Photosniper FS-12 Outfit


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 industry.

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 for this.

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, Praktica etc.)
  • 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 pistol grip.
  • 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.


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