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My First True SLR

I had cheaper cameras before – RM100 point & shoot camera (no auto focus) was my first camera which my aunt bought for me after I did well in my exams. But unlikely these days, that camera only “came out” on important days like birthdays.

One fine day, I was passing by PS (Petaling Street) when I noticed an old lady with a small table with some items on it. A small crowd gathered in front of her, going through the items. Curiosity got better of me and I too stopped to see what the interesting items were. She had a couple of cameras, telescopes and other small items – all Russian made. One item stood up and had me drooling thinking – it was a classic Russian SLR camera.

I nervously asked the lady – “Berapa ini (how much is this)?” Her answer was RM100. RM100? That was a bit hard to believe at first because it cost the same as the point & shoot camera that I had but buying things in Petaling Street had me thinking whether the camera was a genuine one or not. I grab hold the camera – it was heavy and well built. But in the end, I gave it a pass – I did not have the money anyway.

Couple of weeks later, I was passing by the old lady again. This time I had the money and a strong urge to buy the camera. I just wished the price of the camera had not gone up. To my surprise, the lady quoted me RM60 – perhaps it was the real price of the camera or she just have gotten desperate to sell the items off. At RM60 – it was a bargain. I quickly bought it without any further thought.

Zenit 122 was a manual SLR that came with camera kit (body and a simple lens), ISO 16 to 500 , shutter speed between 1/500 seconds to 1/30 seconds (pathetic compared to today’s standards but it did get something interesting night shots) and an auto timer. One very plus point about this camera is the built. It was built like a rock – heavy and sturdy (internet checking indicates 820g – Nikon D40 in comparison weights approximately 450 g).

The “Russian” stayed with me for couple years until the time where digital cameras got cheaper and more advanced than the aging Zenit. The cost of film and development of the film eventually killed my interest to continue using it. It found itself in my storeroom and I completely forgotten about it until my son managed to get hold of it and use it as a toy. He will link his Lego set into one long line and take the camera in the pretext of catching a snake on camera.

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