Zorki 4K - any users?
I have a nice old Zorki 4K, one of the early ones with the nice letherette covering and a Black Jupiter 8 F2 50mm lens.
It is in mint condition and very reliable. The lens is nice and sharp and the focussing mechanism is accurate. I have used it a lot and quite like it, it is a good B/W snapshot camera for when you are on holiday
It works well with I/R film too, and other heavy filtration, for obvious reasons (and the lens has a red correction mark)
It has one problem which drives me nuts. The parrallex error is terrible and there seems to be no way to correct for it. The picture taken often has little to do with the image in the viewfinder. I'm forever chopping bits off people even when I try to guess to allow for it. There are no lines or guides scribed in the window to assist... is this normal?
There is a lever on the rewind button which seems to act like a zoom for the viewfinder. Does anyone know what this is supposed to do? I thought maybe it allowed for the tele and wide angle lenses, but there is no sort of scale or anything to tell you where to set it for each lens.
Any ideas, anyone?
Originally Posted by steven_e007
I never found the viewfinder that bad -- I've had half a dozen or more 4Ks over the last 30+ years, and sold my last one a few months ago as I seldom used it.
Quality control was always very Soviet: I remember one 50/2 where you could see and hear one of the elements flopping too and fro inside the lens. At best, they're pretty good, though.
I've had a Zorkii 4K set (save for the 21mm lens) for many years now, and in fact used it almost full-time while living in Russia. I'm sure you'll enjoy working with it as much as I have - so long as you watch out for quality control issues when buying lenses.
The viewfinder/rangefinder is set up for the 50mm lens without parallax correction. You'll want to find the Zorkii universal viewfinder, in Russian - "Vidoiskatel' 'BY'". It's a turret-type viewfinder that fits into the accessory shoe on top of the camera and has lenses for 28, 35, 50, 85 and 135 millimeters with provision for parallax correction.
Hope this info helps you out! If you have any other questions about the Zorkii, feel free to drop me a line!
I forgot to add that the lever next to the viewfinder adjusts its focus to your eyesight.
Originally Posted by James Hill
20/5.6, surely? I've only owned one, and it was impressively awful. I tried another and it was no better. I've had all the others, several of them more than once, often in both Zorkii and Kiev mounts, and I'd say that they get better as they get longer. The 28/6 is OK; the 35/2,8, not too bad if you get a good one; the 50/2 quite fair (but not the 50/1.5 -- at least the two I've tried); the 85/2 rather a nice portrait lens; and the 135mm (f/4 if I recall correctly) was quite good, though it's hard to make a really bad 135mm at that speed.
As far as I can see they are all pre-WW2 Zeiss designs, with little or no modification, and even the best lenses of 70 years ago have understandably been outstripped by more modern designs. If you want a sharp, contrasty lens, for example, the 90/3.5 Voigtländer Apo Lanthar wipes the floor with the 85/2 Jupiter/Sonnar -- which is not to deny that the 85/2 has a charm all of its own. I foolishly sold my last one cheaply to a portrait photographer friend-of-a-friend who really, really wanted it.
Twenty years ago, when this sort of stuff was silly-cheap, it made a lot more sense to me than it does today when there's a wider choice of better gear. On the other hand, I'd still not deny that most -- not all -- Soviet gear can take better pictures than I can.
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You're absolutely right, I should have said that the Russar is a 20mm lens. Back in Russia the price was totally out of line with the lens's quality - in 2003/04 it was selling for around 200USD; all the others for screwmount rangefinders were going for no more than 40USD for a unit in good condition.
The Jupiter 50mm lenses are a bit dodgy; I actually prefer my Industar 50/3.5 to the Jupiter 50/1.5. When I was shooting the Zorkii regularly I used the 35/2.8 and the 85/2 more often than not.
My teacher once told me that during the aftermath of the war the Soviets literally dismantled the Contax factory and other facilities in Germany and shipped them back to the USSR where they were incorporated into the Krasnogorsk (Zorkii, Zenit), Aresenal (Kiev), and Lytkarino Optical (lenses and filters) works. Apparently the screwmount rangefinders were the results of Leica designs that 'somehow' made their way to the Soviet Union.
Having made the switch to shooting primarily medium format, I haven't taken the Zorkii, or any 35mm, out for a while. I really should run a couple of rolls of film through it sometime soon. Ah, the memories.
I have a 4 and a 4K. I like the 4 better. I'm not sure why. The 4K feels more like a toy somehow, even though the bodies are nearly identical. For some reason I just prefer to knob wind my rangefinder cameras. The 4 has a much quieter winding mechanism (my 4K is pretty noisy when I wind) so that might be part of it.
Still, it's fun to use and I occasionally put film through it just to keep it limber.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
The viewfinder on the 4 and the 4k shows quite a bit more than you are getting on film. If you wear glassses (like me) this is not a problem because you can't see all of the viewfinder. You could try masking it off with tape, or just use a 35mm lens which would be a closer approximation.
Whilst in Jena and Oberkocken, Germany I have spent some time with Zeiss employees, a few of whom were just old enough to have had first hand experience of the Russian 'Dismantling' of the Zeiss factory in Jena.
Originally Posted by James Hill
Apparently this dismantling went right down to the level of Russian soldiers with sledgehammers smashing the toilet bowls and sinks and throwing them out of the windows. Absolutely everything was stripped from the factory, leaving a completely empty, windowless shell. (The Bauhaus architecture has now been incorporated into the shopping mall in Jena).
Apparently Everything was removed - but most if it was said to have been dumped in a field outside St. Petersburg where, I am told, it still sits rusting to this day. That bit of the story is purely anecdotal (I've never been to St. Petersburg to see...), but I've seen enough pictures of the gutted Jena factory (and it is well documented in the Jena museum) to know that the ransacking is true...
More important than the stealing of equipment, was the stealing of people.
There was a list of development personal and senior employees who were given the opprtunity to travel with the Americans who took as many lorry loads of Zeiss designs, drawings and prototypes as they could to Oberkocken in the west. Many people who were not lucky enough to be on the list or who decided not to make the move ended up being 'moved' to Russia, under less voluntary cirumstances. Or so I'm told. There are several excellent books giving the full history of what happened, but I'm not sure if any have been translated into English.
I had a Zorki 4K back in the late 70s. It supplemented an Olympus Trip that I was growing frustrated with as I went down the photographic learning curve. I ended up with the 35/2.8 and the 85/2 with helios accessory finders. I had very little trouble with the camera and had many a happy day trolling around Richmond and the Thames with it filled with HP5 AND FP4. My favourite lens was the Jupiter 85/2 as the field of view suited the way I wanted to photograph things, and the results were sharp and contrasty and no worse than results from much more expensive SLRs. The only reason I sold it was equipment envy on trips around Central London and Covent Garden when much flashier cameras were being used by all and sundry and the poor old Zorki seemed dated and cheap. Of course I know better now, but such is the nature of the amateur in the wonderful world of photography. I eventually ended up using the Kiev and Fed rangefinders as well. The Kiev leaked light and the Fed scratched the film, but the Zorki seemed to be the best of them and gave me no trouble!