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ZASADA   ЗАСАДА
High-volume covert surveillance camera

ZASADA (Russian: ЗАСАДА) 1 was a high-volume high-quality covert observation and surveillance camera, developed in the late 1970s by the 11th Sience and Research Laboratory (NIL-11), and manufactured from the early 1980s onwards by the mechanical factory of Krasnogorsk (KMZ). It was used by the Russian security service KGB (now: FSB) and its first chief directorate (foreign intelligence), the PGU. The camera can take several hundreds of photographs at 32 x 32 mm. 2

At the heart of the system is the actual camera, which measures 144 x 113 x 60 mm (with lens) and weights 1295 grams. It is shown here with a large 60 metre film cartridge fitted, but there were also film cartridges that fitted completely behind the camera [2]. The weight of the total assembly shown here is approx. 2100 grams. 3

The camera has an electronically operated shutter and a built-in motor winder, and has sockets for remote control facilities. Due to its appearance, the camera is often mistaken for a movie camera, especially when placed vertically.
  
ZASADA camera with two film cartridges

The camera was developed in the late 1970s and remained in production until at least 1990. It was available in several variants, all of which were based on the same core camera unit. The camera featured here was built in 1988, whilst the film cartridge was probably made in 1990.

  1. ЗАСАДА (ZASADA) = Ambush.
  2. Depending on the selected film cartridge.
  3. With standard 50 mm lens fitted and no film present in the cartridge.

ZASADA camera with two film cartridges ZASADA canera, seen from the front left Camera removed from the film cartridge Camera unit Camera unit seen from the rear Camera seen from the front Rear view Film cartridge locking
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ZASADA camera with two film cartridges
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ZASADA canera, seen from the front left
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Camera removed from the film cartridge
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Camera unit
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Camera unit seen from the rear
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Camera seen from the front
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Rear view
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Film cartridge locking

Features
The diagram below shows the various features of the ZASADA camera. The actual camera unit is visible at the centre and is removed here from the film cartridge. Note that different types of film cartridges were available for the camera, which makes is possible to adapt the system to a wide range of applications and disguises. In addition, the camera can be operated remotely, in which case the external remote control unit should be connected to the 10-pin socket aside the lens.


The camera can be mounted horizontally or vertically, using one of the two available (standard) tripod mounts. One mounting hole is located at the bottom of the camera body and one at the short end of the supply spool of the film cartridge. The camera is powered by a ... V DC 1 power source, which should be connected to the 4-pin socket at the front of the camera. The exposure time is set with the knob aside the lens, with the outer ring (below it) available for correcting the background brightness. It has three settings: bright (СВЕТЛ.), normal and dark (ТЕМН.).

  1. The DC power voltage is currently unknown.

Lens Film speed setting and background setting (bright/dark) Remote socket Remote control sockets Film cartridge, rear view Opening a film cartridge Removing the film spool (empty) Film spool removed from cartridge
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Lens
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Film speed setting and background setting (bright/dark)
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Remote socket
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Remote control sockets
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Film cartridge, rear view
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Opening a film cartridge
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Removing the film spool (empty)
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Film spool removed from cartridge

Parts
Camera body Suitable lenses Film cartridges Range finder (also known as viewfinder) Remote control units Operating instructions
Camera body
The image on the right shows the actual camera body, which is at the heart of every ZASADA configuration. It measures 144 x 113 x 60 mm and weights approx. 1295 grams. Depending on the application, is was commonly built inside a concealment and was remotely operated.

The camera was loaded with unperforated 35 mm film, using one of the available cartridges. As there is no viewfinder, an optional one could be fitted temporarily to point and adjust the camera, before fitting the cartridge.
  
Camera unit

Suitable lenses   wanted
Each camera came with 4, 5 or 6 different lenses, to allow for a wide range of applications, distances and disguises. When setting up the camera for a specific surveillance job, the most appropriate lens was selected and installed.

The optional viewfinder was then used to point the camera and adjust the lens, after which it was replace by the selected film cartridge.

The image on the right shows the Zasada camera body with the four most common lenses [1].

 Available lenses

  

Film cartridges   wanted
Depending on the available space, the disguise and the required number of photographs, the appropriate film cartridge was selected. Three types were available, each of which was mounted to the rear of the camera unit. The smallest one can be loaded with 2 metres of film, which should be enough for approx. 50 photographs.

Another one, which can hold 16 metres of film, fits completely behind the camera body [2]. The image on the right shows the camera body with all available cartridges [1].

  

Viewfinder   wanted
According to [2], a right-angle viewfinder was available, that was fitted to the rear side of the camera, instead of the film cartridge. The viewfinder was installed temporarily, to position and focus the camera for a surveillance job.

Once the camera was set, the viewfinder was removed again and replaced by the selected film cartridge. The image on the right shows the viewfinder as it appeared on eBay in 2011, mounted to the body of the camera [3].

  

Remote control units   wanted
Zasada was suitable for a wide range of applications and disguises, as the camera can be fully controlled via the 10-pin remote socket aside the lens. A variety of remote control units were developed, ranging from simple wired control boxes, to wireless (radio) control units.

The image on the right shows a simple wired unit that is marked Пулт Минск 7 (Control box Minsk-7). At the front are the same connectors as on the body of the camera. This control box was offered on eBay in 2011, together with another remote control unit, as part of a very complete Zasada camera kit [3].
  

Operating instruction   wanted
At present, the operating instructions for the Zasada camera are missing. If you have this manual, you can help us to expand this page, by supplying either the original document or a scanned (PDF) copy of it.

 Contact us
  

Unlocking the lens Lens removed from camera Standard lens 3S-3/50 Standard lens (3S-3/50) Film cartridge Rear panel removed from film cartridge Film cartridge with removed lids Film spool removed from cartridge
Zasada camera with all available film cartridges [1] Zasada camera with all available lenses [1] Complete Zasada kit. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada viewfinder. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada viewfinder. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3]. Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3].
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Unlocking the lens
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Lens removed from camera
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Standard lens 3S-3/50
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Standard lens (3S-3/50)
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Film cartridge
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Rear panel removed from film cartridge
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Film cartridge with removed lids
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Film spool removed from cartridge
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Zasada camera with all available film cartridges [1]
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Zasada camera with all available lenses [1]
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Complete Zasada kit. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada viewfinder. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada viewfinder. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3].
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Zasada remote control unit. Photograph copyright [3].

Interior
Zasada is an electromechanically driven camera, with a very dense and compact interior, some of which can be accessed by removing the L-shaped top panel. This involves removing 11 recessed minature screws along the edges of the top panel, after which it can be removed carefully.

The image on the right shows the interior of the camera as seen from the top, after the top panel has been removed. At the right is the lens, which projects its image via a chamber onto the film that runs past the rear side. The chamber is not visible here, as it is covered by electronic parts.

At the far right is a printed circuit board (PCB) with a large integrated circuit (IC), that runs along the side of the chamber. At the front left is a small electric motor that drives the winding mechanism and cocks the shutter. The large cogwheel at the left rear, advances the film.
  
Interior

All parts are tightly fitted inside the available space of the camera body, and getting access to specific parts can be really difficult. At present, the circuit diagram and the wiring of the remote control and power sockets is unknown. If you have this information, please contact us.

Camera body with removed top lid Interior Integrated circuit Motor and film transport wheel Light sensor Light conductor removed from light sensor Light sensor Top view of interior
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Camera body with removed top lid
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Interior
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Integrated circuit
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Motor and film transport wheel
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Light sensor
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Light conductor removed from light sensor
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Light sensor
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Top view of interior

Connections
Power socket
The wiring of the power socket is currently unknown.

  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
Remote control
A 10-pin male socket is present at the front side of the camera, close to the lens. It can be used for the connection of an external remote control unit. The diagram below show the pinout of the socket when looking onto the pins of the socket. At present, the pinout is unknown.

  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?
  6. ?
  7. ?
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. ?
Specifications
  • Lens
    LOMO  see below
  • Distance
    50 cm — 25 m
  • Aperture
    2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 16, aux (electronically controlled)
  • Frame size
    32 x 32 mm
  • Film length
    2, 16 or 60 metres, depending on  cartridge type
  • Exposures
    50, 400 or 1500, depending on  cartridge type
  • Film type
    Unperforated ZP-100, T-33
  • Dimensions
    144 x 113 x 60 mm
  • Weight
    1295 g (bare camera unit)
Known lenses
  • 3S-3.3/35
    F = 35 mm, f/3.3
  • 3S-3/50
    F = 50 mm, f/3
  • 3S-3.2/85
    F = 85 mm, f/3.2
  • 3S-4.5/135
    F = 135 mm, f/4.5
Known film cartriges
  • 2 metres
    50 exposures
  • 16 metres
    400 exposures
  • 60 metres
    1500 exposures
References
  1. Atomic KGB Bunker, Zasada camera
    Lithuania, November 2017. 1

  2. USSR Photo, Zasada camera
    Retrieved November 2017.

  3. Ebay seller 'biggerby2002', Images of Zasada accessories
    Retrieved October 2011. 1
  1. Images reproduced here by kind permission from the author.

Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 22 November 2017. Last changed: Wednesday, 13 December 2017 - 08:18 CET.
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