Secondhand Love Affair: Zenit EM Moskva '80


A love story between a Malaysian student and a lovely Russian. I know you’re curious, so why don’t you go ahead and read about it after the jump!

It all started before I got back to UK for my final year of study, when my colleagues found out that I have yet to visit any of the London markets. Having studied there before, they kept going on about all the amazing vintage stuff that can be found at the markets of Camden, Portobello, Old Spitalfields, and so on. As I’ve been shooting film and lomo for a few months, those places seemed like a must-go, either to discover vintage or just to shoot some photos.

Just a few days after I flew back to Nottingham, I planned a weekend trip down to London with my friend, aiming to take full use of the 2 idle weeks before university commences. As we stayed around Bayswater, it was just logical to make Portobello Market as our first stop, being just a few minutes walk away.

Portobello Market was amazing and for someone who studies design, this place is heaven as it is littered with inspiration and lots of great stuff to discover. Darting from stall to stall which sells antique cutleries, pocket watches and letterpress, my friend finally pointed out to me a stall with vintage cameras.

It was an eye-opening encounter; I’ve never seen so many vintage cameras on a single desk before! Anyway, as I looked around for anything interesting, I set my eye on a Zenit. As most cameras were folding types, this one stood out because of its archetypal camera design. It felt immensely solid in my hands, and I also found out that it was the 1980 Moscow Olympics edition. Below it carved 3 words: Made in USSR. I’ve always wanted to own a Soviet camera, and this seemed like a perfect choice!

The camera comes with a Helios-44M lens and as I tried on it, focusing and the shutter appeared to work too. The seller also pointed out its functioning light-meter to me — a bonus point! Except for the disappearing numbers on the dial, everything seemed to look fine with this camera. I asked for a price and he said it could be mine for £25. A quick glance at the other cameras which cost at least £30, I thought this was a good buy and paid him without even bothering to bargain! Possibly, I could have gotten it for a cheaper price but oh well. He even removed a leather case from another camera and gave it to me!

I loaded the camera with a Fuji C200 to test it, not knowing what to expect from my very first impulse buy. The results made me smile — it confirmed that the camera is working, and the photos appeared sharp as well!

Credits: shuttersentinel17

When Lomography's X Tungsten film was launched, I got a few and tried the first roll with the Zenit as well. And boy what an amazing combination they made!

Credits: shuttersentinel17

I love the lens too — it works great under dimmed conditions very well and the depth of field is beautiful.

Credits: shuttersentinel17

Although operating this camera takes some time and it is not well suited to shoot quick street shots like my LC-Wide (not to mention the amount of thinking per shot with this camera), it provides me with some good mental training away from the easy lomo way once in a while. The only thing is this camera is really heavy, but solidity is a good feature of a good camera.

That’s the story of my secondhand love affair with my Zenit!

Thrift stores are treasure troves for vintage-lovers. Do you have something from a thrift store that remains close to your heart? Share your ‘Secondhand Love Affair’ stories with us by submitting an article and check out our requested posts for this month for more Piggies!

written by shuttersentinel17 on 2012-02-28 #lifestyle #market #road #35mm #soviet #malaysia #camera #england #love #vintage #heavy #london #lomography #secondhand #leather #ussr #case #analogue-lifestyle #requested #affair #secondhand-love-affair #portobelle #gbp25


  1. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    i really enjoyed reading this! very well-written :) and great photos with the camera - awesome that he threw in the leather case!

  2. buddy
    buddy ·

    ich habe auch eine ;) in den 80ern in einem kleinen shop in deutschland gekauft. sie hat schon so ziemlich alles mitgemacht, sonne, regen, eis, schnee, die geburt meiner tochter.... und sie hat alles überlebt ;) ;)

  3. photomood
    photomood ·

    lovely article and great photo's! can't wait to try mine out after seeing yours! :D

  4. davecmorrow
    davecmorrow ·

    A very good article which I really enjoyed reading. I've just tested out my new EM, waiting to get the photos back. I think that the E is much easier to focus with, I found it quite difficult to focus the EM sometimes. :)

  5. poglad
    poglad ·

    What a great story! I must visit Portobello Market one day.

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