Zenit-3M film camera

05/11/2016 - 18:25
Zenit-3M film camera

Zenit-3M - Soviet small format single-lens reflex camera with manual exposure setting. It was produced in 1962-70 at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant in Russia.

The kit lens: Industar-50 3,5 / 50 or Helios-44 2/58 zebra.

Zenit-3M film camera in case

A solid leather trunk attracts attention. Made completely of thick leather (even part of the closing lens), it has retained its solid appearance in half a century. Of course, 50 years of life left their mark on the camera that fell into my hands. Scrapes and scratches appeared in some places. But the mechanic is reliable and sound and fulfills its functional purpose.

Zenit-3M upper view

Zenit-3M looks ascetic. All controls are simple and understandable. On the upper plane to the left is the rewind film handle without any fixation and protection against accidental rewind. With the simple scale of the film photosensitivity, marked by the old standard of GOST (soviet equivalent to ISO) (16-32-65-130-250), which not connecting with anything but serves just to remind the photographer which film he has loaded.

There is no flash holder on the camera. From above there is only a hill under the pentaprism of the viewfinder. To the right of it in its usual place is the handle for selecting exposures. It is also standard, no different from the handles of other Zenit or FED / Zorki.

The range of shutter speeds does not shine with diversity; there are only six speeds: B-30-60-125-250-500. There is traditional type of focal-plane two-curtain shutter.

Zenit-3M back view

To the right hand is the metal handle of the shutter lever. It makes a large arc somewhere at 230 degrees. The trigger rotates around the axis, in the center of which is the release button, and around on the disc is the frame counter. There is a small rewind button between the shutter-release ring and the speed ring.

All the reference points for which the camera is configured (for example, shutter speed) or the indicators (the frame counter) are so small and invisible that you first need to apply efforts to induct them (for example, from scratches and defects).

Zenit-3M front view

The front panel has only the lever of the self-timer, its button, and the sync flash connector. My camera has a Helios-44 2/58 lens with an M39 (zebra) landing thread and a single-layer clearing.


How to take pictures at Zenit-3M

Focusing is only possible on the matte screen. Rotate the lens focusing ring until the subject becomes clear. It is quite simple and convenient with good lighting. But if the illumination is small, it becomes difficult to sharpen the focus. For this reason, for maximum accuracy, you need to focus with a fully open aperture.

Zenit-3M side view

Zenit-3M can not automatically close the aperture to the selected value. This must be done manually. The lens has two rings - a pre-set aperture with a scale and the aperture ring itself. Before you take a picture, manually turn the diaphragm setting ring clockwise until it stops. Then the aperture will be close to the preset value set on the ring. It is difficult to do such manipulations each time after sharpening. If you are unaccustomed, you simply forget to do so, and shoot on the open diaphragm.

Zenit-3M with opened back lead
To load the film into the feeder compartment, first lift the film rewind knob.

The peculiarity of the camera is the sticking mirror in the raised state after shot. It drops only after the shutter is winded. You have to adapt yourself for this. It does not work out just aiming at the eye of the viewfinder. Once the shutter was winded on, you have to shoot. Do not hide the camera in a cover with a winded shutter - you can accidentally press the release button and spoil the frame.

Another drawback of the camera is the lack of a built-in exposure meter. You have to either to purchase a separate exposure meter or to exhibit the exposure "by eye" by going through trials and errors.

Zenit-3M with lens


Zenit-3M camera is probably one of the simplest DSLRs in the world. It has an ascetic set of speeds, simple focusing, no electrical circuits - just mechanics. Simplicity cause good reliability. Nothing will distract you from the realization of your creative intentions when shooting.


Examples taken by Zenit-3M camera

All examples are taken with a standard Helios-44 2/58 zebra lens. Film Kodak ColorPlus ISO 200. Development and scanning in photo lab.

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/8, 1/125

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/11, 1/125

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/4, 1/500

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/8, 1/250.

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/2, 1/500

Zenit-3M semple pictures
ISO 200, f/11, 1/250

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