Unlike the other film SLRs I own, the Zenit-E which I acquired last Dec is quite different in its mechanism. There are a lot of knobs on it that I can’t figure out, and the camera manual that came with it was in Russian, a language I don’t know. Even the English version I found online did not untangle all the doubts I had in my head.
To add to the complexity, the camera uses helios 44-2 lens with preset aperture controls: The outer ring (with the F numbers) on the lens requires some force to turn it, clicking as it is set to the desired working aperture. The inner ring turns smoothly and easily, allowing the aperture to be adjusted between f/2 and the preset working aperture.
I learnt this too late, and my test roll returned with severely under-exposed pictures taken at an aperture preset at f16 by the previous owner. Some had over-exposed parts too, as I’d opened the back cover several times to check on the film, accidentally exposing it. (It is terribly difficult to rewind the film. You have to hold down the film rewind release button while turning the stiff rewind knob anticlockwise.)
That said, some of the pictures on this roll are priceless. I have also loaded the Zenit-E with a new roll. Fingers crossed!