FAQ Zenit v.1.0

For beginners/new to Zenit cameras.

Q1: What is all the numbers mean on the camera?

A: Numbers on the lens: The most used lens for Zenit, is the Helios 44M. 44M is the type, but not 44 mm. 58/2: The lens is 58mm and biggest aperture is f.2. F.2 is a normal speed/light senitivity for normal lenses. A normal lens have about 50mm and gives normal perspective, like the way the human eye shows the motiv. On small picture film, 24x36mm, the normal is about the same lenght than of the diagonal of the frame, to be exact, 43,26 mm. All numbers over 50mm is going towards tele, and all numbers under 40-50mm is called wide angles. A 28mm will have a angle of field on 75 o.

On the lens top: Focus ring(outer ring), by turnig it, you get the motiv into focus. When you see the small prism in the finder, in center of the matte screen, is disappeared, the lens is focused at that point. You can see the distance on the lens, just close to the red line on the lens. If you go closer than minimum distance/close distance, you may get sharp pictures by stopping down the lens/choose a higher f.stop number. The depth of field(DOF) can be directly read out around the red line. 16 gives the biggest DOF, 2 givest the smallest. Example: When you choose f.16, the picture is sharp from infinity to about 2 mtrs.

The DOF distance scale is always starting with smallest aperture opening, 22 or 16 in most cases, and goes to full opening, 2, 1,8 or 1,4 in most cases, and back to smallest aperture/f.stop number(22 or 16).

The aperture scale is going like this on Helios 44M 58/2: 16, 11, 8, 5,6, 4, 2,8, 2. 16 is he smallest opening, you can see it into the lens when you have the M/A swich on M. When the lens is mounted on the camera, you can see it if you press the shutter release half way down. The numbers mean part of full opening. 16 is 1/16 of the areal of full opening. 2 is 1/2 of the areal of full opening. If the lens do not have any light loss, the highest f.stop is 1,0 and it is 1/1 of the light is passing through the lens.

The camera: Shutter speeds: Most of Zenit cameras have shutter speeds between 1/30 sek and 1/500 sek. A wheel with this numbers can control the shutter speed. 30-x is 1/30 sek shutter speed, and blitz sync speed. If you choose 1/60 or faster, the picture will be cut on the side with black.This is because the shutter is not quite open when the blitz is firing. You can also choose B for blitz use. B means "BULB".The shutter stays open as long as the shutter release is pushed down.

The shutter speeds give different possibilities: You can control the light amount/exposure time, and freese action. At 1/500 sek, movements can be stopped, and at 1/30 the movements can be blurred. If you hand held the camera, it is convenient to use short speeds, like 250 or 500. To change aperture, just lift the ring about 3-5 mm and turn to desired speed. On a ring under the shutter speed ring, MF and X is marked. If you use blitz, turn ring to X. MF is for magnesium flash/magnesium bombs, used in the old days.

Film counter: A ring around the film advance lever have numbers from 0 to 36, and refers to numbers of film frames/exposures on your film, normally 24 or 36 exp. After film load, and 2 exposures and winding, just align O with the white arrow.

Exposure meter: On the side with the rewind wheel, you have the exposure meter readout. (On E and EM, and all non TTL(Through The Lens)-exposure meters.) To set film speed ASA/DIN, just turn the inner wheel to right number corresponding to the film you use.

When you do the exposure metering, just point the camera against a middle gray reflection source, green grass or concrete/light asfalt, dark skin. Align the metal ring in the window on top of the camera body with the small arrow by turning the outer wheel. Then you can read out the proper combination of shutter speed(outer ring) and f.stop(Inner ring). Eks: Subject in bright sun: 125 and 16 (100ASA). 250 and 11, 500 and 8. You can choose between this 3 combinations of shutter speed and aperture. See "Sunny 16" rule for more info on exposure metering.

R means Rewind. You can rewind the film when the ring is turned to left, red dot at R. If you donīt do that, the film will be destroyed at rewind.

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Q2: How do I load a film?
A2: Open the camera back (E, EM) lift up lever on the side of the camera. Be shure that the camera is clean inside, remove dust. Put the film cartridge in room at left side, with the rewind cranc in upper position, an press cranc down. Put film toungue into the takeup spool on right. Let the film transport wheels get into their perforated holes on the film sides. Release the shutter, and wind the film by turning the film advance lever on top of camera. When the film is well fixed, hold the film cartridge in compartment, and rewind a bit, so the film is lying flat between the guide rails over shutter opening. Close the camera back. Take 2 exposures, and watch the rewind wheel turning. If it goes smooth around, the film is happily placed. Align film counter, add a lens, and the camera is ready for shooting.

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Q3: How do I change lens? Zenit have either a screw mount(M42) or bayonnet mount(Pentax K). The screw lens is turned clockwise to add, and counter clockwise to change. The bayonnet have a mark for alignment, and a release button. To release lens: Hold the lens release button pressed in, and turn the lens ccw. Put on lens by aligning mark on lens and at the side of the lens mount. Remember with screw mounts: Always turn M/A swich to M, or loosen the shutter release lock, so the release is in high position. Otherwise you can risk to destroy the auto aperture pin on the lens. You can feel the resistence if it begin to happen while you are turning the lens.

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Q4: How is focusing done?
A4: Just look into finder. Turn the lens until the picture is sharp in middle of matte screen. Zenit have a diamond pattern, and the pattern shall disappear when the subject is in focus. You can also pre-set distance, and check with the focus result. The distance is meashured from subject to film.

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Q5: How can I use the self release?
A5: Turn the lever in front of camera, press in the small button over the lever. The shutter is released after about 13 sek.

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Q6: How can I make time exposures?
A6: By choosing B, and pressing down the shutter at desired time, or press down and turn the release button to left. This will fix the release in downward position. It will stay there until you turn the button to right, or wind the film to next frame.

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Q7: Is it possible to use a blitz away from the camera?
A7: On Zenit E and EM, you must use the sync terminal contact on front of camera. Newer Zenits have a hot shoe on top, and they requires a special cord to a hand held blitz. Use the sync terminal is it is present.

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Q8: What is the blitz sync speed?
A8: You must use 30-x or B. If you use faster shutter speeds, the picture will not be exposed with blitz over the entire frame. The problem is growing at faster shutter speeds.

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Q9: How can I know the exposure meter is correct?
A9: Test it against a middle gray relecting material(Kodak Gray card 18% or similar subject). Dark skin, light asfalt or green grass. In full sun(clear sky), you should get at 100 ASA: 1/125 sek and f.16(125 and 16) If the meter show higher or lower exposure, you may compensate by adjusting film speed setting. Se also exposure meter calibration.

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Q10: Wow can I take out the film?
A10: You must rewind the film. 1: Turn the ring outside the shutter release towards R. Rewind the film by turning rewind lever on other side of camera. On E and EM, you must press down the wheel, and turn left to raise it. Turn the wheel until you hear the film going into the film cartridge.

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