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Helios lens

Camera Zenit-412DX review

Zenit-412DX came out literally right after its predecessor - Zenit-312m, - a year later, - in 2000.

We should stop at this device if only because it completes the glorious 12th line of DSLRs from KMZ.
Yes, the 12th line began in 1977 with the Zenit-TTL apparatus, and ended in 2005 with the Zenit-412DX.
28 years old, however.

Someone will say that after Zenit-412DX another camera came out - Zenit-412LS and he should be given the title of the last in the lineup, and he will, in general, be right.

But there is almost no difference between Zenit-412DX and -412LS, these are just modifications of the same device. I do not have the LS version and I will talk about Zenit-412DX as a collective image of these two cameras. Moreover, their release was completed at the same time.

So, what's so new about Zenit-412DX?

Technically, this device is no different from Zenit-312m, except for one interesting detail - the new device does not require manual adjustment of the film sensitivity.
Zenit-412DX sets the sensitivity itself, based on the DX-code printed on the film cassette.

DX code on film

Everyone knows what DX-code is, but I will still give you a little help.

The DX Film Coding System was introduced by Kodak in 1983 to achieve greater automation of the shooting and post-processing of film.

The "DX" index itself has never been deciphered by Kodak, but there is a simple and logical version that DX is Digital indeX, i.e. digital index.

The metal cassette with DX-code has 12 areas: either painted with black insulating paint, or unpainted - electrically conductive contacts. The combination of conductive and non-conductive areas allows the camera control system to know the parameters of the film loaded into the camera.

Zones 1 and 7 (see the picture of the cassette) are always conductive, these are common contacts - "ground", although they are not necessarily used.

The fields form two rows.

The first row encodes the film speed. The second row is the number of frames and the permissible deviation from the nominal exposure.

This plate from WIKI shows exactly how the encoding works.

Using this information, it's pretty funny to yourself to determine, for example, that this picture shows a cassette with ISO 400 film and a length of 24 frames.
An important feature of the DX standard is that devices with different requirements for information about the film can have a different number of readout contacts, up to only two, for example.

At the same time, the awareness of the device will decrease, but the general principle will remain the same.

In 2000, the segment of budget cameras in Russia was long and firmly captured by Japanese soap boxes, which operated with DX codes with might and main.

All commercially available films were already imported and supplied with DX codes.

Was it still possible to buy a domestically produced film without the DX-code back then?

Here's an interesting question. For myself, at least I will say so.

By 2000, in the city of Khabarovsk, in which I lived at that time, all the shops in which I purchased photographic goods in Soviet times were physically closed. Therefore, I believe that it was impossible to acquire domestic photographic film.

I can also responsibly declare that such a thought would not have occurred to me then.

Under these conditions, "teach" Zenith to read the DX-code was a matter for KMZ as obvious, as not obligatory, in fact.

I think the designers themselves were pleased to finally introduce at least some kind of electronic novelty into their device.

So, 3 contacts for reading the DX-code appeared in the film compartment, and the sensitivity selector disappeared from the top panel of the device.
With its three contacts, Zenit-412DX could determine the sensitivity of 100, 200 and 400 units.
If it was impossible to determine the sensitivity, the device took it for 100 units.

At the same time, the sensitivity adopted by the device for calculating the exposure is not displayed anywhere and this fact strains with its uncertainty.

In 2002, a modification of the Zenit-412LS was released. LS stands for Long Scale or Long System. Photo from

The device had 4 contacts and could perceive more DX-code values, namely the range of 25-1600 ISO.
In addition to the LS index, a lettering on the tailgate indicated the extended range.

True, as an ordinary amateur photographer, to be honest, I do not remember on sale in those days films with a sensitivity outside the range of 100, 200, 400 units of ISO.

Therefore, the appearance of Zenit-412LS, it was, I think, a purely image-building thing for the enterprise. After all, even Zenit-312m allowed setting the sensitivity in a wider range, so the capabilities of Zenit-412DX were formally narrower.

Although in reality it is clear that people who used film from the Zenit-412LS range would hardly be interested in this device.

Another modification of the device is mentioned on the KMZ resource - Zenit-412MS. "MS" stands for Milli Second, i.e. millisecond, i.e. the device was supposed to have a shutter speed of 1/1000.

What…. Marketing as a science had already been taught for a long time.

But the device itself did not appear, and not even a photo remained from the project.

Let's move on to inspect my copy.

Zenit-412DX camera
The Zenit-412DX camera was produced at KMZ from 2000 to 2005. The LS version was produced from 2002 to 2005. The volume of production was 21 thousand and 25 thousand copies, respectively, which, given the circumstances, is quite a lot, in fact.
The standard lenses were from a new series that replaced the 44th Helios - one of MS Zenitar-M 2/50, MS Zenitar-M2 2/50, MS Zenitar-M2s 2/50

Lens mount - thread М42 × 1. The working distance is 45.5 mm. Blinking aperture supported.

The shutter is made of fabric, focal-plane with a horizontal movement. Beats shutter speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, V.

Flash sync 1/30 through center sync pin. Wired sync was removed.

Viewfinder image field size - 20 × 28 mm or 65% of the frame area.

Eyepiece magnification - 5X.

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

The device is equipped with a self-timer.

The weight of my copy without the lens is 536 grams.

Externally, Zenit-412DX is very similar to its predecessor - Zenit-312m, however, if you put them side by side, the differences are visible. Even in the contours of the hull.

Apparently, by the 2000s, changing the shape of the case was already relatively easy and they used it.

The fact is that there is no sensitivity selector on the Zenit-412DX on the left in the upper part of the case. But if you just remove it, then a flat area will remain, which is not very beautiful.

Therefore, on the new device, the pentaprism casing falls to the edges even more gently and smoothly, along the way flowing around the rewind tape and the shutter speed head.

Thanks to this, the apparatus looks even more inflated, almost spherical.

The plastic of the case has changed. And by the way, although I can't say that it looks more expensive, it has become very decent for my taste. In general, with tz. I have no complaints about the quality of my copy.

With tz. ergonomics - nothing has changed against the 312. Not bad, but not for everybody. The flow under the fingers in the front right is really comfortable.

Among the shortcomings (for me) is the traditionally shifted back release button (it is the same for the entire 12th line), to which you need to significantly reach.

The front panel on the right contains the indicator and the self-timer button.

The system has already become traditional with a winding wheel on the right side of the device.

At the back is the viewfinder eyepiece, and to the left of it is a plastic rotary battery cover with a cut for a coin.

The device is designed for writing from two SC-32 elements.

On the topic of selecting a replacement for Soviet batteries, I have a special article.
The viewfinder is similar to the Zenit-312m with all the understandable shortcomings of the entire 12th series. We will not repeat ourselves.

On the frame of the viewfinder, 3 LEDs are vertically located on the right. Two red and green in between. 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.

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

Above the Zenit-412DX from left to right are:
- rewind roulette;
- bracket for flashes with synchrocontact;
- the head of excerpts;
- release button;
- in front of the shutter button there is a plastic retractable shutter release button for rewinding;
- the head of the shutter cocking and transporting the frame with the trigger;
- a small window of the frame counter.
The trigger is plastic, has no transport position.

The shutter button travel is long and quite tight at the beginning of the travel.

The calculation of the exposure on Zenit-412DX is as follows:

1. We insert the cassette with the DX-code into the device and hope that the contacts are not oxidized.

2. We direct the camera to the subject and press the shutter button to some tangible stop, but not completely.

The blinking aperture is closed and the electronic light metering and exposure calculation is activated. The light level is measured at the working diaphragm.

4. We look at the LEDs in the viewfinder.

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

If the red bottom is on, there is little light. You need to either increase the shutter speed or open the aperture.

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

The best exposure is when the middle, green LED is on. Or when any change in shutter speed or aperture turns off one red LED and turns on the other.

When the optimum is reached, we press the shutter button.

The back wall lock is hidden; to open it, you need to pull up the rewind knob.

The photo clearly shows 3 contacts for reading the DX-code.

Attitude towards the camera.

In general, I have a positive attitude to technology borrowing. If DX coding has spread all over the world, it means "we must take it."

On the other hand, of all the manipulations with an analog device, setting the sensitivity is perhaps the operation that personally causes the least difficulty for me.

Self-resetting counters, at one time, were, - yes, - heavenly manna. I kept forgetting. And DX sensitivity hasn't made any revolution in usability.

Moreover, there is really a risk that the device does not read the code due to oxidized, for example, contact, and you never know. The system works silently and is not going to inform about anything.

Here is an excerpt 1/1000 of the innovations would look much more relevant, because film at 200 ISO was the most popular option in 2000, and on the street with 200 film and 500 exposure it is not very comfortable.

In general, the trick with the DX-code looked already very tortured in those years. Alas, the 12th series has never acquired any other electronics during its evolution.

And by the way, if you decide to shoot on ancient film with modern devices, then the DX-code can be made by yourself. Immediately with the necessary correction for the decrease in sensitivity. And the Net has instructions.

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