Vietnam War Correspondent Used Minolta SRT101 35mm

I just missed out on purchasing a used Minolta SRT101 film camera used in the Vietnam War.

It was on sale at eBay, broken and came with two lenses.  I was hoping it wouldn’t sell so I could offer a lower price.

Naturally, it sold for $20.50 with $16.70 for shipping.  This is what it looked like on eBay.

Vietnam War Correspondent Used Minolta SRT101 Camera

Even now I wish I had purchased it.  A film camera with the ultimate provenance, a tour of duty in Viet Nam.

Joseph L. Galloway, War Photographer

If you have ever seen the movie “We Were Solders” with Mel Gibson, read Some Notes on Being a War Correspondent by the man who wrote that book, Joseph L. Galloway.

I have nothing but respect for the men and women who have photographed war and conflict from the 1800’s onward.

I sure wish I had purchased that Vietnam War Correspondent Used Minolta SRT101 35mm camera.

Gossen Digisix Review

Hurray, hurray, I just purchased a Gossen Digisix light meter on Craigslist.

In time I’ll expand on this blog post to describe my success (hopefully) in using my almost new Gossen Digisix light meter.

Gossen Digisix Purchase Choices

Yes, you can actually purchase quality things on Craigslist.  I purchased this lightly used item for $81 from Mark in Wheaton, Illinois.  (Thanks Mark.)  But Craigslist is always a bit of a risk.

Certainly you can purchase a Gossen Digisix at Amazon.  No risk, it’s Amazon.

Used Camera Collectors Need a Light Meter

It was a strange feeling.  When the Gossen Digisix came via UPS I opened it and felt like it was Christmas?

Why does a new light meter feel like Christmas?  I realized that all of my questionable light meters could be tested and all of my film cameras with dead light meters were suddenly usable.

Now I can test the Yashica Lynx 14

Since summer my Yashica Lynx 14 from Delavan, Wisconsin has sat on my shelf, waiting for me.  I made 3 minor repairs to it but realized the light meter was dead with a battery.  Now I can shoot the Yashica Lynx 14.

Now I can test the Zenit-E

My Zenit-E was a disappointment.  Most likely a faulty built in light meter.  Now I can find out for sure.

Now I can really test the Olympus OM-1n

My surprise Olympus OM was a disappointment (review isn’t written yet).  Even after using the correct battery, all the pictures were slightly over exposed.  Now I can test the Olympus OM-1n with the Gossen Digisix light meter.

My Gossen Digisix meets my Old Light Meters

Like any avid camera collector and photographer, I own several light meters that don’t use batteries.  I tested all six of my “light meters” yesterday on my lunch hour stroll.  Only one of my six old light meters was very similar in its readings to the Gossen Digisix.

Now I’m setting aside the defective but pretty old light meters and keeping the Sekonic Auto-Lumi that matches up with my Gossen Digisix.  It will be my backup light meter.

I can’t wait to test my old cameras in the same way.

Gossen Digisix Stories on the Way

In time, I’ll add more notes on the Gossen Digisix.  For right now, it feels like Christmas in November.

One Handed Photography

Someone found my website searching for “one armed photographer”.  This gave me pause for thought.  Are they looking for famous one handed photographers or is someone searching the Internet looking for one handed photography?

Great One Handed Photographer:  Josef Sudek

I know of only one great amputee photographer:  Josef Sudek.  As I learn of more one handed photographers I’ll add them to this blog.

Josef Sudek injured his right arm badly during World War I.  It was amputated in a farm house after the battle.  In later years, some people say Josef Sudek returned to the same farmhouse in hopes of finding his arm.  That was his attempt at closure with his own horrible injury.

After reading the wonderful article at “From My Window”: The Late Work of André Kertész and Josef Sudek, I have learned that Josef Sudek lost his right arm and that Andre Kertesz also suffered a horrible arm injury during World War I.

One Handed Mobile Phone Photography

Although this website is normally about film photography, I think it’s OK to discuss digital photography from time to time.  Or in this case, mobile phone photography.

Any mobile phone that comes with a camera feature can be used one handed.  So that’s one solution to one armed photography, a cheap solution but a solution.

Right Handed Digital Photography

Normally, people shoot digital cameras with two hands.  I suppose I could take a digital photo one handed but I would rather not.  So many of my photos are in low light that I would need something to prevent camera shake when I took photos.  But some people have no choice, they have only one hand for their photography.

Left Handed Digital Cameras

This is why some people need a one handed camera.

My wife had a stroke, and she only has use of her left hand. She needs a compact digital camera; but she needs one that can be operated with only her left hand. Is there such a camera?

Are there any?

Honestly, I’ve searched for left handed digital cameras but I can’t find any.

One Handed Film Cameras Existed, why not Digital?

Ever read about the Canon Photura or the Yashica Samurai film cameras.  Both could be operated one handed.

I am sure that the Yashica Samurai film camera could be operated left handed.  My little bit of research indicates that the Canon Photura was definitely for right handed people, unknown if a left handed version existed.

July 24, 2012.  My search for a Canon Photura in good condition continues.  I thought I had purchased one for $14.13 at a Village Discount store in Chicago.  I purchased an expensive battery and inserted it into the camera.  But the Photura had a broken battery clip on the inside and I could only get it to work once.  So my search for a useable Canon Photura continues.  If you have a Canon Photura you’ll let me try, please leave a comment.

Bad news for Lefties and the Disabled

Aside from cell phone cameras, there are no obvious choices for left handed people and especially disabled people with only a functioning right or left hand.  I do not say these things lightly, I remember when my Dad was disabled for a while as he fought his way back from a stroke to use his right arm.

Perhaps there’s no money in it for manufacturers to care about one handed photography, real photography.  Here’s hoping that digital camera makers will realize that there’s a market for cameras that can be used one handed, safely and with confidence.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.

Vivitar V3800N for Five Bucks

I think I purchased the Vivitar V3800N because I felt sorry for it.

Have you ever purchased a camera out of pity?

I know, this sounds a bit strange.

I reasoned, “If I don’t purchase this camera, it’s going to end up lost or in the trash.”  A terrible fate for a camera less than 10 years old with full manual capability.

On August 13, a Saturday, I dropped in on about 6 garage sales in Edgebrook, IL, and found a Vivitar camera in a black leather case. I picked it up, opened the case, tested it a bit, and guessed it was manufactured deep into the 1990’s.  Certainly not a classic.  (I later found they were still selling new as late as 2005.)

“I don’t know much about your camera.  I collect older ones and this one’s newer.  I normally pay ten dollars for my cameras.”

The seller and I chatted a while.  Her husband had used the camera for a photography class and had good results.  I really didn’t need another camera, but it seemed to be in good condition.

“I’ll offer you 5 dollars for the camera.”, I said.  I was half hoping she’d put up a struggle so I wouldn’t need to buy it.  Honest, it wasn’t a low ball offer, I already had two untested Vivitar SLR’s sitting at home.

She said, “I’ll take it.  It’s better than nothing.  My Dad collected old radio tubes and transistors.  I’m glad its going to a collector.”  (Apparently I was definitely looking 60 years old this day.)

Is my Five Dollar Vivitar V3800N worth Three Hundred Dollars?

I don’t think so, it couldn’t be.  Individuals and companies want such ridiculous prices for cameras.

One reviewer on Amazon said the Vivitar V3800N is basically the twin to the Nikon FM10.

I highly recommend the V3800N. Indeed, Nikon thinks so highly of it that they sell it as the FM-10

If the Vivitar V3800N is the twin to the Nikon FM-10, and the Nikon FM-10 sells for $308.95 new on Amazon, how much is my Vivitar worth?  Basically, I can dream all I want about this being a bargain.  B&H Photo is selling this camera for $199.99.  eBay completed listings show this camera has sold for about $50 on average.

Until I shoot it and it proves otherwise, it’s a five dollar camera.  To tell you the truth, I purchased this Vivitar SLR because it felt good in my hands at the garage sale and I had the feeling that if I didn’t purchase the Vivitar it would end up in the trash somewhere.  Bad ending for a seemingly operational camera.

Here’s a taste of what a Vivitar V3800N can do with ASA 400 speed film.

Vivitar V3800N, Industrial Park Walk

Vivitar V3800N, Industrial Park Walk

Vivitar V3800N Technical Details

My non-technical technical summary:  This is a metered camera.  The camera needs a battery for its light meter.  If you have the battery, if the light meter is working, you will see a green light in the viewfinder when you have set an acceptable aperture and shutter speed.  It goes red if the balance between aperture and shutter speed will produce an underexposed/overexposed photo.

Ten of my shots on this roll of film were using my light meter.  We’ll see how that goes.

The final shots of this roll came after I inserted a battery into the camera and it worked.

Read Mike Butkus on the Internet for his Vivitar V3800N manual.  Use his PayPal feature to send him some money for his good work.

The Vivitar V3800N is fully manual.  A battery powers the light meter for the camera.  Some cameras (my Ricoh XR-10 for example) need a battery to take a photo.  The Vivitar V3800N works with or without a battery.  Nice way to be.

Provenance or History

Nothing fancy.  As the seller said, her husband purchased the camera for a photography class.

I do enjoy the history of my cameras, sometimes they don’t have much of a story to tell.

My Repairs for the Vivitar 3800N – None


I don’t have a battery for it but I do have my Gossen Pilot light meter.  So I’m really testing three variables:  the Vivitar 3800n, old ASA 400 film, and a Gossen Pilot light meter.  I call that fun.

At a later date I will purchase a battery to see if the Vivitar’s light meter still works.

In mid-roll I purchased two inexpensive batteries for the camera.  I like the way the meter works and it seems to agree with my old Gossen Pilot meter.  If the meter is correct, it gives you a nice solid green light.

My Vivitar V3800N and a dash of Lomography

I do know that my Vivitar 3800n has some film loaded in it.  I’m going to shoot away with this old 400 ASA speed film and see what develops.  If the previous seller has any photos on the roll, I’ll never publish those photos to the Internet.  I’m curious to see how old film can perform when developed.

I believe people call it lomography when using old film or quirky cameras.  The camera seems fine, the condition of the film is unknown.

Nice features of the Vivitar V3800N camera.

  1. It just feels good.  It has a nice weight and a nice balance to it.
  2. There’s little camera shake at lower speeds.
  3. f22.  The Vivitar has a tiny f22 aperture.  This encourages me to shoot with extreme depth of field.  (tiny aperture, objects outside of focus more in focus).

The camera feels good but I won’t know my results until the film is developed.

  • Perhaps a dozen exposures “inherited” from the previous owner.  They will never be published, anywhere.
  • Some exposures were taken using a 30 year old light meter of unknown accuracy.  Kind of like rolling the dice.
  • Last exposures taken with a new battery bringing the camera’s light metering system to life.  The Internet has some complaints about this camera’s light metering system when brand new.  So this is going to be a fun test roll.
  • The light metering system does seem a bit skittish:  sometimes a green light, sometimes under/over exposed.  It would be nice if the metering system through the viewfinder indicated the aperture and shutter speed, but it doesn’t.

First Roll was a Failure

I can’t blame the Vivitar V3800N.  When I finished the roll and took it to Costco they said they couldn’t develop the film.

It’s not C-41.  You need special processing for this roll.

Too bad.  I wasn’t about to spend extra money to develop a roll of film.

I guess that’s the risk you take when try to finish a roll of film that’s already in a “test camera”.  I wonder if I will ever do that again (OK, maybe).

2nd Roll for the Vivitar V3800N

Thanks goodness for Costco.  It cost less than five dollars to develop film for my five dollar camera.

The Good – Decent Photos when the Light is Even

My church photos came out decently.  I focused on the end of the railing in the bottom right of the photo.  Nice bokeh of the church door in the background.

Vivitar V3800N, Church Railing with Bokeh

Vivitar V3800N, Church Railing with Bokeh

Pretending to be a sports photographer at a Schurz High School football game was fun.  The frosh-soph football team plays alongside Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, IL.  Just pull to the side of the street and watch the game.

Too bad I wasn’t good enough to set the shutter speed to 1/125 or 1/250th.  I think I had it at 1/60th.  I was thinking aperture when I should have been thinking shutter speed.

Vivitar V3800N, Blurry Halfback at Schurz Football

Vivitar V3800N, Blurry Halfback at Schurz Football

The Average – OK Photos when the Light is Uneven

If you’re good at photography you know that you need to bracket your photos when photographing dark/bright uneven shots.  I’m learning this too.  Even as I took this photo I was wondering,

How will the camera deal with this uneven brightness.

Well the Vivitar V3800N gave me its own answer.

I’d be happy to give you great photos if you would take a photography class and learn how to always bracket when your exposures in doubt.

Anyway, here are a few OK photos from the camera.

I know, this photo looks pretty mundane, not very exciting, but it means something to me.  I’m learning from my mistakes.

  1. Exposure.  Is there any way I could have minimized the blinding light in the photo?  I guess I could have changed the aperture and taken 3 different photos.  How will I do this next time?
  2. Boring.  What would you add to this photo to make it interesting?  Do you know the answer?  PEOPLE.  If I had photographed a person on the softa, underneath a tollway overpass, next to a train, hidden from the street, that would have been an interesting photo.
Vivitar V3800N, Tollway Overpass in Park Ridge, IL

Vivitar V3800N, Tollway Overpass in Park Ridge, IL

Will I use the Vivitar V3800N camera again?

Probably not.  The photos are decent and the camera seems to work well enough.  But I have a lot of cameras to choose from when I take photos.

But if this was my only camera, it would be fine.

This Vivitar V3800N is destined for eBay or Craigslist for an aspiring photographer.  Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.


Canon Sure Shot 130u, Excellent Camera

If you had to choose one point and shoot camera to get the job done, which one would you choose?

The Canon 130u is a Good Value

This is a delightful camera.  I purchased it for five dollars in the summer of 2010 at a garage sale in Lindenhurst, IL.  Then I found another Canon 130u at a thirft shop for $5 and purchased that one also.

My best sample photo with the Canon Sure Shot 130u

Canon 130u, Chicago Alley at Night

How does the Canon 130u feel?

It’s been a while since I shot a roll of film with my Canon 130u.  So it’s a little hard remembering.

  1. 38-130mm range.  I remember thinking, hurray.  The zoom range is 38mm to 130mm.  I can do landscape, portraits, and a some nature photography.
  2. Pre-focus.  Many point and shoots require depressing the shutter button half way to focus, pause a brief moment, and then push the button again.  Some people have trouble with this feature.  For me, it worked just fine.
  3. Long snout.  When you zoom to 130mm, the lens does protude quite a bit.

 Problems with the Canon Sure Shot 130u?  One.

My Canon Sure Shot 130u was trouble free.  When I shoot another roll of film I’ll spend more time taking photos indoors with flash.  I didn’t take enough of them to test the camera properly.  My two indoor flash photos were a bit blurry, but it could have been the photographer (me).

Technical Description for the Canon 130u

  1. Aluminum.
  2. Focal Length.
  3. Battery.  Powered by one 3V lithium battery (CR2).
  4. Flash modes.  Fill-in mode, Slow synchro, Auto mode, Flash OFF mode, Red-eye reduction.

The next time I shoot a roll of film with the Canon Sure Shot 130u, I’ll be sure to take more photos at night using the flash OFF mode.  That feature worked very nicely.

To find more detailed technical specifications, visit Amazon for info.

Provenance or History

I purchased my first Canon Sure Shot 130u in a subdivision of Lindenhurst, Illinois.  Whenever I fish at Deep Lake I visit one or two garage sales during the summer.  In the summer of 2010 I found this little camera in a sale.

I asked the retired couple:

Do you like the camera?  Did you take good pictures with it?

They said they had taken the camera to Ireland and it had done wonderfully.  They loved the photos.  I offered the couple five dollars.  They accepted.

In the spring of 2011 on a thirft shop excursion to Evanston, IL I found another Canon Sure Shot 130u in seemingly good shape and purchased it.  Again, $5.

My Repairs for the Canon Sure Shot 130u

None.  Point and shoot cameras either work or they don’t.

I have since learned to put fresh batteries into a used point and shoot camera and run an expendable test roll of film through the camera.  I experiment with the controls for time delay, flash, no flash, and then I hope the camera rewinds when the photos are done.

I always keep a batch of expendable old 35mm film handy.  If you go to garage sales as I do, snatch up the old 35mm film but don’t pay too much for it.  Tell people their film is old and undependable.  You buy old, expired 35mm film to test your old cameras.

A Great Photo with a Canon 130u

If you’d like to see a terrific photo of NYC using this camera, go to Queensbridge Park on Flickr to see a photo by Rafakoy.

I don’t steal people’s photos.  So visit Queensbridge Park to see a great photo taken with this wonderful little camera.

My Sample Photos with my Canon 130u

Do you see the large bird in the middle of the photo, just gliding along?

As I recall this photo…

  1. My camera was already “on”.
  2. I saw the bird flying in from the left and aimed where he would be.
  3. I depressed the shutter half way even before the bird came into view.  Instinctively I perhaps knew the shot would focus on infinity.
  4. The bird came into view and I fully depressed the shutter.

Not bad for a five dollar point and shoot.

Canon Sure Shot 130u, Bird in Flight

Canon Sure Shot 130u, Bird in Flight

My mother was very fond of the color purple.  Whenever I see purple flowers, I smile and take a photo.  This one’s for you Mom.

Canon Sure Shot 130u,  Purple Flowers for Oma

Canon Sure Shot 130u, Purple Flowers for Oma

Canon Sure Shot 130u Final Review

I own two of these cameras but I’ll probably never sell them.  Just selfish I guess.

I own a Yashica T4, Olympus Stylus Epic and a few other point and shoot cameras.  Although their photos are dazzling, they don’t have a zoom lens.  The Canon 130u does have the very adequate 38mm to 130mm zoom lens.

I don’t think anyone will go looking for a Canon Sure Shot 130u after reading this review.  But if you bump into a 130u at a garage sale, smile, and offer the owner five dollars for it.

Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today.

Are Film Cameras Obsolete?

…and then I thought…

I wonder how much camera film was sold last year?

If Film Cameras are Dead, is this Blog a Bad Idea?

Now I think I know how people felt in the year 1900 who sold custom horse carriages.

Perhaps a bit obsolete.  Maybe.

A Billion Rolls of Film now just 20 Million a Year

This is a little depressing.

In How Much Longer can Photographic Film Hold On, The Associated Press said.

At the turn of the 21st century, American shutterbugs were buying close to a billion rolls of film per year. This year, they might buy a mere 20 million, plus 31 million single-use cameras — the beach-resort staple vacationers turn to in a pinch, according to the Photo Marketing Association.

Let’s toss out the 31 million single-use cameras statistic.  Those are people who purchase a $10 camera that may include film processing (hello Walgreens) when they can’t afford a decent little $100 digital camera.

So let’s focus (yes, an unintentional pun) on 20 million rolls to 1 billion rolls.

2011 camera film purchases in the U.S. have dropped 98% in ten years.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have started What is a Film Camera in the first place.  If film is really dying, this blog may become a lonely place.

Vinyl Records to the Rescue

Vinyl records (you remember, your Mom and Dad have a bunch of these in the attic) are making a comeback in the marketplace.  It appears not everyone loves CDs and MP3 files.  Vinyl for some people is more fun than CDs and MP3 files.

Sound quality LPs generally exhibit a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs and digital downloads. MP3 files tend to produce tinnier notes, especially if compressed into a lower-resolution format that pares down the sonic information. “Most things sound better on vinyl, even with the crackles and pops and hisses,” says MacRunnel, the young Missouri record collector.

Read more:,9171,1702369,00.html#ixzz1YnCir9rg

 Sales of vinyl records during this century are increasing.  They’ll never come even close to challenging sales of CDs or downloads of MP3 files, but more and more people are buying vinyl records.  It’s an old technology that’s growing in the marketplace.

Do people still shoot with film?

I get that question a lot at garage sales.

I know that I shoot with film.  I know that every day eBay has 10,000 film cameras for sale.  So somebody is shooting with film.  And the prices of used film cameras doesn’t seem to be dropping any time soon.

Digital Cameras are OK, but Film is Fun

Yes, I admit it, I do shoot with digital cameras.  But film cameras are something special.

I own 3 digital cameras and about 60 film cameras (30+ tested).

Since I am always testing a camera (currently testing a Vivitar 3800 SLR), I’m not quite sure of how well the camera works.  So I carry my Canon SD 880 digital as a backup.  I’m practical, I like photos.  But I prefer film cameras.

If film cameras survive, you can thank young people

Young people have rescued vinyl records from extinction.  Will they do the same for film cameras?

I don’t think young people are pulling Beach Boy albums or Rolling Stone albums from their parents attic where they’ve sat for decades (and warped or worse).  But young people are increasing their purchases of new, vinyl records because they sound better, richer than CDs or MP3 files played in some device.

When I visit garage sales I always ask, “Do you have any film cameras?”.  If they don’t have a camera for sale, I smile when they say:

My son or daughter is using my old film camera for her high school photography class.

That’s music to my ears.  Young people using film cameras in high school.

Is Film better than Digital Photography?

That’s really the question that resolves the “are film cameras obsolete” question.  If young people decide film has advantages over digital photography than purchases of rolls of film will begin increasing.  That will be a good sign for film photography.

The is film better than digital photography question is for persons like Ken Rockwell or Karen Nakamura to discuss, much better than I can do at this stage in my film journey.

Ken Rockwell might persuade you that photography is all relative.  Depending on what you’re photographing, your conditions, whether you develop film or let someone else process your work, your choice of film versus digital is a relative choice.  Your choice of film or digital depends upon a number of factors that matter to you.

 Karen Nakamura is a photoethnographer.  If you’re a photoethnographer or street photographer just starting out, film cameras are an affordable choice for a rugged device that brings back photos.  Is it just me or can you purchase top of the line film cameras for a whole lot less than top of  the line digital cameras?  Karen might argue that you become effective with inexpensive photography gear (rangefinders, SLRs) and then you can purchase digital if you wish.

Are Film Cameras Obsolete?

I don’t think so.  They’re only obsolete if somebody tosses them into the attic or in the sweater drawer in their bedroom.

If you’ve read this far, you probably agree with me.  Using film cameras is a choice, not a religion.  Purchase a 25 year old Olympus XA2 or a 50 year old Zeiss Contaflex and take them for a stroll with your digital camera.  Shoot all day with both cameras and then print all your photos. 

Olympus XA2, Millenium Park, Chicago, IL USA


Zeiss Ikon Contaflex, Flowers w Bokeh, My Chicago Backyard

Then you can best decide if film cameras are obsolete.

Zenit-E, My Communist SLR


I don’t know much about my new Zenit-E but I do have an idea of where it’s been.

The journey of a camera made approximately in 1975.  It was manufactured in Krasnogorsk just outside Moscow, Russia (A).  I purchased it from an eBay vendor very near to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (B).  And the nice eBay vendor shipped my Russian camera to me in Chicago, IL USA (C).  I can only dare to imagine where else the Zenit-E traveled.

First, my best sample photo with the Zenit-E

This is my gangway to my bungalow in Chicago, IL USA.  I often shoot my wife’s flowers with hopes of getting some good bokeh in the background.  You can see our sidewalk and our red Weber grill.

Zenit-E, Flowers with Bokeh

How does the Zenit-E feel?

Perhaps the best time to describe how a camera “feels” is before you process its first roll of film.  You’re not focusing on the results of the camera but the operation of the camera.

First, allow me to thank the eBay vendor from Canada who advertised a tested camera and delivered a camera that worked properly.  No lens, just a body, packed wonderfully in a nice box protected against harm.

The Zenit-E is a Tank

Honest to goodness, this camera is built like a tank.  Heavy as heck, rock solid, I like it.

Zenit-E Impressions

  1. Feels good.  It’s made of steel and in my opinion, decently assembled.
  2. Selenium meter.  No batteries on this SLR.  The selenium meter does adjust to light.  Whether it’s accurate, I have no idea.
  3. Little camera shake.  Since I am fond of tiny apertures and longer shutter times, I end up taking lots of photos at 1/30 of a second or less.  I like cameras that don’t shake.  This Russian Zenit-E doesn’t shake much at any speed.
  4. Sounds good.  Strangely enough, I like the sound it makes when it takes a photo.  Not too loud, just right.

Problems?  Not many.

  1. X and M.  My first two photos were wasted in the daytime.  I had the camera set to X/M, pressed the shutter, and the exposure was in B mode.  My mistake.
  2. Initial film transport.  It took perhaps 10 minutes to figure out how to insert the film, slip the tail end of the film into the take up roll slot, and start the film properly.  Film transport is something I am still learning even after shooting over 30 film cameras in the past year.
  3. Film rewind.  A little quirky.  At the end of the roll press the film transport release button located near the shutter button.  Normally these buttons are on the bottom of the camera, on the Zenit-E, it’s on the top of the camera by the shutter release.  Next, the film rewind is on top of the camera on the opposite side of the shutter.  Pull out the little knob and rewind in the direction of the arrow.  Keep winding until you no longer feel any film tension.  That means you’re finished rewinding.

Selenium light meter

After reviewing my first roll I believe the selenium light meter isn’t working quite right.  And then I used an untested light meter I had sitting around.  So I rolled the dice twice and lost on too many overexposures.

We always hope that our film photographs come out well, nicely exposed, and well focused.  But as you can see from this overexposed pond, trusting the light meters of untested old cameras and old light meters results in questionable exposures.

Zenit-E, Overexposed Pond

A Little Worried about Stopping Down the Diaphragm

I found this quote from Camerapedia after shooting my first roll.

The Zenit E requires the user to manually stop down the diaphragm before exposure; the lens has an extra ring for this purpose. The Zenit EM was an upgraded version, with an automatic diaphragm.

Here’s hoping I didn’t waste an entire roll because I certainly did not “stop down” the diaphragm.

As it turns out, some Russian lenses have a diaphragm “dial” for stopping down prior to a shot.  But other M42 screw mount lenses do not have that feature.  Basically, for most M42 lenses without a diaphragm dial, you set aperture, shutter speed, focus and shoot.

Zenit E – Technical Details

I don’t mind if you read Matt Denton’s description of this camera at Matt’s website.  It’s for a Zenit EM, not the Zenit E.  But it’s close enough to give you an idea of what you might be purchasing.

My summary.

  1. No lens.  My Zenit-E came without a lens, just a body.  I used a Carl Zeiss Jena 55m 2.8 aperture lens.  It seemed appropriate.  An East German communist lens for a Soviet camera (just having a little fun here, cameras don’t care where they’re manufactured).
  2. Shutter speed.  30, 60, 125, 250, and 500th of a second.  B also.

I know it’s a little thin as descriptions go.  Visit Matt Denton’s website for more info.

Provenance or History

No fancy provenance on this camera, just a short history.

  1. Made in Krasnogork near Moscow, Russia.
  2. Somehow travelled to near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
  3. Shipped from Vancouver, Canada to Chicago, IL USA.

Ironically, I visited Moscow during the summer of 1975.  Quite possibly I even passed through Krasnogorsk at that time.  I was with 50 American students from Wisconsin travelling in a German VW van with Belgium license plates throughout all of Russia and soviet bloc countries.

I’ve also been to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Beautiful town, great time.

So I’ve made a similar journey as did my Zenit-E camera.  Both of us are still in good shape (thank you).

My Repairs for the Zenit E

No repairs needed.  Everything seemed to work courtesy of a diligent and good seller on eBay.

Sample Photos with the Zenit-E

Half of my exposures on the first roll were overexposed.  But their were some decent photos.  Here’s a basketball player shooting a shot.  As I recall, this photo was taken while using the camera’s selenium meter.  Also, the player is a little blurry at 1/30th of a second.  But perhaps you can learn from my imperfect photos.

Zenit-E, Hoops at Lunch

This is a Chicago gangway.  That means it’s the space between two buildings.  Our neighbor’s brick two flat is on the left and my wooden bungalow is on the right.  You can see the locked gate at the back of the photo.  Although it’s a good taste of what Chicago is like, you can still tell that the photos is overexposed.  One day, I’ll use a genuine accurate light meter.

Zenit-E, Chicago Gangway

Zenit-E Final Review

I won’t sell this camera, for now.

Once I purchase an accurate light meter I’ll shoot another roll and see how it performs.

I have many happy memories of visiting Russia in 1975.  It’s quite possible that my Zenit-E was manufactured that very summer as we drove into Moscow on a blistering summer day of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  As we drove into Moscow on the outskirts, we passed a team of large Russian women in red bikinis working with picks and shovels moving dirt for a new road.  If only I had a Zenit-E to photograph that amazing sight in 1975.

Thanks for reading my Zenit-E review today.  And finally, thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera .