OddCameras.com                         Zenit 12 XP

The Zenit cameras were a long series of 35mm film SLR cameras, made mainly by KMZ (Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod - Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk), founded in 1942 in Krasnogorsk, a western suburb of Moscow. The series began with the original Zenit (later called Zenit-1), produced between 1952-56. It was essentially a Zorki 1
rangefinder camera, but with an added reflex housing. To make room for the mirror, they kept the M39 mount, but chose a longer focal flange distance. Several models followed with this special M39 mount. The Zenit-E, introduced in 1965, had a new housing, M42 mount and a light meter. The EM finally introduced automatic diaphragm stop-down in 1972. More than 3.000.000 E models were made.

Another major change was the introduction of the TTL model in 1977. As the name suggests, it introduced TTL metering. About 1.600.000 were made by KMZ, but another 1.000.000 were also produced by BelOMO (Belorussian Optical and Mechanical Association, Minsk) between 1980-82. In 1983 the Zenit 12 was introduced by KMZ. It has only minor changes, a hot shoe,  brighter viewfinder and LED metering instead of a needle in the TTL model. An upgrade with a different speed dial, the 12 SD followed.

The model presented here, the 12 XP, is the eXPort version of the 12SD and stayed in production until 1994. There was a 12 XP produced in Brazil. My camera comes from a kind neighbour to my Calais house. He gave it to me, including the lenses, for free. As he said, it had slept in a closet for 30 years. A pair of new batteries and it worked again! I also have a TTL model which I bought because of the nice Helios lens.

 The main features are:

cloth, horizontal, speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and B
pentaprism, fresnel screen with microraster,
Light-meter: TTL
Focus: manual
Film speeds: 16-500 GOST/ASA
Hot shoe and PC socket
(only the 1/30s synchronized), mechanical self-timer, tripod mount. Comes with Helios-44-M-4 58mm F/2, M42 mount lens

Some photos:

Camera, lenses, strap and French instructions.

Camera front. Standard lens, a good F2 58mm Helios.

Camera back. Battery compartment, takes 2 standard LR43 batteries. Advance lever.

Camera bottom. Tripod socket.

Seen from above. ISO setting around the rewind, hot shoe, speed setting, shutter release, film counter on the axis of the wind lever. Turning the pressed shutter release button towards "T" in B setting keeps it pressed until turned back. Self-timer use is a bit more complicated: press the shutter button half down and turn it to "V". This will close the aperture. Wind the self timer on the front. Then press the little button above the self timer wind lever and self timer will start. If you are looking for the rewind release: it's a little sleeve around the shutter button that has to be pressed down with a fingernail. It will click and stay down for rewind.

Lens detached, M42 screw mount.

Camera with 80-200mm zoom lens.

A decent Helios F3.8 lens. There are macro indications on the lens barrel, but my lens does not have a macro setting. If anyone has more information, please contact me.

Film compartment.

This is a decent, robust SLR camera with a good lens that can be bought for next to nothing. A very good start if you want to get into real film cameras. M42 screw mount lenses are cheaper than others as well. It lacks slow speeds.