Zorki S

Zorki S

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*slaps forehead* Not another one! Explanation please? WELL, YOU SEE, it’s like this… I just had to get me one of those cute little collapsing Elmar copies, either the Industar-22 or collapsing I-50, and after figuring shipping from the Former Soviet Union it just seemed more economical to spend just a little more to get a camera attached to the lens. Or so I told myself. (Come to think of it, that’s how I ended up with a FED 5!)

This is closer to its Leica II copy roots than the other LTM FSU cameras I have. Specifically: separate viewfinder and rangefinder windows and… wait for it… BOTTOM LOADING. Say what? Well, the film loads into the bottom of the camera instead of the back. Trés old school, I know. You must cut the film leader to a certain template – 110mm long, 22mm wide, with the radius edge *between* sprocket holes. And leaving a few sprocket holes worth of film on both sides out of the cassette side. Excellent instructions by Mark Tharp and Kevin Kalsbeek on doing just this are found here. Once the leader is cut and tucked into the takeup spool, some people use a business card or credit card to assist in guiding the film into place, my example came with a plastic card in a special slot in the leather case for doing just that. It did help. Something a little thinner like a playing card might be better.

The C (Cyrillic S) is for Sync, as in added flash sync to what previously was a syncless Zorki 1 (along with a taller rangefinder housing to accomodate it). The sync is actually adjustable with the lever under the shutter speed dial, from 0 (electronic flash) to 25ms.

It’s a more handsome camera in person than the pictures I’d seen previously… Particularly with the lens collapsed, it’s quite an attractive and compact piece of FSU machinery. The lack of a removable back allows the camera to be more compact (or rather, the addition of a removable back made the subsequent versions slightly bulkier). It’s even more compact than a FED 2, in each dimension. With the lens collapsed I can slip the camera into my back pocket. How cool is that!

Zorki S Collapsed

(top) lens collapsed, with cap; (bottom) size compared to FED-2E with I-26M

Zorki S FED 2

One thing it is lacking that you’ll see in later Zorkis is strap lugs. Oh well. Looks nice anyway. BTW this is the ‘grey’ model, there were also green, white, and of course black. The stains are from years of sitting it its red-velvet-lined case. How is it as a shooter? Fun! It’s compact and comfortable, you just have to make sure to pop the lens out before you try to shoot or you’ll miss your shot. Twist and pull a little to make sure it’s extended all the way. The fiddly aperture ring on the front makes this a good one to ‘set and forget’, eg take a baseline light reading while you’re walking around, set your aperture accordingly, and then adjust the shutter speed when necessary rather than fiddling with the aperture ring and risking getting fingerprints on the lens…

Speaking of the lens, it’s got such a beautiful coating, you really have to see it! A wonderful purple like on the Industar-26M you see on the FED 2 cameras. Yum.

Zorki I22 Purple


Focus was a little wonky from the usual yak butter… er, congealed grease, so I carefully cleaned the focusing threads with a toothpick and lightly lubed them with a little synthetic grease. Saves dismantling such a lovely lens.

Tips & Tricks

Of course by now you know to ALWAYS cock the shutter before changing film speeds. The pin-and-hole shutter speed selectors in these old FSU classics can be unforgiving. For this model though there’s an extra gotcha and that’s the whole bottom-loading thing. Read the instructions at the Links below.

Other tips – separate viewing and focusing windows, again, trés old school, trés Argus C3 if you know what I mean. I can’t say it predates the combined rangefinder/viewfinder window because, well, it doesn’t. But let’s pretend it does. Or we could just call the design ‘loyal’.

Also, like on the Zorki 4, the tripod mount is not the standard 1/4″ mount, but the European 3/8″ mount that requires an adapter, which you can find if you look around.

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