This page is no longer actively maintained. (Pardon?)
I think any regular camera collector would agree that this line of cameras was at least in principle based on the German Robot cameras; the Robots are the founding fathers and cornerstones of the small spring-driven half-frame camera cpontingency.
The origins of the Zenit-MF-1 are a bit mysterious. Several ancestors were built during the Soviet era, the earliest of which seems to be the UFA, a spy camera built during the Second World War in an unknown place, perhaps the town of Ufa where Minox employees were evacuated.
After the war, around 1950, a modified version of this camera, called the F-21, entered production at KMZ. This camera was most likely intended for the KGB. It used half-format film, and could be built into all kinds of things: hats, belts, newspapers. It worked in absolute silence by means of a large clockwork motor.
Princelle states that Krasnogorsky Zavod introduced the successor to this F-21 at the 1994 Fotokina, and that it was called the MF-1. It's probably still used today by the secret sevices, but is also commercially available (albeit expensive).
The ZENIT-MF-1 camera is intended to take pictures at distances from 3m to infinity on a non-perforated film 21 mm in width and 0.16mm in thickness. The cassette allows to reload the film in light. Film rewinding and shutter cocking are carried out automatically.
|Focal length:||28 mm|
|Frame size:||18×24 mm|
|Cassette capacity:||14 frames|
|Shutter speeds:||1/10; 1/30; 1/100 s; spring drive|
|Overall dimensions:||77 × 41 × 55 mm|
|Operates in:||−20°C to +55°C; withstands 100% relative humidity at 35°|
|Warranty:||The camera is warrantied for 12 months from the date of purchase.|