Soviet cameras buyers guide

Soviet cameras

Soviet Cameras

Germany has a Leica or Zeiss, Voigtlander and the Rollei. Sweden has Hasselblad. Japan has Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Olympus. If you are a photographer, you know these brands. And probably you have cameras and lenses made by one or more of these companies, but you know about Soviet Cameras?
But there is a dark side in the world of industry of cameras, because the countries of the former Soviet Union and Russia also produced some great quality cameras, and some countries still do. This article is an intriguing story and a photograph of the branch which can add more incredible value.
In this tutorial, I will present a brief historical overview of Russian cameras, covering many of the major brands that are available, and talk about some of the large lenses that were made for these cameras!


First, let me say that “Russian” or “Soviet” which is a term that will be used for a range of cameras that were produced in Russia and the USSR, or in countries under Soviet rule, before the collapse of Soviet Union that began in 1991.
That said, the vast majority of the industry Soviet Russian pi cameras emerged after World War II. Germany, an industrial power that made cameras, and was divided two parts. ( Berlin Wall). One of these parts was controlled by Russia. In addition, many German companies have been forced to give up their patents and designs.

Can you see the similarities between the Leica Zorki I and II?

And so companies in Russia began to produce copies or similar cameras and lenses for the famous German models. Some of them were of an excellent quality other suffered from a poor quality control.

What can we expect from the Soviet cameras?

The first thing you will notice about Russian cameras, and being that is the first thing that initially attracts most people to take an interest in them, is the price.

They are incredibly affordable. A Leica 1960 may cost EUR € 600.00 and a Zorki or Fed almost the same model costs ten times less. The same principle applies to the lens.

When we first started studying this subject I began to investigate rangefinder cameras to give me an experience similar to Leica but at a more affordable price. And I found models like the Contax, Zeiss, and even new cameras Voigtlander Bessa, but they were still very expensive models.

After surfing the internet for long hours, I came across a large number of cameras that I had never even heard of.

And so I started to interest me in this subject.


There are many brands and types of cameras and Russian lenses. For the record, this article I write to you is on film cameras. However there are many people using Russian lenses with adapters in their digital cameras by their economic value and appearance (look) one who put the video.

Keep in mind that brands are not companies. Many of the brands below are produced by the same company. Sometimes, one company produces a single brand, but not always.

What is important to keep in mind is that every major type of camera has been produced in some way by a Russian company. If you are looking rangefinders, SLRs, SLRs medium modular format folding cameras or TLR camera, they are all here.

Lubitel 166b

Zenit is a 35mm camera brand SLR that most people have heard. Zenit was created by KMZ, which produced many different brands.

The brand was then produced by BelOMO. Information about the current state of the brand is difficult to find in English or Portuguese.
The Zenit’s old have a strong legacy of being extremely heavy and extremely well built and simple. Most people who use these Soviet cameras, said the Russian-made places a great emphasis on easy repairs, instead of initial quality.

I, in my research, I can say that reliability in the manufacture of these cameras was not left to chance.

The Zenit can be found in many varieties, but the Zenit-E is the model of the best known with over 12 million produced.

Zenit E

A Zorki, especificamente o modelo 4K, é minha câmera russa favorita tipo rangefinder. É design clássico e aparentemente muito fiável, quem gosta de fotografar com rangefinders vai certamente adorar este modelo de construção robusta que pode usar lentes Leica de 39 mm. As câmeras Zorki também foram produzidos pela KMZ e foram inicialmente cópias diretas da Leica II, devido às situações da Segunda Guerra Mundial que eu mencionei anteriormente. Mas Zorki não se manteve nos modelos copiados e veio a desenvolver a sua própria linha com variações exclusivas.
Tal como a Leica, eles são câmeras rangefinder. As Zorki não são mais produzidas, mas os modelos podem ser comprados on-line em sites como o eBay com preços a variar entre os 60 e 80 euros.
One of the characteristics of this type of cameras is that they make a very unique sound when fired due to rubber shutter, most cameras from this era had shutters cloth.

Fed is also a rangefinder rangefinder and like the Zorki also began as a direct copy of the Leica II. But the Fed had its own company in which cameras produced before World War II.
The company’s history is very interesting. Based on current and Ukraine in 1930 reached to produce limited edition cameras for the secret police of Stalin.
The Fed and Zorki both use the the M39 lenses, also known as the Leica Mount or LTM. In theory, the Leica lenses, Fed and Zorki can be shared. In theory, because the quality control over the cameras and Russian lenses were often neglected and things do not always fit perfectly.


Or better translated, Moscow was also a camera manufactured by KMZ. And it is very different from previous cameras, because it uses the film medium format and uses a much older technology in particular resort to the use of the bellows.

This type of camera is a very nice way to use medium format film.

Many of the Moskva models are rangefinders and can shoot with negative 6×9 cm.

The biggest concern with these cameras is the bellows, because they are fragile elements, no matter who made them. But the heat, humidity and prolonged use eventually produce cuts and time charge to degrade.

If you want to buy a camera these recommend not to do online, because checking the person bellows can check bellows with a flash of light in a dark room to see if they have some holes or cracks.

The Moskva is a very portable model and easy to use, and for whom sabeo with a 6×9 cm format can beat the resolution of many modern digital cameras


The company Lomo has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity due to the Lomographic Society, which sells a wide variety of cameras around the world. The original Lomo company is still in St. Petersburg, but most produce military and medical optical equipment.

The Lomo camera brand like LC-A are often produced in China by the Lomographic Society, which works closely with the Lomo own. The most popular cameras are vintage Lomo LC-A compact point-and-shoot and Lubitel Twin Lens Reflex camera. Both are still produced by the Lomographic Society.

In my opinion, the LC-A is fun, robust and unique. The Lubitel is capable of very professional results, but its construction is mainly plastic.


The Kiev brand cameras is produced by the Arsenal factory in Kiev, Ukraine. The factory was in business that lasted about 245 years until it closed in 2008. The cameras and lenses are still being sold through a distributor old age, but apparently these sales are from stock remains instead of products newly manufactured.

There are three important cameras Kiev brand. First, Kiev 88 is a modular medium format SLR inspired by Hasselblad. The Kiev 60 is also an SLR medium format, but that looks like a large traditional SLR with a fixed stop. And finally, Kiev 4 which is a telemetric 35mm, which is another copy Contax, instead of being a Leica copy.

The Kiev has also produced a number of other 35mm SLRs and rangefinders. The Kiev 88 suffers from qualidadel control problems, and is often sold so reconstructed by specialized companies for values ​​that are around US $ 500 USD.

Some say that the Kiev cameras are “pre-assembled kits” that require a lot of work are not out-of-the-box as consumer products are used.