Zenit 122K SLR Camera - Opinions?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by kb3lms, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

    Messages:
    874
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Ok, everyone, so tax refund (I hope!) time is coming up. Our friends over at Lomography show the Zenit 122K SLR Camera on their website. See http://usa.shop.lomography.com/cameras/russian-cameras/zenit-122k-slr-camera

    Has anyone any experience with these SLRs? I am intrigued both because of the price and the K-mount, for which I have plenty of lenses. Do they work well? Are they reliable? I am a hobbyist so this would be for casual use.
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Location:
    Maryland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think you'd be better off getting another pentax.
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,386
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As long as you don't pay too much. They were made, according to the 'net, from 1994-97, so NOS is 15-20 years old; how well it works after sitting in the box for that long is a guess.

    Merchandise from Lomography is, as a rule, overpriced. I would think around $80 for one with lens would be about right.

    Pentax, Chinon and Ricoh K-mount bodies on ebay go for ~$50.
     
  4. werra

    werra Subscriber

    Messages:
    334
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Tallinn, Est
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Go with Pentax. For the sake of reliability, meter and viewfinder.
     
  5. thegman

    thegman Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Never used one, but I can't help but think £90 can be spent better. Having said that, if that's what you want, it's not a huge risk of money, you may end up really liking it.
     
  6. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

    Messages:
    4,589
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    İstanbul
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Biggest problem of these Zenits , is shutter cloth. After each shot and roll the cloth in to its place , cloth wear from the middle as a vertical white line in the middle of frame. Cloth paint disintegrates with pressure and it starts to leak light. Other problem , if you carry it in a sunny day , lens focus bright light on to frame and cloth burns.
    The battery room and light meter electronics are not reliable and you find yourself when opening the battery room , remove the batteries and carve out the thick oxide from the contacts. I bet , after 10 rolls or less , electronics burns and never come back.
    Soviet lenses are excellent indoor or bright sunny day. 58 mm Helios is excellent really , I put my Zenit ET in to deep freezer , minus celcius 25 for an one hour and it works like new.
    You can buy a Kiev 60 and Carl Zeiss Jena lens and if you CLAed it , it is sexy and takes damn good pictures.
     
  7. pekelnik

    pekelnik Member

    Messages:
    79
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You could also get a Praktica...
     
  8. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

    Messages:
    874
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Wow! OK, then, we'll move on. Sounds like the Zenit is not anything to write home about! Probably better to look into more MF gear anyway if I really have some of that tax refund burning a hole in my pocket.

    Thanks, everyone, for your opinions. And I agree, Lomography is definitely over-priced.
     
  9. PentaxBronica

    PentaxBronica Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You should be able to get a good K2 for the same money. Old stock of a notoriously agricultural camera with a ridiculous markup, or the top of the range K mount body in 1975 which hasn't really been improved upon by anything other than the DMD model. Not much of a choice!
     
  10. Fanshaw

    Fanshaw Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Although I wouldn't buy anything from Lomography because of the ridiculous prices, I think that the Zenits basic as they are are likely to be some of the longest lasting film cameras. Ignoring the exposure meters, which are crude and not much use, there are no electronics to go wrong or foam seals to turn into goo. There is only the shutter blinds which will eventually need replacing, although those on my Zenit-E bought in the 1970s are still OK.Otherwise the camera should last forever. It is becoming harder to find a Pentax for example which works reliably. For many purposes a simple all manual camera is all that is needed and it is satisfying to be completley in control of the lens aperture and shutter speed.
     
  11. summerbee

    summerbee Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    really?
    for 50 dollars you can get a choice of, for what i know. all much realiable in tolerances, better assembled etc. etc. then any soviet camera on earth.
    Only thing really referred as "very good" in soviet camera world are the legendary bags in "true soviet jak", and of course many lenses, if you get a well assembled one.
    Ricoh and other brands as well produced very good SLR in K mount baionet way more reliable and actually as affordable as russian ones...
    imho, of course
     
  12. PentaxBronica

    PentaxBronica Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Depends on the Pentax in my experience.

    There are a lot of broken ME Supers out there, but I'd suggest that this has something to do with the number sold (as compared to, say, the MX) rather than inherent unreliability.

    I avoid the MZ series (ZX series in the USA) as that stupid plastic drive cog has a habit of splitting and rendering them useless. The Z or PZ series bodies seem to be more reliable but need a specialist battery. That's why my favoured AF body is an SFXn with the AA battery grip.

    MEs, MXs and earlier seem to be almost impossible to kill, without resorting to serious maltreatment such as dropping from a great height. In fact two of my three MEs came to me as "spares or repair" lots. One needed a quick squirt of lighter fluid and a prod with a screwdriver to unjam it, the other just needed its battery cover cleaning. Both now work perfectly.
     
  13. GarageBoy

    GarageBoy Member

    Messages:
    652
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Zenits feel like they're made by factory workers held at gun point (the early ones, anyways)
    With 35mm on the used market going for pennies on the dollar, pick up ANYthing else. Pentax ME Supers, MEs, MVs can be had for the price of two or three trips to McDs
     
  14. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

    Messages:
    823
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As long as there is a Japanese alternative, I would not favor the Zenit.
     
  15. pen s

    pen s Member

    Messages:
    241
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Location:
    Olympia, wa.
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I picked up a Sears KS-500 with it's 50mm f2 auto lens for $5. It is a rebadged Ricoh KR-5 and they are often available for a lot less than this camera. The Richo KR series all have PK mounts so all manual focus lenses like PK, PKa etc will fit and work fine.
     
  16. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

    Messages:
    193
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    TBH I'd think $85 for an honest to goodness new in box unused SLR is not a bad deal by any means. Those Vivitar SLRs cost over $100, and that is likely the next cheapest option if you want a real 35mm SLR.

    I doubt the camera itself is particularly good, but the Zenitar 2/50 lens has a good reputation and you'd probably spend $30-$40 on a used one on ebay.
     
  17. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

    Messages:
    278
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2008
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Zenit E was the SLR if you could not afford a Praktica in the dark days of 1970s Britain. A used Spotmatic was Luxury. Then I got a used Nikkormat FTn and it was love at first sight... So much better than the communist stuff and a solid bayonet mount. The Copal Square shutter is one of those design masterpieces that needs more recognition
     
  18. summerbee

    summerbee Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    we always had fun saying that kiev's camera assembling quality depended upon how much vodka they had in city that weekend... :laugh:
     
  19. PentaxBronica

    PentaxBronica Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You might not be as far from the truth as you think...

    You can do a lot worse than look for the unfashionable cameras using a given mount. I see loads of Pentax SF7s and P30s going for next to nothing, the SF7 was the second camera to use the current AF K mount design after the SFX and it'll work with any full frame lens they've ever made. Price? You can find them for under £10 on ebay UK regularly. From observation the Canon and Nikon AF bodies can also be found cheaply if you're just after a working camera rather than the top of the range awesomeness or a collectable mechanical marvel.

    My money would be on a Pentax SFXn with the AA battery grip, just makes it that bit easier to feed. Find one with the 35-70mm zoom and it's a cracker.
     
  20. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,358
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As a side note to those comments on soviet cameras:

    The original manufacturer of the Zenit cameras, KMZ, manufactured 20 million cameras, out of them 15 million Zenit.

    In Addition a great number of Zenit cameras were manufactured by Belomo, including Zenit cameras totally independantly designed and made from KMZ.


    The camera in question is a Belomo design and product, though based on a KMZ model.
     
  21. Xmas

    Xmas Member

    Messages:
    6,455
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    a used K1000 with Pentax lens in user condition should be about the same...

    You should be able to replace the foam easily and they take any battery.

    An early one made Japan is a nice basic camera.