Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod
Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod (KMZ) was the Mechanical Factory
of Krasnogorsk, a company that specialized in the production of
optical equipment for the Army of the former Soviet Union (USSR)
and special cameras for espionage.
The company was founded during WWII (1942) in the western Moscow
suburb Krasnogorsk, on the base of evacuated optical-mechanical plant
Shortly after WWII, in 1946, KMZ began the production of cameras,
starting with the Moskva (Moscow) folding camera.
No less than five different versions of this camera, that was based
on the Zeiss-Ikon Ikona, were introduced in the following
years (Moskva-1 to Moskva-5) .
In 1948, KMZ started co-production of the so-called FED camera,
a copy of the popular German 35 mm Leica II camera, that had been in production
in the USSR since 1934. As the FED factory got damaged during WWII, they
couldn't meet demand for this camera and part of the production was
therefore moved to KMZ.
Millions of FED cameras were built under the FED-Zorki brand.
In 1949, after the FED factory had been restored and prodcution of the
FED-Zorki camera was moved back to the FED factory,
KMZ continued to produce rangefinder cameras under the Zorki brand.
The first Zorki camera was basically an improved FED camera
with some design changes.
In 1952, the Zorki camera was further modified, resulting in
the company's first SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera,
which would become known as Zenit
(sometimes written in Cyrillic as ЗЕНИТ). Like the Zorki,
it had a 39 mm screw mount (ZM39), but due to its positioning, Zorki lenses
with an M39 mount could not be used, as they could not focus
except at close range.
The image on the right shows the lens assembly line at KMZ
in Krasnogorsk in 1956 . Click the image for a larger view.
The KMZ-ZENIT factory is still located at this address today
After several modifications and improvements, a completely new version of
the ZENIT was introduced in 1962, ten years after the first ZENIT model
saw the light of day.
It became known as the ZENIT-E, a camera with
a hinged back door that resembled a western Praktika. A variant of this
camera, the Zenit-ES, was used, for example, with the KGB
Photo Sniper camera.
In the special workshop at KMZ, a range of espionage cameras were
made for the KGB and other intelligence agencies of the Warsaw Pact.
Some popular examples of such cameras are the
F-21 (Ayaks), a.k.a. the button camera,
the KGB Photo Sniper
and the Tochka-58
(Точка) range of subminiature cameras,
that were known in the west as the necktie cameras.
In 1993, KMZ was renamed to S.A. Zverev Krasnogorsky Zavod JSC (Joint
Stock Company), but kept trading as KMZ under the ZENIT brand.
The company is still in business today and has specialized in special
cameras and laser range finders for weapons and armoured vehicles.
The KMZ logo has changed quite a few times over the years. The original
logo, that was used when the factory was started in 1942, consisted of
a simple dove prism. In 1949 a refracted light ray, with an open arrow
at the end, was added to the prism. At some point, probably around 1970
the open arrow was replaced by a closed arrow. In its present form
the logo consists of a dove prism with a thick reflected light ray,
sometimes combined with the name ZENIT or ЗЕНИТ.
KMZ/Zenit products on this website
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