Zi Jin Shan

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The Zi Jin Shan ('Purple Mountain' or 'Purple-gold Mountain')[1] is a 35mm single-lens reflex camera made in about 1959 in China.[2] It is metal-bodied with chrome plating, and black leatherette on the body (and leather panels on the prism housing). It is rather similar to the original Zenit of 1952;[3] perhaps a little narrower, and the prism housing is different (more pyramidal, like that of an Kine Exakta or Miranda). Like the Zenit, it has a 39mm lens-mount, and the lens is similar in appearance to the rigid-bodied Industar-22; compact, with a focusing tab, and with the aperture ring at the front (and the aperture scale on the front, not visible to the photographer without turning the camera round).

The camera has a focal-plane shutter with speeds 1/25 - 1/500 second, plus 'B'. The shutter-speed control is like that of the Leica shutter (or the Zenit), but is placed inconveniently close to the prism. The camera has a knob for film advance, with a frame-counter. There is a small button set in the top plate to release the film for rewinding. There is a PC socket for flash synchronisation next to the rewind knob. The camera has a delayed-action lever on the front.

The camera's name is embossed above the lens mount, in highly-stylised Chinese text. 'ZI JIN SHANG' appears below this, with (presumably a model number) 'Z 135-I', Below this in clearer Chinese characters, is '南京电机械厂' (Nanjing Electric Machinery Factory).


  1. The camera is named for a mountain on the eastern side of the city of Nanjing. The phrase 'purple gold' means copper, and may refer to the copper colour of rocks on the mountain.
  2. Zi Jin Shan, version 2 according to the auctioneer's notes, with lens and leather case, offered for sale at the 39th Leitz Photographica Auction, on 20 November 2021; several excellent pictures of the camera.
  3. Indeed, Vladimir Zverev states that this and several other Chinese cameras were produced with active assistance from Soviet producers; see Soviet-Chinese Camera Collaboration - the Birth of a Giant, a blog post at Kosmofoto.com.