New to Rangefinders - Zorki Advice

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Lamar, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. Lamar

    Lamar Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Other than a couple of Argus C3's, one of which was my fathers, I've never had a rangefinder. I've had loads of SLR's. The bug finally hit me over the last few weeks so I decided to test the waters with a Zorki 3C and a Zorki 4 with Jupiter 8 50mm f/2 lenses. They have not arrived yet. Both sellers were US and have 14 day hassle free return so I'm optimistic about the outcome. I've read everywhere about not changing the shutter speed on these bodies unless the shutter is cocked. Are there other things I need to be aware of or specifically look out for when they arrive?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2013
  2. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Location:
    Jersey Chann
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have a Zorki 4, when it arrivied it had a ''lazy'' shutter on the slower speeds, 1 to 1/30, mainly. I think, due to lack mof use, by firing the shutter repeatedly the speeds appear fine, also make sure that the take up spool is with the cameras, and that they don't fall out and dissappear, you can make another from a 35mm centre spool, but it ia a hassle, and the take up spools have a habit of getting lost, apart from the above and never change the shutter speeds with out winding on first you should get some good shots with them, Good luck
     
  3. DannL.

    DannL. Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2013
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I also had the Zorki 4 w/ Jupiter 3 some years back. Only once did I adjust the shutter speed at the wrong time and jammed the camera. It took several good minutes of knob wiggling to get her freed up. But, it was a good camera.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2013
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,672
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I had one and I was never able get the shutter curtains to sync properly. The second curtain was slow and sticky and I cleaned and adjusted and it never worked. I also have a Fed 2 that worked out of the box and gave me some of my favorite images. My advice is to verify that focus is set properly by shooting wide open at objects near minimum focus and infinity. Shoot at the ranges of shutter speed. Also shoot an image of something of even color like a blue sky. Develop the roll and verify the focus and verify that the second curtain wasn't dragging.
     
  5. limnidytis

    limnidytis Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Check the curtain for pinholes - which can happen by leaving the cap off in bright sunlight. I've spent some time disassembling, cleaning and repairing Zorki/FED cameras. I've had variable results on getting the shutter speeds back to spec - some of the cameras are just too old and worn, I believe. Speeds are often about 1/2 of dial speed. They are interesting cameras, and always generate questions when I use them in public. I've also been surprised how sharp the lenses can be, considering the usually low price. I would post some photos with my Zorkis but I'm away from home.
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

    Messages:
    771
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Location:
    County Durha
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There is a tiny grub screw around the shutter speed dial and these can come loose with the net result being you cannot adjust the shutter speeds and if lost it is virtually irreplacable
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,195
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I stopped using my Zorki 4 because when wearing glasses, I cannot see the edges of the viewfinder. Gives a 80mm focal length view. The viewfinder opening is a little too small to make a nice diopter adapter. I was not able to find a reasonably priced accessory viewfinder with a 50mm focal length field of view. I wound up getting a Bessa R4M that accepts Nikon diopters. If you can get your eye right up to the eyepiece you should be OK in terms of field of view for the 50mm lens.
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,203
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I consider this an internet myth.
     
  9. q_x

    q_x Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Poland
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    I've owned several Zenit cameras (E, 12 XP, 3M) FED 5 and Zorkis S and 4. These are hard to beat, some parts are interchangeable across whole family. Funky breed, but as long, as the job is done, I won't complain. I prefer bottom-loading models, but it's a matter of taste.

    My suggestions:
    Take notes like mad.
    Take a note which lens was on which camera (note SN). Note which camera was in which case. I hope your cameras have modern 1/4'' tripod threads BTW, but it may be not the case, old models come with wider 3/8'' threads.

    Unscrew the lens, take off the rear plate. Clean the camera thoroughly. Check for loose screws. Clean the pressure plate carefully - this is the only place where a stubborn metal particle will scratch the film.
    Look how the camera behaves. Cock the shutter, change speeds, fire a couple of times. The shutter should travel really quickly. Sprocket wheel should turn. You should see shutter curtains moving as you wind the knob.

    Shutter curtains should be black/dark gray cloth, even, flat, looking like new, with black metal tapes on the ends. Blow the dust out of it, don't ever dare to touch it. If the curtains are looking dirty, funky or cracked, check out if there are no pinholes in it.

    If one or both curtains travel slowly, the camera will need a service. Don't believe in flexing "stalled grease" - if it's dense now, it will only get denser later. It ay behave better just to get worse afterwards or in the cold. (Part of my own testing usually takes place in seriously sub-freezing conditions, but that's just me). CLA, however, can be done with a Swiss Army Knife literally, and a borked camera is an opportunity here.

    Check if slow speeds are working normally. Go through all shutter times, though 1s will show what's going on really. Play a lot and watch carefully for anything suspicious, like non-parallel curtains.
    Check if self-timer is OK: cock the shutter, cock the timer, press the button above the timer lever. If timer is malfunctioning, you may simply avoid using it.
    Check if the rewind collar works. You should be able to rotate the collar around the shutter, it should go down a bit. To wind the film later, use the rewind knob (rotating it will make the sprocket wheel turn freely). The shutter button also rotates (for shooting with "T" time, when "B" time is set). After rewinding the film, the shutter button may stuck in "locked" position.

    Set the shortest time. Fire against something bright. Be sure to watch carefully if the light goes through on all the edges of a frame. If the light gets through at the edges, you're done with visual tests of the body. Clean it all one more time.

    Now the lens. Jupiter lenses have no clicking f-stops. Be sure the f-stop scale rotates all the way and that it's aligned properly (= doesn't go outside of the range, isn't shifted etc.)
    Clean the lenses carefully, but really well. You want to do this once only, so do this like you will only do this once. Blow, brush, microfiber with rubbing alcohol, in this order. Check for scratches, internal dust and fungus. You'll have to live with whatever there will be.
    Check if the lenses operate smoothly through full focus range - often the grease (I believe they've used thick animal lard for the lenses and self-timer, hence the funky smell) polymerizes and becomes waxy. I'm a lousy, lazy person, so I lube them without disassembling - a single drop or twoo between the coupling ring (the part sticking out on the back of the lens as you change the focus) and the outer barrel gets the job done. People here will hate me for this, but it doesn't oil up glass or blades, at least in my case. The focus should be easier to move than the aperture ring - it's not a rule, but it's good that way. Loose aperture ring is a disaster.

    Screw the lens back, cover it with the lid.
    Check if the rangefinder works. There's an green-ish or yellow-ish image patch in the middle of the viewfinder with the imposed image moving together with a movement of a coupler sticking out a bit from the lens mount. Two images should become one when a given thing is in focus. Check the rangefinder with the lens set for infinity (any distant object will work), forget the close range for now. If there's a slight vertical misalignment - live with it, it needs the top of a camera to be disassembled to fix, but it's not critical to focus correctly. Horizontal misalignment is relatively easy to adjust: unscrew a short screw in front of the camera, right next to the viewfinder (to the bottom left corner). Behind it there's a tiny screw that regulates horizontal alignment. Just be gentle, it's a small screw on a small, moving part inside. Use no force. Adjust, check, adjust, check.
    If the lever visible in the lens mount isn't as agile, as it should, and sticks in a given position or doesn't move at all, it may need some oil.

    Check if diopter adjustment works. It should zoom-in zoom-out the image while looking through the viewfinder. I leave mine zoomed out, I wear something like -4d glasses, so I'm able to work this way. Despite what people here say, Zorki 3/4 is not glasses-friendly, there's not much of an eye point - Zorki 1/Zorki S type of viewfinder works better for me, I don't have to fiddle with my glasses. If you're worried with scratching glasses, use a single piece of electrical/duct tape on the top of the ring and you're set for a while. However, you won't be able to frame correctly with glasses on.

    If there are no obvious flaws so far, put a test roll in the camera. Prepare a "test scene". With Jupiter lenses at f/8-f/11 you should be barely able to tell apart millimeter lines on a ruler from around 3m (close to image center). Set a tripod or put a camera on a table, measure the distance. Use moderately flat subject, like a bookshelf or a small table. Put something 30 cm closer, keep something slightly in the back. Use something with a small regular pattern, like a ruler or a printed page. Make two blank exposures, frame the subject carefully, draw on a piece of paper at least a postcard-size sketch of what's in frame and what's outside of it - this way you'll know how to frame these marvels next time. Diffused or flat (a lamp directly above the camera) lighting works better, but the test subject should consist of contrasty non-reflective objects.

    Be sure to make one exposure at f/2 and one at f/11 and whatever you need in between. There's not much sense of shooting test images above f/11. Note the parameters of each shot. The first is to test the focus accuracy, the second - to test the maximum lens resolution, so you may repeat the same test with your best lens and compare the results. Be 200% sure the camera is stable and doesn't move between the shots too much, and that it's focused in the way, that makes you sure you know what you're doing: measure the distance with a tape measure, and check if the rangefinder shows ore or less the same. Note down the difference, when measuring both ways (I'd go with whatever rangefinder wants). Put something heavy on a camera if it would wobble. Shoot 1-2 more frames around the house. Change the lens and repeat. Take the camera outside. Make sure the camera got some sun from all six sides (this is how I check for light leaks, with a lens cap on). Shoot some more as you would shoot normally. Take notes. Shoot something at the fastest shutter speed. Be sure to shoot something totally even and featureless, best if at 1/60 - as said before: blue sky works great. The sun may burn a hole in the curtain, so use a cap when not shooting. Use a flash for some shots if you use flash at all. I don't.

    Get back, develop the film ASAP. Check for signs of light leaks on the film. Check frame spacing and alignment. Check for even exposure across the frame on the sky photo - an uneven exposure with lighter and darker vertical band(s) is called banding. One reason is for these is disturbed curtain movement (=camera needs cleaning), the other - if eg. one edge is not exposed at all - is a sign of misaligned or unevenly tensioned curtains, it happens at the fastest shutter speeds mostly. One edge totally black is most likely a case of stalled grease in the curtain rolls.

    Cut the film, scan it or make prints. Use a DSLR and enlarger if you don't want to waste paper - I'm puting DSLR body directly under the enlarger and use the sensor instead of a photo paper (focusing the enlarger is tricky). I'd only care for some specific parts of the image. First, I'd check if the focus is OK on the f/2 shot, or if BF/FF needs to be taken care of. Later, I'd go for the regular pattern in the center. I'd enlarge enough to see the grain really clearly and digitize this part of each test frame.

    If you're lucky, you'll have two working marvels with two great Sonnar-like lenses. More likely both cameras will be off here and there and the lenses will differ in image quality. Nevermind what people write, Jupiter 8 is worse than, let's say, Pentax-M lens, but it may not be that far. It's a soft-ish, magical lens wide open and a good, sharp lens closed down.

    Those are the things to look at when the cameras arrive. Quite a lot of things. This is how it looks in my case. A new camera is at least half of wasted roll. But if it works - it works, and I have my mind clear afterwards and I can focus on what to photograph and how, not how the tool will behave on a given date.

    Those are old, crudely made, but reparable cameras, most likely serviced every decade or so. What went wrong with my four rangefinders: 100% had rangefinder misalignment, one stuck rangefinder cam (corroded Fed 5 body), one shutter with an old grease, all FSU lenses needed relubing, one (I-61 L/D) isn't sharp at all and has a fungus, so I think I'll learn something new with that buddy. All needed serious cleaning. All had good curtains.

    Apart from that - curiously similar FSU SLRs are more prone to failures. I've got some broken ribbons and missing teeth somewhere under the wind lever. Also silver coming off of the prism.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2013
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As an experienced user of old cameras, and an owner/user of a Canon clone of the Leica III I can assure you it is no myth. At best, you won't know what speed you are setting. At worst, you'll screw up the release for the second curtain and/or damage the index pin on the shutter dial and have an untrustworthy shutter until it's repaired.
     
  11. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,305
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    Location:
    Floor-it-duh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    FED2 owner here.

    It's not a myth.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    On topic, I recently acquired a J-8 lens, a black one from 1975. Sample size of one here, not statistically significant.
    After de-oiling the aperture and blackening the blades, and removing an amazing quantity of nasty grease from the rest of the lens mount and aperture ring, and removing some incredibly stubborn haze from the internal glass surfaces - I'm very pleasantly surprised with a lens that behaves just like a coated version of the 5cm/2 uncoated Sonnar I had on a prewar Contax II. The focussing is as silky smooth as any lens I've owned. It's not a modern lens and don't expect it to act like one, but it's more than sharp enough at say f;4/5.6 and a lot of fun to use!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2013
  13. q_x

    q_x Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Poland
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    But it's not a sample of one!
    I've read an article about using vibrations to center lens elements during re-assembly. Hence my I-61 remark, I just need a spanner wrench.

    Russian glass was made really well, metal parts have measurable tolerances, that were rather strict, and the main problem was the assembly made by hand and the toll that the time took afterwards. Workers were working in a society, where sober people usually cooperated with the regime, vodka was the common way to control the masses, it was used to survive the working day, as well as to socialize on Sundays and holidays, cure diseases and survive the bitter Siberian cold. Also, there was a system of quantity standards (rather, than quality). So if there was a plan to make X lenses, plus 20% to please some people, the lenses could have been produced incomplete, out of incompatible or rejected parts (mixing parts from two production series would be a hypothetical example here).

    So yes, cleaning and careful re-assembly will sometimes make things better.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,537
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If you want to start using rangefinder cameras, a Zorki is probably not the best place to start.
     
  16. limnidytis

    limnidytis Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Depends on how the shutter dial is constructed. With an early camera that has the pointer on the top of the camera, after you fire the shutter you don't know what speed is set on the dial, so you don't know where the dial rotation stops. I would suppose a heavy handed person could twist the dial around past the stopping point and damage the pin/plate system. With later cameras where the pointer is in the center of the speed dial you know where the stopping point is and you know how to set the dial.
     
  17. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

    Messages:
    259
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Location:
    Calgary, AB,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Second E von Hoegh and j-dogg. I have a Leica IIIa and IIIf and a Kiev 4a, and I'm very careful about cocking the shutter first. After a while, this becomes second nature.
     
  18. Lamar

    Lamar Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Wow!! Just checked back on this post and saw all the fantastic replies so far. Lots of great info. I'll have to save this thread as a user manual..... Thanks to all!!!
     
  19. Lamar

    Lamar Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Incredibly detailed info! Thanks for taking the time to post this. It is definitely appreciated.


     
  20. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,785
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Be careful of the eyepiece if you wear glasses. Can scratch.
     
  21. q_x

    q_x Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Poland
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Lamar, well, this is Soviet gear. It was made to work, not to be smooth, comfortable or intuitive. I've figured you might need the info not to get frustrated. And some luck to have a pair of working cameras ("working" is the key word here, not "fully operable" :D)

    After shooting for 22 years with "Warsaw Pact" cameras only (that's FSU, Polish and East Germany gear) I have to say I love Ricoh and Pentax, even though it's delicate. And I'm still making errors, like converting a FED 5 rangefinder into a pinhole camera with ~24mm focal length - it's hard to guess that in advance, but the rangefinder cam made some considerable changes to the image.

    Please, drop us a line, show us some photos as soon as you have it :smile:
     
  22. q_x

    q_x Member

    Messages:
    169
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Location:
    Poland
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    And just to reply myself, it seems like some cameras will have the image frame going higher or lower, than expected (if you have a landscape photo, land and sprocket holes may overlap, so it's related to the film not going high enough in the camera). This is normal, and it's caused by Soviet film canister size - apparently something like 1mm different from today's or western standards. So yes, that's a part of the fun as well. You'll find Cartier-Bresson photos with sprocket holes visible, it seems like it's a part of Leica heritage in this case. Noble error, I'd say.

    Maybe export or newer models, with "normal letters" are not affected (or less affected), I have no chance to check this now. Zorki C ('57) is almost OK (worrying, not erratic), but Zorki 4 ('68) goes with the image on sprocket holes. Kiev 4am and FED 5 are a part of my history now, but FED was also slightly off-center. Kiev had frame spacing problem, not really ruining anything, just annoying (one more thing to check...). I have a soviet canister here, I'll check it with my Zorki C this winter. From what I see, it won't work properly with Zorki 4.

    Also, some folks are reporting, that if your film breaks or tears during rewind, you should try Kodak film. Same reason, different effect. It won't help with the film going too low though.
     
  23. ntenny

    ntenny Member

    Messages:
    2,284
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    (the shutter-speed-after-cocking rule)

    Hmm, I'm sitting here futzing with my FED-2 and I can't convince myself that it matters on this model. The selector dial and speed indicator rotate along with the shutter release shaft, so the indicator points to the same speed the whole time.

    On the Zorki-4/Mir and probably many others, the selector rotates but the indicator doesn't, so the indicator is only right when the shutter is cocked. If you try to set the speed uncocked, it'll point to the wrong speed; I did this once and was able to undo it, but that was on a Mir (no slow speeds), and it's possible it would have fouled the slow-speed escapement on a camera that had one.

    Have you had an actual problem with this on a FED-2? I'd be interested I the details if so.

    -NT
     
  24. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,195
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    May be a myth on the internet but it is a truth in the owner's manual (page 5).
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    11,203
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's page 6 on mine...

    Anyway I think I had no final problem doing it the other way (my sample is not at hand now). And I know people who disassembled their sample and could not find a reason for this at least concerning spoiling the mechanism.
     
  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've read a lot in the 'net about Soviet lenses, my comment was meant as an antidote to all the "I bought one and put it on my digithingy and it sucks so all Soviet lenses suck!' comments.
    As for centering elements with vibration, I've read that too. Here's what I do - as you tighten the retaining ring, start by very gently snugging the ring to the glass, then roll the cell between your palms, or gently squeeze the cell alternately at 90 degrees - the idea is to flex the mounting enough to let the glass find it's own center between the cell and retaining ring - then turn the ring a wee bit more, you'll notice that it's become loose. Keep squeezing/rolling and very gently sneaking the ring tighter, after a while you get a feel for this. You don't need a vibrating gadget, just educated fingertips.