I've seen eBay ads referring Photosniper
as a spy camera. If a spy wants
to draw as much attention as possible, the Photosniper is a weapon of choice.
Jokes aside, the Photosniper is one of the most amazing products of Soviet photo
As many other things in a government run society, Photosniper production was
a political decision. The idea was, that instead of hunting and killing, people
will choose wildlife photography as an alternative. This was in line with the
general Party idea - to develop all the people's dormant creativity. I can't
tell whether this worked or not, but the Photosniper was very hard to find,
and yet I've never seen one being actually used as intended, for wildlife photography.
And I surely hope this outfit will not be used on the streets - your local
law enforcement officers may not recognize this as a manual exposure, manual
focus SLR with a telephoto lens mounted on a gunstock. They may take it for
a small rocket or RPG launcher - just look at the quality and appearance of
the pistol grip and the trigger! And who knows how they will react. So please
use this outfit with caution.
There is also another application for t
he Photosniper - as a solid action photography
outfit. Instead of using the gun stock, mount it on a tripod, its design allows
There were several Photosnipers made in the Soviet Union, from a very rare
FS-2 of WW2 to the modern FS-12 and FS-122 models. The model for sale is the
FS-12, made in 1989 by the KMZ factory near Moscow. The camera has two major
advantages over the previous FS model - the TTL metering and electrical aperture
transfer from the lens to the camera.
This is what you get in a Photosniper outfit:
- Tair-3S, 300/4.5 telephoto lens is the most important and special
part of the set. The lens is well made, the glass is coated. The focusing
knob is located underneath the lens barrel, the focusing is very smooth and
precise. The lens has a tripod mount and can be installed either on a tripod
or attached to the gunstock. After the aperture is set on the dial, it is
"armed" (fully opened) with a special lever. The aperture is released with
another lever underneath the lens, either manually on a tripod, or as a part
of the trigger sequence when mounted on the gunstock. The lens has the M42
universal screwmount an can be used with many Pentax screwmount cameras (Pentax,
- The lens comes with a rubber lenshood, a metal lenscap and
5 (!!!) 72x.75 mm filters - 3 various density yellow filters, one yellow-green
and one orange filter.
- Zenit-12S camera body. This is a modified Zenit-TTL - it has a longer
eye relief and a special bottom plate with an access to the shutter release
from the gunstock trigger. Shutter speeds - B, 1/30 - 1/500. Couple TTL meter
with electrical aperture transfer, you can perform metering with the aperture
fully open. A rubber eyecup is also included.
- 58/2 Helios-44M-4 lens, whic
h allows use of the camera in a conventional
way. The lens comes with both lenscaps.
- A gunstock, which hold the whole thing together. This a well made
piece, it is cast of aluminum alloy. A leather strap is as impressive as the
- A sturdy metal case which accommodates the outfit (partially disassembled).
The outfit is quite heavy, 12 pounds (5.5 kg) with the case and accessories,
6.5 pounds (3 kg) when assembled for use.