Zorki 1 (Zopkuu)
I just picked up one of these today at a thrift store for $15. I know I am going to get myself into some hot water here, but I have to say that the build quality on this camera is horrible. I know there are lots of people that swear by them...if one of you is here, please tell me that some were better than others! I started to take it apart to fix the stuck shutter, but I am honestly not confident that it will go back together. I hear the lenses are decent though...is that the case? It has a 50mm 3.5 collapsible on it that looks pretty clean.
I have a Fed3b that feels like the final death scene of the Bluesmobile every time I wind a new frame. But the resulting negatives are tack sharp and beautiful. And - against all odds - it's the only camera I own whose shutter speeds are absolutely correct across its entire range. I've tested them myself. (More than once out of disbelief!)
A Zorki I does not have the built quality of a Leica II but should still work ok.
The earlier ones are slightly better but have more quirks.
You pays your money you makes your choice.
The collapsible lens will accept the Leica FISON hood or you can make a paper machie one. With a hood the little lens should be real good.
The provisio is that it needs to be free of kitchen table maintenance, before you buy it.
Realistically you bought a camera made a long time ago, with unknown service history. Besides, when they assembled it, they did not take the utmost care, and the lubricants they used at the time were not ever-lasting either. There are technicians who can completely disassemble cameras like this, clean everything, and put it back together the way it's designer intended. Some who had their cameras rebuilt like that reported that they were totally transformed, but I do not have first-hand experiences. Certainly I used vintage CRF cameras but finally had to give up on them, as they're far from being spectacle-friendly.
In most cases, a decent CLA will bring many Soviet cameras to a good (even a very good) working order (possible exceptions being late Feds... :( )
Most 50+ year old cameras will need some kind of work.
Lenses can be very good (more or less 1930's Zeiss or Leica clones), but that also depends on getting a good sample or having what you have properly repaired.
If you want something that works out of the box, there's all kinds of new plastic stuff out there, but it probably won't even be repairable in 20 or so years...
Leica commands the big bucks for a good reason!
I'm well versed in old cameras...I think the newest camera I have is a 500c from the 70's! I've got tons of rangefinders from this era, and I would have to say that the Leica & Contax are great, Canon very good, Minolta not so hot. The Zorki is just made very poorly. I'm sure there are tons of good ones out there, but this particular one is extremely sloppy. Nothing fits together well.
Leica & Contax are great for what? Same question for Canon, Minolta, etc...
Originally Posted by tjaded
I had and still have many soviet cameras and even if they behave differently, they are all effective. In fact, the main trouble I have with rangefinders is from a Contax IIa with a very tight bayonet; it is a pain to mount or dismount its Zeiss Sonnar lens...
I had a Zorki 4A that worked well once. It looked like it had never been used. Nearly every other FSU block camera I've owned (several) had some sort of problem or other. These can usually be cured by a good service of course. Only a few are really worth it however. One that comes to mind is the Pentacon Six (Praktisix) with its fine lenses.
I used to collect Praktina because some of the lenses made for it were often so amazing, but I could never rely on the bodies to work! Even after repeated servicing - drove me crazy.
Of course vintage Canon, Nikon, Leica etc. often needs work, but usually when fixed they stay fixed for a long time. More often than not however they still work well, even decades after manufacture.
All I was trying to say is that the specific Zorki that I bought was made badly, i.e. screws don't fit properly, the mounting plate behind the lens does not sit flush, so the lens is not aligned well...things like that. I am not ripping on all Zorkis, I am saying that the one I purchased was not made well. Maybe the person that assembled it back in 1953ish was having a bad day! I dunno. As for the other cameras I listed, I am specifically talking about build quality. I have multiple versions of Leica/Contax/Canon/Minolta from the same era. The first three are consistently solid from a build point. I have one Minolta that is solid as a rock and another that seems more like it should have been sold in a gumball machine. It isn't a knock on the camera maker! My original post mentioned that I was hoping to hear that there are lots out there that have a good, solid version of this camera.