How to Use a Zorki-4 Camera

Written by brandon getty
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How to Use a Zorki-4 Camera
The Zorki-4 rangefinder is a competent and affordable Leica copy. (old film rangefinder camera isolated on white image by Gleb Semenjuk from

The Zorki-4 rangefinder camera was produced from 1956 to 1973 by Russia's KMZ factory. Originally designed to compete with Germany's Leica II, the Zorki has adopted many of the camera's mechanical and cosmetic features, resulting in a convincing copy. After the fall of the USSR, the cameras saturated the American vintage and used photographic market, and as a result the Zorki-4 can still be found in excellent working condition for a fraction of the cost of any Leica. If this is the first time you've heard of a Zorki rangefinder camera, follow the steps below to familiarise yourself with it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 35mm film cartridge

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  1. 1

    Open the camera back by rotating the two bottom latches toward the sides of the camera. Slide the back off of the camera, and set it aside.

  2. 2

    Place the film cartridge into the recess on the left of the camera, protruding end down. Stretch the film leader across the back of the camera and insert it under the small metal flap on the film take-up spool. Turn the film rewind ring, located around the shutter button on the top of the camera, counterclockwise.

  3. 3

    Turn the film advance knob, located on the top right of the camera, clockwise and ensure that perforations on the top and bottom edges of the film are engaged by the sprocket teeth next to the take-up spool.

  4. 4

    Replace the camera back and re-tighten the latches. Press the shutter button, and advance the film once more. The Zorki-4 is now ready to take pictures.

  1. 1

    Set the camera's frame count by pushing down on the dial atop the film advance knob and rotating it until "0" matches up with the marker dot to the left of the knob. Do this each time you start a new roll of film.

  2. 2

    Change the camera's shutter speed by first advancing the film (this also cocks the shutter and prepares it to fire) and then lifting up on the shutter speed knob and rotating it until the black marker notch aligns with the desired speed. Speeds are labelled in fractions of a second (for example, "500" is 1/500th of a second).

  3. 3

    Select the camera's aperture (size of lens opening) by rotating the ring on the lens barrel. As a reference for shooting in sunny weather, an aperture of f/16 with a shutter speed of 1 over the ISO rating of your film will provide a proper exposure. For example, if you're shooting ISO 400 film, your settings would be an aperture of f/16 at a shutter speed of 1/500. Use a wider aperture (indicated by a lower numeric value, such as f/8) as lighting conditions dim, or when shooting in shady areas.

  4. 4

    Compose your picture by looking through the camera's viewfinder window. Bring your subject into focus by turning the focusing ring near the rear of the lens barrel. A duplicate image of the subject is presented in the viewfinder, and the two images merge when proper focus is achieved.

  5. 5

    Rewind the film once the roll is finished by first turning the film rewind ring clockwise. Lift up on the film rewind knob, located on the top left side of the camera, and turn it continuously clockwise. The film is properly rewound into the cartridge when you can no longer feel tension while turning the knob. Open the camera back, and remove the film cartridge.

Tips and warnings

  • Because the Zorki-4's lens is separate from its viewfinder window, close-up shots such as portraiture or other macro photography work verify the minimum lens-to-subject distance.
  • The Zorki-4 is a fully mechanical camera that does not need batteries to operate.
  • Always make sure to advance the film/cock the shutter before changing the camera's shutter speed. Failure to do so may damage the shutter mechanism, or cause the camera to lock up.
  • If you can no longer turn the film advance knob after firing the shutter, this means the roll is finished. Do not force the knob as you may tear the film's perforations and make proper rewinding impossible.

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