Zenit-12SD (Zenit-12XP) - Soviet small format single-lens reflex cameras with a semi-automatic exposure setting using the lens TTL-exposure meter. Produced at the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant from 1983 to 1993.


M42 SLR camera, which has a threaded connection of the same name with contemporaneous lenses. The optics from this camera can be painlessly used on modern digital cameras through an adapter with an M42 thread. Read the article about adapters.

Zenit-12SD (Zenit-12XP) with sample photos

This model served as the starting point for the following Zenith models:

Zenit-122 (KMZ, Belomo), including

  • Zenit-122V - without self-timer
  • Zenit-122K - with K mount
  • Zenit-122 without exposure meter

Zenit-130 (Belomo), including:

  • Zenit-130pro (Belomo)

Zenit-15M (Belomo)
Zenit-15 (Belomo)
Zenit-21XP (Belomo)
Zenit-212k with K mount (KMZ)
Zenit-312m (KMZ)
Zenit-412DX (KMZ)

Zenit-12SD (Zenit-12XP) with sample photos

In my opinion, Zenit-12SD - this is the last of the zeniths of production in Krasnogorsk, which makes sense to acquire for personal use. Subsequent models in a plastic case no longer evoke any awe, and are more like the agony of trying to catch up with the global market.

Zenit-12SD (Zenit-12XP) with sample photos

Much has been said about the shortcomings of this device. But I would like to note the positive aspects. Zenit-12SD, first of all, is a durable metal case (unfortunately, in modern models, metal elements in mechanisms are rarely found), a considerable mass of the device. This is important when shooting handheld at long exposures. WITH Zenit-12SD and early, did not know what a shake when shooting handheld. Even in spite of the rumbling mirror lift mechanism. In terms of its mechanisms, this camera can be compared to small arms. Low price is also an important factor in choosing a camera. All Zenits cost about the same (the price of running models is three hundred rubles), of which you can also choose a better option.

Zenit-12SD review with sample photos

The disadvantages of Zenit-12SD are also classic, and rather are a feature of the series:

  • Small field of the viewfinder.
  • Non-standard input of the film sensitivity for the exposure meter.
  • Low-precision exposure meter (underexposure - normal - overexposure).
  • Small set of excerpts.
  • Very long excerpt synchronization.


Exposure control in the Zenit-12SD camera is presented

  • Film sensitivity dial;
  • LED indicator for exposure control in viewfinder
  • Shutter speed dial

The Zenit-12SD camera is fully manual. The only assistant to the photographer is the LED indication of the exposure meter in the viewfinder. The exposure meter calculates the parameters based on the setting of the film speed dial and the light entering the lens. The exposure meter diodes display three modes of operation:

  • overexposed
  • normally
  • underexposed

Iris control

On Zenit-12SD, the aperture control is not performed by the camera itself. It is necessary to manually set the values ​​on the lens. On lenses with aperture drive, up to the set value, it will be closed by half-pressing the shutter button. The exposure meter has no electrical connection with the lens, so it is possible to use early lenses with a preset aperture.

Sighting through the viewfinder

The viewfinder is a pentaprism, the displayed area, according to the classic, covers only 65% ​​of the frame area. Often, after developing frames from Zenith, extra details in the frame could be seen on the prints. The viewfinder is bright, focusing is performed on frosted glass with a micro-raster and focusing wedges. When the exposure meter is activated, exposure metering with LED indication in the viewfinder will take place.

Flash sync

"Shoe" in Zenit-12SD - has an electrical contact. The body has an FP-sync connector for external flash lamps. Electronic flashes can be shoe mounted and fired manually. The sync contact works mechanically.


Structurally - the simplest and cheapest in the world at the time of release, a reflex camera. There is nothing fundamentally new in the shutter mechanism, the breakdowns are the same as in the entire line of Zorkikhs, FEDs and Zenits with a curtain shutter. The locks break, the guides come off, are burned by the sun's rays, etc. Due to the relative freshness of the model, defective models are rare.

Fotoapparat Zenit 12SD 4

Typical malfunctions Zenit-12SD

  • Broken shutter. Primarily.

Exposure meter and exposure metering in Zenit-12SD

Exposure meter for the objective, based on a photoresistor, powered by 2 batteries type SC-32 1,55V (elements AG12 can be used). Exposure meters for cameras are operational today everywhere. The metering mode is the only one - over the entire area of ​​the viewfinder frame.

The Zenit-12SD light meter is coupled with the shutter speed dial, reacts to the diaphragm adjustment, to the change in the parameters of the sensitivity dial.

Working with film

Loading film under the rear opening cover. Film rewinding is manual, the rewind handle is folding, the rod with rewind lever opens the camera cover. The back cover lock is internal. Unlike models with a lock on the outside, the lid will not open accidentally. In order to activate the lock, it is necessary to pull the handle upwards until it stops.

What kind of film is needed for a Zenit camera?

Any 135 type (35mm) film in standard spools is suitable for Zenith cameras. You can use both black and white and color, you can wind the film yourself from the reel. A budget hobbyist color film from Fujifilm or Kodak, black and white Tasma, works well. ISO 400 films are suitable for low light conditions, while ISO 200 films are better for shooting outdoors in clear or slightly cloudy weather.

How to load a film into the Zenit-12SD camera

  • Open the lid.
  • Insert the coil into the receiver.
  • Draw out the tail of the film.
  • stick the tail into the slot of the axle under the trigger of the shutter cocking.
  • cock the shutter and make sure the tail of the film is pinched.

Characteristics of Zenit-12SD (Zenit-12XP)

Camera type: reflex mechanical camera with TTL metering and manual setting of exposure parameters
Bayonet mount: thread M42
Gate: curtain, horizontal movement of the shutters, 1/500 -1/30 sec, V with mechanical exposure.
Self-timer: mechanical, with a delay of 10 sec.
Viewfinder: 62% of the field of the frame, LED indication of the exposure meter.
Focusing: manual, non-replaceable focusing screen, matte surface, rings and micro rasters.
Exposure metering: weighted average TTL, is carried out at the working aperture by half-pressing the shutter button shutter.
Flash work: X sync, via socket with center contact or via socket for cable connection, for 1/30 sec.
Film Sensitivity Range: manual setting 20-400 ISO 1/2 step
Film feed: mechanical, classic trigger lever.
Other functions: No.
Exposure meter power supply: two elements of SC-32.
The weight: 860

Sample photos Zenit 12SD

Fotoapparat Zenit 12SD 8

Focusing thanks to a matte screen with a lens in the center - can be accurate during daylight hours. Photo by - Evgeniya Koznova


The latest in the lineup with a metal body. The most advanced Zenit camera.

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