Zenit 3m Cross Processing Xpro Russian Camera

Zenit 3m Cross Processing Xpro Russian Camera

Looming shadow on a bright brick wall, shot on cross-processed Sunset Strip 100 film

One of the good things about using a bunch of different cameras and films is happy accidents; the combinations which just go well together. At various points over the last decade I’ve owned a Zenit 3M; it’s a Soviet SLR from the 1960s which I’ve written about before. The 3M is a very simple camera – it has no light meter, only a handful of shutter speeds, and lenses which have to be stopped down to the right aperture after focusing; it takes a little while to work out its foibles.

 

It’s a retro-looking little camera capable of surprisingly good results – the Mir 1B 37mm wideangle lens and the Jupiter-9 85mm portrait lens are superb – but wasn’t built to the same exacting standards as cameras from Japan or West Germany. The youngest 3Ms are all more than 40-years old, and many you find in flea markets and car boot sales have seen much better days – probably because they’ve been sat in the attic unused for a decade or two.

The camera’s standard lens -3Ms usually shipped with either a 50/3.5 or 58/2 lens – came from a different generation, and doesn’t have the modern coating which help stop flare. While this might get in the way of taking faultless slides, it’s not so serious if you plan on cross-processing, with its high-contrast colour shifts and added grain
Cross-processing’s jump from fashion and experimental photography to analogue mainstream came via Lomography – the chunky Lomo LC-A, with its dramatic vignetting, gave super-saturated results. But the xpro technique works just as well on a bunch of other cameras. I love the Lomo cameras currently being sold by Lomography; but they’re not cheap; the Zenit 3M I’ve been shooting with the past couple of years cost me £20 and works a treat.

The xpro shots you see here came from two different films, Kodak Elite Chrome 100 last autumn, and a roll of Lomography’s Sunset Strip 100 taken during the height of summer. The Sunset Strip film was taken shortly before I left north west London after living there for 17 years; a last chance to catch a cricket game at the very picturesque Hampstead Cricket Club. The crazy shafts of light off the old lens during the cricket game work just a treat (see below) but it’s the shot of the rich red bricks and the slightly ominous shadow of the sign which is my favourite.

Check out my previous blog on cross-processing and my Flickr set of xpro shots.

  • Play stopped for strange, unearthly light
  • Gritty grain and glowing grains
  • Reducing the colour noise in Photoshop slightly heightens the retro look
  • Super saturated colour on Kodak Elite Chrome
  • Boosted blues on a cold grey day in Hampstead
  • Swirly bokeh and unreal colours on a suburban summer’s day

 

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