5 Frames In Croatia with a Zenit-E & Kodak 200 – By Andrew Hutchinson

Once upon a moment, I was wandering through a Croatian fruit & veg market in the city of Split. I was strolling through distracted by which vendor I would buy figs & grapes from. In the market there were random antique carts that were selling random items. Next to the cart that was selling overpriced honey was an antique cart that had a small selection of analogue photography gear. It gathered my divided attention due to my aspirations in photography.

I picked up a Zenit-E which my first thought was “this is sick!” along with “this is heavy as”. I purchased it for $50 – from this moment I became addicted to the procedure of loading the film & shooting without the knowledge of the outcome – it’s the mystery that attracts me! At this stage in my journey, I had ever only shot on digital which I was so lazy to learn the fundamentals. I rarely ever shot manually which was a challenge but overtime I incrementally I learnt how to shoot film.   

Bačvice Beach
Bačvice Beach

It took me a while to work out the Helios 44-2 58mm f2 lens the camera came with. At first glance, the aperture size seems to be backwards – for example f/16 is the widest aperture & f/2 has the smallest aperture. To acquire true aperture you have to turn a second aperture ring until everything in the view finder goes completely dark and then the aperture works as it should. It turns out it’s a preset aperture lens – you set the one ring to the aperture you intend to shoot at, then use the other ring to open the aperture to focus. It’s best to google the “preset aperture system” about the lens to completely understand how it works if you own one yourself and can’t make sense of it.

My favourite qualities of the camera and lens are the first of the roll photos it produces and the swirly bokeh effects.  

Bačvice Beach On Film
Bačvice Beach

During the 1 year I had spent living in Split, Croatia as a Australian backpacker who was navigating himself through intuition and superstition signs, I had experienced some of my funniest, wildest & dodgiest moments in my life to date.

I am still constantly amused by the fact that we can literally freeze time with the press of an index finger. I flick back to my moments captured on film all the time to remind me of the stimulating and educational times that levelled up my character in this existence.   

4 years since purchasing the Zenit-E, I now have 3 other 35mm cameras and a Super 8mm! Probably $10,000 spent on gear, film & developing thus far – I can honestly say I don’t care about the price tags because once I feel the moment I press that shutter button I feel a feeling of desire. I sometimes wonder if I did not buy the film camera on that sunny day in the market – would I have ever had bought a film camera, and would I have ever experienced this feeling?

peča time

You can find me on instagram for more film frames – @mynameswutch

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10 thoughts on “5 Frames In Croatia with a Zenit-E & Kodak 200 – By Andrew Hutchinson”

  1. This was quite interesting, I have one myself and never quite found out the meaning of the second aperture ring.
    Only shot 2 roll with this camera and lens , but full open it’s quite special

  2. Wutch, I totally agree about the feeling and freezing time. Only having a finite number of frames to freeze time with concentrates the effort and the impact. I’ve been freezing moments for over fifty years and I still enjoy making new memories. I just finished printing an assortment of images for my best friends son. I’ve photographed him since he was just a wee tike and now he has three kids ranging in age from 15 to 10. What fun it was for me with this new generation to have this opportunity to keep the memories and moments alive for them. This was their first film photo shoot and thankfully I got it. I always want to be a good film ambassador. Who knows, maybe one of them will be inspired to give it a go. Thanks for writing and keep the feeling alive!

  3. What a great account; a decent Zenit-E with a Helios lens can produce cracking images. Everything is manual and slow, so you really have to learn your chops. I cut my SLR teeth on a Zenit and still have one 🙂

  4. Great photos Andrew. Especially the last one. I recently purchased a Zenit EM with a Heios 58mm f2 lens.
    Warning. Be careful trying to attach Asahi Pentax SMC lenses to a Zenit. I naively screwed my Asahi Pentax Takumar 35mm f3.5 lens onto my Zenit and suddenly with a click it was locked halfway on and halfway off. There is a “secret” small “stop down pin” on the later M42 screw mount Super Multi Coated lenses. It clicks into one of the Zenit countersunk screw holes on the front of the camera’s lens mount, effectively bricking camera and lens.
    I took it to a camera repair shop and they wanted hundreds of dollars to fix it so I took it back after paying $100 “inspection fee”. I studied several YouTube videos from other folk who had had the same problem.
    It only took me a couple of hours yesterday to completely dismantle the Takumar lens from the front and lift the offending pin inside the lens mechanism to free it from the grip of the Zenit. Then reassemble it. I still need to recalibrate infinity focus by using one of my digital EF Canons with an EF / M42 screw mount adapter. I can zoom in to infinity on my Canon live view then lock the infinity calibration on the Takumar. And then it will be set for infinity. I cannot see an easy way to modify the SMC Takumar for the Zenit. I’ll have to try to find an earlier Takumar for wide angle photos using the Zenit.
    Earlier Takumar lenses are fine, but not the SMC Takumar lenses. The offending “stop down pin” is very small, located just outside the threads of the screw mount. It is something to do with auto exposure on some later screw mount Pentax cameras. It is not the larger pin that actuates the iris when you take a photo

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