Written on: 08/05/2004 by harlee112833 (1 review written)
Generally, Russian electronics leave a lot to be desired, especially in cameras. However, these Zenits, as I said previously, are built to be worked on by the average person. A lot like the Russian Lada automobile, or as the Russians would call it, "Lada machine." It would be nice if there were a greater number of shutter speeds available, but, what the heck, they work just fine with ISO 100 film.
I purchased my Zenit 12XP 35mm SLR Camera, or perhaps it should be referred to as the 12HR, since the Russian cyrillic letters stand for XR, on Ebay for around $25.00. It was being sold under the Cambron label. Apparently the seller had no idea what it was, for he mentioned that there is some sort of battery holder on the back of the camera. The camera was in "like new" condition. I had a Zenit back in the 80's, with an external meter, and this one had the same heft and feel of of that older model, probably an "E" model. When I received the camera, I did notice there was a place for two button cells on the back of the camera, and started searching for a couple of batteries to fit. I did locate a couple, inserted them, but had no idea how the meter worked, or if it did work. When I depressed the shutter button, a very long distance I might add, I noticed a red diode light in the viewfinder. As I started turning the aperature ring and the shutter speed dial, I noticed that the red diod shifted to another red diod. As I continued to mess with it, I saw that at one point both red diods lighted up and started flickering. As I pointed the camera toward an outdoor light source, the exposure looked as though it was just about correct when both red diods flickered. Getting on a Zenit web site, I found that indeed when both lights flicker, the correct exposure has been achieved. But I also noticed that sometimes the lights wouldn't flicker no matter how I changed exposures. More research! Taking off the rewind crank, and lifting off the ISO dial on the top left of the camera, I found that the meter can be adjusted to a given light source. Using another reliable camera as a guide, I clearned off the variable resister located underneath the ISO indicator, set the correct shutter speed and aperature setting, and the slowly turned the variable resistor until both red diods stared to flicker, and then tightedned the set screws. Right now, my Zenit 12XP [12HR] works like a finely tuned watch. recently took it to Siberia with me and came back with some excellent pictures of Russian city life. I now have four Zenits, and like them all. These Russian cameras are sort of like our old model "A" autos, they're built to be worked on by an average person with some knowledge of cameras and photography. And they're very rugged. I recently took my Zenit 212K on a cruise and shot slides with it and they came out great. These Zenits are really workhorse cameras. I also have two FED 5C [or 5S] rangerfinders, one chrome and one black, like new and I am really amazed with the quality of the pictures they produce.
All in all, the Zenit wouldn't be my first choice to shoot a special event, but they are fun cameras to play with, and can produce some really great results.