Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant (KMZ)

PJSC Krasnogorsk Plant named after S. A. Zverev, previously – Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant (KMZ) – a large optical enterprise located in the city of Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region. Since 1946, the Dove prism with an arrow has been the trademark of KMZ products.

In accordance with the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of November 21, 2008 No. 873 and the order of the State Corporation “Russian Technologies” dated January 11, 2009 No. 2, it was included in the Optical Systems and Technologies holding (now the Shvabe holding).

It specializes in the production of optical and optoelectronic devices – aerospace photographic equipment and ground observation complexes, sighting complexes and fire control systems, medical equipment, cameras, lenses, observation devices. Together with LOMO and the Arsenal plant, KMZ was one of the three largest manufacturers of photographic equipment in the USSR: over the entire period of its activity, the plant produced a total of more than 21 million cameras.


The request “Photographic equipment of the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant” is forwarded here. A separate article should be created on this topic.

The plant was founded in 1942 by order No. 63 of the USSR People’s Commissar of Armament dated February 1, 1942 on the vacated areas of Lenin Plant No. 69 (formerly Pavshinsky Precision Mechanics Plant No. 19), evacuated in October 1941 to the city of Novosibirsk. The plant was assigned number 393 in the system of the People’s Commissariat of Armaments (NKV) of the USSR.

During the Great Patriotic War, the activities of the enterprise were fully focused on defense needs. In March 1942, the plant began production of the first optical-mechanical devices, and in July of the same year, the following are in production: large stereo tubes “BST”, tank commander panoramas “PTK-5”, periscope artillery compass “PAB”, mortar sights “MPB-80 “And” MP-5K “. The slit aerial camera “ASCHAFA-2” designed by V. A. Semyonov is put into production. In 1944, the plant created special design bureaus for aerial cameras (SPKB-1) and artillery optical devices (SPKB-2) with the simultaneous organization of experimental and experimental workshops. In total, in the period 1942-1945, the plant produced more than 400 thousand different devices for the needs of the Red Army.

After the end of the war of reparations, the Krasnogorsk plant received a large amount of documentation and equipment from German optical enterprises. Since 1946, about 300 German specialists have been sent to the factories of the industry from Germany, the main part, over a third, worked at KMZ for about five years. In the post-war years, the enterprise began production of civilian products, and already in 1946 the plant began to produce a trophy copy of the Zeiss Ikonta camera, named “Moscow-1”, projection devices for the Library. Lenin, preparations began for the release of the FED camera (which later received its own name “Zorky”).

In 1948, the Central Design Bureau (CDB) was created, which included SPKB-1 and SPKB-2, and a number of new directions for the design of tank sights, infrared and other devices were organized. In 1949, the production of the EM-3 electron microscope, developed at GOI under the leadership of A.A. Lebedev, began. In 1952, a single-lens reflex camera “Zenith” was launched into mass production, which laid the foundation for a whole line, one of the models of which became the most massive “SLR” in the world and was released with a total circulation of more than 8 million copies.

In 1955, a radio engineering production was organized at the plant to produce equipment for controlling air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.

In 1958, the plant took part in the World Exhibition in Brussels (Expo-58), at which samples of factory products were awarded gold medals and diplomas.

In 1959, the AFA-E1 aerial camera in Krasnogorsk, as part of the Yenisei photo and television complex, developed and manufactured by the Leningrad NII-380 (NII TV, now: NIIT JSC), installed on the Luna-3 automatic interplanetary station, photographed the reverse side of the Moon.

In 1960, the plant begins production of amateur 8-mm film cameras “Quartz”.

In 1965-1971, a high-precision astronomical installation VAU was developed and manufactured for photographing space objects, determining their coordinates and orbits. The weight of the installation reached 30 tons. Subsequently, the experience of work on this installation was used to create the Okno optoelectronic complex for monitoring outer space.

In 1966, the serial production of Zenit-E and Photosniper cameras and a 16-mm Krasnogorsk movie camera began. In 1967 the panoramic camera “Horizon” was released, which won several gold medals at exhibitions. In 1968 the company mastered the production of lenses for television cameras.

In 1976 the enterprise was transformed into the production association (PO) “Krasnogorsk Plant”, which included a number of enterprises producing optical devices. In the same year the Zenit-TTL camera was produced, and in 1979 the enterprise was named after S. A. Zverev. Work has begun on the development and creation of the Okno optoelectronic space control complex (the installation of the complex was completed in 1988 and was put on alert in 1999).

In 1990, the Shkval surveillance and sighting systems for helicopters and airplanes were put into production.

In 1993 the enterprise was corporatized and transformed into OJSC Krasnogorsk Plant named after S. A. Zvereva “(OJSC KMZ). In 1995, the Central Design Bureau (CDB) was renamed the Scientific and Technical Center (STC). In 2004, the enterprise received the status of the Federal Research and Production Center for several years. In the 2000s, the plant tried to master the mass production of cameras of relatively progressive models, in particular, the Zenit-KM, which was equipped with a built-in electric drive for automatic shutter cocking and film rewinding. In parallel, the modernized Zenits of the old model range continued to be produced. Since 2005, the production of Zenit cameras has been discontinued by the decision of the plant’s board of directors; only Horizont film panoramic cameras and several names of interchangeable lenses remained in production.

On September 7, 2012, the Helios Trade and Exhibition Center was reopened, which had been in operation for a little over two years (closed in January 2015).

On September 19, 2012, it was announced that the release of three previously produced threaded lenses was resumed: MC Mir-20M, Helios-40-2 and MC APO Telezenitar-M 2.8 / 135.

In 2018, together with Leica Camera AG, the Zenit-M camera, developed on the basis of the German Leica M typ 240 camera, was presented. This product is equipped with the Russian super-fast Zenitar 1.0 / 35 lens.

At the beginning of 2016, a photographic equipment plant produces several types of photographic lenses.

Director of KMZ

  • Kolychev, Vladimir Alexandrovich (1942-1946) – the first director of KMZ since its foundation.
  • Skarzhinsky, Dmitry Frantsevich (1946-1950)
  • Solovyov, Andrei Fedorovich (1950-1953)
  • Egorov, Nikolay Mikhailovich (1953-1965)
  • Voronin, Lev Alekseevich (1965-1968)
  • Kreopalov, Vladislav Ivanovich (1968-1973)
  • Ustinov, Oleg Mikhailovich (1973-1975)
  • Trifonov, Vilor Grigorievich (1975-1986)
  • Goev, Alexander Ivanovich (1986-2006)
  • Zhigulich, Valery Petrovich (2006—2011)
  • Tarasov, Alexander Petrovich (2011—2014) [14]
  • Patrikeev, Alexey Pavlovich (2014—2016)
  • Kalyugin Vadim Stanislavovich (from January 12, 2016 to October 28, 2019)
  • Novikov Alexander Valerievich (since October 28, 2019)


The main activities of PJSC KMZ are the development and creation of:

  • surveillance and sighting aircraft systems;
  • fire control systems for armored vehicles;
  • space control devices;
  • remote sensing systems of the Earth from space and from airborne vehicles;
  • laser rangefinders, target designators, all-day surveillance systems, sights for small arms (for example, the Hyperon series);
  • optoelectronic equipment, civil, scientific technology;
  • medical devices in the following areas: gynecology, proctology, ophthalmology, endoprosthetics;
  • photographic equipment;
  • observation devices.
  • scientific instrument making: scientific and analytical equipment for carrying out fundamental research, creating high technologies, new defense technology, solving national economic problems in various fields of science, technology and production;
  • calculation and design of optical systems, objective construction.

In addition, PJSC KMZ carries out measures for the repair of military equipment, warranty and designer supervision over its condition, implements proposals in the field of military-technical cooperation of the Russian Federation with foreign states in accordance with international treaties of the Russian Federation.

Some products and developments

  • “Hyperon” is a series of pankratic sights designed for reconnaissance of targets and aimed firing from sniper rifles (SVD, SVDK, etc.).
  • Zarevo is a thermal imaging surveillance and targeting system designed to modernize the standard Raduga-Sh surveillance and targeting system of the Mi-24P and Mi-35 combat helicopters.
  • “Aurora” – optical-electronic equipment of the visible range for remote sensing of the Earth, installed on the small spacecraft “Mezhevikin”.

Abramov Georgy. Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant

Since the history of the development of the Soviet camera industry cannot be imagined without a separate mention of the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant, I decided to write this material after visiting the plant’s Museum of Labor and Military Glory. Many of you and I have a very ambiguous attitude towards the plant and its products, but history is still facts, not emotions. In addition, it should be borne in mind that photographic and cinematographic equipment, as well as optics for them, have never been for the plant main products. Therefore, most of what was produced by the plant will remain outside the scope of this article.


* * *
The official date of birth of the plant is considered to be February 1, 1942. Everything started much earlier. At the beginning of 1918, the optical production in St. Petersburg (which united two former Riga factories Zeiss and Hertz) in connection with the government’s move to Moscow and the danger of the capture of Petrograd by the Germans, was evacuated to Voronezh. Along with the equipment, about 300 people arrived in Voronezh. However, in the summer of the same year, when General Krasnov was advancing from the south, the plant was transferred to Perm, where about 70 people were seconded, high-quality opticians, without whom it would have been impossible to establish production. We arrived in Perm in early August and settled in an abandoned distillery. Less than two months later, under the threat of Kolchak’s offensive, the plant was evacuated to Podolsk, where production was located in the annex of the main building of a mechanical plant, ex. of the Singer company. It should be noted that the main products of the plant in those years were artillery sights and binoculars.

The plant remained in Podolsk until 1927. In the early 20s, a new production was born at the plant – spectacle optics. Here is an excerpt from the newspaper Podolsky Rabochiy dated January 11, 1924: “Optical items, including glasses, were imported into the USSR from abroad, mainly from Germany. The hunger for spectacle goods arose due to the closure of the foreign market and the blockade of the USSR … That is why spectacle production was equipped in the city of Podolsk … The new … production dragged out a miserable existence for the first two years.
There were no gadgets, machines, tools. The glass was poorly processed. Now, in 1924, with the receipt of orders, the production of glasses was launched; powerful new machines were installed. Now up to 30 thousand dozen pairs of spectacle lenses are produced per month and 70 thousand frames for them. Our spectacle products are only slightly inferior in quality to German ones. ” During this period of time, the annual purchase of eyeglass optics abroad was made in the amount of about 2 million rubles in gold. Since 1925, glass of domestic (Izium) production has been used for the production of spectacle lenses.

In connection with the need to expand production, it was decided to move the plant to another location. The choice fell on the small village of Banki in the Pavshinskaya volost of the Moscow district. Here, 20 km from Moscow, the buildings of the former weaving and dyeing factories were empty. In the spring of 1927, the last echelon with the equipment of the optical plant left Podolsk, and about 200 people, the best cadres of opticians, went to the village of Banki (the future city of Krasnogorsk).

The following years passed under the sign of reconstruction and construction. In 1930, when VOOMP was created, which included almost all optical production in the country, it was decided to turn to Germany for technical assistance – after all, we did not have our own experience in designing and building such plants at that time. However, the negotiations ended in vain. German industrialists, in addition to 3 million rubles in gold, demanded guarantees that the new plant would not sell equipment on the foreign market for 10 years after the completion of construction. As a result, everything was done by hand. In addition to the construction of a foundry, mechanical, repair and tool shops, a forge and the main assembly shop, in 1931 the factory FZU (factory school) began its work, which was supposed to become a “forge of personnel” for the enterprise.

By 1932, the output of products in comparison with 1928 increased 4.7 times. 11 devices have already been put into production. Here is an interesting statement by a Soviet physicist, one of the organizers of the optical industry in the USSR, Academician DS Rozhdenstvensky, dated 1922: “A future war … if only there will be, there will be a cruel, technical, merciless war. Victory will not be determined by the number of soldiers, it will be determined … at least by the ability to make photographic lenses for reconnaissance shooting from airplanes or sights for throwing destructive shells from airplanes. But if there is no war … there will be a more immediate and persistent need to promote the progress of optical glass, without which there is no knowledge of nature, no power over it. ” Gradually, in particular thanks to strong ties with GOI, the quality and complexity of the manufactured products began to increase. The enthusiasm of the plant workers, “Stakhanovites”, “excellent workers”, “shock workers”, etc. played an important role in increasing production volumes and improving the quality of products. Now it is difficult for us not only to understand all this, but simply even to imagine, but in those years it was a reality that played an important role in the life of both the country and the plant.

By 1937, in comparison with 1932, the plant’s output had grown 5.4 times. During this period, in addition to military products, the plant also produced optimometers, microscopes, photographic lenses, binoculars, etc.

In February 1942, the enterprise received a new name – State Union Plant N393 of the USSR People’s Commissariat of Armament, which was later transformed into the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant.

In 1942, it was decided to export the rest of the machinery and equipment from the State Optical and Mechanical Plant from Leningrad to Krasnogorsk. In the same year, 9 new devices for the front were mastered, in particular: a large stereo tube, a tank commander’s panorama, a periscopic artillery compass, a mechanical mortar sight. The first domestic slit aerial camera, ASCHAFA-2, has been improved and mastered in production. In 1943, a group of engineers and technicians from the Kharkov plant, where FED was produced in the pre-war years, arrived at the plant from evacuation.

Immediately after the end of the war, KMZ received a task to produce peaceful products: projection devices for the State Library named after V. Lenin, theater binoculars, the first batch of which was bought by the Bolshoi Theater, magnifiers, and, finally, cameras. In 1947, the plant received a large number of new equipment and significantly expanded its production area. It was at this time that the foundation was laid for the production of photographic equipment and scientific instruments. From that moment on, the following equipment was adjacent to the plant’s products: civilian products (photographic equipment and scientific instrumentation) and special (read – military) equipment (aerial photographic equipment, sighting devices and infrared equipment).

In 1946 – the release of the first domestic folding medium-format rangefinder amateur camera “Moscow-1”. The device was not distinguished by elegance. Difficulties were also experienced during its manufacture – at first the technology did not go well, and the assemblers did not have the proper qualifications and experience. Nevertheless, over time, things got better. The plant learned to make the shutters themselves – the release of the central shutter “Moment” was mastered. A year later, in 1947, a new model of the camera appeared – “Moscow-2”, which became serial for a long time. The first 25 pieces were made for the 800th anniversary of Moscow. In the same year, a workshop for photo lenses was created.

In 1948, the first 50 Zorky devices were produced, the basis of which was the model of the Kharkov FED, and by the end of the year, more than 1.5 thousand units were assembled. The appearance of the plant brand is associated with this device, which since July 1948 was installed on all devices manufactured by KMZ. The actual name “Sharp” appeared in April 1949. The first conveyor, launched in March 1949, is also connected with “Zorky”. With the launch of the conveyor, labor productivity has increased 5 times. It is important to note that in the Zorkiy chambers, in contrast to the FED, from the very beginning the working distance was standard – 28.8 mm. Some of the models in 1948 were produced with an additional shutter speed of 1/1000 (similar to the FED-S model), and starting from about 1950 the release button was modernized – for a cable.

The first lenses to be produced were the Industar-22 3.5 / 52 in a retractable housing and the Jupiter-8 2/50 (originally ZK-50/2), as well as the Jupiter-3 1.5 / 50 ( ZK-50 / 1.5). Moreover, some of the lenses were made with bayonet mounts for Kiev cameras. At first, the shop of photographic lenses produced no more than 300 pieces per month, and three years later, the productivity increased to 4 thousand pieces per month. By the beginning of the 50s, the workshop had mastered more than two dozen products. In 1949, the world’s first electron microscope began to be manufactured, created in collaboration with scientists from the Vavilov State Optical Institute.

In 1952 the new Zenit small-format SLR camera was born, which laid the foundation for a whole family of cameras.

It is curious that in the 40s – 60s the plant really cared about improving the quality of its products: for example, if in 1949 the plant received 0.94% of claims for the Zorky camera in relation to production, then in 1952 it was 0.24%. Pick up any Zenith or Sharpness of the mid-50s and compare the quality of their workmanship and assembly with modern Zenits. I think the conclusion will be unambiguous.

It should be noted here that the history of the plant, like that of any other enterprise, cannot exist on its own, without the personalities and destinies of people who gave the plant, without exaggeration, the best years of their lives. For the sake of justice, it should be noted that the history of the Krasnogorsk plant, as presented by V.L. Rapoport, is 90% of stories about people. However, within the framework of this article, I did not plan to cover all sides of this difficult issue.

By the end of 1954, despite a number of difficulties, the production of cameras was significantly increased: for example, the production of “Moscow-2” increased by 78%, “Zorky-3” – by 86%, “Zenith” – by 202% compared to 1953 year. Now in the photo assembly shop, instead of three, 11 conveyor lines worked. If in 1953 the total output of photographic equipment was more than 180 thousand cameras, then in 1954 it grew to 300 thousand. By the end of 1955, about 3000 of the first Jupiters-9 were produced for the rangefinder Kiev.

In 1956, the production of the Industar-24, Helios-44, and Jupiter-11 lenses began. Preparations were underway for the production of Mir-1, Helios-40, Tair-3, MTO-500, MTO-1000 lenses. In the same 1956, an exhibition of Soviet and foreign photographic equipment was organized at the plant. Here is one of the entries left by a group of designers in the guestbook: “Our devices are not inferior to foreign ones in operation, and our image quality is better. The decoration of our devices is worse, and you should pay attention to this … ”.


Section of the assembly line of photographic lenses at KMZ, 1956

At the turn of 1956-57, he went into the series “Zorky-4” – perhaps the most massive and most popular domestic rangefinder camera. A year later, “Zorky-5” and “Zorky-6” appeared – a lever platoon, a hinged rear wall, a one-piece body, an increased rangefinder base, a modernized design and at the same time, for some reason, a truncated range of burnouts (unfortunately, from achievements and such illogicalities). In the same years, a semi-professional “Start” appeared and a miniature DSLR completely unique for its time – “Narcissus”. In the same year 1957, the Iskra medium format camera was launched.

In 1957, the first images of the earth’s surface from space were obtained using serial aerial photographic equipment created by the plant (AFA-39). In the same years, under the leadership of MSU professor Lebedinsky, together with the designers of the KMZ A.V. Grushiski, V.I.Shtannikov and others, the S-180 camera was created, which made it possible to automatically photograph the sky with an angle of view equal to 180 °. The camera was charged with ordinary 35 mm film, the supply of which was designed for 3 thousand frames.

In 1958, specially for the World Exhibition in Brussels, the designers G.M.Dorsky, A.P. Orlov, V.I.Pluzhnikov created a small-format camera of a fundamentally new design with automatic setting of shutter speed and aperture, called “Comet”. At the same time, GM Dorsky, Ch.S. Zamanskaya and others developed the stereoscopic apparatus “Astra”. And although these cameras were not put into mass production, they “demonstrated a high level of development of design capabilities in the preparation of new Soviet equipment” (Rapoport VL, “Masters of Optics”).

The result of the first participation of the plant in international exhibitions was the receipt of the highest award (“Grand Prix”) in Brussels for a set of photographic lenses (these were the lenses for “Start” – “Mir-1”, “Helios-44”, “Tair-11”, “Jupiter-6”, “Tair-3”). The Diploma of Honor and the Gold Medal were awarded to the EM-5 electron microscope, FP-22 high-speed film camera and S-180 camera.

The movement of inventors and innovators was of great importance in those years. Complex teams of rationalizers were created at the plant. One of these teams received a proposal to combine the top cover of the outer casing, the curtain shutter casing, the objective plateau and the camera rangefinder casing into one cast piece (before, these parts were made separately and attached to each other). To assess the effect of the implementation of this proposal, one must imagine that the top cover of the camera underwent 19 mechanical and finishing operations; the curtain shutter body had 18 mechanical operations. Just by reducing the machining of parts on each machine, the time savings were about 46 minutes.

In 1959, the far side of the moon was photographed for the first time in world practice. The photographic equipment AFA-E1, created by the plant, was installed on the interplanetary automatic station.

In 1961, the plant mastered 22 new products, including serial production of 8-mm film cameras “Quartz” and “Quartz-2”.

By 1963, the factory produced the 4 millionth camera. It turned out to be Zenit-3M. By this time, Zorky-4 was rolling off the assembly line every minute and Zorky-6 every minute and a half. Were prepared for the release of “Zenit-4”, “Zenit-5”, “Zenit-6”. In the same year 1963, prototypes of new devices were manufactured – “Zorky-10” and “Zorky-11”. By the mid-60s, the production of new lenses was launched: Orion-15, Vega-1, Industar-24M, Jupiter-21, Telemar-22, Mir-5, Mir -6 “,” Tair-38 “,” Rubin “,” Helios-65Ts “,” Jupiter-25Ts “(the last two are for Zenit4 – Zenit6 cameras).

In the same years, imports developed successfully – 59 countries bought the plant’s products. Cameras “Zenit-4”, “Zenit-5”, and the film camera “Kvarts-3″ were in special demand. Here is what the English journalist J. Buxton wrote in early 1964 in Today magazine: “Recently I tried several of the latest Russian cameras and can honestly declare that these are excellent products. … I got acquainted with the whole range of Russian lenses … and the compactness of their telephoto lenses made a special impression on me, our telephoto lenses are often very bulky. Russian products are made with care, very comfortable, exceptionally well-designed. ”

Nowadays, few people remember that in the early 60s there was a bureau of good services “Thank you”, which made repairs of photo and movie cameras on a voluntary basis (that is, free of charge – a great marketing ploy!). Initially, the bureau worked in Krasnogorsk, then it was transferred to the “Kinolyubitel” on Leninsky Prospekt (Moscow). This tactic led to an increase in the popularity of the plant’s products and a revival in the circles of the photo community. Here is an excerpt from the letter of V.P. Serdyuchenko from the city of Khmelnitsky:

“A word about” Zenith “
Great “Start” – “Zenith” brother
But “Start” is still a little expensive.
Reliable, cheap, famous
Among Zenit fans.



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   Why am I presenting all these facts here? Many may think that I, like the ideological communists, have remained entirely in the past, consoled myself with thoughts like “everything was better than now” or “the best products in the world are Soviet ones”. Agree – it’s funny. Moreover, now I am happy – freedom, choice, opportunities, the realization of which depends only on you.
However, I am very upset by the words that all Soviet photographic products are complete sucks! Yes, unfortunately, what we see now on store shelves (and in many respects it is KMZ products) is really almost unusable, especially in comparison with imported photographic equipment. And this situation did not begin to develop yesterday. But! Firstly, what was produced before the beginning of the 70s worked, and on the whole it was not bad. By the mid-70s, as you know, the situation began to change – new models appeared less often, and the build quality began to decline and is now at a level lower than anywhere else. Do not forget, in addition, that imported photographic equipment (except for insignificant lots of expensive “Praktika”) was not sold in the country, and many of us were happy having bought our first “Zenith”. And secondly, given the economic system, under which our country existed before perestroika – it could not be otherwise! It’s surprising that at least some of the products worked well. And thirdly, as it seems to me, it is impossible to assess the situation of the past tense only from the position of today, because we can very easily fall into a mistake. And finally. Reading the respected magazine “Phototechnics & Video Cameras” (from the “Consumer” series) # 11’99 under the heading “School ‘Consumer’ – History of Photographic Equipment” we find a fascinating article by Mr. D. Chichkin “A Brief History of SLR Cameras”. Excellent material with good illustrations, from which, however, it turns out that such a country as the Soviet Union or Russia did not exist at all. it is impossible to assess the situation of the past tense only from the position of today, because we can very easily fall into a mistake. And finally. Reading the respected magazine “Phototechnics & Video Cameras” (from the “Consumer” series) # 11’99 under the heading “School ‘Consumer’ – History of Photographic Equipment” we find a fascinating article by Mr. D. Chichkin “A Brief History of SLR Cameras”. Excellent material with good illustrations, from which, however, it turns out that such a country as the Soviet Union or Russia did not exist at all. it is impossible to assess the situation of the past tense only from the position of today, because we can very easily fall into a mistake. And finally. Reading the respected magazine “Phototechnics & Video Cameras” (from the “Consumer” series) No. 11’99 under the heading “School ‘Consumer’ – History of Photographic Equipment” we find a fascinating article by Mr. D. Chichkin “A Brief History of SLR Cameras”. Excellent material with good illustrations, from which, however, it turns out that such a country as the Soviet Union or Russia did not exist at all.
With which I congratulate all of us.
* * *
So back to history. By the mid-60s, when the main dominant idea in Soviet industry was the development of new products, the plant launched a series of new “Sharp” – 10, 11, 12. However, the desire to quickly launch new brands of devices into production led to a rush, which affected on quality. Some products turned out to be structural and technological flaws. So, “Zorky-10” won international recognition (in particular – the Gold Medal at the International Fair in Leipzig, 1965), but its mass production was difficult and expensive.

One of the problems in those years was the flap tape, which was used for the manufacture of central locks. Until the beginning of the 60s, the only company that owned the secret and monopoly of the production of high-quality petal ribbon was a (?) Swedish company. KMZ badly needed such a tape of domestic production. One of its founders was the chief metallurgist of the plant I.E.Dunaev. For six years a team of inventors headed by Dunaev went to the Izhevsk Metallurgical Plant and was engaged in this work. In 1963, our industry finally began to produce a petal tape better than the Swedish one: central shutters made of imported tape had a shutter speed limit of 1 / 500th of a second, while the Soviet tape allowed a speed of 1 / 1200th of a second. Needless to say, this had a significant economic effect.

By 1964, Zenit-4, 5, 6 began to be produced, Zenit-E, Photosniper, and the Krasnogorsk movie camera were being prepared for release. By the time the Zenit-E was released (1966), the constant sighting mirror in it was a significant innovation for the plant.

In the same years, the plant continued to produce its main non-household products. In 1965, the development (made in 1970) of a unique high-precision astronomical installation (VAU) for photographing space objects in order to determine the coordinates and trajectories of flight began. Installation weight – 30 tons. In 1967, together with the Institute of Physics of the Earth of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, a high-speed installation was developed – a waiting time magnifier (ZhLV-2) with a maximum shooting frequency of up to 4.5 million frames per second. In 1968, the serial production of gyro-stabilized devices for working from moving objects with an integrated base rangefinder began. That year, with the participation of the S.I. Vavilov State Optical Institute, the design and production of a large-size high-resolution lens “Mezon-2A” used in equipment for photographing the earth’s surface from artificial earth satellites. Objective weight 500 kg, lens diameter – 600 mm.

In 1967, the previously produced FT-2 panoramic camera was replaced by the Horizon, which received the VDNKh gold medal. In 1968, preparations began for the production of the Mir-10 lens, and the next year the first Fotons appeared – analogues of the imported Polaroid.

By the end of the 60s, cameras bearing the plant’s brand were exported not only to developing countries, but also to Germany, Italy, Austria, France, England, where they successfully competed with Western products. In 1968 several thousand cameras were sold in England, and orders for them grew. The greatest demand was for Zenit-E and the Quartz movie camera. 4 thousand British shops sold Soviet photographic equipment.


By the beginning of the 70s, such lenses appeared as “Industar-60N”, “Helios-9-7M”, “Varigogir 1-T”, “Mart-1”, “Meteor-5”, “Meteor-8M”, Jupiter-21M, Era-6M. In 1972, the production of the Zenit-EM camera began, which enjoyed a truly nationwide love.

In 1973, the production of new aerial cameras for planned and long-range perspective photography, the first hydrostabilized aircraft device in the Union and an optical-photographic slit apparatus for large-scale imagery from space was launched. In the same year, Zenit-TTL and Zenit-16 appeared on the shelves – a camera of a fundamentally new design. Both new items had TTL metering, which was a step forward compared to previous models.

In the mid-70s, the Czechoslovak magazine “Photography” wrote: “Zenit-E” is a camera that can do everything … “Zenit-EM” and “Zenit-E” are one of the cheapest and at the same time the highest quality devices. which are very popular from Czechoslovakia, England and other countries. ”

In 1979, the production of Zenit-19 began, and the next year – Zenit-18, which was soon discontinued due to design flaws. In the same 1979, the popular English magazine for amateur photographers “What camera?” recognized Zenit-EM as the best device of the year.


Used literature:
1. VL Rapoport, “Masters of Optics” (Pages of the history of the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor of the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant), Moscow, “Moscow Worker”, 1983.
2. Materials of the Museum of Labor and Military Glory of the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant factory.


  * * *
From the memoirs of Vladimir Alexandrovich Kalinin

The development of Soviet space optics began precisely at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant. In the 60s, our plant, together with the Leningrad State Optical Institute, was instructed to develop optics for space stations. The main purpose of these cameras is military intelligence. The main thing in the design, of course, was the lens – the heart of the camera. The 10th workshop was engaged in the manufacture of the experimental model. I was the head of the technical control department and selected the products. The apparatus was very massive and heavy. The main problem was precisely in the fastening of the equipment, and there were increased requirements for it. And the plant had only the old casting technology – it was poured into the ground, and the metal was porous and weak. Porosity interfered with strength. Everyone understood that such casting did not theoretically meet the requirements of the project, and time is running out and it’s time to report, present a sample. The military representative at the plant was N.I. Mozgalev, who was also rushed. And so, we together with him selected several of the most suitable designs *, prepared an experimental sample and sent it for testing at our own peril and risk. When the device was launched, we all expected the mount to break. We thought it wouldn’t stand it. But the tests gave good results. This experiment was the beginning of the Soviet space exploration. The plant constantly developed new models of technology, experiments were carried out regularly. However, not all developments had the necessary equipment, and much had to be done by ourselves. So, when we developed autopilots for space rockets, we needed a frequency of 400 Hz for measurements. The industrial frequency at that time was * only 50 Hz, and the factory did not have a single device of the required frequency. Then, under laboratory conditions, we had to create a 400 Hz apparatus from static devices * tuned to a frequency of 50 Hz. The device was made, it was certified in the Chamber of Measures and Weights, and thus the laboratory was equipped with the necessary device for operation.

KMZ has always produced about 50 percent of civilian products. For example, military enterprises similar to ours * produced no more than 7 percent. The quality of our civilian electronics was unfortunately poor. For good quality, parts were needed from gold, silver, platinum, and other rare metals, and this was all considered a strategic raw material and was used exclusively for military equipment. The plant then had its own ** firm in England – “TOE”. It was there that most of our products were sent, which provided a serious influx of currency. The British knew about the peculiarities of our products and carefully monitored us. When we handed over the cameras, the British almost completely disassembled them ***, checked the quality of parts and assembly, then assembled them,

Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kalinin – passed the way at the plant from a tuner to the First Deputy Chief Controller of the plant
Source: Advertising newspaper Novy Avangard, February 4, 2002.
*) – No comments, because there are too many perplexed questions to the author …
**) – TOE (Technical Optic Equipment) did not belong to KMZ, so the word “own” can be used only in a figurative sense …
***) – This statement, according to the recollections of other participants in the events, does not correspond to reality.

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