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Helios lens

Review of the camera Start (KMZ)

In the 50s, in the USSR, a golden era began for manufacturers of photographic equipment. Cameras were designed and produced for almost everyone. Anyone could buy Smena, FED rangefinders without any problems. Zorkiy and Kiev cameras for more demanding and wealthy consumers. Medium format rangefinder "Moscow" ... And the new Zenith SLR cameras in the 50s, even if they did not make a splash, took a huge place in the hearts of millions of amateur photographers. And for a very long time they remained the ultimate dream.

The idea to create a DSLR camera of a higher class than Zenith was in the air. But very quickly it was embodied in metal and glass under the name "Start". The is unique in many ways.

However, this was not created from scratch. Many units and the principle of operation was the same as on Zenit-3. A bayonet similar to the Exacta. The design is copied from ourselves. Judging extremely roughly, it is possible to draw a parallel between the rangefinder conveyor and the mirror conveyor (KMZ). Zenith (1 and C) were built on the basis of the Zorky rangefinder, and the Start has an external resemblance to the Zorky-5 and 6. From the world (conveyors) along the line - the Start of the detail. But the high-aperture (bayonet) lens Helios44 was offered as a standard one for the first time. Although, again, it was not something outrageous, it was possible to purchase a threaded G44 as an additional lens to any zenith. Such a set of donors is caused by the maximum unification in order to reduce the cost of an already expensive design.

The START camera was primarily intended for newspaper and magazine reporters, and then for photographers and demanding amateur photographers. But the camera could not boast of great demand, moreover, it never found its consumer. For reporters, it turned out that the question of the actual weight of the camera became critical. Photographers had complaints about ergonomics, especially the release button. And for many amateur photographers, "Start" has always remained an outrageous dream, the price was much higher than the simpler and relatively affordable Zenith.


  • SLR camera 24 × 36mm.
  • The lens mount is a bayonet type of a union nut.
  • slit closure
  • Excerpts 1000-500-250-125-60-30-2-1 "V".
  • Jumping aperture.
  • The mirror reflects 97% of the frame.
  • Interchangeable viewfinders.
  • Doden wedge focusing.
  • Built-in blade for cutting off the spent frame.
  • Includes adapter for lenses with M42 screw mount.
  • Standard lens Helios 44 (bayonet).
  • Weight: 1100g.

First impression:

The camera is really heavy. The chamber block was made, or rather poured under pressure from an aluminum alloy. That ensured the high strength of the entire system. Thanks to its smooth contours, the Start fits securely in the right hand and does not cause discomfort. The camera cannot be called a brick either, only the prism of the viewfinder interrupts the smooth contours with its angular appearance. At the same time, it only emphasizes the overall style.

The shutter button is also worth mentioning, it is located on the front side of the camera. Moreover, the stock lens serves as a continuation of this button, having a more convenient button associated with the aperture jumper ... The shutter release button is pressed softly, but has a long stroke.

In detail:

Bayonet mount optics. It would seem a right step towards practicality, and most importantly, a quick change of lenses. Especially true for reporters. To securely fix the lenses in the bayonet, a union (clamping) nut was used. It's a paradox, but in the USSR only one bayonet lens was produced for the camera, at that time the promising Helios 44.

Having foreseen in advance that lenses with such a bayonet mount would not be on stream soon, the KMZ equipped the camera with an adapter ring. It allows you to mount lenses with an M39 screw mount on the "START". This significantly increased the fleet of optics.

Helios 44, standard high-aperture lens for "Start" camera. Technically competently cut, the aperture value is switched stepwise.

Focusing is smooth and more comfortable than on a threaded sample (m39). And also there is a jump rope. All diaphragm blades, except for the slave, have blackening, while the slave itself is blued. There is an opinion that the glasses for the starting helios were selected and adjusted more carefully. Looking at Helios44 (m39) and Helios44 (Start), it is extremely difficult to find something in common other than technical characteristics. Depending on the year of manufacture, there are two varieties of G44 (start), differing in the number of aperture blades.

The viewfinder displays 97% of the frame, in the field of view  Kliniya Doden.

It is possible to install a shaft instead of the standard viewfinder, which expands the shooting capabilities. For example, for a secret photo session or in a crowd. Turning the camera upside down, and then lifting it up, you can look into the shaft to focus on the desired object ...

Of the obvious shortcomings, sticking mirrors can be emphasized, this is a legacy from the Zenith (1, C, 3). The fact is that the mirror lowers the nylon thread when the shutter is cocked. And after pressing the shutter button, the mirror does not return. But even this disadvantage can be turned into advantages. Since you can immediately determine whether the shutter is cocked or not. But the thread itself loses its tension over time. And the mirror drive unit itself is extremely difficult to repair.

Cloth slit shutter has a wide range of shutter speeds, from 1000 to 1 sec and "B". That was already a breakthrough for the USSR in the field of mirror photography. Moreover, it has come down to production. The shutter click is much quieter, there is no bounce inherent in future Zeniths. Due to the forced shutter system, the curtain leads often did not live up to our time and broke off, as a rule, they were simply sewn in the workshop since there was no rem. sets. The bowl jams the shutter mechanism, thereby causing major repairs.


The camera has the ability to install a supplying film cassette and a receiving one (empty). Thus, it was no longer necessary to rewind the tape, since the footage was hidden in the receiving cassette. Also, the camera was equipped with a blade inside the camera for cutting off the captured film, this helped to save money.

A photographer, having shot, for example, 3 frames, wants to print photographs, but there are still 33 frames left in the coil. The dilemma remains, wait until the film ends or sacrifice the remaining frames. This is where the blade and the second take-up spool come in. Having shot the required number of frames, the author cuts off the film and rewinds it to the receiving reel. Then he changes to a new receiving cassette and continues to photograph.
A turret was created especially for Start. It is firmly attached to the camera and allows you to quickly change the installed one of the three lenses (m39).
Rem suitability:

As mentioned above, the mirror drive is the main headache, not every good craftsman will undertake to repair this unit. The same goes for mirror alignment.

The fabric shutter is reliable, but I really don't like 1000 exposure, the curtain leashes are torn. But the mechanics, on the contrary, can jam at long exposures. What the repair entails.

Lubrication on gears survives to this day not in the best consistency, if possible, it needs to be updated. The usual one will not work, you need not very viscous and resistant to low temperatures. Since at subzero temperatures, the grease turns into plasticine and the shutter will no longer fulfill the required shutter speed properly.

In rare cases, the shutter release button on the lens lets you down, a complex mechanism that activates the shutter and aperture jumper can be difficult to repair.

There is nothing more to break in the camera.


Camera Start is a serious machine with a decent set of features. Not everything was successful in it, and in the future they planned to release Start-2 (prototype). This already meant that the KMZ is working on the errors and in the future, most likely, the camera would have lost its main design flaws. The project killed off low demand and high prices.

In fact, the Start was supposed to serve as a springboard for the development of new zeniths, a starting point. Since demand dictated supply, an interesting and quite promising project did not go further than the START-2 prototype.

Today, this sample is a respectful old man who is not averse to shaking off the old. It is quite successful to take pictures with them even today, surprising others. But still, its place on the shelf is a tribute and respect to the masters and designers of KMZ.

P.S. There is an opinion: the camera received a unpromising bayonet coupled with a shutter release button. The opinion is controversial, although it is worth noting that the shutter button was indeed placed too close to the mount. Redesigning the entire system would have entailed high costs and that is why the project was not developed.
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