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to Clear the FOG
There is an unbelievable amount of inaccurate
information circulating on the Web about Soviet cameras. This site will
attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions about Soviet equipment.
It will include Technical Specifications and comments.
This Site is only concerned with Soviet production
cameras. You could spend the rest of your life studying Soviet
prototypes and modified models and my time and web space are limited.
The information presented here will be of value to the greatest number
of users by limiting the coverage.
All information on this site has been verified either by first hand
examination or from multiple sources in the literature. I have
attempted to keep everything totally factual. However, please remember
that all information is only approximate due to the paranoia about
secrecy that permeated the Soviet regime production dates and figures
were State Secrets.
Camera and Lens
Factories and their
Leningrad based :
Leningrad was the original home of the Soviet optical Industry.
GOI/GOZ/VOOMP all produced
limited production lenses and cameras before the war. VOOMP became GOMZ
and then LOMO.
Gomz later renamed Lomo was the production factory in
Leningrad. It is believed that they also had Camera and Lens design
capabilities. However, the first three organizations continued to exist
in some fashion and they may have provided limited production and/or
design facilities. The exact relationship and degree of interaction is
unknown to me.
FED was originally a furniture factory and then an
drill manufacturer at an orphans home. In approximately 1933 they
started to copy the Leica. Cameras, lenses and accessories were
manufactured before the factory was destroyed by the Nazis. The factory
machines and workers went to KMZ for the duration of the war. After the
war they designed and manufactured cameras , normal lenses and a few
KMZ was the primary manufacturer of optical devices
WW2. They were rewarded for this by receiving all of the captured
German optical data and lens manufacturing equipment. This caused them
to be come the primary optical design and development facility in the
Soviet Union. They had manufactured a limited number of FED cameras
during the war and were selected after the war to produce a version for
export. They developed designs for their own production and built
initial runs of others before transferring production to other
MMZ served as a secondary factory for GOMZ with limited
design capabilities for simple cameras. After becoming Belomo it was a
subsidiary of KMZ.
The Arsenal in Kiev was rewarded for its War service by
given the Equipment from Carl Zeiss to produce a copy of the Contax.
Initially the lenses came from KMZ. Later design capabilities for both
lenses and cameras were developed.
Initial design and production of all lenses was at KMZ with production
and possible cosmetic changes made at the factories.
Kazan produced Industar 22s, Industar 27s,Industar 50s,.
Industar 51s, Industar 37s, Jupiter 11s, Jupiter 37s and Fodis 1K.
Rostov is not technically a lens factory they produced
Vologda produced Jupiter 21s and Helios 44s.
Zagorsk produced Jupiter 3s, Orion 15s, Mir 1s, Mir 1bs
LZOS produced mirror lenses, Industar 29s, Industar 50s,
Industar 61s, Jupiter 9s, Jupiter 12s, Volna 9s, Granits and mir 1bs
This is the
makers logo of OOMZ (Opytiny Optiko-MekanicheskiyZavod
(experimental Optical-Mechanical Factory)) which
was part of the design institute in Leningrad. It eventually became
part of LOMO. Anything with this mark
is a prototype which would then be released to one of the manufacturers
This symbol is not a lens
factory identifier. It is the "Mark of Best Quality". It is suppossed
to indicate that the item it is on is the equal of any other similar
item world wide. It was not used only on photographic equipment they
put it on everything.
Thanks to Alfred Klomp and
Kevin Kalsbeek for the new logos.
Evaluating Collectable Soviet Cameras
These are some common sense comments on the evaluating of
Soviet cameras for a collection. Obviously, for most collections we
want original cameras in good condition and complete. Most collections
do not want fakes, modified cameras or incomplete cameras.
Most Soviet cameras, lenses and accessories have serial
numbers where the serial number starts with 2 digits that are the year
of manufacture. Notable exceptions are FEDs, early Zorkis, and pre war
cameras. Unless you have the original documentation there is no
guarantee that an interchangeable lens on a camera is the original even
if the serial numbers appear to match.
Several general rules apply:
1. FED lenses are never original on a Zorki and vice versa.
2. Where the serial numbers begin with a year the lenses should never
be newer than the camera ( minor exception see 3).
3. Where the serial numbers begin with a year they should be within 1
year of the camera. This allows for end of year production where there
could be leftovers from the year before.
4. Normal lenses were supplied with the camera not wide angles or
5. Where a camera or lens that normally has a year type serial number
is found with a serial number that starts with 00 it is probably part
of a pre-production run.
6. Totally aberrant serial numbers exist. An example is the FED-2s that
start with A (the significance is unknown). A second example is a FED
1c that I have that has a 4digit serial number. We think that this
camera was damaged, returned to the factory for repair in 1937 or 1938
and the factory just took a new camera and engraved the old serial
number rather than repairing the old camera.
7. All serial numbers, years of production and production numbers are
approximate. There was little documentation of these numbers kept in
the Soviet Union and a little research will show that it was inaccurate.
8. All "better" cameras and most cheap cameras came with a case,
usually leather or leatherette.
9. All lenses came with a case. This is a little more difficult to
describe, as some were plastic, some were leather and some were cloth
covered cardboard (pre-war FED). I have been unable to find the pattern
here except that "better" (more expensive?) lenses had leather cases.
10. All post-war lenses that were supplied in leather cases came with 2
or more filters which normally fit in the case.