Zorki 3 series

   The Zorki 3 cameras are among the hardest Russian Leica copies to find. That's because between 1951 and 1956 only 87,569 models 3 and 3M were produced. All my Zorki 3s were manufactured in 1955. Many collectors believe the 3 and 3M are the best looking of all the Russian rangefinders. They were the first to combine the rangefinder and viewfinder in one eyepiece. All three models have diopter adjustment for eyeglass wearers. They have a top shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. They have cast bodies and the entire back comes off to simplify loading. The 3 and 3M remind me of the early Japanese Canon rangefinder cameras from the same era. The 3 and 3M have a shutter that sounds different than later Zorkis--smoother and quieter.

The Zorki 3 is easy to identify because it has the slow speed dial on the front. The design created some problems in the slow speed linkage that were never completly solved. Still, it is one of the most sought collector models. The 50mm f2 Jupiter 8 lens (a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar) is standard on a Model 3s. It is an excellent lens. The Zorki 3 was introduced in 1951 but production didn't hit stride until 1954. Most Z3s through 1954 have a square tripod lug on the bottom with a foot that can be swung out to stabilize the camera when it is sitting on a flat surface -- like the Kiev and Contax II.. Later cameras have a round tripod lug with no foot.

ZORKI 3 with sync.
This is the camera KMZ should have made instead of the Zorki 3C. This is a 1954 Zorki 3 with flash sync added -- a much more pleasing look than the boxy top on the 3C. This sync was added after the camera left the factory. No Zorki 3s or 3Ms came from the factory with sync.
If the 3M had flash synch it would be my perfect camera. The only real difference between the 3 and 3M is all the shutter speeds have been moved to the top dial. The shutter release button on the 3M also protrudes higher above its collar than it does on the Zorki 3. Most Z3Ms have a matt finish but there are some examples where the metal parts are highly polished.

The good news is the Zorki 3C has flash synch. The bad news is that to add that feature the designers lengthened the viewfinder housing, as they did with the earlier "C" and "2C" models and the sexing looking Zorki 3 turned ugly. The 3C actually signals the beginning of a new model line. The only difference between it and the Zorki 4A is the 4A has a self timer. That may be why although only 45,572 3Cs were made during 1955 and 1956, they don't command the prices of the 3 and 3M.

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