Week 39 – The Zenit Photosniper
We had a problem this week and it was mine, I had a massive commitment to work in the form of a cricket and beer festival that was to last all week. So after declining the use of the Photosniper for several weeks I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to wheel this beasty out and have a crack at sports photography. It would be on private land and I had some nice vantage points to shoot from without fear of a tap on the shoulder from the boys in blue or worse, finding myself spread eagle on the ground being shouted at by armed police which did not appeal!
Why the issues in public? Well, it is a basic Zenith 12s with a prime 300mm f4.5 Tair lens screwed on which is then in turn bolted to rifle stock giving at a distinctive aggressive look, the original model was designed for military use in the late 40s but this was a newer remake from 83-94, also the kit comes with hood and filters for the 300, a Helios 58mm f2 44m4 lens with some screwdrivers and bits to fill up the enamelled metal case with leather back straps, most uncomfortable I might add!
Film – Time to process would be restricted so against my nature I went with a colour Kodak 400 ultra Max coupled with a Kodak BW400CN, I could develop at the same time without too much stress on adjustments timewise.
Day 1 & 5 would be the busiest so planned to do most of my work in the middle 3. I shot mostly from the balcony but did manage some wanders around the boundary, It does have TTL metering but I had no battery so settled for external metering of the scenes and leaving it locked in for a series of shots. A cool feature is setting the massive aperture ring, when closed down the viewer darkens but the twist and cocking of a further ring then locks it open, you focus by means of wheel neatly positioned on the front of the stock once you have your composition you squeeze the trigger one and the locked ring spins back to your chosen aperture a second squeeze captures the scene. The rifle style grip gives excellent balance making hand held 1/60th speeds simple with this long focal length. On one of my walks in I carried the 12s body coupled with the Helios like a standard 35mm and grabbed 3 frames. The whole experience was enjoyable and interesting. The weather as usual was changeable but I battled through.
I put them through the developer as planned together, at first look they looked inconsistent and not quite right. Upon scanning it was clear all were not good. My first thought was an issue in the development but half were ok and mixed well in both rolls. I did however notice the curtain shutter was clipping the left side while what seemed to be judder lines and uneven exposure were visible. I didn’t keep individual frame notes but my ruff over view ones told me the shots in the 1/500th and 250th were where the problems lay, below that all seemed fine. The smaller lens at 1/60th were bang on so a service is already underway, thank you Lyndon for that.
Overall I am pleased, a decent keeper rate for fast sporty shots which given the issue is good for me in this fast shoot style. The three small lens shots came out very well. I had fun with it and it certainly draws attention, this is a good reason to select where you shoot it carefully or you risk someone shooting back!
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