The Zenit C is a compact all-mechanical 35 mm SLR camera made in the Soviet Union.
It is the second model in the Zenit camera line, following only three years after the original Zenit 1. It was made by Krasnogorskii Mekhanicheskii Zavod (Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works) near Moscow, between 1955 and 1961.
Substantially, the camera is a member of the extended Leica family, with the early Zenits being based on the rangefinder Zorki, itself based on the original FED, a direct copy of the Leica II. In many ways, the continuity between the Leica and the Zenit, while they are different types of camera made in different countries at different times, is very tangible in several aspects of the Zenit, most notably the physical shape of the body and the bottom-loading film chamber, which requires the exact same precautions and procedure as for a Leica.
To wit, film is loaded by removing the base of the camera, not opening the back. The film must be prepared: more film must be cut away from the leader to extend the length of the “tongue.” Care must be taken not to leave a hard corner when doing this. The mechanical intricacies of the advance mechanism can result in film with an untrimmed leader being chewed up by the camera, which can result in chips of film going into the shutter and possibly ruining it. No other method works reliably or quickly–especially no method that involves placing any foreign object down behind the film gate or locking open the shutter and using one’s fingers to guide the film.
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