Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thinking about the Zenit E

click photo to enlarge
The first SLR I owned was a Zenit-E known as the Zenith E in English-speaking markets. This Russian camera was manufactured in vast numbers - over 12,000,000 were made. My copy was bought in 1972, when I was an impecunious student, and I found it a great introduction to more "serious" photography, serving me well until I bought an Olympus OM1n a few years later.

The Zenit was a very solid camera with a selenium light meter mounted above the lens. The shutter speeds were B and 1/30 to 1/500. Film settings were 16 ASA to 500ASA, though I only used Ilford black and white rated at either 125 or 400. The lens mount was M42 thread, and the standard lens with this camera was an f2 58mm offering. All camera manufacturers have a name for their lenses - Olympus/Zuiko, Nikon/Nikkor, etc, and Zenit were no exception. This lens had the name Helios engraved near the filter threads. I often wondered why they chose the Greek word for the sun. Whatever the reason, I cannot hear that word without thinking of that particular lens.

Today I decided to produce a photograph that said, "summer", so I went into the garden and took a few shots of some perennial yellow daisies that fill a border. I didn't know the name of these particular plants, but a bit of research leads me to think they are a variety of Heliopsis. Noticing that the name, very fittingly, borrowed that Greek word for "sun" I was immediately put in mind of my old camera. Interestingly I can't remember what became of it. I still have the Olympus, but the Zenit is long gone. Perhaps I gave it away or sold it. One thing I know is I won't have thrown it away because it failed - it was built like a T62 tank and seemed capable of going on for ever.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On