Zenith E

Zenith E Russian 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex Camera).

My first serious camera as a school boy. Bought second hand for £35 at Kamera in St.Helens. Some months later the other camera shop in town were selling these new for the same price so I did not get a bargain. This camera was my doorway into discovering photography, like all my early film cameras this was all manual, even the lightmeter did not need a battery. It was very loud when the shutter was pressed as the mirror slapped out of the way of the film plane and the cloth shutter opened and closed. Taking candid images in school classrooms with this camera was an exercise in danger, glad I took the risk.

Kiev 4A

Kiev 4A Russian 35mm Rangefinder camera with 50mm f2 lens.

I bought my Russian Kiev 4A camera sometime toward the end of the 1970s. This rangefinder camera was a copy of a pre war Contax camera that was itself a copy of a Leica. This camera was much cheaper than a Leica at approx £40.
Film was loaded through the bottom with a detachable base plate. It was a rangefinder camera so focus was achieved by merging a split image in the centre of the viewfinder. It was smaller and quieter to use than a 35mm SLR like my Zenith E or Pentax K1000 so this was the camera of choice in the early 1980s for my documentary projects, most notably the Nightlife project set in pubs and clubs in Nottingham

Lubitel 2

Lubitel 2.TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera. Uses rolls of 120 film.

My first medium format camera. This 6×6 cm twin lens reflex camera took 12 pictures on a roll of 120 film. I mainly used mine to shoot black and White film (mainly FP4) but also shot some rolls of colour negative and a few rolls of transparency film.

These cameras were made in Russia and were cheap, I have a receipt for one that came to £11.75. The lens had 3 elements and was sharp when stopped down, at wide apertures (well f3.5!) it was sharp in the centre and soft in the corners and edges.

Voigtländer Brillant

Voigtländer Brillant TLR (Twin Lens Reflex). Uses rolls of 120 film.


The Russians copied the design of this camera when they developed the Lubitel II. This early model is pre war and although a twin lens camera it did not have focusing through the viewfinder.

Wide open at f4.5 this lens has a adds a wonderful sharp/soft feel to images. One of my favourite cameras for Pictorial type photograhy.