Zorki (FED)

Zorkiy is the first camera from the family of the same name of Soviet small-format rangefinder cameras, produced from 1948 to 1956 at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant.

The first models of the Zorkih also include Zorkiy-2, Zorkiy-S and Zorkiy-2S.


In 1913, Oskar Barnack of Leitz, Germany (now Leica Camera) constructed a prototype of a small format camera designed for shooting on the then widespread perforated 35 mm film. The camera had a frame size of 24 × 36 mm (twice the size of a movie frame).

In 1925, the production of the Leica I small-format scaled camera began, and in 1932 the production of the world’s first Leica II small-format rangefinder camera (Leica D) with the possibility of changing lenses began.

In 1934, a copy of the Leica II began to be produced in Kharkov at the Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky Labor Commune Plant (later the FED Kharkov Machine-Building Plant). The name of the Soviet camera “FED” is an abbreviation for Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky.

  • Leica II (Leica D)

  • “FED”

Production of FED cameras at Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant

Krasnogorsk “Sharp”
– a copy of the first “FED”

After the war, the technical documentation was transferred to the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant, and in 1948 the production of cameras began.

The Zorkiy camera is a copy of the pre-war FED apparatus, the very first cameras were labeled as FED with the KMZ logo, then, until 1949, FED 1948 Zorkiy, and since 1950 – simply Zorkiy.

The working distance of Krasnogorsk cameras was standardized from the very beginning (28.8 ± 0.03 mm), which excluded individual lens alignment.

Since 1948, the production of cameras began in Krasnogorsk – almost an exact copy of the first “FED”. The first Krasnogorsk cameras were called “FED” with the KMZ logo, until 1949 – “FED 1948 Zorky”, since 1950 – “Zorky”.

The name “Zorkiy” comes from the telegraphic address of KMZ, which produced defense products during the war. Subsequently, this name became the same for all rangefinder cameras of the plant (with the exception of “Drug”).

After 1954, the serial number of cameras began to use weather sequential numbering, that is, the first two digits of the serial number were the last two digits of the year of the camera. Until 1954, continuous serial numbering was used.

“Sharp”, technical characteristics

“Sharp” (1948-1956) – almost an exact copy of the pre-war apparatus “FED” (1934-1955).

  • The type of photographic material used is 35 mm perforated film 35 mm wide (film type 135) in standard cassettes. It is possible to use special double-body cassettes with a diverging slot. Frame size – 24 × 36 mm.
  • Film charging – from below (removable bottom cover).
  • The body is made of aluminum alloy, at first stamped, and since 1952 it has been cast. The cast body is much stronger and more rigid (body deformation was a frequent malfunction of the FEDs and early Zorkikhs).
  • The shutter is mechanical, with cloth curtains, with horizontal curtain movement.
    • Combined shutter and film rewind cocking. Setting of shutter speeds is possible only when the shutter is cocked. Rotating exposure head.
    • Since 1950, the release button has been threaded for the release cable.
  • Shutter speeds are 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 s and “B” (or “Z”). In 1948, some cameras were produced with a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. Since 1955, a new series of exposures has been installed – 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 s. A small number of devices with long exposures (more than 1/20 s) were produced.
    • Undocumented function – long exposure “D” is possible by opening the shutter at exposure “B” and turning the lever for rewinding the film.
  • Lens mount type – M39 × 1 threaded connection.
    • The working distance is 28.8 mm. In contrast to the pre-war “FEDs”, the working distance was standardized (28.8 ± 0.03 mm), which excluded individual adjustment of interchangeable lenses.
  • The standard lens is “Industar-22” 3.5 / 50 or “Industar-50” 3.5 / 50. Part of the issue was equipped with lenses ZK-2/50 (Zonnar Krasnogorskiy, prototype of Jupiter-8) or ZK-1.5 / 50 (prototype Jupiter-3).
  • Optical viewfinder, parallax, not aligned with the rangefinder. Rangefinder base – 38 mm. Viewfinder eyepiece magnification – 0.44 ×, rangefinder eyepiece – 1 ×.

The camera has a 3/8 ”threaded tripod socket.

There is no sync contact and self-timer. Syncrocontact was installed in photo workshops or handicraft, self-timer mechanisms were produced separately (mechanical and pneumatic). Such a self-timer was screwed into the hole of the release button, designed for the cable.

Vigilant with a leather case and a light meter.

Vigilant with a leather case and an OPTEC light meter.

The first “Vigilant”


“Sharp-2” (1954-1956) – “Sharp” with a self-timer and other changes.

  • Shutter speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500 s and “B”. Setting the shutter speeds both before and after the shutter is cocked.
  • Standard lens – “Industar-22” 3.5 / 50, “Industar-50” 3.5 / 50 (tube or unified). Some devices were equipped with the Industar-26M 2.8 / 50 lens.

“Zorkikh-2” was produced on a Soviet scale very few, they are considered collectible value.


“Zorky-S” (1955-1958) – “Sharp” with synchrocontact.

The installation of a sync contact with an adjustable lead time from 0 to 25 ms resulted in an increase in the height of the camera (the top cover was changed).

  • Shutter speeds 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500 s and “B”. You can set shutter speeds both before and after the shutter is cocked.
  • Sync speed 1/25 sec.
  • The release button and the mechanism for turning on the film rewind have been changed – instead of a lever, it is actuated by a rotary sleeve of the release button.
  • Standard lens – “Industar-22” 3.5 / 50, “Industar-50” 3.5 / 50 (tube or unified) or “Jupiter-8” 2.0 / 50.


“Zorky-2S” (1956-1960) – “Zorky-S” with a self-timer.

First “Vigilant” on the market

  • “Sharp” (1948-1956) – issued 835502 copies. [2]
  • “Zorky-S” (1955-1958) – produced 472,702 copies. The price with the Industar-22 or Industar-50 lens is 28 rubles (in prices after the 1961 monetary reform).
  • “Zorky-2” (1954-1956) – produced 10,310 copies.
  • “Zorky-2S” (1956-1960) – issued 214,903 copies. The price with the lens “Industar-22” or “Industar-50” – 30 rubles (in prices after the 1961 monetary reform).

Further developments of KMZ



A single-lens reflex camera Zenit and its modification Zenit-S were developed at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant on the basis of the Zorky family cameras.

The design of the Zorkiy cameras served as the basis for the creation of the Zorkiy-5 rangefinder camera and the Zenit-3 single-lens reflex camera unified with it.

Counterfeits and hoaxes

Fake Leica
(presumably late FED or Sharp).
The fake is given by the shape of the shutter button and the outlines of the stamping around the viewfinder window.

The first “Sharp”, like the first model of the “FED” camera, became the basis for many forgeries.

First of all, counterfeiters “make up” them under the much more expensive “Lakes” models II and III. More often they limit themselves to the fact that German inscriptions and emblems are applied to the Soviet camera to the best of their knowledge and imagination (various “Leikas of the Luftwaffe”, “Leiki Kriegsmarine”, etc. were popular). The decoration is often changed to “exclusive”, such as pasting with snakeskin, gilding or camouflage painting. Even “Zorky-S” and other models were altered, which outwardly were already clearly different from the “Leica”. There are also seriously altered copies; only a specialist can distinguish them from a real “Leica”.

FEDs of pre-war production, “FEDs-Zorkie” and other specimens that are especially valuable in terms of collection are also actively forged.

Another direction of falsification developed during the perestroika years on the wave of interest in Soviet artifacts. Various “premium” and “anniversary” cameras appeared on the souvenir market. It is more difficult to recognize such fakes, since the plant really produced souvenir cameras for special orders (for example, for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957), and the exact information about them is not always known. Separately in this row is the Yura camera, allegedly released in honor of Yu. A. Gagarin’s space flight, as well as small-scale Zorkiy-75 and Zorkiy-250 with film charges for 75 and 250 frames, respectively. It is currently impossible to confirm or deny the authenticity of these models.


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