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Komsomolets camera review and instructions

Komsomolets is an early post-war Soviet medium format camera. The device is mirrored, which does not prevent it from being a scaler, and this is quite amusing.

Before the Great Patriotic War, there was another Komsomolets apparatus. This was the name of the simplified version of the ARFO-4 apparatus. It was a folding camera for 6.5x9 cm photographic plates. Now we are not talking about it.
We're talking about a post-war TLR camera.

Visually, our Komsomolets is similar to the well-known Amateur series, and this is not surprising, since The amateur was created on the basis of the Komsomolets design.

But, in order.

Even before the Great Patriotic War, GOMZ (the future LOMO) produced several models of cameras for different types of photographic materials.

Models of Photocor # 1, Tourist and Reporter were produced for the plates. For a narrow film type 135, there are massive Lilliputians and Malyutka and a very small number of Pioneers (Leica copy, similar to the pre-war FED).

Until the Second World War, GOMZ could not develop and launch a medium format camera. Although such attempts were made, after all, the average film format type 120 at that time made it possible to combine in one camera both sufficient resolution and mobility of a film apparatus.

As for the historical specifics, the information is contradictory. In the book “The era of LOMO. Cameras and People ”is given, as an example, a prototype of the medium format TLR device Start.

It is said about the device that its design was completed in 1936 and that the device is a replica of the German Zeiss Ikon 6x6.

GOMZ tested several chtlytajhvfnys [constructions, but in this case we are interested in the TLR variant.

Probably the prototype was such a model Zeiss Ikon Ikofkeks. This is my guess, but I am weak in imported equipment. Perhaps I am mistaken.
However, in the book "1200 Cameras from the USSR" the Start prototype is attributed to the end of the 50s.

I don’t know whom to believe.
On the one hand, Aidas Pikiotas, it seems, should be more immersed in the question, because his book is specialized on the history of LOMO. And the fact that Viktor Suglob has inaccuracies is widely known.

On the other hand, I think that the 1936 GOMZ replica should have had more resemblance to the original, essentially copying it. In those years, the USSR did not have its own design school, and in terms of photo novelties, for a start, it simply copied more progressive Germans.

And Start looks quite technologically advanced for the prototype of those years.

In general, it is not clear.

Let us take, therefore, simply for the fact that attempts to create a medium format apparatus before the Second World War at GOMZ were unsuccessful.

Further, already during the Second World War in 1944 (probably) a single, and from 1946 - mass production of the new Komsomolets camera began.

Komsomolets is the first post-war Soviet amateur camera assembled exclusively from domestic components.

As a prototype, however, the German Voigtlander Brillant was again used. Perhaps some such model

Komsomolets is made according to the TLR scheme, it has two lenses. Upper lens for sighting, lower lens for shooting.

The top lens is not used in any way during focusing. It only serves to define the frame boundaries. Focusing is performed on the distance scale on the shooting lens.
Komsomolets was produced in several versions. A detailed description of all modifications is beyond the scope of this article and I will focus only on the most basic ones.

It is not difficult to find out the year of release of a competitive copy of Komsomolets. The year was indicated in the first two digits of the number on the front slice of the lens.

The most interesting, in my opinion, are the first issues of 1946-47. The devices of these years had a frame counter on the right side panel ..

There was also a red window at the back to control the markings on the film leader, and was shifted to the left.

The shooting lens was mounted on T-21 6,3 / 80. Another interesting feature was that the right panel was removable (fastened with screws).
The frame counter proved to be unreliable and was soon abandoned. In total, about 28 thousand copies of Komsomolets cameras were produced with a counter.

From 1947 to 1949, cameras were produced without a counter, with a central location of a red window. Plus small changes in appearance.

Such devices were called Komsomolets Model A, but the inscription “Model A” on the device itself on the top cover is rare, only on issues of 1948. Photo from

In 1949, Komsomolets received a new T-22 6.3 / 75 lens.
The volume of Komsomolets Model A issue amounted to 270 thousand copies.

In 1947, the Komsomolets-2 project was prepared, but did not go into series. Photo from the book “The era of LOMO. Cameras and People ”.

Komsomolets-2 is already a full-fledged SLR camera. The lenses are linked and sharpened at the same time. Focus is controlled through the upper lens on frosted glass.
The shooting lens is faster than T-22 4.5 / 75. The new shutter hit the shutter speeds from 1 to 1/150.

The quality of the new shutter could not be brought to an acceptable level, and Komsomolets-2 was produced in the amount of only a few prototypes. The project was canceled.

In 1950, the final model was released - Komsomolets Model B. The new shutter ZT-5 beat off 5 automatic exposures: 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and manual V.The lens left the same T-22 6.3 / 75. The external design has changed a bit. The apparatus was still scaled.
The inscription "Model B" was not applied to the body - it was indicated only in the descriptions.

About 35 thousand of such devices were produced, and then, in 1950, the Komsomolets line was curtailed.

Komsomolets was replaced in 1950 by Lubitel

Now Komsomolets is quite rare. Although, if you are not tied to specific modifications, then the selection of an option for a collection cannot be called an overly complicated and expensive project.

Today the review presents a copy of Komsomolets of 1948 in excellent condition under the number 48108588. We will consider it.

Komsomolets camera
Komsomolets was produced at GOMZ from 1946 to 1950. There is information about a limited edition since 1944, i.e. even during the Second World War. The total production of all Komsomolets models was about 300 thousand copies.

The device is medium format. Designed for film type 120 and forms frames with a format of 60x60 mm.

Komsomolets is built according to the TLR scheme, i.e. This is a dual lens reflex camera. At the same time, the apparatus is scale.

The shooting lens in this case is T-21 6.3 / 80. Aperture limit f16.

The shutter is central, it hits the shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and V.

Synchronization and self-timer are not provided on Komsomolets.

The weight of my copy is 536 grams.

Control elements

In size and visually, Komsomolets is almost indistinguishable from the Amateur. The body is in the form of a vertical parallelepiped. Ergonomics is not that bad, the question is simply not worth it.

There are two lenses on the front panel and all exposure controls at the bottom of the bottom. More about them later.

Under the lower lens, the stamped inscription "Leningrad" is visible.

On the right side there is a film feed head. There is no frame cutoff on this model. The user rotates the head and controls the appearance of the frame border mark visually - through the red round window in the back wall. There is no shutter on the window.

Film type 120 has a paper leader over its entire length, on which numbers and marks of frame boundaries are applied. Rakord does not transmit light, and therefore no flare occurs.

The feed head locks when turned in the wrong direction.

On the left side there is a compartment for two light filters. The compartment is covered with a lid that can be rotated.

The attached instructions say that the filters are purchased separately on request.

I think that in some, at least, editions the filters were complete, tk. a lot of photos of Komsomolets with both nests filled. I don’t think that amateurs bought filters separately so often.

Bottom is a 3/8 '' tripod socket.

In the upper part of Komsomolets there is a foldable viewfinder shaft. Latch at the back. If you flip the top cover forward, then the rear and then the side walls of the viewfinder will rise on the springs.

The mirror viewfinder should be looked vertically downward, holding the camera at chest level or slightly below.

The viewfinder picture is very large and very bright. Of the negative aspects - "left" and "right", of course, are confused and in general, out of habit, it is not easy to keep the device straight.

Due to the fact that the unit is scaled, the mirror viewfinder does not offer any particular advantages. In addition to it, a frame viewfinder is also provided on Komsomolets.

There is a small rectangular window in the back wall of the shaft. The central part of the front wall can be tilted back and locked. This is how the front bezel will turn out.
The main controls are grouped around the lens.

The shutter speeds are switched by rotating the ribbed ring.

There is a leash to the left of the lens to change the aperture. The scale is on the left cylindrical part of the lens base. To the right of the leash there is a pointer for aperture selection.

The shutter is cocked traditionally. On the right, there is a cocking lever that needs to be moved down. Slightly lower is the trigger lever. You need to press on it with your thumb.

A little lower is the slot for the release cable.

The entire lens must be rotated to focus. Two stop screws limit its rotation at 1.5 meters and at infinity.
There is no depth of field scale, but Komsomolets is adapted for shooting with a focus on the GFR.
There are red dots on the scales of distances (between 6 and 10 meters) and apertures (between f11 and f16). If you set everything according to them, then the acceptable sharpness (by the standards of that time, of course) will be in the entire space from 4 meters to infinity.

To open the device, you need to snap off the plates of the two spring latches from the top to the back. The back and lower parts of the device can be folded down in one piece.
The take-up spool, by the way, is made of wood!

Camera attitude

As a collector, I am, of course, very pleased to have a copy of Komsomolets. There are no questions here.

Let's take a look at this device from this side.

Mirror scale. Why?! Without the ability to focus, the presence of a mirror viewfinder does not provide any advantages over the same frame viewfinder. Well, okay, the frame is quite simple, but it certainly doesn't work against the most ordinary telescopic! In this case, the design of the apparatus is still more complicated.

I think that a mirror scale makes sense, for example, as a budget simplified version of a full-fledged TLR camera in parallel.

In this case, unnecessary changes in the design are, on the contrary, additional costs. It is better to unify the conveyor as much as possible, reducing all the differences to 2-3 interchangeable blocks.

Something like that.

In the USSR, Komsomolets existed on its own for a long time. It feels like it was made like a short springboard in front of a full-fledged DSLR, but something went wrong and the "jump" was delayed.

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