Zorki 3, 4, 4K and Mir

The Zorki 3c Predecessor to a Classic

The Zorki 3c came from the Zorki 3 and 3M design. Speed ranges from 1 to 1/1000 of a second and it has a flash connector with flash sync. Some love the design. Some hate it. Below a shot of the Zorki 3M which is one of the finest Zorki Rangefinders ever built.

Zorki3m Zorki3m

Above a shot of complete series, upper left, Mir, upper right, Zorki 3C, lower left Zorki 4 and finally on the lower right the Zorki 4K. The Zorki 3C was developed from the 3M the difference is the new topplate which now houses a flash synchronisation mechanism. This is the entire difference between the 3M and 3C. The 3C saw more then 45.000 units produced after that it was followed up by the Zorki 4. Oddly enough it goes cheap on ebay. A 3 or 3M goes for almost 100 dollars while the 3C only goes for 30 to 40 dollars. Production for the 3 and 3M was 87.000 units. Offcourse the 3C isn't quite the looker. The 3 or 3M is way nicer in the looks department. But functionality is the same.

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The Zorki 4 and 4K the Classics

By many people the Zorki 4 and 4K are considered to be the Real Russian Classics. Most people speak of the Zorki 4 because there is no difference between the 4 and the 4K except for the film advance. With the 4 you have the knob to turn and with the 4K you have the "rapid advance lever".
Zorki means "Sharp Look" or rather "Sharp Sight" (in Dutch "Scherpe Blik"). The only difference with the Zorki 3C is the addition of the selftimer.

Zorki Zorki Zorki Zorki
Zorki Zorki Zorki Zorki Zorki

My Zorki 4 was built in 1963 and my Zorki 4K was built in 1975. The 4 has the Industar 50mm and the 4K has the Jupiter-8 50mm (Zeis Sonnar clone). And it came with the original leatherlike carrying case. It was in an overal good condition so I couldn't resist buying it. In some photos it's equipped with a Turret Finder (also known as the Universal Rangefinder). A rare but very usefull piece of equipment. The Turretfinder shows the "correct" view for the lens you are using, it has five minilenses for this purpose. It has a 28, 35, 50, 80 and 135 mm minilenses. You just turn the Turret to get the correct minilens to see what your lens does.

Let's turn to the Great book from Princelle for it's History.

The Zorki 4 was produced from 1956 to 1973 with a production of 1.715.677 million cameras and was the first of the Zorki cameras to be exported in mass to the West and beyond. Usually this camera came with a Industar 50 lens and in some cases with the Jupiter-8 lens. The first Zorki 4's were engraved, but this changed very quickly. Later versions of the 4 had painted on letters (like this 4). This 4 has the Cyrillic markings but it can also be found with Latin letters.

The Zorki 4K was produced from 1972 to 1978 with a production of 524.610 cameras (Princelle also mentioned 36 produced in 1980). The 4K is fully identical to the 4 but with a rapid advance lever. In almost all cases this camera came with the Jupiter-8 lens (which is a Zeiss Sonnar clone) of very good quality. The 4K seems to be more an "export" camera. Cyrillic Versions are known. The 4K was produced after the Mir.

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Mir, the low cost Zorki 4

Though the 4 was a real classic one of its main breakdown points were the slow speeds. So with the Mir they took out the slow speeds. Mir means "Peace" in Russian. Mir saw a production of more than 156.000 units. Though this is a lot of cameras, today they have become hard to find in good condition. Which is odd. By taking out the slow speeds it is more reliable than the Zorki 4 or the 4K. Mir was only produced for a few years. It might lack the slow speed but it still has the 1/1000th. On some Mirs it is engraved on the speeddail on some there is just a dot where 1/1000 should be. Still it is odd that the Mir seems to be hard to find. On Ebay they usually go for about 30 to 60 dollars.

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What do I think of them?

This is offcourse my personal opinion. But taking photos with these cameras is fun. If you are used to manual cameras handling then they don't pose a problem. Like my Zenit these Zorkis are built like a Russian Tanks. Russian camera not light! Russian camera BIG! It is a big piece of sturdy metal you got in your hands. I used it with a flash and flashpics came out really good. It synchronizes nicely at 1/30th of a second. I used several lenses on them J12 35mm, J9 85mm and J11 135mm and the results were good. I made some faults due to the paralax though. Drawbacks, it has no lightmeter. My Fed 4 and Fed 5 do. But for some reason the Zorkis feel just a bit nicer to handle I prefer the 4K over the 4 and that is just because of the lever for filmadvance. Mir, allthough it lacks slow speeds, is a very nice camera to use. I actually rarely use slow speeds and Mir still has 1/1000th so it is very useable. These 4 cameras only have a few small differences, Mir is the only one with a major difference. From these more than 2.4 million cameras were built and they are STILL in use today! I call that a record for a Rangefinder.

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Tech Specs

Warning !
When changing the shutter speeds on these cameras or on any Zorki camera for that matter, the shutter must be wound first, then change the speeds otherwise there is a real possibility that you might damage the camera.

L39 screwmount (aka LTM)
uses 35 mm film
speeds of B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and 1/1000th
flash synchronization times 0,5,10,15,20 and 25 ms
removable back
dioptre setting
Several standard lenses, most used, non collapisble Industar 50 50/3.5 mm
(mostly used on Mir and Zorki 4)
Jupiter 8 silver (Zorki 3C) and Jupiter 8 black (Zorki 4K) this was a 50/2 mm lens.
The Mir sometimes came with a Jupiter 8 silver.

slow speeds just stop working
flash sync not working
pinholes in shutter curtain
all speeds work as one speed (1/30th ?)
rangefinder off (can happen to any rangefinder)
very hard to advance film (needs new grease)
lens very hard to focus (needs new grease)

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Copyright Tom A.H. Piel

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