Zenit C

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The Zenit C[1] is a compact all-mechanical 35 mm SLR camera made in the Soviet Union. It is the second model in the Zenit camera line, following only three years after the original Zenit 1. It was made by Krasnogorskii Mekhanicheskii Zavod (Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works) near Moscow, between 1955 and 1961.[2]

The camera's features are very similar to those of the Zenit 1. The most important change is the addition of flash synchronisation via a PC socket on the front of the top superstructure. The synchronisation delay is variable between zero (X-synch.) and 25 milliseconds (M-synch.) with a control under the shutter speed selector. There is no accessory shoe; any flash would have to be mounted on a bracket.

Another difference, not obvious to the user, is the use of a cord to pull the mirror down into position during film advance/shutter cocking, replacing a metal arm which does this job in the Zenit 1[3].

The shutter speed selector is also very slightly different: whereas on the earlier model, the whole selector is rotated to align the desired speed with a mark on the superstructure, on the Zenit C the mark is on the central axis of the selector.

Film is loaded by removing the base of the camera, not opening the back, and a long film leader must be cut for loading, as with the Zenit 1 and early Leica-type rangefinders. Film advance, by a winding knob, is as on the Zenit 1. Rewind is also similar, but the film is released for rewind by depressing and rotating the collar around the shutter release button to point at 'B' (on the Zenit 1, the rewind release is a separate, simple lever).

The Zenit C can use the same (rather limited) range of 39 mm screw-mounted lenses as the other early Zenits. The standard lens is either a rigid-bodied 5 cm f/3.5 Industar-22 or the Industar-50 which replaced it from about 1959. Both are coated Tessar-type lenses.


  • Type: 35 mm single-lens reflex camera
  • Format: 24x36 mm on standard 135 cartridge film
  • Manufacturer: KMZ
  • Years of production: 1955-61
  • Number produced: Est. 232, 949[4]
  • Standard lens: Industar-50 1:3.5 F=5 cm
  • Shutter:
    • Cloth focal-plane shutter. 1/25 - 1/500 second plus 'B' on early examples; 1/30 - 1/500 second plus 'B' later. Cable release socket in shutter release button. No delayed action.
    • Flash synchronisation by PC socket. Variable synchronisation delay, 0-25 ms.
  • Viewfinder: Pentaprism viewfinder with ground glass focusing screen. No prismatic focusing aids.
  • Dimensions (width x depth x height): 140 x 50 x 90 mm (body only).


  1. The 'C' is a Cyrillic 'S', and refers to the shutter's being synchronised for flash. However, even when in Latin script, the name is marked on the camera as 'Zenith C'.
  2. McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p. 553.
  3. The page on the Zenit 1 'camera line' (in Russian) formerly at the KMZ Archive (http://www.zenitcamera.com) and archived at the Internet Archive 'Wayback Machine' in December 2008, states only that the metal-arm mechanism was 'not very successful'.
  4. Production figures formerly shown at the KMZ Archive, and archived at the Internet Archive 'Wayback Machine' in June 2006.


  • Manual (in English) formerly at the KMZ Archive, and archived at the Internet Archive 'Wayback Machine' in December 2008.
  • Zenit C at www.collection-appareils.fr (in French)