I have been using film cameras since the late 70’s but became serious when I started my wedding photography company in the late 80’s into the 90’s using 35mm and medium format cameras for weddings and portraits eventually moving onto digital as they became more accessible using the Fuji S2&S3 pro cameras.
After a car accident ended my business I left photography for a number of years eventually returning to it by getting my first mirrorless camera a Fuji X-E1 and Fuji has been my go to cameras ever since.
After having to give up working due to health issues I had more time for photography all be it at a more restricted pace, I than began to feel that mirrorless digital cameras where making me lazy when it came to taking images yes I still had to use the skills I had learnt but I wasn’t putting the same amount of effort into each image as I could see what I was about to get through the viewfinder and if I was unsure I would just take the image as memory cards are relatively cheap and if I didn’t like the final image I could just delete it.
I felt I was missing my creative eye and felt I wasn’t putting the effort into getting the images I was imagining in my mind so I decided to go back to film to slow myself down and consider each frame before taking it that’s why I ended up with a large collection of 35mm cameras mainly Minolta’s plus some large format cameras but I still felt my 35mm cameras were still assisting me too much relying on the inbuilt meters etc, so I started looking for a even more stripped down camera system firstly looking at the Leica rangefinder’s but they are quite expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend that amount for something I wasn’t sure I would like but then I became aware of the Russian Leica copies in particular the Zorki range and that is how I ended up with the Zorki 2C.
So let’s have a quick look at my copy of this camera it is very good condition and appears to be working, it took a little while to get used to loading the camera correctly but once you get used to it it’s not a problem, the 50mm lens is sharp and clear and operating the camera is a dream as you have to concentrate of every aspect of its operation.
I meter either by using the Sunny 16 rule or a vintage selenium light meter or if I’m feeling lazy my phone app. Focusing using the rangefinder is fairly easy if tricky at times especially when the lighting conditions are variable so for most shots I use zone focusing using the hyper focal method.
So that is why and how I use the Zorki rangefinder now let’s look at my 5 frames with the Zorki 2C and Fomapan Retropan Soft film.
I shot all the images on Fomapan Retropan 320 Soft at box speed then I developed the film in CineStill Monobath, was I happy with the results? Yes very. The Zorki re-ignited my enthusiasm for film and in some respects digital photography it allowed me to slow down and consider the scene if front of me which made me appreciate the process of taking the image.
Did I dislike anything about the Zorki yes again the rangefinder window is small and not very bright plus being a glasses wearer you have to be careful not to scratch your glasses or take them off which doesn’t help focusing but zone focusing works well, loading is a fiddle but that is all really nothing else plus it’s a excellent cheap way of getting into 35mm rangefinder cameras.
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4 thoughts on “5 Frames with the Zorki 2C (S) & Retropan 320 Soft – By David Hoult”
I’ve owned a bunch of Soviet gear over the last 30 years, and always wound up having my heart broken, but I wish you well with your Zorki. With this stuff, oldest is best, avoided the dreaded “Era of Stagnation.”
If you want a bright rangefinder patch, consider an early version of the Kiev 2 rangefinder, ideally one built postwar from captured parts using German slave labor. The ergos – being able to focus from the top deck – are wonderful. The Fedka.com website is a good source for stuff that’s in reasonably good condition (I have no affiliation)
I have a early Kiev and yes the rangefinder is so much better than the Zorki but all these cameras are fun to use and so inexpensive that they are worth giving a go. But do wish I had kept my Olympus OM4ti that is my favourite film camera.
Our journeys back to film are remarkably similar, the most notable difference is that it is German and not Russian rangefinders that have been taking up more and more shelf space in my home (along w/ selenium cell light meters).
I’m not at all familiar w/ Retropan Soft 320. Looks like quite a grainy film!. Love the dark mood it creates even in those bright shots.
Out of curiosity, did you actually set the Zorki to ISO 320?
I haven’t used a Zorki, but I’ve enjoyed my Fed 5 rangefinder quite a bit, as well as a Zenit 12 SLR and a little Lomo Smena 8M. I’ve found that as long as the shutters haven’t deteriorated that the cameras themselves are practically bulletproof. Nice manual tools if you have no patience with batteries — like me.