

And, finally, fourthly, the body of the devices could be covered with both traditional vulcanite and leatherette. Moreover, in some (quite rare) cases, leatherette could be colored. In this photo it is green.

Green Zorkiy-S I will show later in the format of a brief photo review.

Zorkiy-S was produced for a short time. Already in 1958, it was turned in favor of the Zorkiy-2S, which was distinguished by the presence of a self-timer. By 1961, all rangefinders with the letter S were curtailed. The ruler was unified in the Zorkiy-4 chamber, which combined all the advantages of the previous variations.

Now Zorkiy-S is not uncommon, if we are not talking about a particular variant. Early, festival and color versions are, of course, much less common, because. they are actively hunted by collectors.

Today we are reviewing a copy of Zorkiy-S in excellent condition, 1956 with the number 56066613.

Camera Zorkiy-S
Zorkiy-S was produced at KMZ from 1955 to 1958. The volume of issue was about 472 thousand copies.

The standard lens is a folding Industar-22 3.5 / 50.

The viewfinder is not aligned with the rangefinder.

Rangefinder base 38 mm.

Type of mounting optics - thread M39×1. Working length 28.8 mm.

Shutter - curtain, cloth, beats shutter speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500, V.

If you press the shutter button and turn the rewind lever at shutter speed B, you will get a slow shutter speed D.

The camera is equipped with a sync contact with adjustable flash pre-ignition time. Self-timer - no.

3/8" tripod socket.

The weight of my copy with a regular lens is 542 grams.


If the addition of the self-timer in the Zorkiy-2 model almost did not change the appearance of the device, well, except for the appearance of the lever, from the most noticeable, then the synchrocontact has transformed the device much more strongly.

Zorki-S has become substantially taller. The shape of the upper body part has changed a lot. Apparently, the synchronizer with adjustable lead is a rather large node.

Also, compared to the first Zorki, the shutter speed head has changed. In Zorky-S, it has a fixed central part, i.e. shutter speeds can now be changed both when the shutter is cocked and when the shutter is released.

Instead of a lever to turn off the shutter during rewind, the device received a rotary sleeve around the release button.

These changes are similar to Zorkom-2, which was released a year earlier.

In front, in addition to the lens, three windows are visible.

In the center - rectangular - this is the viewfinder. On the sides are round - a rangefinder. Rangefinder base 38 mm.

Yes, the viewfinder of Zorkogo-S is still not aligned with the rangefinder. To take a picture, you need to perform approximately the following actions: Looking into the viewfinder - select the desired distance for composing the frame. Looking into the rangefinder - focus on the desired object. Once again looking into the viewfinder - finally position the frame boundaries in accordance with the composition.

Those. often required several times to attach the eye to the viewfinder, then to the rangefinder.

Behind, respectively, two eyes.

Right - from the viewfinder. The viewfinder of the first Zorkoy-S gives a small (x0.44 magnification), but quite bright and clear picture.

Left - from the rangefinder. The image in the rangefinder is round, has a real scale and a rather narrow field of view. The picture in the rangefinder does not give an idea about the boundaries of the frame.

The picture in the rangefinder is slightly tinted blue. The central area, in which, in fact, the two images are superimposed, is lighter and slightly yellowish.

In general, the rangefinder is quite comfortable to use.
The main controls are concentrated on the top panel.

From left to right are:
- rewind lifting head;
- "cold" bracket for flashes;
- shutter speed head and lead time regulator under it;
- Shutter button with a sleeve to turn off the shutter and turn on long exposure;
- head cocking the shutter and transporting a frame with a frame counter.

Shutter speeds change typically for devices of this type. To change the shutter speed, the head must be pulled up, rotated until the desired shutter speed is aligned with the dot in the central part of the head, and lowered.

When cocking the shutter, the head rotates, but the dot always indicates the set shutter speed, which is convenient.

You can change the shutter speed both before and after cocking the shutter.

On the bottom of the machine, there is a bottom cover lock (left) and an old standard 3/8-inch threaded tripod socket (right).

To load the film, you need to open the lock and remove the bottom panel. On the left, it is fixed with a lock, and on the right, it is put on a pin on the side of the device.

Attitude to the camera:

Zorki-S is a fairly typical camera for its time. When looking at it, I have more questions about the prevalence of outbreaks in general in the USSR in the second half of the 50s.

One gets the impression that these devices were still very rare. If someone can share their own experience or other reliable information, please write in the comments.

That's all I have

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