Zenit 12xp

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4.2 / 5
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waitew's review of Zenit 12XP


“Zenit 12xp”

Written on: 09/02/2014 by waitew (1 review written)

In the 1980's-mid 1990's the Soviet/Russia Zenit slrs were by far the least expensive entry into interchangeable lens,through the lens metering,35mm photography. They could be found advertised in the back of photo magazines being sold with lens,case & sometimes flash/lens cleaning kit for 2/3 the price of the body ALONE of their cheapest competitor (Pentax k1000). That was a very attractive deal to someone on a tight budget who desperately wanted a "professional" camera which to most people,in those days,meant a 35mm SLR.
Back then the philosophy was the camera itself was just a light tight box with a film advance mechanism & a shutter. The real work was done by the lens (interchangeable in this case & in a common mount for which many high quality lenses were available)and the film (also interchangeable). That meant the smart thing to do was spent the big money on the glass & scrimp on the camera body. Be that as it may,the body still needs to have a certain level of features to be in the running. By comparison to it's competition the Zenit was low on features but NOT where it really mattered for ever day common photography. For example,the Zenit shutter speed range is only 1/30-1/500th a sec plus B. A pretty narrow range,but really how often does the average photographer use the other speeds? Unless you're shooting sports you're really not going to miss speeds above 1/500th a sec & speeds below 1/30th a sec. (require a tripod anyway)and things like astro photography & night time exposures require the B setting which the Zenit has anyway. The biggest draw back was the 1/30th a sec. flash sync speed,but even that is only 1 stop slower than it's competitors of the day (1/60th Pentax K1000,Canon AE1,AE1P etc.) All in all,back in the day,it looked like a decent deal.
Now for the review. The body is clunky. The meter is fickle. The viewfinder only shows 60 something percent of the picture area. The flash syn speed is only 1/30th a sec which means either no fill flash in daylight or an ND filter & a real steady hand. But the lens is of high quality (far better than the camera) & can easily hold its own against western competitors of the day (in fact the lens alone is worth the price of the camera & is the ONLY reason Zenits review as well as they do). All in all,taking into consideration it's limitations (know to me at the time) it was a good purchase & delivered what it promised even if I did hate it & wished for a better Japanese camera,but the pictures I have from the Zenit ,from those days,are just as good as the later ones from when I did finally get a 'better' Japanese made camera. I guess that's all that really matters.

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