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On June 2 2001 I got a rather heavy red package in the mail. After stripping off all the cellotape and opening the inner box, I was rather surprised to find a Zorki-4K with a Jupiter-12 inside! It turned out to be a present from Frank Horsting for passing my exams. Frank was the guy I sold my Bessa-L to, and with a Bessa-L, he didn't need the Zorki-4K any more. Thank you Frank!
Now how does the Zorki-4K compare to its predecessor, the plain 4? Although I haven't shot any film in the 4K yet (but will soon), I think I can already say a thing or two. The main differences between the two are the fact that the 4K has a fixed take-up spool and a wind lever. For the rest, the cameras are mechanically the same. The backs are interchangeable, the rangefinders are the same, and so are the shutters. There are some cosmetical differences, like the shape of the x-sync hub and the self-timer, and the KMZ logo has been shifted to the left to avoid it being blocked by the lever. Also, the 4K has an eveready case that can be split in two parts, which is much more comfortable than the 4's case, which doesn't have a detachable base plate. But for the larger part the cameras are identical.
The 4K's main strength is the wind lever. Even though few things could beat Soviet designs in terms of longevity, the original 4's design was finally altered after seventeen years to replace the rewind drum for a proper lever. So great was the impact on the functionality of the camera that it was given a new suffix: K. And not entirely without reason, because the lever enhances the camera's functionality a great deal. The thumb wind on the original model was a big disadvantage, because it wasted time and hurt your fingers. The 4K is actually a pretty rapid camera, once you've loaded film and set all the controls. It snaps away like an SLR. Nevertheless, when you get to the end of the film you'll still have to rewind it using a small embossed cylinder, and then you'll have to load film by carefully taking off the back plate. Pity KMZ didn't fit the Zorki-4K with a light meter, a swing back and multiple frames while they were at it, or it would have been a Bessa-R avant la lettre. Now it's more of a Zorki-6 without the easy back. Hmmm, nice camera that, by the way. Let's see: four years to go before I intend to get my PhD...:)