Soviet Movie Camera Starlets
By James Grahame
Soviet movie cameras have an aesthetic style reminiscent of medium caliber machine guns or bomb sights. To add to their mystique, the controls are thoughtfully marked in Klingon. What's not to love?
First to strut her stuff on the Retro Thing catwalk is Miss Zenit K-3M. Born in the Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk in 1990, this 16mm Special Edition beauty features a high-tension clockwork motor and an elegant Meteor zoom lens. If you're gentle, she'll even let you unscrew it. She's intended for amateur use, so expect her to be somewhat noisy in action. Still, she has a certain exotic charm that'll have your friends wanting to check out her viewfinder and loop formers when you're not looking.
It's unclear whether the K-3M went into large-scale production, since they're few and far between. This particular model was rescued from eBay by Jian Cyrus Farhoumand. It's not for sale.
Next up is Miss Kinor SX-2M. Don't let her tank-like build fool you - she's easy to handle, reliable and built to do a quiet and professional job. Her viewfinder is surprisingly bright and she offers pin registration to ensure rock-steady operation. The problematic Russian power plug has been replaced with a familiar XLR female receptacle. This pro-quality 16mm camera can be yours for 900 euros plus travel expenses, including an impressively flexible 10-100mm zoom lens, wide angle adapter, three 30m film magazines and original flight case.
This Kinor is owned by Andres Victorero and was recently posted in the Cinematography.com classifieds. Check out his thread if you're interested in learning more about this brilliant but often overlooked device.