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Camera Zenit 35F review

Zenit 35F is, of course, a soap dish, but, interestingly, this is definitely a Soviet camera. It appeared in 1987 and was produced during the Soviet era. 

It is also interesting that the device was created, basically, with the expectation of export and all this was done by order of the English distribution company TOE.
Those. in the mid-80s, Soviet technology still had some kind of competitive position in foreign markets. It is clear that in the most budgetary segments, but still.

Zenit 35F is a new concept for the Soviet photographic industry, in which the classic photo-mechanics is reduced to a minimum, almost to zero, but electronics are present. Those. this is an ordinary soap dish.

Soviet designers (with the best of intentions, of course) instilled in users the ability to focus and control shutter speed / aperture to the last.

And abroad, the mass user chose devices with a fixed focus. And with the simplest automatic exposure control, that is, practically without it. But, on the other hand, with flashes and with motors.

In my opinion, the Soviet photographic industry finally lost both the domestic and foreign markets, not because it did not manage to make a professional DSLR, but because it did not make a high-quality and inexpensive motorized soap box with a wide angle and fixed focus in time.

In 1987, there was still a chance to jump on the train. Although small.

Flash units, for example, for Zenit-35F, the company bought first Polish ones, and then, when there were complaints about their quality, they began to buy Asian ones. Domestic industry could not make a miniature flash with the required leading number.

In addition, the TOE importer undertook to provide the company with packaging materials. And when the question arose about the release of colored cases, TOE began to supply a special paint. The quality of the domestic customer did not suit.

But, we are distracted.

Now, I say enterprise. And what kind of company produced Zenit 35F? Interestingly, it was LOMO.

Given that, as you understand, "Zenit" was a registered trademark of KMZ.

The fact is that KMZ and LOMO, of course, competed, but the management of the industry was the same.
More funds were spent in promoting the Zenit brand in the West, and this sign was more recognizable.

The release of the new device was supposed to be mainly for export, and the distributor TOE demanded that the cameras be under the Zenit brand. This should have increased sales.

The management of the industry logically agreed and allowed LOMO to use the KMZ mark.


Incidentally, this is not the only example. Here is a LOMO compact machine labeled "ZENIT".


But Zenit-80 (aka Salute from Arsenal)

The very first batches of Zenit 35F were released in two body colors - black and red. The customer insisted on a variety of colors, and blue and green hulls were also mentioned in the literature. However, there are only black and red photos of devices.

The name on Zenit 35F has always been written in Latin only. There are known, however, cases of hitting the sale of devices without a name at all.


The first red issues had a pale body color. The paint was domestic. This photoshows an early copy autographed by the designer N.I. Panchenko.

Another distinctive feature of early releases is the flash-ready indicator window made of whitish plastic. Later, the plastic was tinted yellow.


Later red models were painted with English paint, which was brighter and more glossy.
In the book “The era of LOMO. Cameras and People ”describes an interesting bike. At the enterprise, of course, they stole and high-quality paint was no exception. One of the employees "privatized" so much of it that it was enough to paint the car.


Simultaneously with the Zenit 35F, a more sophisticated model Zenit 35FM with a motor drive and automatic flash activation was developed. Such devices were produced from 1989 to 1992, and the volume of production ranged from 500 to several thousand copies in different sources.

The device turned out to be successful, and the noiselessness of its engine was appreciated by the special services, for which a special Zenit 35AFM model was created.


On the basis of Zenit 35FM, the Aquacon-2 underwater camera was created.


There is also an upgraded version of the Zenit 35F called the Zenit 35F-1 (or very rarely seen as the LOMO 35F-1). In this model, shutter speed was reduced to 1/80 and 1 sensitivity value was added at 1000 ISO. The release of the model was 4.8 thousand units.


At the beginning of the 90s, the Zenit 35F ceased to satisfy the Western consumer and the camera was reoriented to the domestic market under the name LOMO 35F.

Here's a story. Now let's look at a specific instance with the number 9005790.

Camera Zenit 35F

Zenit 35F was produced at LOMO from 1987 to 1992. The volume of the issue is about 75 thousand copies.

A lens with a focal length of 35 mm consists of two lenses and is coated. The lens does not have its own name.

No focusing required. The lens is rigidly exposed to the GFR.

There are 3 apertures available. At the same time, the diaphragm changes implicitly, and when you select one of the sensitivity options for the film loaded into the apparatus with a special selector:
  • - 100 units GOST corresponds to the diaphragm 5.6;
  • - 200 units GOST corresponds to aperture 8;
  • - 400 units GOST corresponds to aperture 11.

The diaphragm has 3 blades.


The shutter is a central, two-leaf, lens-type. The only exposure is 1/125.
It is important to emphasize that after loading the film and choosing the sensitivity, exposure parameters such as shutter speed and aperture do not change at all. One combination is used for all plots.

Zenit 35F is equipped with a photoresistor-based exposure meter. True, the functionality of this automation is greatly curtailed. All she can do is to light a warning light in the viewfinder when there is insufficient light. This is the signal to turn on the flash.

The exposure meter has no direct effect on exposure control. The flash is manually activated, and when it is on, it will fire anyway.

As already mentioned, the Zenit 35F has a built-in flash with a guide number of 9 for 100 film. GOST. You can find out what a leading number is from a dedicated article.

The device does not have a self-timer.

The weight of my copy without batteries is 263 grams.

Control elements:

The device is quite compact, although not the most compact of the Soviet ones. The body is plastic, the back wall is metal. It is quite convenient to hold it in your hands, there is a small influx under the fingers on the right front.





and the photo next to Zenit 35F devices: Elikon-35SM, LOMO Compact-automatic machine, Agat-18, Kiev-35A.

A soap dish would have liked the roundness of the shapes, but specifically in the 80s, this option looked good.


At the front of the body, the lens is hidden in a rectangular protrusion. No focusing is required, so direct access to the lens is not required.
The device was not supplied with a case, therefore, during transportation, the front lens of the objective is closed with a shutter.


To the right of the lens is a switch that, when moved down, opens the lens barrier and turns on the exposure meter.

To the left of the lens is the film speed selector. Still to the left is the round window of the photoresistor.
There is a front viewfinder window above the lens, and a flash reflector to the left of the viewfinder. The slide button that turns on the flash is located just below the reflector.


From behind, from left to right, we see:
  • - yellowish flash ready indicator;
  • - viewfinder eyepiece;
  • - shutter release button for rewind;
  • - ribbed wheel for moving the frame and cocking the shutter, which is also available on the right end of the body.
The Zenit 35F viewfinder is normal for such a device. Nothing special, the picture is small and light. There are no framing frames. In low light, a bright lamp lights up on the left.

The flash takes a very long time to charge. My copy spends on this business under 30 seconds. Although it had fresh modern batteries.



The bottom is just the battery cover and 1/4 inch tripod socket. Batteries need two AA pieces.
On the top panel there is a rewind tape measure, a shutter button and a small window for the frame counter.
Rear door latch on the left side. The door hinges to the right.



Camera attitude

Well, I probably won't sing the praises of Zenith 35F. The apparatus is very simple. Rather, childish. By the way, I think that the Zenith 35F to the west was delivered exactly as an option for children.

But who said it was bad? It was a new, actively developing segment of consumers. What previously required knowledge and skills became available to everyone.

Of course, the concept needed to be developed. Electronics evolves faster than mechanics. An urgent need for a motor, and in both directions, and at least some kind of automation in the exposure control. The Zenit 35FM would be a good milestone, but it was almost never released. I think they just didn't pull it. There was an ambush with electronics. And it was not possible to jump into the train….
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