Zenit 3 is a 35mm film SLR camera manufactured by Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod (KMZ), Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk, in Moscow, former USSR and produced between 1960-62, quantitiy 81776. Zenit (Зенит = Зенит), means Zenith, a point in the sky that appears directly above the observer. On front of the camera Zenit logo is engraved as cyrillic italics.

Zenit 3 is the third model of Zenit brand and is successor to the first model Zenit (1953-56) and the second model Zenit S[1],(1955-61) and main differences between them are added selftimer and shutter cocking lever instead of a knob.

Early models of the Zenit cameras were based on the Zorki rangefinder camera (a copy of the Leica II). 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 cameras.

The Zenit 3 shows outstanding workmanship, the camera is very solid and was apparently expensive to make. This explains why it was in production for only two years. As any early Zenit it is quite uncommon now.

There were 4 types and 4 sub-types of the Zenit 3 [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


  • Lens: Helios-44 (ГЕЛИОС) 58mm f/2, coated, filter thread 49mm
    • Other standard lens is Industar-50 (ИНДУСТАР) 50mm f/3.5
    • KMZ's ZM39 screw mount [7]
    • Aperture: f/2 - f/16,
  • Focusing: ground-glass screen
    • Focus range: 1m +inf.
  • Shutter: rubberized silk double cloth curtain, horizontal focal plane,
    • Speeds: 1/30-1/500 +B, dial on the top plate [8]
  • Cocking lever: also winds the film, right hand, short stroke, retractable
  • Shutter release: on the top plate, beside the winding knob w/cable release socket
  • Frame counter: coupled with winding lever, beneath it
  • Viewfinder: SLR pentaprism
  • Mirror: not instant return
  • Re-winding knob: on the left of the top plate
  • Re-wind release: turning collar around the shutter release, Д rewind, П wind
  • Memory dial: on the re-wind knob
  • Self-timer: activates by a small knob, Zorki-6 type
  • Flash PC socket: on the front of the top-plate, only activates at 1/30 speed,
    • Synch timing advance, from 0 to 25 ms, adjustable by a lever and scale beneath the speed dial
  • Bottom plate opening: by a pop-up lever
    • Engravings around the opening lever: ЗAКР - ОTKP (Zakr- Otkr = Close - Open). ОTKP is an abbreviation for ОТКРЫТЫЙ
  • Film loading: bottom loading, w/ special removable take up spool
  • Others: Tripod socket 3/8 inch; Strap lugs
  • Serial no. on the back side of the top plate, first two digits show the production year
  • Body: metal; Weight: 840g

Notes and references[]

  1. S = C in cyrillic
  2. According to Alexander Komarov Fotoua. You can also find serial numbers for dating of the cameras in this site
  3. There is another classification by Aidas Pikiotas in [1]
  4. There are usefull books about cameras of former USSR and have classifications also.
  5. Pages from the the book of former USSR cameras by Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin
  6. Discussion about clasifications in the books of Princelle and Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin in USSR Photo Forum
  7. It 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.
  8. Shutter speed can be selected before or after the shutter is cocked, contrary to early Leica inspired cameras of Soviet Union.


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