The Zenit-E: A Revolutionary Picture
This is the Zenit-E, a Soviet 35mm SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) that has a die-cast frame, allowing it to be mass-produced and sold around the globe in numbers upwards of 12 million. From 1967 onwards, this crude and sturdy camera spread throughout the world like the AK-47 rifle. One shoots bullets, the other shoots photographs, one takes lives, the other captures them in time.
I wonder whether there has been more photographs taken with Zenit-E cameras or bullets fired with Kalashnikov rifles? If wars were fought with cameras instead of guns, then we would all see things in a better perspective.
Come to think of it, there are many similarities one can draw between the Zenit-E and the AK-47. They were both simply designed ,which meant easy maintenance and less to go wrong mechanically. They have both infiltrated a global market and are synonymous with Soviet Russia. Guns and cameras are not worlds apart, they both shoot things, they sometimes share that millimetre thing (35mm, 9mm), automatic, single shot, we get the picture. Ahem! the Zenit-E did well in Great Britain and sold by the troika-load under various manufacturing brands, the AK-47 did less well, thankfully. The result being that you can pick one of these little cold war kodiak-kodaks up for as little as £7 on eBay.
When I looked into this model, I came across this interesting website which contains a wealth of interesting facts about the cameras produced in Russia in the Soviet era. Only in Russia could you take a camera to a firefight and an assault rifle to a wedding!
The Zenit-E has various fixed shutter speeds, these are 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500. It also has a manual control for longer exposures. With a decent lens, its reputation for taking good quality photos is solid. It is a tricky model to figure out so those wishing to fiddle around with one of these may find this link to the user manual helpful. Anyone wishing to fiddle around with a machine gun like this dude (above) can find their own manual.
The Zenit-E is also popular with Lomography enthusiasts. It’s manual exposure feature, allows for some interesting experiments in light and objectivity. You never know where you might find one these time-served and hardy cameras. You might be sifting through some bric-a-brac in a charity shop and unearth one in a dusty old cardboard box, it has been known to happen. As convenient and high-quality as digital photography now is, the aspiring photographer in me knows that one must own a 35mm SLR. It’s good form and a lesson in the now forgotten art of the analogue camera. I’ll be hunting for one in the junk shops and flea markets of Wales, armed with my AK-47 and wearing a ‘No Guts, No Glory’ T-shirt. If you see me, don’t shoot, it’s not loaded!