How to Use the Zenit E

The camera I have been learning with is the Zenit E. Check out reviews on I Still Shoot Film and Lomography.

When I first received it, it looked like a mass of incomprehensible dials. I have since learnt to love it. They’re great cameras and so cheap it doesn’t matter if it breaks or you bash it about. They’re built like a brick and as heavy as one (916g!).

I found this great, but not all encompassing guide, on a Lativan website. Here is the manual.

  1. Put your film in, it’s easy enough. Open the case pop up the know on the left side by twisting it. Put your film and and push into the small catch on the right. The film holes should catch onto the points and advance the shutter to pull it through. Short video here.
  2. Next on the left there is a knob with DIN / ASA-GOST written on it. Move the left marker to the number closest to your ISO.
  3. Cock your camera by turning the advance lever.
  4. Point your camera and the needle in the dial will move around depending on how much light there is. Move the left knob to turn the small circle in the dial so it is over the needle. However,
  5. The selenium light meter which Zenit E’s use can become defective with time, mine is around one stop out. I use an iPhone light meter app sometimes and select the aperture and shutter speed from there.
  6. Now you have the information you need for the correct exposure. If you want to shoot in aperture priority you look at what aperture you want (say 8) and then the corresponding shutter speed; then you change the shutter speed dial which is the small black one. If you’re shooting in shutter priority then you look at the shutter speed you want (Say 250) and then change the aperture to the corresponding number through the aperture dial on the lens.
  7. To remove your film DO NOT OPEN the rear until it has rewound, you can feel it when it is finished. Follow this charming video, I do nearly every time to make sure I don’t f**k it up.

You can also determine the year your Zenit was made. Look at the serial number; the first two digits are the year and the third the month. For example mine starts 762 so it was made in the year 1976 and in February, the second month.

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