Zenit EM
Photo by NordWood Themes / Unsplash

Zenit EM

Reading time: 1 min read

On a whim I recently bought myself a new toy. The Zenit EM is a 35mm SLR, manufactured in the Soviet Union (back when there was such a thing) for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. And, after almost 20 years using a smartphone, it's been a bit of a steep learning curve.

Zenit was originally a cheaper copy of the fancier Leica brand, and they've manufactured a wide range of different cameras (including this awesome Photosniper model) at their factory outside Moscow since the early 1950s. This model, the EM, features a built-in light meter (that seems to still work fairly accurately), several shutter speeds, automatic and manual aperture setting, and a timer.

After watching this excellent YouTube how-to several times, I managed to successfully load a roll of film (which has gotten really expensive now everyone has gone digital) into the camera, and get to grips with the "take light reading, adjust shutter speed, set appropriate aperture" process. However, now that I've finally gotten the test roll back from the printers, it appears that manually focusing is something I need to work a little harder at. Landscapes are easy enough, but anything up-close requires you to really hit the perfect spot on the focus ring if you want the results to be at all acceptable. I also discovered that the exposure counter doesn't really work on mine, so either I need to carry a notebook or have a good memory for how many shots are remaining on the roll.

To be honest, I'm not sure how often I'm going to use it, what with the high cost of both film stock and development nowadays. Perhaps next time I'm going somewhere with plenty of long-distance landscapes to capture I'll pack it (although it is kind of heavy); in the meantime, playing with the Zenit has made me appreciate my Pixel 6's 50MP/4K pocket-sized camera even more.

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