"Pioner" - a New Cine Film Camera by VOOMP by M.Kleinerman
Translated by Vladislav Kern
Materials by Alexey Nikitin
Photo by William Parkinson
Do we really need a [Soviet] "Leica"? A survey conducted by the “Soviet Photo” magazine among photographic industry workers concludes that the answer to this question is this: “Even with the presence of many negative things that limit the usage of the “Leica” in many situations, the camera is still very valuable and irreplaceable for number of applications. In “Leica” and similar cameras, especially attractive aspects are the portability, light weight, availability of film media, versatility, interchangeable lenses and readiness for use.”
We would like to also add that “Leica” definitely has to be added to the number of items produced by Soviet photographic industry. But in the construction of Soviet equivalent we need to avoid blindly copying foreign designs. We need to consider the negative things of the original “Leica”. The Soviet design needs to be created as a result of critical analysis of the latest foreign models of cine film photo-cameras.
An experimental factory VOOMP in Leningrad has the correct approach to this problem. First examples of the camera “Pioner”, made by the factory in 1933 were the identical copies of Leitz’s “Leica”. After a successful start, the factory had made a fairly large batch of the cameras that, just like the latest foreign model counterparts, contain rangefinder coupling mechanism. This way the focusing of the lens is combined with the determining of distance by way of rotating the lens. The factory is finishing the production of this batch in the beginning of April. The factory is not stopping there as at the present time there are projects in works to enhance the features of this camera. As such, there is a prototype of the camera that has a removable back body based on a “Contax” design (by proposal of VOOMP camera constructor comrade S.V. Kovalevsky). This will significantly simplify the loading of the camera with film and eliminate film being stuck or ripped, which is a defect that is known to all “Leica” users. This enhancement also simplifies the assembly of the camera and also, by the opinion of the author of the idea, will allow making enlargements with the help of enlarging accessory without special lenses.
The camera designer of the Experimental factory [VOOMP] comrade Muratov had proposed a new variation of the camera that consists of a vertical built-in rangefinder coupled with the lens and a removable back panel. Due to this modification, the mechanism of the camera underwent a significant redesign. By building-in a rangefinder into the body of the camera the designer had avoided placing rangefinder assembly into a special housing on top of the camera, thus reaching a much better-suited design of the camera. The design drawings of the camera by comrade Muratov are completed and the prototypes will be made in the nearest future.
The designer of the Experimental Factory [VOOMP] comrade Medunetskiy is developing a new rangefinder that is combined with the viewfinder, allowing the framing of the shot and focusing at the same time. The “Leica” and “Contax” rangefinders have a very small field of view and because of that, after focusing the camera you need to catch the frame in the separate viewfinder. Because of this, the rangefinder by Medunetskiy is much more superior in speed of usage and simplicity in acquiring the photograph.
The research and development bureau of VOOMP is currently developing a line of new lenses for the camera “Pioner”. Among them are lenses with F2.0 aperture for 50mm and 15mm focal lengths. These lenses are calculated by optical-design sector KIB VOOMP and will be produced in lens mounts compatible with the interchanging lens system.
A short list of new developments demonstrates that the Experimental Factory [VOOMP] is on the right path for adapting of new technologies and productions, redesigning and improving the [foreign] cameras and reaching the stage of self-sustaining domestic production of own designs that are on par with the latest camera models in its category.
The only regretful thing is that the factory didn’t make an effort to make special accessories for “Pioner”. The factory only makes a vertical enlarger of type Aeitz that uses 50mm lens. The production of other accessories that are available in large varieties beyond the borders of USSR would have significantly improved the range of application for this camera.