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Zenit..... with ridiculously hefty price tags
Old 02-12-2016   #1
kbg32
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Zenit..... with ridiculously hefty price tags

http://petapixel.com/2016/02/12/russ...-leica-luxury/

".....Zenit will likely produced in much lower quantities, with much higher quality, and with ridiculously hefty price tags."
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Old 02-12-2016   #2
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If they add a bright viewfinder with decent coverage, I'll buy one to use my m42 glass. Something like a Bessaflex TM, would be nice !
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Old 02-12-2016   #3
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I find the comments on the linked article interesting - sweeping condemnations of Zenits, which seem to be based more on political prejudice than fact. My first SLR, in 1970, was a Zenit 3m, with the Helios f2 lens - it was all I could afford. It was capable of producing fine photographs. In the last few years I have aquired more Zenits, almost by accident. Most of them are still in working condition. They are relatively simple, rugged, and reasonably straightforward to work on.

I doubt, though, that they are the basis for competition with Leica.
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Old 02-12-2016   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
"... and with ridiculously hefty price tags."
I think this just means that they will price their gear by weight now.
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Old 02-12-2016   #5
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Nothing really wrong by aiming at the luxury market, that may be the only way to make money. But to do that buyers are buying into the image, which includes heritage.
Zenit does not have any luxury heritage, in fact, it is the opposite. Leica was luxury from day #1.

I'm not knocking Zenit's products, it's just that their game plan may be a bit flawed.
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Old 02-12-2016   #6
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Why don't they re-introduce an upgraded Zorki 4 rangefinder camera?


Much better than the very common Zenit SLR.
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Old 02-12-2016   #7
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By all means let's not wait till we see what they offer and exactly how much. Let's just trash them now.

The Lomo J3+ thread started the same way as this.
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Old 02-12-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
I worked with a lot of Zenits (teaching) and never thought of them as political.

How exactly does that work, the political aspect?
Were they reliable? (Technically, not politically....)
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Old 02-12-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
http://petapixel.com/2016/02/12/russ...-leica-luxury/

".....Zenit will likely produced in much lower quantities, with much higher quality, and with ridiculously hefty price tags."

yes indeed, I can see it now

"Lika Zenit?"
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Old 02-12-2016   #10
farlymac
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All I can say is, does this look like a photo made with a junk camera?

Zenit TTL
Helios 44-M 2/58

Notes Of Passing Through by P F McFarland, on Flickr

Granted, the meter doesn't work, but I can make do without.

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Old 02-12-2016   #11
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Old 02-12-2016   #12
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Hail the republic of soviet socialist republics!!!

Luxurious?

Will they be rangefinders? or those Zenit Slr´s dressed in furs and gold?

Remeber putin has lots of millionaires and they are chauviniskaia so will and fortune aren´t a problem...the arab millionaires are also ready to buy whatever is necessary to widen the gap tween poor and wealthy.
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Old 02-12-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
http://petapixel.com/2016/02/12/russ...-leica-luxury/

".....Zenit will likely produced in much lower quantities, with much higher quality, and with ridiculously hefty price tags."
Dear kbg,

All of those terms in that quote require far more definition to have meaning.

For example, if they made only 3 million that would represent a 75% reduction. If the quality doubled or tripled what would that mean in actual terms? Finally, ridiculously hefty price tag for whom, the average Russian, the average American, the average Chilean?

I won't buy one either way, but what you quoted doesn't mean anything without parameters.

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Tim Murphy
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Old 02-12-2016   #14
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When I was a kid in England I remember them only being bought by people who couldn't afford any other cameras. And they still were pretty rare. I think Prakticas were quite a bit more popular.
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Old 02-12-2016   #15
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Russia has made Yotaphone, competitor to iphone. Also Elbrus chip, to not depend on Intel and AMD. I'm sure they are able to produce camera, too. I'm waiting when Mr. Medvedev abandons his Leicas and switches to high quality Zenit.
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Old 02-13-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
When I was a kid in England I remember them only being bought by people who couldn't afford any other cameras. And they still were pretty rare. I think Prakticas were quite a bit more popular.
For three or four periods in the sixties and seventies (whenever they had a new model generation, made on fresh machinery, with extra attention to QC), Prakticas were fully up to the Japanese and quite considerably superior to West German consumer SLRs. I don't think the same could ever be said about Zenits...
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Old 02-13-2016   #17
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+1 to Sevo
Zenit are very simple and crude machines but since they are rather simple they are also easy to repair and not so easy to kill. The ideal educational tools cheap and repairable.

What I a missing in the article is the price tag, it is only an assumption made by the author and not fact.

If other companies under the Rostec umbrella would help in the development of the camera they can certainly make something that is as good or even better than Leica but I doubt that they will.
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Old 02-13-2016   #18
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Old 02-13-2016   #19
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My view of Soviet era Zenith is thus: the USSR wanted to prove that its socialism was inherently superior to the west and the inevitable conclusion to the progress of history. Every gain by the USSR was a victory for the progressive agenda. Zenits were sold in Europe below the actual cost to produce them in order to gain hard currency so that the USSR could gain hard currency to buy things that the rouble wouldn't buy. The Soviet economy was essentially a dual system: hard cash for the political elite and worthless money for the proletariat.

It couldn't survive.
The manufacturers were under pressure to meet quotas and not innovate, so a 1976 Zenith was 1962 electrical technology and 1940s engineering. Compared to an OM1, it was a piece of crap. People would save up, work harder, even go into debt to buy an OM1 because of the perceived status. (That's why Nikon systems worked so well, the perceived status... no amateur needed an F instead of a Nikkormat... but the status... ahhb)

So the Japanese out produced and out innovated everyone.... good for them and good for us. The Soviet command economy collapsed, as will all command economies eventually.

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Old 02-13-2016   #20
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It's more that the Soviet State wanted a tool that was financially available to everyone or at least a larger number of people at least early on that is. Later on is a different matter though.

I am also not so sure about the OM 1 outselling the Zenit. Olympus never was a really big player in the camera market. They made the best tool for microphotography though.

Regarding cameras Salgado started out and made some of his more famous early photographs with a Praktica not a Leica. Also the Pro-system 35mm SLR before the Nikon F was the Exakta see Hitchcock's rear window.
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Old 02-13-2016   #21
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Fred, the Sears Nicca Barnack copy camera (Tower brand) was not an inexpensive camera to buy new in the mid to late 1950s.

At 189 dollars with the f2 Nikkor 5cm lens it was slightly cheaper to buy than a new Leica IIIf camera with the Elmar 50mm lens.

The 1950s equivalent of 189 dollars is about 1600 dollars today.
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Old 02-13-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
You are confusing apples and oranges. The Yotaphone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip......
"And the Elbrus chip, built upon ancient 65nm technology (current Intel chips are at 14nm), can’t even execute the code natively, but must interpret it."
So what. Rostec hit by sanctions may have freed some resources so they are looking for opportunity. Why not rebadge some luxury brand camera, sold cheaper it would outperform original. As photo gear doesn't fall into sanctioned prod and tech list it would work (of course, high performance optics is strategic tech so no esoteric lenses there). And this is another chance to regain some status, question if that chance can be really used by corp like Rostec. So if that thing ever see light it should be either rebadge or another 65nm chip.

To be clear I'm not saying Russia isn't able to make camera. They probably are, but for me is hard to understand if right now and why now not 15 years before. Now they have some other quite different things on ASAP list.
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Old 02-13-2016   #23
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In my experience Russia (USSR) was very capable of making a fairly good camera. Simple - sure, but working just fine for most. Sure - quality control was not the best, so there was some junk. But after all - a huge population of USSR was using those and often for a long time and with good results. I think Zorki and Kiev cameras were valued better as higher quality ones. Zenits were more common. I have used all these brands (not all models though) and I can tell you - optically they were often very good. Mechanically - that was more of a lottery.
Do I think that Russia today can make something to compete with Leica - probably not. But what they can do is make some lenses to fit Leica and other popular mounts and it may actually work out. After all they did try to make a go with Kiev MF in a new clothes - Hartblei (I think that was a name) and some people were pretty happy with them, yet mechanical problems still existed. So, I think manual focus glass would be the only possibility IMO for them to get some attention from a photo community.
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Old 02-13-2016   #24
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Hi,

A lot of people could make something to compete with Leica but I haven't noticed them yet.

As for the old USSR wheren't they deliberately isolated and so had to bash on ploughing their own furrow, as we say. And, yes, command systems fail but just look where we are with the wonders of capitalism. Or aren't banks part of the capitalist system?

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Old 02-13-2016   #25
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Interesting list especially the price difference between the Exakta and the Contax. Before the war the Contax was way more expensive than the Leica.

So the eastern cameras weren't the least expensive bodies, something Zenit can build on
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Old 02-13-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
You are looking at a Tower 5, which was pretty costly because it was lever wind. But you will notice Sears will be glad to give the buyer credit, so the monthly cost is still quite low.

The difference in price between the Nicca and the Leica may seem low, but in reality it was a almost two weeks salary to my engineer dad (with an advanced degree) who only earned about 6k a year in 1960, before taxes.

I have all the Sears (USA) catalogs, but most likely too lazy to dig them all out.

OK decided to dig out the 1958 catalog with the $189 Tower in it, a Nicca 5L with Nikkor f2.

Leica 3g with a 50 f2 collapsible was $342.
M3 was $456 with F2, $495 with DR -- a big mental jump money-wise, unless you were a bachelor.
Nikon SP was $415 with a f 1.4 Nikkor. (the 58 catalog shows an SP in the photo, calls it an S2)
Canon L1 with f2 was $440.
Exacta IIa with 50 1.9 was $374.
Contax IIa with f2 was $298.
Contiflex with f 2.8 was $199.

The best bargain was the Tower (Pentax) 26 with f2.4 lens at $165.
Or if you wanted 4x4, the Rolleiflex with 60 3.5 was $149.

A brick from Argus, was only $66.50, and you got a case and flash.

Remember in 1958 there was no discounting, but dealers in NYC like Olden offered "trade-ins."
Actually I was looking at a Tower 48 aka Nicca 3-F second version with lever wind. Its predecessor, the Tower 3-S was similarly priced with the f2 Nikkor lens.

A lot of people confuse the Tower 48/Nicca 3-F lever wind with the costlier Nicca 5L/ Tower 45/46 (the number depended on the f 2 or f1.4 lens). The Nicca 5L/ Tower 45/46 had a hinged open back just like a Leica M camera and top shutter speed of 1/1000 instead of 1/500.
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Old 02-13-2016   #27
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The Tower 48 and the Tower 35 appear from the outside to be the same camera, both have lever wind, no hinged back alla Leica M and top shutter speed of 1/500 of a sec .

http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/iannorris..._t/tower48.htm

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sears-Tower-...item4d3f377d45


http://www.ebay.com/itm/TOWER-35-501...item1a0dc3cf45


I have a Tower 35 knob wind camera plus the Tower 45 and 46 and my favourite is the rare Nicca type 5 which I never did find its Tower equivalent, but it might exist as it exists re-badged as "Snyder" for an Australian photo store chain.

The Tower 45 came with the F2 Nikkor lens and the Tower 46 came with the black ring f1.4 Nikkor lens and this was factory correct and not a mish-mash.


I stupidly turned down buying a Yashica YF new in the box for a 100 dollars in 1987.
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Old 02-13-2016   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Murphy View Post
Dear kbg,

All of those terms in that quote require far more definition to have meaning.

For example, if they made only 3 million that would represent a 75% reduction. If the quality doubled or tripled what would that mean in actual terms? Finally, ridiculously hefty price tag for whom, the average Russian, the average American, the average Chilean?

I won't buy one either way, but what you quoted doesn't mean anything without parameters.

Regards,

Tim Murphy
Tim,

Did you read the link? I have nothing to do with Zenit. It is being compared to a luxury camera item as Leica.
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Old 02-13-2016   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photomoof View Post
The designation #48 only seems to appear in the catalog, and in the manual that Sears provided. But it is clearly earlier than the 45-46, and there appears to be no 47, although it could be something entirely different.

I cound not find #48 in the catalogs I have, but obviously Sears sold it. I may be missing a late 57 catalog, I have no list to compare with.
I suspect that Sears wanted to differentiate the lever wind feature from the same model ( a re-badged Nicca 3-F) that earlier had knob wind and later had lever wind but with the same name or designation as the knob wind original.

To us almost 60 years later, it just creates confusion.
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Old 02-14-2016   #30
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Hi,

Back to the topic, did the firm making the new Zenit camera say they were to compete with Leica at the luxury end of the market? Or was that added?

Certainly they will compete with Leica because Leica are the only other serious firm making a film camera. But that doesn't mean they are aiming at Leica. As I see it they are trying to reassure people that the camera will be a better one than their reputation deserves.

But - a big "but" btw - their reputation is based on their price, which is silly as it ought to be based on looking at prints taken with the cameras. And the fact that many Zenits from the early days have survived and are still in use suggests they may be a decent camera. Especially since I have noticed that few people seem to think they are worth repairing or checking and so on by a technician...

Lastly, way back when they (Zenit) were designed all cameras were big and clunky. Small and neat started years later with the sensational OM-1 and started all the other Japanese firms realising that they made big, heavy cameras. The result was that they started making smaller ones but Zenit didn't. So the word for Zenit is straight forward and slightly old fashioned, imo.

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Old 02-14-2016   #31
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In the original press release they said something like "a luxury good like a Leica". So Leica was more used as an example than as competition.

I admit I only read the google translation of the Press release so I could be mistaken.
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Old 02-14-2016   #32
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As far as I know early Zenits (the Zenit, the 3m, Kristall) were actually small. The original Zenit bottom loader was smaller than all it's successors - so they walked in the opposite direction compared to Japanese firms...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

Lastly, way back when they (Zenit) were designed all cameras were big and clunky. Small and neat started years later with the sensational OM-1 and started all the other Japanese firms realising that they made big, heavy cameras. The result was that they started making smaller ones but Zenit didn't. So the word for Zenit is straight forward and slightly old fashioned, imo.

Regards, David
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Old 02-14-2016   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
Tim,

Did you read the link? I have nothing to do with Zenit. It is being compared to a luxury camera item as Leica.
Dear Keith,

I did read the link. No price is mentioned anywhere? Without a price calling it ridiculously priced doesn't make sense to me. If it is $ 3000.00 then yes the price is ridiculous, but if it is $ 500.00 and the quality is there perhaps it's not so ridiculous? That's all I was trying to say. I'm sorry if that was misunderstood.

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Old 02-15-2016   #34
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I can't believe my eyes there is a discussion about this on RFF. I spent a bit of time reading some comments on Russian forums and they don't believe this will ever happen (new Zenit). A typical comment from one of Russian forums:

"We are here in Russia so tired of such statements like "we fly to the moon", then we construct the "E-mobil" (hybrid car project that never happened), then Zenit revival ... do not make laugh my Rotennberg and Chubais (Не смешите моих Ротеннбергов и Чубайсов - untranslatable joke reffering to the realities of bureaucracy and corruption in Russian business)"

As to the original Zenit... Well, I grew up in Soviet Union and Zenit was my first SLR. It was bad bad bad bad... All photojournalists and wedding photographers were shooting Canons or at least Eastern German Prakticas (the lowest acceptable threshold of quality). Unreliable, inaccurate, viewfinder so dark you can forget the accurate focusing... Cheap? Yes. And that's why the famous saying "not rich enough to buy cheap things" was so right about Russian cameras.

On Sunday I was on the local flea market in Vilnius (Lithuania). One guy was selling quite nice Zorki 4k with J8. How much, I asked. - 100EUR. I said - are you kidding me? He felt a bit embarassed and said - "well, that's for foreigners".
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Old 02-15-2016   #35
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Nice reply. Pretty much sums it all up...

Quote:
Originally Posted by valdas View Post
I can't believe my eyes there is a discussion about this on RFF. I spent a bit of time reading some comments on Russian forums and they don't believe this will ever happen (new Zenit). A typical comment from one of Russian forums:

"We are here in Russia so tired of such statements like "we fly to the moon", then we construct the "E-mobil" (hybrid car project that never happened), then Zenit revival ... do not make laugh my Rotennberg and Chubais (Не смешите моих Ротеннбергов и Чубайсов - untranslatable joke reffering to the realities of bureaucracy and corruption in Russian business)"

As to the original Zenit... Well, I grew up in Soviet Union and Zenit was my first SLR. It was bad bad bad bad... All photojournalists and wedding photographers were shooting Canons or at least Eastern German Prakticas (the lowest acceptable threshold of quality). Unreliable, inaccurate, viewfinder so dark you can forget the accurate focusing... Cheap? Yes. And that's why the famous saying "not rich enough to buy cheap things" was so right about Russian cameras.

On Sunday I was on the local flea market in Vilnius (Lithuania). One guy was selling quite nice Zorki 4k with J8. How much, I asked. - 100EUR. I said - are you kidding me? He felt a bit embarassed and said - "well, that's for foreigners".
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Old 02-15-2016   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valdas View Post
As to the original Zenit... Well, I grew up in Soviet Union and Zenit was my first SLR. It was bad bad bad bad... All photojournalists and wedding photographers were shooting Canons or at least Eastern German Prakticas (the lowest acceptable threshold of quality). Unreliable, inaccurate, viewfinder so dark you can forget the accurate focusing... Cheap? Yes. And that's why the famous saying "not rich enough to buy cheap things" was so right about Russian cameras.
The question is of course whether the Zenits that were exported adhered to the same quality standards as those for domestic use. Another aspect is that some importers inspected and serviced/adjusted them before resale onto the general public..

Of course, one camera doesn't make for much of statistics, but the Zenit-E I bought (new, ca 1977) in the Netherlands took well over 20 years of abuse, focused and exposed correctly, and didn't give a single hiccup..

What is decidedly true, is that the finder is darker than the other SLRs from the same era, which mostly had bright-screens. However, for accurate focus, bright-screens need a focus aid like the wedge or micro-prisms in the center.. The darker ground glasses allow critical focus without those aids, at the expense of, well, being dimmer.
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Old 02-15-2016   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valdas View Post

On Sunday I was on the local flea market in Vilnius (Lithuania). One guy was selling quite nice Zorki 4k with J8. How much, I asked. - 100EUR. I said - are you kidding me? He felt a bit embarassed and said - "well, that's for foreigners".
Hahah, in Sweden sellers do sell overpriced film photo gears too, but the difference is they don't feel embarrassed but make you feel embarrassed when you imply "why so expensive?".
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Old 02-15-2016   #38
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Hahah, in Sweden sellers do sell overpriced film photo gears too, but the difference is they don't feel embarrassed but make you feel embarrassed when you imply "why so expensive?".
Yeah, the same here. I was at a car boot sale (an good ol' British thing) where there was a guy selling some FSU rangefinders and junk cameras. I noticed a Fed3 that was filthy, but it was £40. The guy was really offended when I tried to haggle and told me to 'get one of eBay' if I didn't want it, which was a pretty good idea
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Old 02-15-2016   #39
David Hughes
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Hi,

The original link in the first post was to Petapixel and Micheal Zhang's article (the one with the picture of a Leica) with a reference that takes you to Photo Rumors (sic) and that was a Google translation. It was about plans by Rostec to revive the Zenit name and so on. So pretty nebulous in my experience. I shall wait until it happens. Did anyone else track back to it?

As for Zenits and Zorkis and FEDs, there seems to be a lot of them around and still working. The oldest I have is nearly 80 years old.

Looking at my original, bottom loading Zenit and my Zenit B, the height varies by a millimetre and so does the width. The cameras have also been weighed without lenses and the Zenit B is 144grammes heavier but it does have flash sybch and a self timer. The earlier one is more compact but the centre of the eyepiece is only 2mm lower.

I've a Pentax Spotmatic as well, slightly higher and wider than the Zenit B but 28g lighter. But what does any of this prove?

Regards, David
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Old 02-15-2016   #40
valdas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

I've a Pentax Spotmatic as well, slightly higher and wider than the Zenit B but 28g lighter. But what does any of this prove?

Regards, David
Which Spotmatic? I have Spotmatic F - after my childhood with Smena and Zenit Spotmatic feels like the latest Mercedes after driving Lada. But sure - you can get from point A to B in Lada as well...
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