Question with old analogue lens


TPF Noob!
Feb 19, 2012
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Hello people,
I am doing (analogue) photography now for about a year (nikon cam). Now I want to do some shooting tomorrow with a friend, but she has no camera, so I decided to lend her the old one that belonged to my grandfather. It is an old soviet Zenit-E with a helion lens. Now that I have spent the evening figuring out where everything is on that camera, there is one thing that bothers me:
The lens has, unlike any other I have seen, a third ring, that can be used to close the aperture up to the one set to be able to see the final field of focus (sorry if I am not correct qoth the english terminology). Of course the viewfinder gets darker then. When I shift the ring, I can see aperture open and close inside the lens.
Now, when I set time to infinite and look through the lens or the open camera, the aperture stays open the whole time, unless I shift the ring, wich I can do while still pressing the shutter release button. Then I see it open and close.
I dont believe this is normal, the aperture should close while the shutter is open, and I should be able to see it when looking through the cam.
So, is this a malfunction? If so, can I handle it, by closing the aperture "manually"?
I would be very glad to recieve an answer till tomorrow so we can go shooting.
Greets from Germany!
In the old days there was no automatically stopped down aperture.

You opened it wide to focus ... then stopped it down during the shot.

This may be a camera that operates in this manner.
Thaks for the answer. This is what I thought, too. Especially because the lens has no mechanical control on it, it is just like a piece of glass that operates for itself and gets no "impulse" from the camera". It is very old, I think early seventies.
Strange though, that my grandfather said that he never did that, nor does the manual (yeah, my grandfather kept ALL the russian manuals for all this time, turned out useful after all...) mention this. In fact the manual mentions this ring only once, namely on the what-is-what page. No instructions how to operate it...
But hey, I will know when I pull the film out of the developement box...
It's called a pre-set lens. You must set the lens to the desired aperture before shooting. That third ring is there to facilitate doing that.
DXQ is correct. The E has no auto aperture. Focus wide open then stop down before you trip the shutter. On the upside you have automatic DOF preview ;)
Thanks, I like to hear that it isnt broken but this ist the normal functionality, an it is especially good to hear it from someone who knows the actual camera. Didn't expect that... ;)
I view it as an upside totally, especially because the friend I speak of is just about to learn photography and I think the less happens automatically, the more you understand it! Btw I also miss the possibility of DOF preview on my Nikon F601 that is much more advanced...

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