NOSTALGIA - is it what it used to be?

27th September 2014
Who said nostalgia isn't what it used to be? - well! it most definately is! and I've proved it.

I have often said that it would be nice to see again my first 'proper' camera. I remember it well, it was around 1967 and I needed an SLR, not second hand but bang up to date and brand new! I spent my hard earned cash (about £10 in today's money I think) on a brand new Zenit E, one of the first affordable 35mm SLR's which had a 'built in' though uncoupled exposure meter. This meant in practice that the reading was just a guide and your preferred aperture and speed settings were set by referring to the dial on top of the camera. The Zenit was made in the old USSR and about twelve million were made, most of which were exported all over the world.



The Zenit camera is completely manual and it taught me everything. It had its faults I remember, sometimes the shutter would jam and the rewind mechanism had a mind of its own on occasion. However, I seem to have come through it all without any lasting mental scars, unless anyone who knows me tells me otherwise!

I have being saying for the last couple of years that if I ever saw one again in the flesh so to speak, I would snap it up if the price was right. Last weekend I was at the Battlesbridge Antique & Collectables Centre in Essex, and, you guessed it! There it was sitting on a shelf gathering dust with a lot of other old cameras and an odd assortment of photographic gear.

A short negotiation with the trader and it was mine complete with lacquered leather case! Got it home, cleaned it up, checked it out, and its brilliant! It works fine without film. Next step is to buy a roll of film and have a test drive.

A bit of internet research tells me that there are thousands of Zenit E's still in regular use. Mostly by those involved in art or experimental photography, or those who just hanker after the days of film, and don't mind waiting for days to see the results.

It's like being reunited with an old friend so I'll be keeping the camera whether I'm happy with the results or not.

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