An Old Russian Tank - Zenit E

LouisRG

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Good evening everyone!

Last week I bought a Zenit-E from my local junk shop. Being new to film cameras, I knew a few things to check (winding mechanism, shutter etc.) and they were all right, but I neglected a few things. One of those was the Selenium Cell Light sensor - as far as I know mine doesn't work at all (see attached image - the white line should move when light varies, but mine stays put).
zenit.jpg

If anyone knows how I should best deal with this, or if I actually need it at all (alternative methods maybe), then please let me know in this thread.

The second problem is the lens. In theory, it should work. It's a Pentacon 1.8/50 (see it here: Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 MC (M42) Lens Review ). However, upon further reading, I've noticed that the aperture blades don't actually appear to work at all. I haven't yet used the camera as I was waiting for my film to arrive - it now has, and I'm gutted to notice this fault now. That's what I get for being a novice, I suppose :(

Is it an easy fix, or should I look for a totally new lens? It's worth noting that this isn't the one that came with the camera when it was first manufactured, that was a Helios 44-2 58mm (I think), so it's already not ideal.

Being new to film, do you think that I should start afresh and go and buy a new camera and just make sure it works, or is it worth me fixing this one?

Any help at all is greatly appreciated, including general tips for film photography - I'm completely new.

Have a good one everybody,
Louis
 

timor

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Hi.
Zenit E.Most basic slr. Actually built on the base of Zorki, Russian copy of Leica.
Light meter doesn't work ? Most likely selenium is spent. Get hand held meter. Best and not to expensive used one would be Sekonic Studio Deluxe. No batteries and simple to use (however it looks complicated, it is not ). I use it in incident light mode, quick and reliable. Hollywood is using it even now, for shooting digital movies.
Light Meters Quick Guide - Help Wiki
Lens. Pentagon might be faulty. Glass is not bad, but the housing and mechanisms in it are seldom withstanding test of time. I would need to see it. But anyway, if I remember well Zenit E doesn't have automatic diaphragm. You will need to use so called preset lens like Helios 44-2, or, did you check, if your Pentacon closes the aperture blades in manual mode ? If so, you can use it. It is a bit of pain first to focus on open aperture, than close aperture than aim and compose again, but, hey, welcome to Zenit E world. :1219:
 

espresso2x

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Louis check the A/M switch on the 50 is set to M(anual) iris.
 

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That's what I was going to suggest, get a hand held meter or try the Sunny 16 method. If the selenium meter isn't working I don't think it can be fixed. It would most likely not be worth putting money into it anyway.

Did you put the lens on the camera and look thru it? Play with it a little, advance imaginary film, and take imaginary pictures lol - before you put film in it. Seems like that ought to be a decent lens if you can make sure it's working.

Since you now have film, I'd think about running a test roll thru it before I gave up on it. If nothing else it could be an interesting piece of shelf art. I have vintage cameras that are just cool looking and were cheap so they're just for display.
 
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LouisRG

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Louis check the A/M switch on the 50 is set to M(anual) iris.
It's definitely set to M, and when I go to change the aperture, looking through the lens, nothing is moving at all - I'm pretty sure it's spent.
 
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LouisRG

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Hi.
Zenit E.Most basic slr. Actually built on the base of Zorki, Russian copy of Leica.
Light meter doesn't work ? Most likely selenium is spent. Get hand held meter. Best and not to expensive used one would be Sekonic Studio Deluxe. No batteries and simple to use (however it looks complicated, it is not ). I use it in incident light mode, quick and reliable. Hollywood is using it even now, for shooting digital movies.
Light Meters Quick Guide - Help Wiki
Lens. Pentagon might be faulty. Glass is not bad, but the housing and mechanisms in it are seldom withstanding test of time. I would need to see it. But anyway, if I remember well Zenit E doesn't have automatic diaphragm. You will need to use so called preset lens like Helios 44-2, or, did you check, if your Pentacon closes the aperture blades in manual mode ? If so, you can use it. It is a bit of pain first to focus on open aperture, than close aperture than aim and compose again, but, hey, welcome to Zenit E world. :1219:
I bought it purely based on the fact it was made in a country that doesn't exist anymore - I quite like that fact I can say that - and of course, it is built like a brick.

The Sekonic Studio Deluxe looks like a good light meter - but is there no way I can use an app on my phone or something? I want to reduce costs at all opportunities, being a student and all...

I have checked in manual mode - there are still no signs of life from the lens. The Helios 44-2 was what was manufactured with the camera however if I picked one up now it would be more expensive than I bought the Zenit for last week - from what I can tell now it'd be worth me just going out and buying a new camera.

Thanks a million for your help and suggestions :)
 
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LouisRG

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That's what I was going to suggest, get a hand held meter or try the Sunny 16 method. If the selenium meter isn't working I don't think it can be fixed. It would most likely not be worth putting money into it anyway.

Did you put the lens on the camera and look thru it? Play with it a little, advance imaginary film, and take imaginary pictures lol - before you put film in it. Seems like that ought to be a decent lens if you can make sure it's working.

Since you now have film, I'd think about running a test roll thru it before I gave up on it. If nothing else it could be an interesting piece of shelf art. I have vintage cameras that are just cool looking and were cheap so they're just for display.
The aperture definitely doesn't work on the lens, even through Manual mode is set. Of course, taking imaginary photos it looks fine but the aperture is locked open wide haha, I think it's dead.

From what everyone on here is saying, I'll have to buy a new one. Very annoying.

Thank you for your help! :)
 

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Use sunny 16. There is also an accurate free phone app called light meter that works although it can be troublesome using out in the sun, hard to see the reading. You can practice with your light meter in the backyard while trying to guess your sunny 16 choices. With a little practice, you will be able to figure it out in short order.

Glass should be reasonable price for that camera.
 
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LouisRG

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jcdeboever

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Glass should be reasonable price for that camera.
What do you mean by glass?
Lens
I've looked and the Helios 44-2 that it's supposed to have costs double what I paid for the camera - although I've seen that it has a really nice swirly Bokeh which might actually make it worth the investment to me. Would you recommend buying a new camera or lens for this one?
I don't know. Personally, I like fully working cameras. Light metered cameras are not important to me. Smooth operation, accurate or close to accurate shutter speeds, clean viewfinder, and quiet operation are what I look for. My favorite film camera is my Nikon FM or Nikon F. I would love to get a Leica M2, or M4P with a 35mm summicron but they go for crazy money. If I ever find a deal on one, I wouldn't be opposed to a Voightlander 40mm lens.
 
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LouisRG

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Glass should be reasonable price for that camera.
What do you mean by glass?
Lens
I've looked and the Helios 44-2 that it's supposed to have costs double what I paid for the camera - although I've seen that it has a really nice swirly Bokeh which might actually make it worth the investment to me. Would you recommend buying a new camera or lens for this one?
I don't know. Personally, I like fully working cameras. Light metered cameras are not important to me. Smooth operation, accurate or close to accurate shutter speeds, clean viewfinder, and quiet operation are what I look for. My favorite film camera is my Nikon FM or Nikon F. I would love to get a Leica M2, or M4P with a 35mm summicron but they go for crazy money. If I ever find a deal on one, I wouldn't be opposed to a Voightlander 40mm lens.
That's a whole lot of stuff I don't know about already :) I'll have to come to terms with all these different brands and lenses etc., but I guess it takes time.

For the time being I'll just keep my eye out for a cheap Helios.
 

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Louis check the A/M switch on the 50 is set to M(anual) iris.
It's definitely set to M, and when I go to change the aperture, looking through the lens, nothing is moving at all - I'm pretty sure it's spent.
It is an old lens and us oldies can get very slow in our movements. I would try switching from A to M on the lens a good few times. I would do that at the maximum aperture a dozen or so times and then repeat at the minimum aperture.

To check the aperture blades, remove the lens, switch to A, set a mid-range aperture, and press the pin on the mount end of the lens - the aperture should close part way. Repeat this a few dozen times.
 

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