The Leningrad (Ленинград) is a 35mm rangefinder camera manufactured by GOMZ, (ГОМЗ, Государственный оптико-механический завод, Ленинград = Gosularstvennyi Optiko-Mekhanicheskii Zavod =State Optical-Mechanical Factory), Leningrad, USSR. It conceived by I. Shapiro and produced between 1956-68. It has a spring motor advance, and takes 39mm screw lenses.

The clockwork winding mechanism, a spring-powered mechanical motor, does not allow continuous shooting; for every frame you must release the shutter. It takes about 20 pictures after one full actuation of the spring, it is possible 3 frames per second (if you can do it). There is absolutely no way to advance film and to cock the shutter other than via the spring motor. [1]

There are engravings on the right side of the top plate as 0-5-10-15-20, with a pointer beneath the motor drive knob which is used to set the flash synchronization delay (for use with flash bulbs - for electronic flash a delay of 0 is used).

The film take-up system is unique as it ignores sprocket holes on 35mm film. Instead it winds the film onto a fat take-up spool (drum). No account is taken of the increasing diameter of this spool as film is wound onto it, resulting in increasingly wide gaps between the frames on a roll. Modern automated negative cutting will not adjust for the unique frame layout, and negatives and slides must be ordered from labs uncut. (Individual mounting of the slides must therefore be done by the user.) Users of the Leningrad consider this not a bug but a feature.

Leningrads were supplied with a standard Jupiter-8 lens and will accept most 39mm screw lenses. An over-hanging lip just above the lens mount makes it impossible to mount certain lenses.

Built very sturdily, and to a very high degree of precision (unlike most Soviet rangefinders), the Leningrad is said to be the most advanced (and expensive) Soviet rangefinder ever made. Many were given as presents to party members and visiting dignitaries. At the 1958 World Exposition in Brussels, the Leningrad was awarded the "Grand Prix de Bruxelles”. Modified Leningrads were used in the Soviet space program.

Just 76,000 units were made, a small number by Soviet standards. It is not known how many survive. There are 7 types and 4 sub-types of the Leningrad.[2][3] [4] [5]

Some features[]

  • Lens: Jupiter-8 (ИНДУСТАР), 50mm f/2, coated, Mount: M39 screw, filter thread 35mm, made by KMZ
  • Focusing: matching rangefinder split images in the viewfinder
  • Shutter: Focal plane shutter, rubberized silk double cloth curtain, horizontaly travelling, speeds 1- 1/1000 +B, plus bulb sync. 1/25s
  • Viewfinder: coupled Galilean viewfinder/rangefinder, (.68x), bright frame lines for 50, 85 and 135mm lenses, w/ a split image rangefinder with 57mm base. The whole finder covering the 35mm focal length. There is a diopter adjustment ring on the eye-piece
  • Self-timer [6]
  • Adjustable flash synch delay 5 - 20 milliseconds
  • Back cover: removable with the bottom plate
  • Body: metal; Weight: 850g
  • Serial no.: first two digits show the manufacturing year, in the cold shoe

Notes and references[]

  1. If Leningrad suddenly decides not to advance the film after you've taken try turning the shutter speed dial slightly counterclockwise against spring tension, then letting it snap back. Often this will release the mechanism and let the film advance to the next frame. And since (as noted above) there's no alternate manual way to advance the film, you'd better hope this trick works!
  2. Types are according to Alaxander Komarov in Fotoua. You can also find serial numbers for dating of the cameras in this site. There is another former USSR cameras classification and info by Aidas Pikiotas in SovietCams
  3. There are usefull books about cameras of former USSR and have classifications also.
  4. Pages from the the book of former USSR cameras by Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin
  5. Discussion about clasifications in the books of Princelle and Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin in USSR Photo Forum
  6. An inoperable self-timer is a common problem on the Leningrad because if the timer is set without the camera being wound, it breaks
  7. This type 1b is a rare one. With type 1a this camera is earliest so far known productional version of Leningrad


In English

  • Princelle, Jean Loup - Made In USSR - The Authentic Guide To Russian And Soviet Cameras, Le Reve Edition, 2004 (ISBN 2952252106 (ISBN13: 9782952252102) Paperback

In Russian