If you read the post about my exploits with the Zenit XP12 then you know how lucky I was to get this camera. The person who gave me the second XP12 took pity on me and gave me this camera body, I think in part to make me feel better…or the promise of my smena.
By the serial number I can tell “mine” was made in 1975 and by the logo, it was produced by KMZ. The symbol being a prism with a refracted ray of light. How apt.
As soon as I held it, I liked it. How could I not? It was so much like the Zenit 11. In fact the only difference I could immediately discern was inside the viewfinder. The 11 has a micro-prism in the center, but the E doesn’t have anything but a flat plane. I found this viewfinder a little dark, even with the lens wide open. Another review I read said the viewfinder was a bit of a joke. Yeah, it was tough to focus, especially with my varifocal glasses on. The E also lacked strap lugs on the body meaning you have to use the bottom half of the case, always annoying. For that reason alone, the 11 is still my preferred Zenit.
On the E the winder throw seemed long and a bit unreliable. I found it was better to make two short movements to ensure the curtain was fully retracted.
I did find the uncoupled light meter to be reliable and accurate, even after 45 years. I relied on it for the entirety of the test film roll. This person also found it reliable and mentioned the sound of the shutter. Not exactly a quiet camera, not a stealthy camera.
How did my example fair? I popped on the spare lens from my Zenit 11, put in half a roll of Fuji Acros II, and got to trying it. I took it to a local park on a dull, rainy day.
Wow, I love the results. They seem a fraction soft, but I feel it adds to the photos rather than detract. I think the softness came from the fact the lens was wide open for most of the time, the weather has been a little dull recently making me push 100 film to 400, adding to the grain and softness. The light meter continued to performed well, even along the dark path in the trees. What a great camera, I would say little camera, but it isn’t little at all. By the end of the walk my neck was starting to ache from the original leather strap. I am tempted to cut it off and put on a more modern one. Oh for the love of strap lugs.
I know this review is quite short as most of my reviews are. Though, I did like this camera, it is not in my top ten and I didn’t feel like waxing lyrical about it. Maybe it is more of a photo post. If you do want to read more technical detail or experiences, here are some other reviews that I haven’t linked to in the main text…