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Thread started 29 Jan 2018 (Monday) 17:48
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First Film SLR - Zenit E

 
s1a1om
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Post edited 4 months ago by s1a1om. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 29, 2018 17:48 |  #1

I've been thinking about trying a film camera for a while now and finally decided to take the plunge. I wanted a camera that could use the helios 44 and 40 lenses, which meant I needed to find something with an M42 mount. A bit of reading led me to the Zenit E, a soviet-era camera that was produced from 1965 to 1986.

One of the things I found intriguing about this specific camera is that is fully manual with no batteries at all. I figured that as long as I was going back to the stone age (film), I may as forgo the modern convenience of any electrical aids. But with that in mind, another cool feature of this camera is that it came with a built-in light meter (that frequently is no longer functional). As an added bonus it comes with the Helios 44-2 lens, which is one of the two lenses I was interested in.

So, with that being said, any tips/suggestions for a film neophyte. Any recommendations on where to get film developed (I'm not going to set up a dark room quite yet)? Any suggestions on what type of film to load first? Any tips or hints specifically about using a Zenit or Helios?

The camera is shipping from across the pond (Ukraine), so it will be a couple weeks before I have my new toy.


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Scottboarding
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Jan 29, 2018 21:45 |  #2

Congrats on getting into film photography! I'll throw together a couple of tips for you.

1. Download the Light Meter app on your phone. If you're familiar to sunny 16, great! But shooting indoors or in other lighting conditions can get tricky, so having the app is useful.

2. Always always always err on the side of overexposure. Film is the opposite of digital, so highlights are unlikely to be blown, but shadows have no latitude. Even underexposing by a stop can be detrimental depending on the film. I accidentally shot a photo on Kodak Portra 400 that was four stops overexposed, and it came out completely fine. It's actually recommended that you overexpose all color negative film by a stop to keep shadow detail.

3. Start with color negative film. As stated above, color negative film is very forgiving with overexposure, so it's the best place to start. I would start with either Agfa Vista 200, or Kodak Colorplus 200. You can get 10 36-exposure rolls of Colorplus off Ebay for $30 shipped so it's cheap, but I also think it looks quite nice. Alternatively you can pickup a four pack of Fuji Superia 400 at Walmart for around $12. Don't worry about spending $8+ for a single roll of Portra. I love Portra, and shoot it for special events or subjects, but most of the time I shoot Colorplus and put the $5 towards developing.

4. Get your film developed at The FIND Lab. I mail in all my color negative film to them and I am extremely happy with them. It's $12 for develop and scan, and you get to choose between Frontier and Noritsu scanners which does make a difference. For $14 they will give you technical feedback on your images which would be very handy since you're starting out. The Darkroom is another alternative, but I haven't heard as many great things about them. I highly recommend NOT going taking it to Walmart or anywhere that will not return your negatives. Having a physical backup is very nice, as I have accidentally deleted film scans from my computer, but didn't sweat it because I could just re-scan them.

5. Have fun! It's a fun experience, so just enjoy it! It can be a annoying at times, but overall I really like the experience of it all.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


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s1a1om
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Jan 30, 2018 18:11 |  #3

Thanks for the tips. I spent some time reading The FIND Lab's website. Interesting stuff. Do people tend to do additional post-processing in lightroom/photoshop after scanning the film? If so, it would seem like the scanning on the Noritsu would be preferable to the Frontier since it has less contrast (retains details in the highlights) and you would be able to adjust the levels at the end.

Is it typical now for people shooting film to skip getting prints and just get the digital scans of the files?


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Scottboarding
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Jan 30, 2018 19:02 |  #4

s1a1om wrote in post #18552853 (external link)
Thanks for the tips. I spent some time reading The FIND Lab's website. Interesting stuff. Do people tend to do additional post-processing in lightroom/photoshop after scanning the film? If so, it would seem like the scanning on the Noritsu would be preferable to the Frontier since it has less contrast (retains details in the highlights) and you would be able to adjust the levels at the end.

Is it typical now for people shooting film to skip getting prints and just get the digital scans of the files?

I've only gotten digital scans as I don't ever print, even with digital. As for the Frontier vs Noritsu goes, both are just fine for doing PP. On their order sheet that you send in with the film you can choose from low, neutral, and high contrast. I've done neutral for both Frontier and Noristu and had no problem doing PP on either. Frontier is generally cooler and more saturated, while the Noritsu is warmer with more neutral color saturation. The FIND Lab will also scan your roll on both if you ask them in the notes section for a small fee (I believe $5 or $6) so that you can decide which one you prefer.

This post has more information: http://thefindlab.com …itsu-contrast-comparison/ (external link)

I personally prefer the Nortisu for my own work. I like the contrast and color pallet more than the Frontier, but everyone's different. For me, the Noritsu requires far less PP in order to get the look I want. The photo below is Portra 400 scanned on Noritsu, and was edited doing nothing more than pulling down the blacks until there was clipping, and pushing the whites to just before there was clipping.

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4746/39800556241_5c2f170bbc_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/23D3​fJV  (external link) 916750010024 (external link) by Scott Carr (external link), on Flickr

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John ­ from ­ PA
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Post edited 4 months ago by John from PA. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 31, 2018 08:14 |  #5

s1a1om wrote in post #18551999 (external link)
So, with that being said, any tips/suggestions for a film neophyte. Any recommendations on where to get film developed (I'm not going to set up a dark room quite yet)?

I regularly pull out one of my German made Kodak Retinas, especially when with a group of "old timers", of which I am one! As a teenager I worked for a professional photographer that also owned a retail camera store. My real pride and joy is the last of the Kodak folders, a Retina "large C" given to me when I went off to college. It came with a wide angle and telephoto, all Schneider-Kreuznach (German) glass that can deliver great images.

Anyway, to your question, I typically buy Fuji print film but more importantly when you get it developed just have the images burned to a CD. This will cost you $5 to $8 depending on roll size and vendor. Don't get prints. You can then post process as needed, keeping in mind the images are JPEG's, and then have them printed by a 3rd party.




  
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Jan 31, 2018 19:36 |  #6

I used a (borrowed) Zenit E while visiting a town in the north of Greece, where my father worked.

It had snowed heavily and there were fantastic photo opportunities in the winter wonderland (that's why I borrowed the camera). The owner told me that he had film in it but didn't remember if he'd taken any shots (he thought he had a few) so he asked me to send them to him after I had the film developed.

We cocked the shutter and saw the little wheel on the top turn, so, satisfied that there was film in it, I proceeded to shoot to my heart's content. After about 45 frames, I thought it was a bit strange, I didn't get to the end of the film, so I 'rewound' it and then opened the camera, to find no film cartridge...

Two hours hiking in two feet of snow for nothing!:oops::cry::cry:

So, beware of this little quirk :-D


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Feb 01, 2018 23:14 |  #7

Personally, I wouldn't touch any Zenit with ten feet pole. It is worst camera to try film with, IMO.

And buying from Ukraine dealers became too often nothing but lottery. Ebay is full of scammers from this region. With thousands of positive feedbacks and 100%.
No idea how they are doing this. But they will wrote what camera was serviced, tested, they could even have some image taken with this camera shown. Camera comes not serviced, not tested, and picture is stolen from internet.
I received FSU camera like this. Took couple of weeks to get money back from the scammer. And recently someone at russian speaking web site discovered one Ukrainian ebay scammer, who shows pictures as taken with FSU camera listed, but images are from users cameras of this web site...
And later on it appears what listings are of the cameras which were previously sold on eBay...
Guess what, ebay gives no crap about. They don't even have mechanism to report scammers like this.

Good luck...


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s1a1om
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Feb 02, 2018 06:41 |  #8

kf095 wrote in post #18554457 (external link)
Good luck...

Thanks, I've never actually ordered anything from Ebay befores since I've always been wary of scams. Hopefully it's in decent condition when it shows up. If not, we'll see what a little elbow grease will do. Being fully mechanical there isn't much to them, so I'm hopeful I'd be able to repair it.


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MakisM1
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Feb 02, 2018 09:35 |  #9

If you get it, it will be alright! Barring a direct hit with an RPG this thing will work, it is more robust (and uglier) than a Soviet tractor... :-P

My Canon FTb looked dainty compared to this brute!


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Feb 02, 2018 11:55 as a reply to  @ MakisM1's post |  #10

Wow. I suspect that I speak for many of the old(er) timers here. My first “real” camera was a Zenit E. The metering was certainly not bad....probably as good as with many modern dslr’s ... my recollection is that it was typically +/- one f- stop.

Color transparencies are good starting point.

I wonder if I can find one in a junk shop?:idea:


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kf095
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Feb 02, 2018 13:51 as a reply to  @ s1a1om's post |  #11

If worst is to be happen, do not make any attempts of trying to fix it. Just ask full money return and then hammer it down.

FSU cameras are twice terrible comparing to normal cameras, first by how crude they were made, second how unpredictable they are in repairs. It is not uncommon to have junk, never good part installed on the factory.

FIY, I met the ex head of assembly line for Zenit at Krasnogorsk factory in our small town. He was running DIY wine and beer store for some time here. And we speak same language as two FSU.
He showed me his special Zenit. It has to be assembled and collimated off the assembly line to make it works right. :-D


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s1a1om
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Feb 16, 2018 05:55 |  #12

Well, I did get the Zenit E. The shutter didn't work properly, but it did have the Helios 44-2 lens I wanted. So I bought a Zenit B (1971 model) from another online source. That one just arrived and appears to be working well, but it didn't have the 44-2 and the case was in pretty sad shape. I switched the case and lens from the E to the B and am now happy with my new kit. I've got the first roll of film loaded and can't wait to finish it up.

I love the weight and feel of the Zenit. The sound the shutter makes as it closes is awesome. The lens is amazingly simple to focus. It's been a number of years since I've used a film camera, so there's also something so cool and anti-climatic about pressing the shutter on this old machine.

I think shooting film is going to be addicting.


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Feb 16, 2018 10:13 |  #13

s1a1om wrote in post #18564963 (external link)
Well, I did get the Zenit E. The shutter didn't work properly, but it did have the Helios 44-2 lens I wanted. So I bought a Zenit B (1971 model) from another online source. That one just arrived and appears to be working well, but it didn't have the 44-2 and the case was in pretty sad shape. I switched the case and lens from the E to the B and am now happy with my new kit. I've got the first roll of film loaded and can't wait to finish it up.

I love the weight and feel of the Zenit. The sound the shutter makes as it closes is awesome. The lens is amazingly simple to focus. It's been a number of years since I've used a film camera, so there's also something so cool and anti-climatic about pressing the shutter on this old machine.

I think shooting film is going to be addicting.

Glad to hear you're happy with it! Enjoy, and I look forward to seeing your posts in the film shots thread!


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John ­ from ­ PA
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Post edited 4 months ago by John from PA.
     
Feb 17, 2018 08:37 |  #14

s1a1om wrote in post #18564963 (external link)
Well, I did get the Zenit E. The shutter didn't work properly, but it did have the Helios 44-2 lens I wanted.

Just an FYI, there are some adapters out there that enable you to mount that lens to a Canon DSLR. They are usually around $5 to $8 on eBay. Ideally if the flange on the adapter is around 46mm thick, then you can get infinity focus on the lens.




  
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First Film SLR - Zenit E
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