Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Zenit 3M (KMZ), 35mm SLR camera, c1963

Zenit 3M. Made in Russia by KMZ this camera traces its ancestry back to the Zorki 1, for it started out as development of that camera with a reflex mirror and prism housing added to produce one of the earlier SLRs with a prism. In that form it arrived in prototype form in 1951 and the production versions of what was then called the Zenit started in 1952. After several iterations, including an unloved version called the Cristall, the Zenit 3 arrived in 1959 and this version, the 3M, in 1962. This included the hinged back of the Cristall, finally abandonning the old Leica bottom loading method of the Zorki. Buried within the camera is essentially the same shutter mechanism dating from 1934, but now fitted with a lever advance and a few other niceties as well as standardized shutter speeds starting at 1/30th sec. Along the way it adopted flash sychnchronization, a delayed release and a decent, if weighty, lens. The lensmount still harks back to its Leica origins, being 39mm screw. Construction is a die cast alloy body, finished with black paint and man made covering. The top housing from pressed brass, matt chrome plated, and the hatch from pressed steel. Many of these cameras were exported from the former USSR and they crop up all over the world. The lens is a preset type, requiring the photographer to close it manually before making the exposure, and the mirror stays up afterwards, being reset as the film is advanced and shutter cocked with the advance lever. Herein lies one trap waiting to bite you. The F/2 Helios is an efficient lens and requires just two seconds to burn a hole in the shutter curtain should you allow bright sun to shine directly into the camera without the mirror down. We conducted an experiment in Sept 2019 to see how long it would take, using the lens from this camera and a piece of scrap shutter curtain.

This camera was acquired from a Welshpool market in July 2019 for a knockdown price as it had the burnt curtain issue. It was only a pin hole in the rubberized coating, the cloth base was still intact. The camera was given a cosmetic clean and the curtain repaired.

Further in depth material can be found on SovietCams.

Zenit 3M Camera
Body No. 63050613
Shutter, Cloth focal plane, B, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 500th
Lens, Helios-44, 58mm f/2
Condition, 5F
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