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Still Cameras > KMZ - Zenit > Zenit FS-3 Fotosnaiper
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Zenit FS-3 Fotosnaiper

I've seen eBay ads and web sites referring Photosniper as a spy camera. If a spy wants to draw as much attention as possible, the Photosniper is a weapon of choice. Jokes aside, the Photosniper is one of the most amazing products of Soviet photo industry.

As many other things in a government run society, Photosniper production was a political decision. The idea was, that instead of hunting and killing, people will choose wildlife photography as an alternative. This was in line with the general Party idea - to develop all the people's dormant creativity. I can't tell whether this worked or not, but the Photosniper was very hard to find, and yet I've never seen one being actually used as intended, for wildlife photography. And I surely hope this outfit will not be used on the streets - your local law enforcement officers may not recognize this as a manual exposure, manual focus SLR with a telephoto lens mounted on a gunstock. They may take it for a small rocket or RPG launcher - just look at the quality and appearance of the pistol grip and the trigger! And who knows how they will react. So please use this outfit with caution.

There is also another application for t he Photosniper - as a solid action photography outfit. Leave the gun stock at home, and mount the lens on a tripod (its design allows this).

There were several Photosnipers made in the Soviet Union, from a very rare FS-2 of WW2 to the newer FS-12 and FS-122 models. The model for sale is the FS-3, made in the 1970's by the KMZ factory near Moscow. The FS-3 was made in two version - black and light gray. This is a gray version.

This is what you get in this Photosniper outfit:

* Tair-3S, 300mm f:4.5 telephoto lens is the most important and special part of the set. The lens is well made, the glass is coated. The focusing knob is located underneath the lens barrel, the focusing is very smooth and precise. The lens has a tripod mount and can be installed either on a tripod or attached to the gunstock. After the aperture is set on the dial, it is "armed" (fully opened) with a special lever. The aperture is released with another lever underneath the lens, either manually on a tripod, or as a part of the trigger sequence when mounted on the gunstock. The lens has the M42 universal screwmount an can be used with many Pentax screwmount cameras (Pentax, Praktica etc.)
* The lens comes with a metal lenscap and 5 (!!!) 72x.75 mm filters - 3 various density yellow filters, one yellow-green and one orange filter.
* Zenit-ES camera body. This is a modified Zenit-E, it has a special bottom plate with an access to the shutter release from the gunstock trigger. Shutter speeds - B, 1/30 - 1/500. The camera has an uncoupled selenium meter, which is really not that useful with a 300mm lens.
* 58/2 Helios-44-2 lens, which allows use of the camera in a conventional way. The lens comes with both lenscaps.
* A gunstock, which hold the whole thing together. This a well made piece, it is cast of aluminum alloy. A leather strap is as impressive as the pistol grip.
* A sturdy metal case which accommodates the outfit (partially disassembled).

The outfit is quite heavy, 12 pounds (5.5 kg) with the case and accessories, 6.5 pounds (3 kg) when assembled for use. (

This set was also sold without the camera, the case has another variation with a black plastic knob. Nathan Dayton

From collection of Vladislav Kern
(Click to enlarge)

Created by Vlad on 8/15/2007 5:43:13 PM   |   Last Edited by nathandayton on 5/23/2008 7:22:44 PM   Revision History  
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