Kristall (KMZ)

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The Kristall is a 35mm film SLR camera, made by Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod (KMZ) , (Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk), Moscow, former USSR, between 1961-62 with quantity 65,433. Кристалл (Кристалл = Kristall), means Crystal, (on the front of the camera Kristall is engraved in Cyrillic italics). The Kristall belongs to the Zenit series of 35mm SLR cameras. It was developed by Nikolaj Michailowitsh Marenkov. It is the successor to the Zenit 3. It is the first in the Zenit series to have a back door for easy film loading--all prior Zenits were bottom-loading like Leicas. It is the oddball of the early Zenit series, having both a different finish and a different name.

The top plate of the camera is painted in a hammered finish. The ribs on top of the prism are for stiffness, or maybe to suggest art deco styling. The design of the Kristall was not popular; some people called it tractor-like. Because of this, or perhaps for reasons of cost, it stayed in production for only about a year, and was replaced with the Zenit 3M, an almost identical camera with different exterior design and plain chrome-plated top finish.

There are three types of the Kristall: with the hammered grey-paint top plate; with green-painted top and body (very rare); and with a white top plate without enamel covering.[1][2][3][4]


  • Lens: Industar-50 50mm f/3.5, coated, filter thread 33mm
  • Mount: 39mm screw mount [5]
    • Aperture: f/3.5-f/16
    • Focus range: 0.65-20m +inf.
  • Focusing: Fresnel ground-glass screen in pentaprism viewfinder (no microprism focus-aids)
  • Shutter: focal plane shutter with rubberized silk double cloth curtains, traveling horizontally
    • Speeds: 1/30 - 1/500 + 'B' [6]
  • Film advance: right-hand, short-stroke lever; also cocks the shutter
  • Film rewind: knob on left of top plate; rewind release button on the right (easily mistaken for a shutter release)
  • Frame counter: advance type, manual setting
  • Mirror: not instant return
  • Memory dial: displays GOST numbers and for color film type red engravings of sun, lamp and Цветная word means Tsvetnaya (= Color), on the re-winding knob
  • Self timer: lever on front right of body; activates by a small knob above the lever
  • Flash PC socket: on front of the top-plate, flash setting via a selector switch beneath the speeds dial, points a flash sign or bulb sign, synchronised at 1/30 second
  • Back cover: hinged
  • Body: moulded metal, weight: 675gr
  • Others: Tripod socket: 3/8 inch; strap lugs
  • Serial no. engraved on the back of the top plate with KMZ logo, first two digits show the production year


  1. According to Alexander Komarov Fotoua (archived). You can also find serial numbers for dating of the cameras in this site
  2. There is another classification by Aidas Pikiotas in
  3. Pages from the the book of former USSR cameras by Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin (archived)
  4. Discussion about clasifications in the books of Princelle and Suglob, Shaternik, Kochergin in USSR Photo Forum
  5. Looks like M39 Leica mount but due to the mirror space, the rangefinder M39 mount lenses do not work properly on this camera. You can use them only the close-up focus range
  6. Speed can be set before or after cocking the shutter, unlike most of the Leica-inspired Soviet cameras.


In English

  • Princelle, Jean Loup (2004), The Authentic Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras ('Made in USSR'), Le Reve Edition. ISBN 2952252106; or the earlier edition: Hove Foto Books, 2nd edition, 1995. 200 pages. ISBN 1874031630. Paperback.

In Russian