Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by myopia, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. myopia

    myopia TPF Noob!

    Oct 17, 2005
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    MA and CO
    so what is the story with these? are they anygood? how are the lenses? is the glass anygood and can do they make a selection of mm's ?
    why are they so cheap?

  2. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

    May 3, 2005
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    Des Moines, Iowa
    Leica is a company that makes amazing cameras, companes in the former soviet union basically made rip-offs of them by copying the design. The lenses and performance of the camera is somewhat inconsistence, and the term "russian roulette" is thrown around when describing buying a zorki or any other FSU camera. You can also buy better lenses such as a f/1.5 50mm on ebay for around $50 + shipping. The cameras are cheap because they were massed produced and are old. The leicas they copied back the 1950s are still going for $200+ on ebay. Other companies in the FSU also made similar cameras, other brands would be Fed and Kiev. The older the camera you get the more uncomfortable it is to use by today's standards, but after shooting a few rolls it gets much easier.

    There is a forum specifically for russian cams over at rangefinderforum.com
  3. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2003
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    Ahwatukee, AZ
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    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Zorkii cameras, the Russian copies of Leica, are built like a tank. However, that being said, they were less refined than the original Leicas. For example, setting the shutter speed (dial) and then cocking the shutter would damage the shutter mechanism 50% of the time. Correct procedure would be the reverse, cocking the shutter and then setting the speed. Can you imagine how many Zorkii owners found out the hard way about it?

    The lenses were mediocre to very good. Inconsistency was the name of the game. Often, Zorkii collectors would buy 5-10 lenses of the same make/focal length and test to see which one offers the best resolution. Only one or two would qualify as excellent, the others being put out for sale.
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

    Feb 1, 2006
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    in the middle of north carolina
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    I had three of the fed 2 and a full set of lenses. Before you read on know that I am a retro guy, so the clumsy controls and pain in the neck lens changes weren't a big deal to me. However, if you plan to shoot quickly, to bracket alot, or don't like a hand held meter, you might want to consider something else.

    That said, I had one fed 2 with a wrinkled shutter curtain, and all them had less than bright chrome. The lenses were adaquate but you need a special viewfinder to shoot them, and even that wasn't all that great in my opinion.

    They made good pictures and they look nice sitting on the shelf. I would use one today, if I just wanted to look cool. The images I got were acceptable, and the cameras were cheap.

    The story on all russian camera is that during world war two as the red army overran germany, they disassembed whole pants and moved them to mother russia. The Leica plant fell into their hands. The Russians had the Machine tools and the technology from those plants but lacked the skilled labor force.

    They are all way out of date and even the more modern zenits, and the like, suffer from poor quality control. All that said, where else are you going to buy a 35mm rangefinder for under fifty bucks, with a half decent interchanbale lens system. I have some rangefinders that I like better, but they don't have the interchangeable lens.

    The Russian camera industry was built on the Fed zorki tradition of knockoff.. With a couple of medium formats, they went that way as well.

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