Photosniper-12, Tair-3S 300mm f / 4.5 kit (1987)

This article is about the Tair-3C lens from the “Photosniper-12” kit. The same legendary photographic gun used to hunt Sharik from Prostokvashino. Tair-3C in this modification was used exclusively in the composition of a photographic gun. The serial number of the kit is 8704412, the marking of the lenses of the kit is made in Latin letters (Tair-3S). In addition to the Tair-3C, the kit also included the Helios 44M-4.

“Photosniper FS-12”


The Tair series of lenses is probably one of the few that were developed from scratch in the Soviet Union. The first photographic sniper was released for the needs of the defense complex, a trial batch in 1937, and was used with a modified FED camera. However, the civilian model became available only in 1953 under the FS-2 index. In 1982, the FS-3 set, which had been produced for 18 years with many design flaws, was replaced by the FS-12. Photosniper-12 existed on the assembly line until 1990.

Despite the new name, in fact – only some cosmetic flaws of the previous release were eliminated in the kit; the camera was replaced by Zenit-TTL, modified for use as part of a photographic set. In 1966, the FS-3 set was tested by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Technical Aesthetics, and not all the comments that were transferred to the Krasnogorsk Zverev Plant were able to reach implementation in the design of a photographic gun.

Camera, lens and accessories

The “Photosniper-12” set includes lenses Tair-3S 300mm f / 4, Helios-44m-4 58mm f / 2; light filters, a Zenit-12S camera with a duplicated trigger in the lower part of the device, slotted screwdrivers, film cassettes, a Tair-3S rubber hood, a carriage (bed with an emphasis) and a metal box, belts. The photographic gun has three main parts – a Zenit-12S camera (read the review), a Tair-3S long-focus lens (300mm f / 4.5), a stock with a handle, a trigger mechanism and a shoulder rest.

The choice of the Zenit-12C camera is based on the presence of a constant sighting mirror and a TTL exposure meter in this camera. Despite this, the use of the built-in camera exposure meter when shooting with the Tair-3S photo lens is possible with the Zenit-12s camera and no other film camera, since in other cases the camera’s exposure meter will have to be used only for orientation. To increase the metering accuracy, there is an output on the lens tail, with the help of which the specification data is transmitted to the Zenit-12S exposure meter. The cost of the “Photosniper” set as of 1987 was 380 rubles, which was 100 rubles more expensive than the FS-3. At one time, the cost of the FS-3 was proposed to be reduced by using a cheaper Zenit-3M camera without an exposure meter and a constant sight mirror.

The rifle was equipped with five light filters, four of which can only be used by specialists. For example, the same ZhS-17. And when hunting, changing light filters is too troublesome. The set contains three cassettes for film, one of which is in the camera, and two are fixed on the cover of the case. In 1966, the VNIITE commission proposed to introduce additional footprints for cassettes, as well as provide them with the inscriptions EXPOSED and UNEXPOSED, in order to avoid the mistake of reusing the captured film. The FS-12 kit also contains a rubber hood for the Tair-3S lens.

An eyecup was supplied with the Zenit-12C camera, without which it is possible to injure the eye due to the specific rounded shape of the viewfinder eyepiece.

Photogun stock

The stock of a photographic gun is a device that carries a camera and a lens. A shoulder strap is attached to the stock. The design of the bed uses a mechanism for releasing the lens diaphragm and the camera shutter. Moreover, the Zenit-12C camera has a special connector, without which the shutter release by pressing the trigger will be impossible. The grip of the box is not located in the center of gravity of the system, but is slightly offset to the camera. Because of this, the right hand is under constant stress. At the same time, during focusing, you also have to support the lens with the stock with your left hand. The trigger bar travel is adjusted with the corresponding screws on the trigger lever.

To this “carriage” the lens is screwed tightly with a threaded connection.

The design of the stock is such that it allows only the installation of the Tair-3C lens, and no others. With the shooting conditions often changing in photography, this can cause certain inconveniences, since sometimes it is necessary to quickly change the lens to a shorter focal length, but a higher aperture, or vice versa. Installing other lenses requires a redesign of the focusing principle. Also, the use of a teleconverter for the Tair-3C and Zenit-12C bundle is impossible, again, due to the design of the bed. It is extremely inconvenient to use the lens separately from the stock due to the size of the lens and the principle of its focusing.

The VNIITE commission, during the evaluation of the system in 1966, proposed to reduce the trigger force of the hook, as well as to increase the smoothness of its stroke. This was taken into account in the pre-production preparation of the system as a whole.

Shoulder rest

The shoulder rest is designed to provide stability for the shotgun. The proposal of the VNIITE commission to equip the stop with a hinge in 1966 in order to improve the usability of the series was not implemented. The support platform of the stop turns out to be non-perpendicular to the shoulder, hence there is another inconvenience during operation. Located on the axis of the viewfinder, it was also proposed to equip the stop with a bend to improve ergonomics. Elimination of this deficiency is not noted on the 1987 PhotoSniper-12 kit.


The metal case of the kit is a means of storing and protecting the system as a whole. In the case, the photogun is stored unassembled, while playing the role of an intermediate storage location. Despite its monumentality, there was no reflection of one important quality in the case – ease of use. Taking into account the operating conditions of the photogun, we can safely say that transportation of the photogun in the case, directly to the hunting place, is possible only if the photogun is folded into the case.

The weight of the case is almost two kilograms, the weight of the set as a whole, as well as the dimensions, allows the simultaneous carrying of the case and the photographic gun in a disassembled state, provided that the case is attached behind the back like a backpack. In the absence of a gun in the case, and placing it on the ground, the case overturns. Has the ability to attach to the shoulders of the photographer, the attachment takes place by means of leather straps, which also came in the kit. Inside, all accessories are screwed to the box-case, or clamped with clamps.

Threaded fasteners and clips are riveted to the main body.

Tair-3S lens

general information

The production of the lens started in the mid-50s of the last century, and ended in 2005. In 1958, the Tair-3FS lens (Photosniper-3 kit) won the Grand Prix in Brussels, and a year later was awarded the II degree Diploma of the All-Union Exhibition of Economic Achievements of the USSR. The Tair-3C lens used in the PhotoSniper-12 kit has satisfactory optical qualities (see the TX table at the end of the article), but at the same time has a lot of weight (about one and a half kilograms).

Tair-3FS lens layout

The calculation of the optical scheme was carried out by David Samuilovich Volosov (later, the author of the book “Photographic Optics” (1971, p. 339). 

Types of lenses Tair

Tair-3S 300mm can be found with both simple and multi-coating (MC). Early copies (Tair-3FS) were produced in a white case. Tair-3S has constructively different brothers Tair-11A, 33, 38C, 56, forming a whole series that has been produced for almost 60 years. Tair 3A – one might say, the twin brother of Tair-3C (differences in housings and diaphragm setting mechanisms).

An experimental model of the Tair-3T (television) lens is known, which could be used with high-resolution photographic materials (up to 130 lines / mm versus 68 for serial models). At different times, the lenses were produced by the Kazan Optical and Mechanical Plant (KOMZ), the Krasnogorsk Plant named after S.A. Zverev and Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant, Sergiev Posad.

Physical data of Tair-3FS

The diameter of the thread for the Tair-3S 300mm filters is 72 mm, the lens is really huge. The length is about 30 centimeters, the weight is one and a half kilograms.

The lens barrel is made of aluminum. The main weight is the front adhesive lenses. The lens requires a tripod, since in low light even at f / 4.5 we will get guaranteed image blur if we don’t find a stop. In sunny weather, the lens works wonders. The use of Tair-3 lenses was recommended if it was necessary to obtain good image quality.

Despite the apparent solidity of the construction, the lens is quite delicate and requires careful attitude to itself. The slightest distortion of the lenses (even by 0.03mm) can damage the picture. In particular, anterior gluing gives noticeable aberrations when the geometry is violated.

Technical characteristics of the lens Tair-3S

Name Тair-3S 300mm f / 4.5
Mount to camera Threaded М42х1
Release 1987
Production 1950-2005 roughly
A type Standard, fixed
Housing Painted metal (steel, aluminum), values, apertures,
focusing distances are engraved on the body and filled with paint
The cost 50 $ in 2015 for the “Photosniper-12” set from hand
Lens groups 3
Elements 3
Optical design D. Volosova, achromat with an air gap and
correcting thick meniscus behind
Diaphragm petals 16, brushed metal
Relative hole 1: 4.5
Aperture control manual, control ring, preliminary cocking,
electronic exposure meter correction
Aperture Scale Limits 1: 4.5–1: 22
MDF (m) 3
Focal length (mm) 300
Viewing angle (degrees) eight
Filter diameter (mm) 76
Dimensions (mm) there is no data
Weight (g) 1400


Instant focusing is the undisputed advantage in work. However, in the design of the Tair-3S lens, a design is used that does not allow a prompt response to changes in the situation. Plus, the problems of centering the bed affect. A full turn of the focusing drum is carried out in 4 hand interceptions and is about 270 degrees. Focusing is done by rotating the ratchet at the front end of the lens barrel. When focusing, the front massive part of the lens extends, hence the vacuum cleaner.

Aperture, depth of field

The diaphragm has a manual preliminary cocking, when the trigger of the photographic gun is released, the diaphragm is first closed to the set value (and only then the cocked shutter of the apparatus is triggered). This causes a certain inconvenience when working with Tair. For example, to view the depth of field, we first have to cock the aperture (to open it), and then (by setting the desired value) release it by pressing the trigger. You can, of course, turn the diaphragm setting dial without cocking it, only for some reason both times, when I tried to do this, the diaphragm fell apart. Probably, I got such a copy.

16-blade iris diaphragm Tair-3C gives perfectly smooth circles in the out-of-focus area. The petals are not painted, have matting. If the operating rules are not followed, condensation forms inside the lens and the diaphragm blades may stick together – guaranteed disassembly and maintenance of the lens. There are no depth-of-field scales on the lens.

Depth of field control

It is carried out by rotating the rack drive at the front of the lens. The fine DOF in the open brings certain problems when focusing through the viewfinder.

Tair-3S lens electrician

In order to end up with the correct exposure in the photograph, the lens transmits the set aperture value to the camera, and the exposure meter already makes a correction based on the current illumination. The galvanometer arrow in the viewfinder is deflected towards the introduction of the necessary exposure compensation. Given the step of the shutter mode selector, the values ​​are approximate. Pay attention to the electrical connection of the Tair-3C lens with the camera – if there is no contact, the galvanometer needle will show the parameters calculated on the basis of the currently incoming illumination, without making a correction from the lens.

I’d like to add that when used as part of the kit, the lens showed itself very well, the image quality is not bad either on film or on digital (used with Canon 60D). The city attracts the attention of others. Birds in the forest are not intimidated by the click of the diaphragm mechanism if the tension springs are adjusted appropriately.

Using the Tair lens on modern cameras

To work on digital cameras, you will need an adapter from the M42x1. The easiest way to try Tair on is a cropped Canon EOS with an EF-s mount, especially considering that adapters without chips on Canon cost mere pennies. I can only say that it is inconvenient to use a lens without a stock; to use it with a central locking system, you will have to put the release button under the gun carriage trigger.

By ordering things from the links below, you help the project cover the costs of site maintenance and development. List of adapters, systems and mounts (direct links for ordering)

When ordering, it should be borne in mind that cheap adapters of poor quality with a lens on the Nikon F mount significantly spoil the picture. Adapters without a lens reduce the maximum focusing range (due to the difference in focal lengths). Adapters with chips come across poor quality, exposure metering and focus confirmation on some Canon EOS models may suffer from this.

Sample photos on Tair-3FS

Tair-3FS on film

Photos created with the direct participation of the PhotoSniper-12 kit and Kodak Color 400 film

Tair-3FS on a crop

From Canon 60D DSLR camera. The pairing of the camera with the lens was initially carried out through the M42-Canon EF adapter, and later, it was possible to install the camera directly on the stock, and combine the release system with the camera shutter control via the connector for the wired remote control.

Disassembly of the Tair-3FS lens and its maintenance

I note right away that the author of the article cannot be responsible for your actions, and everything that you do with your lens will be done by you, and at your own peril and risk ..

Assembling the lens, as well as disassembling it, is not very difficult. The main thing is to have a tool for performing these actions.

Lens disassembly tool

  • watch flat screwdriver (I modified a small Chinese with a dremel) for small fixing screws
  • flat wide screwdriver for removing the aperture release lever and focus wheel.
  • a compressor or can of compressed air to remove dust deposited on the mechanisms during the time the lens was disassembled.
  • gasoline “Kalosha” from stores like “Radio amateur” for cleaning petals and removing old grease
  • rags (fully disposable wet wipes are suitable, but if there are lint-free, then this is even better)
  • Litol grease (most common), or better.
  • accuracy and attentiveness.

The procedure for assembling Tair-3C

If you need disassembly instructions, you must read this material from the end.

This lens has a malfunction of the diaphragm itself (the petals have corroded and stuck together due to the formation of condensation inside the lens). The petals were soaked in gasoline and cleaned and dried. Then the lens was assembled.

  • The diaphragm blades are installed in their place in a clockwise direction, stacking them on top of each other, until the diaphragm takes its usual form for us.
  • There is a recess for each petal on the body
  • Then the upper fixing ring is put on all this, into the grooves of which we bring out the attachments of the petals sticking up.

The petal fasteners must be inserted into the grooves (use a bent toothpick or any other object convenient for you). The first ring, on which we placed the petals, is fixed with a screw in a groove that is mirrored relative to a similar screw that sets the selected aperture value.

  • We install the assembled diaphragm into the lens body and center it according to the marks applied before disassembly. We fix it.
  • Then we insert the spacer rings inside. Thin at first, then thicker.
  • We screw in the threaded ring and fix it.

When the diaphragm is assembled correctly, the center is circular.

  • The ring is installed and fixed with a screw.
  • We blow out the insides with compressed air.
  • Reinstall the front glue.
  • Screw in and fix with screws.
  • At the same time, we check if all the other screws are in place.

  • We remove our handprints with the same gasoline in which the diaphragm blades were soaked.
  • We install the diaphragm cocking in its place and screw the threaded locking ring over it, fixing it with a screw. The diaphragm control screw must be inserted into the slot of the cocking mechanism.

  • Now we need to tighten the cocking mechanism springs. At this stage, by the way, you can adjust the spring tension. Useful if the springs are stretched or you want to increase the speed of the diaphragm. I trimmed all three springs slightly at both ends, roughly as in the photo below.

It turned out harsh. Birds can jump away from knocking when the trigger is pulled, but now the diaphragm closes very quickly. Optimal, I think, is shortening by 2 turns on each side (just those that are bent)

  • The springs are attached at one end to the projections on the lens body, passed under the cocking mechanism body and brought out into the groove, being attached to the projections on the body.


  • We attach the cocked diaphragm lock – it should look towards our springs with a beveled end. We fasten it with 4 screws.
  • We screw the outer ring, with the inscription “Tair” and “Made in the USSR”, up to the mark we applied before disassembly. We fix it with a screw. Left a little. The combination of the two parts of the case is coming.

  • Sometimes the body mount at the base is developed, and the lens starts to scroll around its axis when we try to remove it from the camera. To prevent this, it is necessary to stretch the fastening screws.

  • Before joining both parts of the lens barrel, it is necessary to set the value of the switch on the outer part of the lens barrel to “22”, since we assembled the diaphragm in the “closed” state. The cocking lever is set to f / 4.5.
  • We connect both parts of Tair, insert one into the other. If you cannot fully insert it, you need to unscrew the plastic screw cap (connected to the focusing wheel), and carefully screw the lens counterclockwise until the plastic stop of the repeater contacts the cocking lever. Then we align the lens and place the trigger plate on the body.
  • Trying to cock the diaphragm. If collected correctly, the aperture will be fixed at the set value, and the descent will occur as usual. It remains for us to return the focusing wheel to its place, having previously set it to infinity. If you removed the threaded strip from the body, then it must also be returned to its place.

Thus, we put back Tair-3FS. To disassemble it, you just need to go through the pictures in reverse order, and be a little careful when disassembling, since the photo does not show all the places in which the screws for fastening the inner rings and the diaphragm itself are located.


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