Zenit cameras (sometimes badged in cyrillic, ЗЕНИТ) were made by the KMZ factory near Moscow. Some models were made by MMZ (BelOMO).

The original Zenit was an SLR based on the Zorki rangefinder.

The early Zenit SLR have a specific screw mount, 39mm in diameter, sometimes called "ZM39" (or "Zenit M39") to distinguish it from the regular M39 (or Leica thread mount). If you mount an LTM lens on these cameras you can only focus at close range, not at infinity, due to the lens position.

The Zenit 35mm SLR camera hails from the USSR during the cold political climate of the early 1950’s, the manufacturer was the KMZ established in 1941 outside Moscow. It is a particularly sturdy and clever little camera based on the original Leica camera concept, but taken one step further to become a true SLR with a fixed eyelevel pentaprism finder, yet rather basic in the mechanical design department, and it arrived too early for the upcoming innovations. Although having a different lens flange to film plane register, the lensmount is a 39mm screw mount, excluding all Leica fit lenses except for close up work. The removable base plate is identical in size to that on the Leica, but not interchangeable. The outer body, including the mirror housing, is a one piece alloy casting, the top cover is in two pieces, while inside, the shutter crate is a separately cast unit.

The KMZ is one of the early pioneers in the field of 35mm SLR’s, Zenit being the ninth 35mm SLR camera brand introduced, excluding a few exotic and scarce models, mainly from central Europe, and it is the second to appear from this country, the first being the less impressive GOMZ Sport. Its better known contemporaries are the Asahiflex and the Contaflex.

The Zenit, the name engraved in Cyrillic letters on the prism housing front, is the first in a long and popular series of cameras gradually evolving throughout the remaining period of the past century. The first improvement was to include flash synchronization with the model Zenit C. After ten years a completely new and improved camera body was introduced with a hinged back for film loading.

Like most Russian cameras the Zenit camera used a system where the first two numbers of the serial number plate (or part) was the year that the part was made, sometimes these parts could wait a couple of years before being fitted, for example 88xxxxxx was 1988.

ZM39 SLR[]

Leaf shutter SLR[]

  • Zenit 4
  • Zenit 5
  • Zenit 6

Breech/M42/Bayonet Triple Mount SLR[]

  • Zenit 7

M42 SLR[]

BelOMO made Zenits[]

K-mount SLR[]

Prototype SLR (Never or only a few produced)[]

  • Zenit 11 (1964)
  • Zenit 15
  • Zenit 2000
  • Zenit 66
  • Zenit 9
  • Zenit D Automat
  • Zenit Pre-series
  • Zenit T1-MTL

Compact 35mm[]

  • Zenit 510
  • Zenit 520
  • Zenit 610
  • Zenit 620


  • Princelle, Jean-Loup. The Authentic Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras. Hove Foto Books, 2nd edition, 1995. 200 pages. ISBN 1874031630.