There are many excellent Eastern Europe lenses of the past with the M42 screw mount, and I have some, e.g. the Helios 44M4 58mm f/2. Built in the former Soviet Union to equip Zenit cameras. The latter, while if robust, often have limits, both operational, and reliability. To play it safe and always staying behind the Iron Curtain, should turn to production in the former GDR. Still were German! And so, I did not miss a couple of Praktica Mtl5 bodies . One normal, and the other in B version. These differ between them practically only in the power source of the TTL CdS meter. The second in fact, uses the current LR44/SR44 batteries, while the first was designed for use with the PX625 mercury.
The Moskva 5 is a big Soviet made camera, which follows forms and performance of the most renowned folding Zeiss Super Ikonta. Snap 6×9 cm frames and 6×6 through a special removable mask. For the technical specifications of the camera back to the previous test readers: here and here. This time, taking advantage of a typical winter day, I wanted to use it in its native format, for large negatives (if any) to print.
There is a camera that I love very much, but I haven’t been too lucky with. It’s the Soviet version of the legendary Zeiss Contax II, which in the 30’s and 40’s disputed the primacy to the eternal rival Leica in the 35m range. Immediately after the war, as partial compensation for damages, all equipment and materials present in the Zeiss factories were moved (along with a good number of technicians and specialized workers) behind the Iron Curtain, in Kiev, at the plant of Zavod Arsenal. Here, in the years immediately following the war, they were therefore produced the Kiev II (almost exactly the Contax); later underwent some changes in later models III and IV. Unlike Zorki and the Fed, that “copied” the Leica models from afar … these Kiev, in fact, can not be considered copies but, delocalized productions …
Fed, along with Zorki and Zenit is one of the best known Soviets brand by photography enthusiasts. Since the early 30’s of the twentieth century in fact, have been built millions and millions of Fed cameras. Just to give an idea, the initial model that was simply called “Fed” (ФЭД), since 1934 and until 1955, were produced (in many variations) about 720,000 copies, while for the model 5 in production from 1977 to 1990, I have no data (according to the website Sovietcams, which I suggest to refer to anyone interested in identifying and learn more about these cameras) but are surely made in hundres of thousands copies.
This time I deal with one of the most popular cameras in the world: the Lomo Smena. In the specific case (just to complicate a little the affair) the SL version, adopting a sort of variation of more known “Rapid” loading system, introduced by Agfa in 1964. Born as an antagonist of the Kodak 126 system, it was adopted by some brands, but didn’t have long nor too fortunate life. I have to say about, that in my childhood I used repeatedly Kodak Instamatic cameras, either in 126 or 110 and perhaps one Agfa 110 … but I’ve never seen a Rapid or SL model.
About a year ago, I saw a beautiful and unusual rangefinder in a Facebook group. Of course, I had to get it immediately and, fortunately, I found one in good condition at a great price. The Kuribayashi Petri infact, is a rather rare camera Japan made around 1957-1961 but in Japan, it’s still possible to find some good specimen. Equipped with a fixed Orrikor Color Corrected Super 45mm f / 2.8 lens and a central leaf shutter Carperu MXV with speeds from 1 sec. to 1/500 sec. + B, and it is really built like a tank!
The Voskhod (Восход), which means “Dawn”, is a rare (approximately 59,000 units produced by Lomo factory) Soviet camera made during the mid ’60s. At the height of scientific and economic power in the former Soviet Union and in full Cold War, the Voskhod was designed to demonstrate the technological (and stylistic) autonomous capabilities behind the Iron Curtain. So, no more one of the many clones of famous Western cameras, but a completely new, cutting-edge project and well built camera. It must be said that one can not remain indifferent to the shape (very 60’s) really unusual for a camera, as well as in front of some technical characteristics.
Since I was very pleased by the Canon P(and Here) rangefinder, with Leica M39 mount, as soon as I had a good opportunity , I got the following model: the Canon 7. The latter, brings some improvements such as rotating frames in the viewfinder to frame with different focal lengths (35, 50, 85/100 and 135mm) and a semi-coupled selenium light meter.
The previous time I used the Kodak Tri-x in 35mm format I was quite unhappy with the results. But, as the most attentive readers of this blog already know, I have promised to do a new test soon, changing some key parameters. The results were as expected, and I “discovered” again the performance which are used to, notwithstanding the obvious differences between the 120 and the 35mm format in terms of grain.
Another Soviet camera: the Zenit 11, another film: the Rollei Rpx 25. As usual, I do too many things together but, the pleasure of trying new things, and the need not to overstretch the times, forces me to concentrate several elements in a single test. Let’s start from the camera: mine is really in very good condition … it looks almost mint and I got it for few bucks. She comes with the standard lens (later joined by a Pentacon 29mm f/2.8) Helios 44M 4 58mm f 2 and an uncoupled selenium light meter , apparently still working well.