The Zenit-MF-1

Alfred's Camera Page

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I think any regular camera collector would agree that this line of cameras was at least in principle based on the German Robot cameras; the Robots are the founding fathers and cornerstones of the small spring-driven half-frame camera cpontingency.

The origins of the Zenit-MF-1 are a bit mysterious. Several ancestors were built during the Soviet era, the earliest of which seems to be the UFA, a spy camera built during the Second World War in an unknown place, perhaps the town of Ufa where Minox employees were evacuated.

After the war, around 1950, a modified version of this camera, called the F-21, entered production at KMZ. This camera was most likely intended for the KGB. It used half-format film, and could be built into all kinds of things: hats, belts, newspapers. It worked in absolute silence by means of a large clockwork motor.

Princelle states that Krasnogorsky Zavod introduced the successor to this F-21 at the 1994 Fotokina, and that it was called the MF-1. It's probably still used today by the secret sevices, but is also commercially available (albeit expensive).

From the leaflet

The ZENIT-MF-1 camera is intended to take pictures at distances from 3m to infinity on a non-perforated film 21 mm in width and 0.16mm in thickness. The cassette allows to reload the film in light. Film rewinding and shutter cocking are carried out automatically.


Focal length:28 mm
Frame size:18×24 mm
Cassette capacity:14 frames
Shutter speeds:1/10; 1/30; 1/100 s; spring drive
Overall dimensions:77 × 41 × 55 mm
Weight:0.180 kg
Operates in:−20°C to +55°C; withstands 100% relative humidity at 35°
Warranty:The camera is warrantied for 12 months from the date of purchase.
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