Zenit TTL meter FAQ
(by Kevin Kalsbeek)



Q: what battery does the TTL meter on my camera use??

A: The best answer to that is to refer you to my friend, Gerard Van Beukering. s site for the answer:
http://home.wanadoo.nl/g.w.vanbeukering/wibatt.htm This page has information on the older as well as the more common modern Zenits and MANY other Soviet and Russian/CIS cameras.

It is suprising that the cameras which were intended for PX625 1.35 volt mercury batteries such as the Zenit-12S, which is the basis of my FS-12 Fotosniper works perfectly with the commonly available A625 alkaline batteries. Alternatively, the C.R.I.S MR-9 adapter available for about $30.00 US, uses the superior S76 silver oxide battery, and reduces the voltage to 1.35volts under load. The downside of this adapter is the cost and the fact that it is thicker than the PX625, and makes it difficult to install the battery compartment cover. For information on the C.R.I.S. adapter, see: http://www.criscam.com/mr9b.htm

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Q: My Zenit underexposes everything. What can I do? Is my meter inaccurate?

A: The usual cause of this is light entering the eyepiece. The Zenit TTL meters are very sensitive to light, and a concerted effort must be made to block all light from entering the eyepiece. If your camera came equipped with a rubber eyecup, like the Fotosnipers, by all means use it. Rubber eyecups for Zenits are not commonly available commercially, but they are available from:
http://www.srbfilm.co.uk/ I have tried to order several eyecups, but evidently something went wrong, and I will have to try again, so I cannot at this point say which models the eyecups will fit. Normally, SRB is a reliable firm to deal with.

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Q: My Zenit TTL meter is inaccurate, I think, as the exposure indicator lights can vary wildly as I move it around the scene. How can I check it to make sure whether or not it is correct?

A: The variation of exposure when a meter is moved around a scene is normal. Any decent meter will do this with the possible exception of an incident meter. I just checked my Zenit 312M, and the difference in exposure between the upper red light (overexposure) and the bottom red light (underexposure) is only 1 f stop or shutter speed. The Zenit TTL can be easily checked with a modicum of equipment. The equipment required ia a light meter that you know how to operate properly, and you KNOW is reading accurately, and a Kodak or other 18% gray card, though a 90% reflectance white card can be used, I feel it is better to use a gray card, as that is what the meters are calibrated to . see. , and it avoids making corrections to the exposure data.

Place the gray card so that it is evenly lit by the sun ( it is best to do this outdoors, as some Zenit meters are not as accurate under artificial light), and move tha camera close to the card without casting a shadow on it. The card MUST fill the viewfinder, and it need not be in focus. Take a meter reading, making certain that stray light is carefully blocked from entering the viewfinder eyepiece.

Next take a close up reading of the gray card with the handheld exposure meter, again making certain that the meter is reading ONLY the gray card and that no shadow is being cast on the gray card. Compare the meter readings, and this will tell you if the Zenit TTL meter is in error or not. If you get a one stop overexposure, I would not worry about it if you are shooting B & W or color print film, as this will not really hurt anything, and may be a distinct advantage. For transparency materials an accurate handheld meter properly used is the best.

Some people complain about the cost of a . REAL. gray card, but it is a very useful photographic tool, once you learn to use it. I do not use mine often, unless I am checking meters, or doing macro work, but when you need it, you definitely need it. Take care of it like you would your camera and it will take care of you.
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Q: When I make exposure adjustments on my Zenit, the indicator lights change or not, sporadically. What. s wrong?

A: Well, the meters on the currently available Zenits are not really close to state of the art. Worse, in some lighting situations the stopped down metering system doesn. t work as well as it might- you can adjust the exposre, but the lights will not change, or at least not immediately. The Zenit TTL meters are probably the weakest point of the cameras, and you must be patient, and allow it time to react to the changes. If it doesn. t react in a reasonable time, take your finger off the shutter release to turn off the meter, and then press it down again to turn it on, and you will find that the indicator lights will have changed, UNLESS you are way off on the exposure. For instance, if you are stopped down to f16, the smallest aperture, and you still read overexposure, you will need to increase the shutter speed to get the meter to give the proper exposure. Also, you must press the shutter release down far enough to stop the lens down completely, but not so far as to fire the shutter, and this can sometimes be tricky, with the relatively crude controls found on these cameras. The Zenits are fully manual cameras, with no computer chip to do your thinking for you ( thank heaven!), so a good understanding of exposure relationships between the shutter speeds and the f stops is necessary, and there are a number of basic texts that can provide you with this. If by some chance you get confused, remember the the old . sunny f16 rule. , which says if you are using ISO 200 film, your exposure should be 1/film speed at f16, or 1/250 sec shutter speed at f 16. Many argue that it should be the . sunny f11 rule. and basically, I concur, but in an emergency, either way, you can get a decent photo using either of these rules. More complete information can often be found inside the film boxes, or on data sheets included with the film, books, and on the web.

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