The Zenit 3M: Can You Say “Cheese” In Russian?

At some point in time I was distracted by some camera related blogs and such and got to reading how with the advent of digital photography there are a lot of quality vintage 35mm film cameras that can be had for a cheap price. Of course instead of getting a quality Canon or Nikon I had to be different and got this Russian Zenit 3M (Alternatively, “Zenith” in English).

Zenith 3M 35mm camera

I found this camera on eBay from a camera store in Ukraine. I’d done some research on them and there seemed to be some folks that dig them. The biggest downside is the availability of lenses. It came with a f3.5/50mm lens, but anything else I find that fits it is north of $100 and that’s more than I paid for the camera after shipping. It takes an M39 mount, but very few M39 lenses will fit because the depth of the zoom will hit the mirror inside the camera body. So the only lenses that fit are the Soviet Jupiter M39 lenses and not the Leica lenses.

The serial number suggests that it was manufactured in 1965, so it’s been around. It’s fun to think about who else has had this camera and what photos they may have taken. And I really enjoy the red color, but I have my doubts that it is original. It just seems too clean.

Although the Zenit 3M may not be ideal and a lot of serious photographers have multiple lenses and multiple cameras, this is enough for me to start playing around with. It’s a silly endeavor because I always have too many projects going at once. If push comes to shove I’ll put in on eBay for some other enthusiast to play around with.

For now I’m shooting strictly in black and white. I sourced some rolls of 200 ISO Fomapan (manufactured in the Czech Republic) from a seller in Israel. Now all I have to do is shoot some more photos and find someone to develop it for me. I’ll share the results here when I can.

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