I have been allured by the grain & grit that is captured by the Soviet Union made brick since I first laid my eyes upon the weapon on the sunny summer day in the Croatian fruit & vegetable market. This purchase has facilitated a whole new world to me in the realms of art, style …
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.
The Zenit-E was such a unique experience for me that I wrote this article in a few different formats. In the end, I found my review too technical – and besides, it has already been reviewed for 35mmc here. For me, the thing with this camera is that it can pretty much speak for itself, although you may need to learn its language.
Your kilo of soviet metal, your light meter which stopped working decades ago, your dark, murky viewfinder designed to just miss focus, your rewind mechanism engineered to give me blisters on one hand and arthritis in the other. Your complete lack of any sort of functions or assistance. The one and only Zenit-E. Why would anyone even make this thing, never mind choose to buy it? Nothing about you is easy. But then again if I wanted easy I’d go digital. Here I am, still faithfully putting roll after roll through you, despite having been actively interested in photography for long enough to know better.
This post is about the unlikely camera that accidentally got me into film photography – my dad’s old Zenit E.
My father bought his Zenit E in the early 70s and mostly used it on his trips to the Soviet Union, Germany and other European countries. He normally shot color positive film like Fujifilm’s Velvia 50 and later shared the impressions he captured with a projector. Later he used the camera to document some of his scientific work. The fully manual Zenit E stopped being the main camera of our family at some point in the late 80s. Since then, the camera had stayed in the basement and was almost forgotten until spring 2015 when I asked my dad to show me his first camera.