The Zarya camera (meaning Dawn in Russian) was produced between 1959 and 1961. It was based on the FED 2 camera, but doesn’t feature the slowest shutter speeds. Like the famous FED, it features the M39 mount. Unlike the FED Rangefinder, the RF housing has been removed and replaced by a simple bright viewfinder on this economy model. This makes the RF-styled body slim and sleek, but you’ll need to estimate focus by distance since there’s no Through The Lens view (TTL).

FED Zarya camera

FED Zarya camera

The top-plate is uncomplicated, featuring a two-part shutter speed dial ranging between 1/30 sec and 1/500 sec. The two-part shutter speed selector also means that you can change shutter speeds before or after cocking the shutter, unlike many old Soviet cameras where the speed selector is a single piece and the shutter speed must be selected only after cocking.

Loading film is fairly simple, and is similar to loading other FED and Zorki cameras of the time. The film spool is removed and the film leader is pushed firmly under the metal tongue before being replaced.

In use, the Zarya camera fits comfortably in the hand, but operation is completely manual: scale focussing, and manual exposure using Sunny 16 or other methods. Narrower apertures are recommended due to having to scale focus, as this will provide greater depth of field.

I love the look of this camera and my copy seems to be in very good condition for its age. Currently, I have some 400 ISO Black & White film loaded. I know I’ve missed focus a few times, but we’ll just see how they turn out !

Update: As of November 2015, I have yet to finish off this roll. Time to get cracking !

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