Thumbnails Outlines
Three Leningrad Generations:
A Landmark of an Era
Luiz Paracampo
Text material adapted from Oleg Tumazov, Aidas Pikotas, Jean-Loup
Princelle, Georgy Abramov, J.Karvelis Klaipeda and other related material.
First Generation
Фотоаппарат « ГОИ», ГОИ, 1947 г
First public shown in the A.A. Syrov book
Photographic Way
in 1952, The
Leningrad was a governmental decision to make a high quality camera system
in order to compete
against “The Greats”. After the War, Russia had a large
population of German prisoners, including high level of skilled technician
engineers etc. Russia proposed the liberty and return to their homes against
preparing specialized hand work in their factories. Lots of projects came to life,
and Leningrad was one of them. The first generation was conceived by Hans
Fibbe, a German employee in the Zeiss house. That returned in 1932. It is
interesting to know that some interesting German cameras were developed in
Russia by the staff that oriented the works at Kiev, the lenses at Krasnogorsk
and the measuring instruments at Leningrad. Through those people, it was
born the famous WERRA and the less known Belmira, and also the Pouva Start,
Several onofficial versions of the Exakta , the famous low priced Exa and the
intriguing Neuca, Neucaflex and Ucaflex that shares same parts of FED, Zorki,
and Zenit. Other cameras included should be the Foitzica, the Publica and
Under a certain aspects, it seems that the Sport shutter concept could also be
contributed in order to make the second edition of Leningrad.
At this time Russia and Germany were in a recuperation phase and the
exchange of information through privileged people was a real fact in everyday
practice. Several prisoners had relatives in Germany, and most of that, when
they returned nobody could confiscate their minds and their experience.
Фотоаппарат «Ленинград», ГОИ, 1953 г
Model specifications:
GOI and Leningrad Prototypes of a 35-mm rangefinder camera
Dating from the second half of the 1940s.
Combined collimated viewfinder and coincident-image rangefinder with a small
round eyepiece (long-base rangefinder, base = 7cm, magnification = 0,7x, as
in the Contax/Kiev and Reporter third generation). Uniformly semi-transparent
golden-tinted viewfinder rendering a greenish viewfinder image. Standard lens
GOI Industar 2,5/50mm (four lenses in three groups, Tessar style, calculated
at the Institute Vavilov = GOI in 1940), collapsible, uncoated, in an unique
three-claws bayonet and with filter ring 40,5 x 0,5, changeable. Focusing to
near 0.8m is done by turning a small chrome plated knurled wheel on the left
lower side of the lens mount. Along with the Industar standard lens an
uncoated and by sure rangefinder uncoupled GOI Uran-14 2,5/35mm wide-
angle lens is known (but unseen) (calculated in 1945 by GOI). Frame counter
below the rewinding knob (0 – 40). Only one unit is known to survive.
Combined collimated viewfinder (van Albada principle) and coincident-image
rangefinder with a large square eyepiece with three lens field frames. (long-
base rangefinder, base = 7cm, magnification = 0,7x, as in the Contax/Kiev
and Reporter third generation). Uniformly semi-transparent golden-tinted van
Albada collimated Galilean viewfinder rendering a greenish viewfinder image.
Standard lens GOI Jupiter-3 1,5/50mm (seven lenses in three groups, Sonnar
style, calculated at the Institute Vavilov = GOI in 1946), collapsible, coated,
and interchangeable in an special bayonet mount and with filter ring 40,5 x
0,5. (Contax standards) Each of the interchangeable lenses has its own
helicoids (focusing from infinity to nearer than 0,8m). Other lenses include:
Orion-15 6/28mm, Uran-14 2.5/35mm and Industar-33 2.8/80mm (all
coated). Frame counter below the release knob (0 – 40).
Lens Bayonet reminiscent but not equal to the old 1935 Contaflex.
Both modes have horizontal traveling focal plane shutter using sliding black
painted steel sheet metal plates; speeds 1 – 1/500 sec..
The shutter speeds are controlled by a vertical knurled wheel in the camera
top. Film transportation (with a single claw engaging the upper film perforation
holes) and shutter cocking is achieved with a (folding) sliding lever mechanism
on the rear side of the camera top. As the shutter plates need more space than
a textile shutter would, the film cassettes moved forward and are responsible
for the two bulges on the camera front, that, on the other hand, make the
camera quite comfortable to hold. For easier and smooth winding, the film
pressure plate retracts when the film is transported (patent by Burmistrov).
Leningrad first generation outfit
Michael Kampf and J;L; Princelle show us the original GOI 1947 prototype.
Here the foldable horizontal translation cocking and frame advance lever … An
unique feature. The triangle at the back cover is intended to hold camera in its
case, freeing the camera’s bottom tripod hole. Idea from Contessa.
Milos Miladek and J.L. Princelle now show the Leningrad Original, the second
GOI Prototype of 1948, soon after the “Fotoapparat – Conference”.
Take a look in its compactness, Leningrad X Zorki 3M
Comparing with Zorki 3M of 1953 we can feel the compactness of
GOI/Leningrad design. This was due the completely removable back shutter
concept. The compactness was much more felt in the Kiev design.
The Rangefinder in the first Leningrad Generation
Third Variation Reporter Rangefinder
The two versions of Leningrad, the original GOI and the Leningrad, shared the
same body, shutter and rangefinder with slight modifications.
Their construction has its origins on Contax long base rangefinder. The basic
prism was previously used in the Third generation pre-war Reporter of the
same GOMZ factory.
The first generation repeated the Reporter lay-out substituting the counter
rotating prisms (of Super-Ikonta) by the cylindrical lenses of the Contax.
It was placed an exit block to limit the field of normal lens making so a 0.7:1
range-view finder. Here is the schematic.
The second version substituted the forward block by a cemented diopter
doublet, in which the cemented surface forms the reflecting surface of the
Albada view range-finder, this way were shown the frame limits of 35,50 and
80mm lens fields, according the shown drawings.
Important: -This was the first camera to have a built-in universal finder.
The following Picture shows the rangefinder compensating prisms used in Kiev
camera series.
The Shutter System in the First Leningrad Generation
Both versions use the same shutter. It is an Art of Mechanics and unique in its
conception as the Italian Gamma and the Hungarian Kinga. As the Italian
camera shutter, this one employed in the first generation Leningrad is
completely solid metal and has no ribbons at all. Made to last more than a
lifetime! Also completely detachable for easy repair. The advance of the
curtains is exactly the same advance of one picture frame, so, no sprocket
wheel and an extraordinary smoothness. Pressure plate goes off during
advance operation.
Shutter assembly and working diagram in first Leningrad generation
The giant pressure plate releases pressure freeing the film for friction free
frame advance; the rear removable cover denotes complete Zeiss influence up
to the locks.
The special bayonet mount follows Contax/Kiev system.
The focusing helicoids are built into the camera. The main differences between
the two variations are: the rangefinder types and the lens changeability
possibilities in the second model.
Second Generation
The second prototype generation was conceived by I.Shapiro. The first
impression is that there is little connection between this camera and the
previous models. The base of the rangefinder is shorter, the appearance is
more classical, and the camera is motorized. However, the veritable missing
link has the same shutter speed selector knob, now moved back behind the
zeroing button of the frame counter, (what denotes similar shutter speeds
control) the frame counter itself being placed in front of this knob, but this
time with a vertical-running metal shutter (in 1952!). The lens mount, with an
original bayonet (like the Alpa reflex c. 1945 and somewhat similar to the
future M3 Leica, sporting an adapter ring for Zorki M39 lenses). J.L.Princelle in
his The Authentic Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras, 2nd edition, 2004
says that this camera shows signs of the future series-produced Leningrad. -I
do not agree-. This camera shows decisive differences to the third generation
as we will show.
«Leningrad» Experimental Camera 1954 -the link to the final camera
This second issue Leningrad had two variations. As a curiosity, it is very
interesting to know that the general camera style was some years later found
in a totally different camera, but also with motorized film advance, in the
Japanese Beau Auto Tera.
This reinforces the teory of existing data changing or spy activities between
large manufacturers.
As a kind of illustration we show above Teraoka Auto Tera and Bell& Howell
Foton, showing the winding at the camera bottom. Auto Tera (Auto Terra in
some models) has normal Copal shutter.
In the next picture it is shown the working system of the Bell & Howell Foton
camera. Developed by Lewis Moomaus,
Fig. 4 and 5 shows the curtain positions “cocked” and “released”.
But remember that the Sport metal vertical shutter is a strong candidate for
this second generation. It was a proven one built at the same GOMZ factory in
1935. It was reliable and people there had all the techniques to rebuild them.
The second Leningrad Generation very probably would have a similar system.
See Mechanics of the Gelvetta in the previous description.
In the second generation of the Leningrad, the “normal” speed dial on camera
top is the frame counter setter. The vertical wheels at its rear, is the true
speed dial.
In the second series of the second generation, there is a dial at the 4 o’clock
position. This is to control time space between pictures. (a kind of pacemaker)
The speed dial position together the high body shape, also speculates a
repetition of the previous shutter found in the first generation, now in a
vertical travel way.
The shutter lay-out found in BH Foton, avoids use of wide angle lenses once
there is no space for their rear elements. Due this reason this shutter style was
not used in the second generation.
Third Generation 1958
Here four views of Leningrad first production series
And Some Variations on the Same Matter
Four front screws version , Double wind
Non motorized version
Burst sequential version
Two Police variants
Outfit of the first issue Third generation
The new rangefinder foresees and shares its project together
German WERRA. Curtains mechanics came from Zorki 4 and the
film advance spring wind came from Finetta 99!
The new generation was created towards creating an impact to the
world market more than a new top quality camera system, which
was the first proposal soon after the war.
Рзф Ленинград
Radio controlled camera set 1959
The new rangefinder shares its project together German WERRA but
Leningrad Pioneered the system.
This is an image seen in the Leningrad Range/viewfinder.
One has the 50, 85,135mm fields.
There were Leningrads in the Land, in the Space and under the
“Space program Leningrads”
Year: 1966 Electric drive Speeds: 1/60 and 1/1000
Another version of the Space Leningrad presented at WestLicht Photographica
Camera Auction at Westbahnstrasse in Vienna.with this description: "This
camera was manufactured for the Soviet Lunar Space Program with MIR-1
2.8/37mm no.6707935. It is based on a heavily modified Leningrad with
enforced clockwork motor drive and no viewfinder. All parts of the camera are
made to the highest quality standards. Shutter 1/140 and B. Negative format
20 (24) x 36 mm, the design of the negative window is uncommon and
obviously was shaped to accommodate a round object (the moon). All
armatures are sturdily built for use with hand-gloves. Mechanical and electric
release (direct or remote). Connection to the on-board electrics by a special
19-pole plug. The diaphragm is operated by a substantial lever on the left side
of the lens that has three positions: down (fully illuminated moon – f/11), level
(halfways lit moon, f/5,6) and up (light at the moon terminator, f/2,8);
schematic explanation on a plate on the hinged camera back. Behind the MIR-
1 wide angle lens a special flap is mounted that only moves laterally while the
release is pressed. It prevents a burn of the shutter fabric if the camera points
towards the sun accidentally.
A tailored system was intended for it and one of the best was the underwater
cases for them.
“KRAB” Underwater housing - UKP model
Planned to be used with:
Jupiter-8 or Jupiter-3 (27º underwater)
Jupiter-12 (47º underwater)
Orion-15 (56º underwater)
Leningrad type
Leningrad Type 2
Super Optimist
About the Super Optimist camera:
Technical description:
Original Leningrad body.
There was added a complete front and prism house of Zenit E/B in order to
couple M39X1 lenses.
These components are from a Zenit E first series with wink mirror (as shown
by the case in the bottom of the mirror, the mirror small size and the M39
There was inbuilt an external exposure meter, with cell placed in the largest
window of the original Leningrad’s view-rangefinder.
The calculator was taken from a Kiev 4 with a new scale glued over it.
The galvanometer needle is seen from original Leningrad’s ocular place.
The photocell (and all exposure meter) was taken from FED 4 –First series with
knob advance type.
The rewind crank was borrowed from FED 11 (Atlas).
This model has no self timer and the hole of he original lever is closed by the
self timer start button taken from Zenit 3M/Zorki 6/Kristall
The lens is a Jupiter 9 for Zorki(Leningrad) with a shortened focusing mount,
to match.
The slow speeds gear 1sec/1/30sec was removed for reflex screen positioning,
so the spring advance is considerably lighter.
The original Zenit wink mirror system was changed and lowers only when film
advances, but due the repeatability of mechanics, it operates as it was an
instant return mirror camera.
A new roof was made to protect the finder pentaprism.
The Construction
This is an image seen in the Leningrad Range/viewfinder .
One has the 50, 85,135mm fields.
The new rangefinder shares its project together German WERRA but Leningrad
Pioneered the system.
The image seen in Werra range finder where in the lower right angle a prism let
choosen speed and diaphragm be seen from the shooting point.
Similarities in film advance
And bottom spool locking device
Similarities in winding button and flash synchro dial
Comparison between spring wind knob, firing button and frame counter
There were two models of Finetta 99, with and without slow speeds dial
Another comparison: spring wind knob, firing button and frame counter
The Belmira
German synthesis of a simplified three generation Leningrad
A largebase rangefinder – A Contax S Release.
The sliding advance touch – in a Vebur shutter
A removable back – and right eye rangefinder
Everything in a comfortable packing