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An Attempt to Clear the FOG

There is an unbelievable amount of inaccurate information circulating on the Web about Soviet cameras. This site will attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions about Soviet equipment. It will include Technical Specifications and comments.

This Site is only concerned with Soviet production cameras. You could spend the rest of your life studying Soviet prototypes and modified models and my time and web space are limited. The information presented here will be of value to the greatest number of users by limiting the coverage.

All information on this site has been verified either by first hand examination or from multiple sources in the literature. I have attempted to keep everything totally factual. However, please remember that all information is only approximate due to the paranoia about secrecy that permeated the Soviet regime production dates and figures were State Secrets.

Camera and Lens Factories and their LOGOS

Leningrad based :

Leningrad was the original home of the Soviet optical Industry.

GOI/GOZ/VOOMP all produced very limited production lenses and cameras before the war. VOOMP became GOMZ and then LOMO.

{Voomp logo} VOOMP {GOMZ logo}

Gomz later renamed Lomo was the production factory in Leningrad. It is believed that they also had Camera and Lens design capabilities. However, the first three organizations continued to exist in some fashion and they may have provided limited production and/or design facilities. The exact relationship and degree of interaction is unknown to me.

Other cities

{FED logo} FED

FED was originally a furniture factory and then an electric drill manufacturer at an orphans home. In approximately 1933 they started to copy the Leica. Cameras, lenses and accessories were manufactured before the factory was destroyed by the Nazis. The factory machines and workers went to KMZ for the duration of the war. After the war they designed and manufactured cameras , normal lenses and a few accessories. .

{KMZ logo} {KMZ logo} {KMZ logo}

KMZ was the primary manufacturer of optical devices during WW2. They were rewarded for this by receiving all of the captured German optical data and lens manufacturing equipment. This caused them to be come the primary optical design and development facility in the Soviet Union. They had manufactured a limited number of FED cameras during the war and were selected after the war to produce a version for export. They developed designs for their own production and built initial runs of others before transferring production to other factories.

{MMZ logo}{ZOMZ logo}


{Belomo lens logo} {Belomo camera logo}



MMZ served as a secondary factory for GOMZ with limited design capabilities for simple cameras. After becoming Belomo it was a subsidiary of KMZ.

{kiev logo} Arsenal(KIEV)

The Arsenal in Kiev was rewarded for its War service by being given the Equipment from Carl Zeiss to produce a copy of the Contax. Initially the lenses came from KMZ. Later design capabilities for both lenses and cameras were developed.

Lens Factories:

Initial design and production of all lenses was at KMZ with production and possible cosmetic changes made at the factories.

{Kazan logo} Kazan

Kazan produced Industar 22s, Industar 27s,Industar 50s,. Industar 51s, Industar 37s, Jupiter 11s, Jupiter 37s and Fodis 1K.

{Rostovlogo} Rostov

Rostov is not technically a lens factory they produced viewfinders.

{first Valdai logo} {Valdai logo} Vologda

Vologda produced Jupiter 21s and Helios 44s.

{Zagorsk logo} Zagorsk

Zagorsk produced Jupiter 3s, Orion 15s, Mir 1s, Mir 1bs and Tair 3As.

{LZOS logo} LZOS(Lutkarino)

LZOS produced mirror lenses, Industar 29s, Industar 50s, Industar 61s, Jupiter 9s, Jupiter 12s, Volna 9s, Granits and mir 1bs lenses.

{unkmown logo }

This is  the makers logo  of OOMZ (Opytiny Optiko-MekanicheskiyZavod (experimental Optical-Mechanical Factory)) which was part of the design institute in Leningrad. It eventually became part of LOMO. Anything with this mark is a prototype which would then be released to one of the manufacturers for production.

{best quality } Best Quality

This symbol is not a lens factory identifier. It is the "Mark of Best Quality". It is suppossed to indicate that the item it is on is the equal of any other similar item world wide. It was not used only on photographic equipment they put it on everything.

Thanks to Alfred Klomp and Kevin Kalsbeek for the new logos.

Evaluating Collectable Soviet Cameras

These are some common sense comments on the evaluating of Soviet cameras for a collection. Obviously, for most collections we want original cameras in good condition and complete. Most collections do not want fakes, modified cameras or incomplete cameras.

Serial Numbers:

Most Soviet cameras, lenses and accessories have serial numbers where the serial number starts with 2 digits that are the year of manufacture. Notable exceptions are FEDs, early Zorkis, and pre war cameras. Unless you have the original documentation there is no guarantee that an interchangeable lens on a camera is the original even if the serial numbers appear to match.

Several general rules apply:

1. FED lenses are never original on a Zorki and vice versa.

2. Where the serial numbers begin with a year the lenses should never be newer than the camera ( minor exception see 3).

3. Where the serial numbers begin with a year they should be within 1 year of the camera. This allows for end of year production where there could be leftovers from the year before.

4. Normal lenses were supplied with the camera not wide angles or telephotos.

5. Where a camera or lens that normally has a year type serial number is found with a serial number that starts with 00 it is probably part of a pre-production run.

6. Totally aberrant serial numbers exist. An example is the FED-2s that start with A (the significance is unknown). A second example is a FED 1c that I have that has a 4digit serial number. We think that this camera was damaged, returned to the factory for repair in 1937 or 1938 and the factory just took a new camera and engraved the old serial number rather than repairing the old camera.

7. All serial numbers, years of production and production numbers are approximate. There was little documentation of these numbers kept in the Soviet Union and a little research will show that it was inaccurate.

8. All "better" cameras and most cheap cameras came with a case, usually leather or leatherette.

9. All lenses came with a case. This is a little more difficult to describe, as some were plastic, some were leather and some were cloth covered cardboard (pre-war FED). I have been unable to find the pattern here except that "better" (more expensive?) lenses had leather cases.

10. All post-war lenses that were supplied in leather cases came with 2 or more filters which normally fit in the case.

© Nathan Dayton 2000