Surveillance camera (Фото Снайпер)
Photo Sniper was an observation camera,
developed during the Cold War
by KMZ in Russia (USSR).
Having the look and feel of a rifle, it was ideally suited for
observation and surveillance tasks. It enabled the user to shoot steady images
of distant or moving objects, such people passing in a car.
The camera was used by counter intelligence teams of the
(2nd Chief Directorate), the Border Guards  and by the intelligence services of
the Warsaw Pact countries, such as the DDR.
Photosniper consists of a modified Zenit E-type camera with Praktika mount (or equivalent), and a 300 mm telephoto lens,
mounted on a long boom with a pistol grip.
When assembled, it looks like a heavy weapon.
At the rear end, the boom has a stock mounting that allows
it to be pressed firmly against the shoulder,
resulting in steady shots without the use of a tripod.
The Zenit ES camera
extra shutter-release button at the bottom,
that mates with a pawl on top of the boom,
allowing the shutter to be released
by pulling the trigger.
The camera was supplied in a metal storage case, complete with lens,
five colour filters, the camera's original 35 mm lens, spare films,
a leather carrying strap, various tools and other accessories,
and the characteristic boom with the
pistol grip and the removable shoulder stock.
The diagram below gives an overview of the various features of the Sniper.
The device consists of a long boom with a pistol grip, that can be extented
with a shoulder rest for optimum shooting stability. At the top right is
the modified Zenit ES camera (or equivalent) with a long
300 mm telephoto lens attached to its Praktika threat. The lens is mounted
at the centre of the boom.
When shooting pictures, one hand should hold the camera by the pistol
grip and press it firmly to the shoulder, whilst the other hand is free to
support the front-end of the boom and adjust the focus knob. A red-marked
knob on the body of the lens can be used to temporarily override the
diafragm, so that the operator has a better view of the subject. When
pulling the trigger, a pawl releases the diafragm override, whilst another
pawl operates the shutter of the modified camera.
The shoulder stock is stored at the bottom of the
case, held in place by two clips,
whilst the pistol grip can be screwed to the bottom of
the container. The camera and the long lens are fixated to the front of the
container with a large black knob behind the
leather case grip.
The camera could also be used on its own, as an ordinary 35 mm camera.
It was usually supplied with a suitable leather case
and a standard 58 mm lens
that was stored under a plastic cup in the lid of the metal container. Spare films were stored in the top lid of the container.
Two additional leather straps were supplied that
could be attached to the bottom of the container, allowing it to be carried
on the back, or to be strapped to something else.
The Photo Sniper is also featured in Keith Milton's excellent book
The Photo Sniper was initially made for the Russian market. The text on the
on the pistol grip
and on the container was in Russian.
means FOTO SNAIPER (Photo Sniper).
The container was usually painted in the typical Russian grey hammerite colour.
The set was later also produced for the rest of the Warsaw Pact countries.
It was labelled with the name PHOTO SNIPER in Latin rather than Russian and came in a dark grey hammerite metal container.
The image on the right shows the Russian text on the pistol grip of the USSR
version of the camera.
Some more images of the Latin version of the Photo Sniper below.
Both cameras were manufactured by
KMZ (Kraznogorsk Mechanical Works) in
Kraznogorsk near Moscow during the Cold War.
The company still exists today .
or Красногорский Механический Завод
was also the manufacturer of the Zenit 35 mm cameras and the famous
F-21 (Ayaks) button-camera that was
used by the KGB and other intelligence services.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR)
the company continued the production of analogue cameras, but finally closed
down most of their production lines in 2005 .
The only camera produced by the company right now is the Horizon
panoramic camera .
The company currently produces a range of military optics and laser
range finders for the Army.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 22 March 2012. Last changed: Sunday, 02 July 2017 - 16:50 CET.