35mm Collection: Zorki 4 – Ilford HP5 400 B&W

My Russian Zorki 4 was purchased a couple year ago because my wife wanted to get into Range Finder cameras. To explain a range finder is kinda of simple and difficult at the same time. With a regular camera, you are looking through the lens and you see the image. With a range finder, you are using a dual image system for focusing. When the two images line up, you are in focus. Weird part is that the system always looks focused until you turn the dial on the lens and see the second image start moving on top of your lens image. Very easy to see once you start moving the dial…also very easy to forget to focus because the image already looks clear when you are setting up your shot.

My wife never played with them so when I wanted to get this blog up and running, I decided to figure out how to use this Russian heavy ass camera and take a roll of film with it. I had a roll of Ilford HP5 400 speed black and white in my freezer, so it loaded it and spent a few day hunted some places in Houston to take some photos.

Remember, one camera, one roll of film, no editing…

The first frame is a photo of Adolf, a neighborhood stray that lives behind the building at work. He lives with Mama (his mom), Big Papi (father) and his sister, Sylvester. We named them all boy names when they were born before knowing if they were boys or girls. There used to be a Baby Harry, but he disappeared. Sylvester has now how kittens of her own. We saw them a few times, but they seem to be missing too now.

Another photo of Adolf behind the fence. He’s my favorite because he is nice to our shop cat, Buddy. You will see him later in this roll of film.

Trying to find things to take pictures of, I took a stop at an abandoned Chinese restaurant and walked around taking a few photos of the building and the new decay that is on the building.









Okay so here is Buddy, our flower shop cat. He was a stray and I think he is Mama’s brother since they look so much alike and are about the same age. Buddy was super friendly and just walked into our store one day and never left. He goes outside, sits around and meows when he wants to come back inside. After a year of him hanging around, we collared him with my phone number on him. It was hard to get him to sit still for photos so the focus is off.

Here’s another one of Buddy, but I was off this time.

Next up, I took a drive to a little community attraction near work. The Beer Can House is an art piece that someone created that used beer cans as paint for his house. The walls have bottle caps and tab openers, some even have the cans or glass bottles instead of brick. I thought it was a good idea to head over there and take a few photos of the house and around the area.

Remember how I said above about it being really easy to forget to focus the Zorki 4 because the image appears clear when looking through the viewfinder. And so, this is the output of not focusing. I took a handful of shots before I remembered that I needed to focus this damn camera. Going from digital where everything is automatic for you, to a fully manual camera where you need to tell it how long to leave the shutter open for and to even focus the lens, its a process.






And then I remembered to focus the camera. This is a house that is across the street from the Beer Can house.

This dragon graffiti mural is in the parking lot behind building. I just happened to pass it on the way back to work that day and took a shot of it. Thought it was cool.

The parking lot that the dragon above was in was for a day spa. They also had this little lantern guy, so I grabbed this too.

I could not tell how many photos I had on this roll and where I was because the Zorki 4 does not have a counter. You literally have to take the shot and forward until you can’t forward any more. I read that sometimes people have tried to turn the knob too hard and pulled the film from the spool. I was cautious to not listen and feel the camera’s needs so I didn’t not pop from the spool.

Because of not knowing where I was, I took the camera on a small roadtrip to Blanco, Texas. We stopped in Smithville on the way there and was able to only get 2 shots in Smithville before the camera said out of film. This first one probably had a fogged lens as it was cold in the car and I came out in the humidity.

The final shot of the 24 exposure roll was taken in Smithville on their Main Street. Overall, the Zorki 4 is a fun camera and I loved the photos and how they turned out. Yes, there were issues with my forgetting to focus, but for the most part the camera took great photos. I loved the heavy feel to it. It felt like you were holding a solid camera. I wouldn’t mind giving this another ride with some color film some day.

Author: Jenny Morgan

Photographer, hiker, flower buyer, cat wrangler, and Latin music lover.

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