5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Zorki, Industar-61 & Expired Kodak Gold – By Lori Brooks

About eighteen months ago, my (re)introduction to film was with an Olympus OMG – well it just had to be didn’t it! Since then I’ve acquired an OM-1 and OM-2n, a large collection of Zuiko lenses, some medium format stuff and some really old cameras.

But up until now, I’ve never tried a rangefinder. That changed with the acquisition of this beautiful camera.

A Zorki 1D I believe (but I might be wrong) picked up for from the Ukraine with an Industar-22 lens. For those not familiar with the Zorki 1 (or Soviet era camera’s) the Russians made several camera’s after taking the designs, equipment and even people from Germany as reparations after Word War II.

The Zorki 1 is essentially an exact copy of a Leica II rangefinder camera. I put a roll of Ultrafine 100 through the ’21 and I found it to be super sharp, but recent trawling of eBay netted me an Industar-61, which is supposed to give super-saturated and sharp colour images.

I loaded up the camera (which I have to say is probably the only thing I dislike about the Zorki – frankly, it’s a pain and I hope it gets easier with practice) and headed off out to Golden Gate Park on a lovely warm Saturday afternoon.

I shot the following on some expired Kodak 400 gold using the sunny 16 rule. Needless to say the images have a soft somewhat lo-fi look to them.

The pictures were taken in and around the Chinese Pavilion in Stow Lake

The roll was developed at home in what is probably the final dregs of an Arista C-41 kit before I bottle it up and take it down to the local disposal facility.

In short, I’m on the fence about rangefinders.

I do like their compact size, but then I can throw my 40mm f/2 onto my OM-1 and get a very compact SLR setup which allows me to meter, focus and frame through the lens, or if I want to go really compact, I have a Rollei 35s which I’ve learnt to zone-focus with.

One would think then that, for me at least,  a rangefinder would offer no real benefit. except that I find my Zorki an absolute joy to shoot. There’s something really satisfying about that ‘thock’ sound the shutter makes, and the lack of a mirror lets me get better shots hand held at 1/60 than my Olympus.

I still think of my OM-1 as my ‘go-to’ camera.  But if ever I’m in the ‘rangefinder’ mood – this Zorki has me covered!

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18 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Mat C
    April 7, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Hey Lori, do you trim the film leader to the correct shape? I have a Leica iiia and find it easy to load with the correctly trimmed leader.

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      Reply
      lori_brooks
      April 7, 2019 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Mat, yes I 3d-printed a template to cut the leader, which give me a lovely clean take up. The problem I have is that sometimes the film just doesn’t wind on. Seems to happen more with Ultrafine 100 that I’ve bulk loaded myself. Maybe I’m not putting the film on the cartridges properly, or somehow it’s just not catching into the gears. I have no idea.

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    Reply
    Dan K
    April 7, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    What does the author (or others) think about the camera and lens compared to the Leicas, in terms of build quality, clarity of finder, accuracy of shutter, etc., reliability?

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      Reply
      lori_brooks
      April 7, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      I’ve not been able to use a Leica before, so I can’t comment but I’ve heard the build quality of these were all over the place. Maybe someone else reading can provide a comparison.

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      Terry B
      April 8, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Oh dear, Dan. What a question.

      I have just a modest collection of old Soviet cameras, and in general I find that the build and finish of the post-war WWII 1950’s models (Zorki, Zenit, Leningrad) to be better built and finished than the later variants, and the wind-on feels just that bit smoother. But the main issue will be buying a decent one today as they’ve probably not been treated with the same reverence as if they were Leicas. But I’m guessing you’re looking for comment about these Zorki Leica copies, yes?
      I have a Zorki 1 (C) date 1953, going by the s/n, in excellent cosmetic condition. It had a CLA and it thus has a very clear optical v/f and rangefinder. It is difficult to assess build quality as I don’t have access to the innards, and I’m not an engineer, but in the hand it feels every bit as good as my two IIIf’s and my 1c. It doesn’t quite have the smoothness of winding on as the Ic but it is positive enough, falling somewhere between the Ic and IIIf. The shutter sounds the same. I don’t have a shutter speed tester so can’t comment on its accuracy.
      The Industar-22 f3.5/50 lens is matched to the body with a 1953 s/n. According to Soviet Cameras, this makes it the second generation of this lens. The quality of this lens has surprised me. To date, I’ve only compared it to a couple of f2.8 Industar 61 lenses that have slightly different focal lengths engraved on the front – 55mm and 53mm. In my tests on a Sony A7, the 22 wins on all accounts, sharpness in the centre and across the frame, contrast, and colour rendition. At f3.5 it is passable with some improvement at f4, but it really shines from f5.6 out to f11, where central sharpness is outstanding and with the edges being barely behind. I’d even be happy using it at f16, and this was most unexpected.
      I’ve not long had my Ic and have yet to test the Leitz f3.5/50 Elmar, on which the Industar is based, so this will be an interesting comparison.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ricardo Zamarripa
    April 7, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Great read, thanks for sharing your experience. I would like to see some photos with modern film.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Matt Jones
    April 8, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Love the red skin 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply
      lori_brooks
      April 8, 2019 at 4:50 am

      Thanks Matt. I’m a sucker for red cameras

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    Reply
    Eric Manten
    April 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    I love the Industar 61. I have a slightly older model (I think…not sure…it looks slightly older and is all metal, not black). I have it on a FED3 and love the rendering. I actually also use it on my Fujifilm X-Pro 1: just amazing.

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      Reply
      lori_brooks
      April 8, 2019 at 8:58 pm

      Eric, I put it on my A7 and was simply astounded by how sharp it was when zoomed in. I was looking at wood grain on a house siding across the street.

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        Reply
        Terry B
        April 9, 2019 at 1:42 pm

        Lori, as you also have an A7 and I note your Zorki came with the Industar-22, I was wondering if you’ve compared this to your Industar-61, which I see is marked with a 53mm focal length, as is one of those I have. I’m curious in learning how yours fares in comparison. Mine fared better against both Industar 61/LD versions and which are themselves highly regarded.

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          Reply
          lori_brooks
          April 9, 2019 at 3:29 pm

          Hi Terry, For some reason, the 61 seems decidedly sharper on my Sony A7 than the Industar (and a Jupiter-8 I tried), but everything I’ve taken using the Industar-22 in black and white on the zorki has been super sharp. I would say both lenses have their own individual characteristics. I recently listened to a discussion on the classic lens podcast where Johhny Sisson spoke about certain lenses performing differently on different sensors and differently still on film (and quite possibly different film stocks) so this happening did not really surprise me

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    Reply
    Huss
    April 14, 2019 at 5:55 am

    A kindred spirit! Here’s my pink Zorki!
    https://flic.kr/p/2a2JFtJ
    My camera works perfectly:
    https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/1wwSc0
    The key (of course) is buying one that has been serviced and is ready to go. I was tipped off on this seller on ebay (no affiliation just a happy customer) who services them before he sells them: alex-ukr-alex
    I also use Leicas and of course the Zorki does not match up in build quality, finish and the viewfinder experience. But the lenses are great (I use the Jupiter 8), and the price of my serviced Zorki with lens was $80! My cheapest beat up Leica M is about $700, not serviced, no lens.

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    Reply
    lori_brooks
    April 14, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    That’s a pretty cool looking camera! I did get my Zorki from eBay and it was serviced. It might just be me not loading the film correctly, as if it catches ‘right’ then the pictures and operation of the camera seem to be really, really good. I have an old Jupiter-8 and it’s ok, but not up to the sharpness of that Industar though.

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      Reply
      Huss
      April 14, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      It’s funny I’m at the LA Times Festival of Books right now and so many people have approached me to comment on the Zorki! The thing about the Zorki 4 is that it loads very easily w/on having to trim the film. Back comes off and you just thread the leader into the spool. The spool even comes out like in a Leica M3 if you want to make it even easier.
      As for the J8. I have two of them and they both are crackerjacks. I sell 20×30 prints from them at my gallery so perhaps yours had a rough life?
      If you’re ever in Venice you’re welcome to try this gear out . I have a Fed2 coming from the same ebay seller just because these machines are so fun to use! My Leicas are getting mad at me!

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    Reply
    lori_brooks
    April 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do a long weekend down south for a while. I’ll hit you up when I firm up some plans. I did get a fed2 from fedka recently, and I’ve been happy with it thus far. Loading sure is a lot easier, but it’s not as compact as my little Zorki.

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      Huss
      April 16, 2019 at 10:46 pm

      You betcha. I have a Kiev 4 coming too. I need to back away from ebay.. Will be interesting to see how all these things match up.

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        Reply
        lori_brooks
        April 16, 2019 at 11:29 pm

        Ebay? Same here for sure. I just picked up a shoe and flash for my Olympus OM gear on there today. I think I’m pretty much complete on that system after finding an OM winder 2 at the weekend for $10. Got myself covered on bodies, lenses 49mm filters and misc add-ons

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