Zenit is a 35mm film SLR camera made by KMZ and produced between 1952-56 with quantity 39.019 units.

Original Zenit is also known as Zenit 1. Zenit (Зенит = Зенит), means Zenith, a point in the sky that appears directly above the observer. On the front of the camera Zenit logo is engraved as Cyrillic italics.

The camera is essentially a rangefinder camera Zorki 1, but with a reflex housing. The KMZ is one of the early pioneers of 35mm SLR cameras. Zenit was the 9th 35mm SLR camera brand introduced, and it is the second in Soviet Union, the first one was GOMZ Sport.

In transforming the Zorki into an SLR, the simplest approach was taken: the rangefinder housing was removed from the top and replaced by a ground-glass screen and prism; a mirror was added below, with a rope-and-pulley setting system and the M39 thread mount was pushed forward to make room for the mirror inside. During the first years of production (until the Zenit-E of 1967) Zenit camera development coincided with that of the Zorki series cameras.

There are 6 types and 4 sub-types of the camera. [1]


  • Embossing on the front of prism: KMZ logo
  • Standard Lenses: Industar-22 (ИНДУСТАР) 50mm f/3.5 and Industar-50 50mm f/3.5
  • Mount: KMZ's ZM39 screw mount [2]
  • Lens release: simply screw counter clocwise
  • Focusing: ground-glass screen, ring and scale w/DOF scale on the lens
  • Shutter: rubberized silk double cloth curtain, horizontal focal plane speeds: 1/30-1/500 +B [3]
  • Shutter release: on the top-plate
  • Cocking knob: also winds the film, on the right of the top plate
  • Frame counter: manual setting, on the cocking knob
  • Viewfinder: SLR pentaprism
  • Mirror: not instant return
  • Re-wind knob: on the left of the top-plate
  • Re-wind release: lever on the top plate, Д rewind, П wind
  • Flash PC socket: none
  • Cold-shoe: none
  • Self-timer: none
  • Film Loading: bottom loading, removable special take up spool
  • Bottom plate opens by a folding lever on it
  • Engravings around the opening ring: ЗAКР - ОTKP (Zakr- Otkr = Close - Open). ОTKP is an abbreviation for ОТКРЫТЫЙ
  • Tripod socket: 3/8"
  • Strap lugs
  • A folding camera leg under the lensmount
  • Body: metal; Weight: 596g
  • Serial no. first two digits show the production year

See also the article Zenit

Notes and references[]

  1. as to Alexander Komarov
  2. Looks like M39 Leica mount, but due to the mirror space, the rangefinder M39 mount lenses do not work properly on this camera. You can use them only the close-up focus range.
  3. Shutter speed can be selected before of after the film is wound and the shutter is cocked contrary to early Leica inspired cameras of Soviet Union.