Zenit Quick Facts & Fixes

All models

When was my Zenit made?

Look at the serial number. The first two digits indicate the year when your Zenit was made. For instance 67039703 means the Zenit was made in 1967, 83083999 was made in 1983. This also works for the lenses made by KMZ. You can recognize KMZ made equipment by these signs. Serial numbers may be found on the back left or right from the eyepiece or on the bottom of the camera.

KMZ Sign on a Zenit Kristall 62010243, made in 1962. All the models before the 80'ties have this sign. Very early ones from the 40'ties miss the arrow. During the 70'ties the sign changed into this one. (seen on a Zenitar Lens) This was around 1976 or 1977. The new logo is used to this day.

Two more shots of the new logo, one on the label of a Camera strap (also stating Krasnagorsk Zavod?) and one on the back of a Zenit 19 camera.
As I said earlier the numbers on KMZ made lenses (Industar, Mir, Zenitar and Helios) indicate the year of production also. Unfortunatly some lenses do not match this configuration. Some start with a "0" or "00" it is not clear what it means. Some say that it is the indication of a preproduction run of a modified version of the lens or a Special version. I'm not sure about this and I have no clear answer.

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Are there any Special versions?

I'm happy to say, yes there are.

Early Zenit-E's had Zenit-E engraved on the camera, this changed after 1968. Cameras after that are Silkscreened.

Best known variations (Genuine), commemorative engravings like the Olympic engraving (E, B, EM, 11, TTL)

50 years of Soviet Victories/Soviet power (3M only).

The FotoSnaiper/PhotoSniper sets,
Using modified Zenits, more info is on the
Photosniper page. But as a lead any Zenit SLR with an "S" behind its letter or number is or was part of a Snaiper system. (ES, 12S, 12CDS, 12XPS, 122S)

Camo FotoSnaiper/PhotoSniper Variation
Rumours were that several FS-3's were used by some recon unit of the Red army, these are weird rumours, they date back to 1941 to the FS-2 which was later replaced by the FS-3 the rumours go even so far as saying that they were replaced by FS-12 or that FS-12's were added. They also talked about a modification of the Tair, a weird Soft release that did not make noise. Two colorschemes seem to have existed. a "polar" one and a "woodlands" one. The Polar one has a colorscheme with black white and grey in straight lines with sharp straight angles. The woodlands is olive drab. Though rumour has it that it showed more colors on the lens.

Never seen, considered to be a fake or a non existing set. If it does exist it's fake. FS-3 sets came in light grey (early models) and in all black. The FS-12 sets were all black.

Other SLR Variations,

Grey Krystall, exists but hard to find.

Bronze/Black Zenit ET, exists but hard to find.

Zenit-E all black, exists but hard to find.
Zenit-E all chrome, exist but hard to find.
Zenit-E Green leatherette/olive drab, considered to be a fake.
Zenit-E White leatherette/chromium, considered to be a fake.

Titanium Zenit 122, exist commemorative edition to celebrate KMZ

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How do I rewind film on my Zenit?

There are several types of film rewind you can find info on what type you have and how to rewind

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My Filmadvance is stuck and my shutter is dead.

There are several ways to try to unstuck it before opening the camera up.
  • Try the selftimer and see if it releases the shutter.
  • Try to release the shutter by means of the remote shutter (located inside the shutter button).

    (though this is a shot of the E type most Zenits have the remote shutter here)

  • The shutter button can turn. This feature allows the shutter (mirrorlock) to stay open at the B mode without being pressed down. So turn the shutter button to free the shutter.
  • Use a bit of oil and see if it frees up the shutter.
  • Open the bottom of the camera (4 silver screws) fire the shutter by pulling slightly on the long black lever.
If this all fails than you have a problem with the spring inside the camera. Now you will have to open it up.

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My Zenit E's film door just falls open, what's up?

None of the E's have a spring in the opening lever for the filmdoor. you just push up to open and push down to close. In some cases when it is banged against something it gets stuck, or with a loth of dirt. Just remove the two screws that hold it in place and find out what is wrong.

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My lightmeter gives the wrong readings.

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My Helios 44 lens is open at Fstop 16 it is broken!

No, Your Helios 44 isn't broken. It has to do with the way the Zenit-E was built. The Zenit-E and Zenit-B didn't have an autoaperture lever. So KMZ designed the Helios lens with its equivalent. You set the aperture according to the lightmeter. Then with the ring behind it you open up the lens, focus, close down the lens again. It won't go further then the set aperture.

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My Tair lens has an odd loose wire?

All Tair 300 lenses built for the FS-12 and FS-122 Snaiper sets do. This wire is ment for the open aperture light measuring system used by the 12s, 12cds, 12xps and the 122s. Don't worry about it when you use it on another camera.

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When I push the shutter my lens doesn't close fully at F16.

This happens mainly on the Zenits from the 80'ties and 90'ties. The auto aperturelever doesn't go far enough to close the aperture fully at F22 or F16, or any aperture for that matter. There are two ways to solve this, the hard way is to open the camera up and bend back the lever. This is hard work and doesn't allways means succes. The easy way and fast way at that is to glue on a small piece of rubber on the auto aperture lever. It works just as well and can be adjusted if wrong.

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Filmspeed GOST/OCT to ASA/ISO to DIN table

11 22 28 56 90 110 130 180 360 560 720 900 1125 1800 2880
12 25 32 64 100 125 180 200 400 650 800 1000 1250 2000 3200
12 15 16 19 21 22 23 24 27 29 30 31 32 34 36

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I'm getting out of focus shots! With every lens!
And the range measured on my Zenit SLR is way out.

Yes, this is possible after replacing the groundglass. Or when the shims have gone. If you place a new groundglass it sits either heigher or lower and so altering the distances to the mirror and so the distance to the lens. Even a displacement of 1 mm can cause out of focus shots. But fortunatly it is easy to correct.

The mirror crate adjustment screw is located behind the mirror. In the above shot it is barely visible on the righ bottom of the mirror. If you lift the mirror you will see a long screw sticking up. With this screw you can adjust the setting of the mirror. If screwed all the way in you will not be able to get infinity focus. If screwed all the way out or taken out, you will see a difference measuring in meters and infinity focus is reached at almost a few meters.

This is easier than calibrating a rangefinder, unscrew the lens, remember to use a standard 50mm lens only (either the Helios or the Industar). Just turn the screw up or down 1 stroke than refit the lens and focus at a very distant object (infinity focus). If infinity is not obtained then unscrew the lens again and turn the screw again. Do this until infinity is reached and calibration is done.

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Why is the lightmeter on my ES overexposing by 1 full stop?

Please note that I am talking about the FS-3 Zenit-ES cameras from the photosnaiper range. On some ES cameras, the lightmeter is adjusted upwards by 1 stop to compensate for the Tair lens which takes away some of the light on the selenium meter.

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What batteries does my Zenit use?

  • VX 625 1.35 volt mercury cell Zenit-TTL, Zenit 12, Zenit 12S (Sniperversion)
  • 1.5 volt cells Zenit 12SD, Zenit 12XP, Zenit 12XPS and SDS (Snipersversions) Zenit-122, Zenit-122s (Sniperversion)
  • PX625 1.5 volt cells Zenit 18 (4 cells) Zenit-19 (2 cells), Zenit MT-1 Suprise (2 cells for the camera and 2 for the databack)
  • PX625 1.5 volt cells (4 cells) Zenit-Automat, Zenit-AM, Zenit-AM2, Zenit-AM3
  • AA cells 1.5 volt (4 cells) Zenit-KM

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Do you take repairs?

In one short word, No. I do not take repairs. I've got more than enough problems allready. If you get tired of your Zenit. Send it to me, I'll make sure that you will never ever see it again. But seriously, help keep Tigers Lair online. If you want to part with your Zenit send it to me. Some Zenits I'll repair, some I'll strip for parts and some will be sold to keep Tigers Lair online. Hey.... webspace ain't free... this info is.

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