Zenit E

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The Zenit E was a Russian-built SLR camera body for M42 screw lenses, made from 1965-1968[1]. The Zenit range was quite popular since it was priced moderately; furthermore it was offered under several other brands: (Kalimar, Revueflex, Prinzflex, Photokina, Spiraflex, Titan Global[2] and Cosmorex).

The camera offered only shutter speeds of 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and 1/500, plus 'B' for longer exposures. The distance scale was drawn against the calculator scale, showing the acceptable tolerance, depending on aperture. The minimal focusing distance was about 0.65m with the Industar 50 (50mm f3.5) objective (and 0.46m with the Helios-44 58mm f2[3]) but a set of extension rings was manufactured for this camera, allowing close distance macro pictures.

The Zenit E requires the user to manually stop down the diaphragm before exposure; the lens has an extra ring for this purpose. The Zenit EM was an upgraded version, with an automatic diaphragm.

It had a selenium meter. The meter's photo cell was placed above the lens mount behind a protecting window, and its instrument was placed beside a two-slice analog exposure calculator. A ring in the meter was coupled to that calculator on which the film speed had to be preselected, and when the meter's needle matched the ring the calculator showed the correct shutter-speed/aperture combinations. This device was not connected to the actual speed/aperture controls.

The Zenit E was produced in both black and silver; and there were commemorative versions for the 1980 Moscow Olympic games with two styles of markings. The Zenit B is a model similar to the E, but lacking the meter.

Name variants

Specifications (from Prinzflex 500E)


  1. Zenit E at www.sovietcams.com.
  2. Seen in an online auction May 2012
  3. The user manual says 18" (=0.46m); the lens is marked 1.7ft=0.52m