28 September, 2010

A Zenit made in Brazil?!

EDIT 18.12.2010: SEE ALSO PART 2 with the Zenit 12 PRO!

In Curitiba is every Sunday the flea market “Feira do Largo da Ordem”.
It is a wonderful flea market and, of course, you can buy old cameras there.
My sister found at a stall some cameras and called me which camera she shall buy for me as a present for my solo exhibition.
She told me that there is a Pentax MZ-50, a Praktica MTL5, a Olympus Trip 35 and a Zenit 12XSL.
A Zenit 12XSL? What the fuck is this? I’ve never heard from a 12XSL. I’ve known the 12, 12SD and 12XP, but not this model. But it comes better.
This Zenit isn’t a Russian or a Belarusian tank, this is a “tanque de guerra brasileiro”, a Brazilian tank!






You don’t believe this? Okay, for me it was hard to believe, too. But at the bottom of the camera is written “Indústria Brasileira” and that means really “Made in Brazil” and doesn’t mean “made in USSR” or “Made in Belarus”.


I investigated in the internet, in books and old magazines. First I found in the internet a wonderful page in German about Zenits.
He speaks in the category “Zenit-Modelle von Fremdherstellern” (“Zenit models of third-party manufacturers”) of a Zenit 12XLS, which was obviously produced for the Latin-American market: “Zenit 12XLS Nachbau der Zenit 12SD, offenbar für den lateinamerikansichen Markt bestimmt“
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EDIT 27.06.2013
On a Brazilian page about analog photography I read today the same information that the Zenit 12XSL was made for the Latin-American market:
"É a Russa com sotaque latino. Essa versão da Zenit foi fabricada no Brasil e o modelo foi criado especificamente para o mercado latino."
In English: "It is the Russian with Latin-American accent . This version of the Zenit was manufactured in Brazil and the model was created specifically for the Latin-American market."
---
The best known third-party manufacturer of Zenits was Belomo in Belarus. My first Zenit, a Zenit ET, is a Belomo version.






The Belomo Zenits haven’t the quality standard of the original Zenits which were and are produced by KMZ in Russia.
My second Zenit is a Zenit 3M by KMZ, but I have got the export version for West-Germany, the Revueflex.





Now I searched for more details about the Belomo Zenits.
At this page I found the Zenit 12XS, which was made by Belomo.
And here at this page I've found more information, she and the Zenit 122, the 21XS, the 15M and the Albar 15 - all made by Belomo – look like the Brazilian Zenit 12XSL. And what a surprise there is also the 12XSL: "PB4690. Camera visually identical to PB4640 [Zenit-15M], but under name "Zenit-12XSL" already. At least 18417 units were released in 1995. "Zenit" markings on the frontplate is painted in green colour." (source here).  
Also shown is a 12 PRO (more about my Brazilian 12 PRO here) and the page says about her: "PB4685. Camera identical to PB4680 [Zenit 21XS], but under name "Zenit 12pro" already. At least 19973 units were released in 1996-1997. Quite rare to find nowadays." (source here).
This yellow button, the handgrip and the name “ZENIT” in green are all things which you can only find at the Zenits by Belomo and not by the Zenits by KMZ.
But my Zenit 12XSL is different to the Belomo Zenits, because it was built in Brazil and not in Belarus. But there is every indication that the Zenit 12XSL is a Zenit version by Belomo, of that there is no doubt.

But why it was built in Brazil?

Brazil made cameras?

Yes, but just simple box cameras like the KAPSA and the PLIK, both in the 1950s, or instamatic cameras by Kodak, like the Kodak RIO 400 in 1964 and the Kodak MICKEY in 1992.
“A Kodak do Brasil fabrica, importa e exporta:’90% das câmaras fabricadas em São José dos Campos são exportadas, apenas 10% são de uso doméstico.[...]’ Em contrapartida a Kodak importa [...] peças componentes de máquinas fotográficas.”, in “Iris Foto”, No.437, July/August 1990.
In English: “Kodak of Brazil produces, imports and exports:’90% of the cameras made in São José dos Campos are for the exportation, just 10% are for the home market.[...]’ Although Kodak imports [...]component parts of cameras.”

Goko/Frata and Tron made simple point-and-shoot cameras since the 1980/90s.
About Goko/Frata I found in the “Iris Foto”, No.418, 1988 the advertising of the Goko/Frata UF2 Drive which was “a primeira câmera com motor drive do Brasil”,
in English: “the first camera with motor drive of Brazil”.

The best Brazilian cameras are the rangefinder and point-and-shoot cameras of Yashica, the ME-1, MF-1 and MF-3 SUPER in the 1980s, like an advertising of the Yahica MF-1 and ME-1 told us:
“A qualidade faz diferença […] Se você se importa com qualidade e quer a melhor câmara brasileira, então tem que ser Yashica.”,in the Brazilian photo magazine “Iris – fotografia, vídeo e som”, No. 353, Outubro 1982.
In English: “The quality makes the difference […] If quality matters something for you and if you want the best Brazilian camera, then it must be Yashica.”
---
EDIT 27.06.2013
Today I saw a short, but interesting text about the Yashica ME-1 on the Facebook page from KombiNação:
"YASHICA ME 1 A BRAZUKINHA......
essa camera talvez tenha sido a mais sofisticada maquina produzida em nosso pais pela a japonesa yashica.
fabricada por aqui a partir de 1977. a construcao da fabrica em sorocaba s.p foi apoiada pela politica do governo militar. de barrar as importacoes produzindo aqui.....isso foi um desastre total. pq a yashica monopolizou o mercado impedindo a importacao legal de equipamentos sob a alegacao que tinhamos similar nacional....jesus....passamos a ter acesso a equipamentos profissionais via..pilotos e comissarios da varig...."


In English: "YASHICA ME 1 The BRAZUKINHA .....this camera was perhaps the most sophisticated equipment produced in our country by the Japanese Yashica. Manufactured here since 1977. The construction of the factory in Sorocaba (SP) was supported by the military government. To spreads imports, they produced here ..... It was a total disaster. Because Yashica monopolized the market blocking the legal import of equipment under the allegation that there are similar national products .... Jesus .... We have (just) access to professional equipment through pilots and stewards of the Varig ...."

Later more about the Brazilian import laws...
---

And today Fuji made the Fuji Finepix JX200 in Brazil (source found in the “Fotografe Melhor”, September 2010 issue).

But a Brazilian SLR?

Many people don’t like the Zenits.

Mário Bock writes in his Brazilian book of vintage cameras (“Câmeras Clássicas – As máquinas fotográficas que marcaram época”):
“Amada por uns e odiada por outros, a Zenit é considerada rústica, antiquada, limitada, pesada e difícil de usar.”
In English: “Beloved by these and hated by the others, the Zenit is rustic, antiquated, narrow, heavy and tricky to use.”

Yes the Zenits are a clear case of double standards. And the quality standards of the soviet cameras were and are a hard case.

Mário Bock writes further:“Apesar dos poucos recursos, a Zenit atendia plenamente aos úsarios avessos à falsa idéia de que era frágil e ruim. Tanto não é verdade que muitas câmeras até hoje continuam em perfeito funcionamento.”
In English: ”Except for the sparsely features, the Zenit tried to remove the opinion of users, that it is fragile and poor. Nevertheless it isn’t the truth that many cameras continue until today in a perfect function.”
I think that he only means the Zenits by KMZ, because he speaks about the Zenit 12XP, the export version from the 12SD, by KMZ.

Princelle writes about the last version of the Belomo Zenit ET with CdS- exposure-meter:
“This model is frequently a real disaster.”

We conclude from this opinions, that the Zenits by KMZ are bad and the Zenits by Belomo are worse. And the Zenits made in Brazil are worst?

My first impression is: Yes, it is the truth.
The Brazilian Zenits are worst, because my Zenit 12XSL doesn’t work.

But is this Zenit 12XSL really made in Brazil? The whole camera was built in Brazil?

I think, that the parts of the Brazilian Zenit 12XSL came from Belomo. Perhaps they built the parts in Brazil together and the result is this camera. Or perhaps the Brazilian importer of the Zenits just made the head and bottom cover with the name “12XSL” and “Indústria brasileira” and put them on the semi-finished body of the camera.

But for what reason?

This is very simple, the taxes for imported products were and are very high in Brazil and many people do everything to enlarge the profit margin.

During the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964 – 1985) was the importation of many foreign products prohibited.

In an article about the Nikon F2 in the October 2004 issue of the magazine “Fotografe Melhor” Mário Bock writes:
“Há 30 anos, ser profissional significava ter uma Nikon F2. O que não era fácil, pois naquela época a importação de muitos produtos era proibida no Brasil, entre eles, câmeras, carros, motos...”
In english:”30 years back, to be a professional signified to have a Nikon F2. Which wasn’t easy, because in this period the importation of many products was prohibited in Brazil, among other things, cameras, cars, motorcycles...”

In a report in the “Iris Foto”, No.437, July/August 1990 about the importation of cameras Dernaile Castanho, in this time the manager of T. Tanaka, the representative of Nikon in Brazil, said:
“A proibição das máquinas fotográficas começou em 1976. Os acessórios e as objetivas não estavam proibidas, mas os impostos cobrados tornavam seus preços proibitivos. Isso perdurou até 1989. Já no final de 1988 começou maior liberdade, as alíquotas foram modificadas, mas as cotas de importação continuaram baixas e os preços para o consumidor altos, por isso as importações foram pequenas.”
In English: “The prohibition of cameras commenced in 1976. The accessories and the lenses weren’t prohibited, but because of the estimated taxes their prices turned into prohibitively. This continued until 1989. Already in the end of 1988 began more liberty, the tax rates were modified, but the rates of the importation remained low and the prices for the buyer high, for that reason the importations were little.”

In an other source is written:
“O mercado oferece diversas opcções de marcas e preços. Longe ainda de ser comparado com os mercados mais desenvolvidos como os do Japão, Europa e Estados Unidos, o mercado brasileiro evoluiu sensivelmente nos últimos 10 anos, com a abertura da economia e instalação de vários fabricantes e montadores no País.”, in “Fotografia popular”, No.2, 1996.
In English: “The market offers various options of brands and prices. To this day to be comparable with the markets more developed like of Japan, Europe and the United States, the Brazilian market developed reasonably in the last 10 years, with the aperture of the economy and the installation of various factories e manufactories in the country [Brazil].”

But even today foreign products are very expensive in Brazil.
I think it is a strategy to bring down the inflation and to push the Brazilian economy:
People of Brazil buy the home stuff!

It is not for nothing that on some Brazilian products is the slogan:
“Prestigie o produto nacional. Ele é a garantia de seu emprego.”
In English: “Regard the national product. It is the guaranty of your job.”

And the prices of cameras in Brazil are high, higher than in Europe or the USA.

But the interest in cameras in Brazil is very old.
In 1840, one year after Louis Daguerre invented his daguerreotype process, the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II. bought a daguerreotype photo equipment for the value of 250 000 Réis:
“Em março [ de 1840], D.Pedro II,[...]adquire um equipamento de daguerreotipia por 250 mil réis”, in “Poses e Trejeitos – A fotografia e as exposições na era do espetáculo (1839- 1889)” by Maria Inez Turazzi.

Dom Pedro II. was the man, who brought the photography to Brazil:
“..., o homem responsável pela vinda da fotografia para o Brasil foi o imperador D.Pedro II.”, in “Curso Prático de Fotografia – para iniciantes” by André Lima;
and:
“No Brasil, a fotografia ganhou um admirador dos mais ilustres desde o seu primeiro contato com o daguerreótipo, logo no ínicio de 1840: o imperador D.Pedro II. Ele foi, na verdade, mais do que um admirador. Foi também adepto, mecenas, colecionador e, sobretudo, responsável por grande parte do acervo relacionado ao assunto existente hoje em nosso páis.”, in “Poses e Trejeitos – A fotografia e as exposições na era do espetáculo (1839 – 1889)” by Maria Inez Turazzi.

But back to the Zenit.

In an article about the four cheapest SLR’s which you can buy in Brazil in the September 2002 issue of the magazine “Fotografe Melhor”, they shown the Mirage K2000N, the Phenix DC303N, the Vivitar V3000 – all three cameras are clones of Japanese cameras (Yashica or Pentax) of the 1970s and all of them were built in the same factory in Xiamey, China – and the Zenit 312M, which was built in Russia by KMZ.

The prices for the three clones were between 900 and 1,100 Reais. The price of the Zenit 312M was approx. 490 Reais.
The Zenit cost barely half of the price of the others.

I found in the Brazilian photo magazine “Fotografia popular”, No.2, 1996 an advertising of a photo equipment shop and they sold Zenits, but they wrote "Zenith", a “Zenith 12 x 5”, perhaps a Zenit 12XP or 12XS, for 105 Reais and a “Zenith 122” for 137 Reais.
A Pentax K1000 cost 450 Reais in this shop.
Yes, Brazil has got chronic problems with the inflation.

Okay probably these Zenits were made in Russia.

But reflect now, which it means if a Zenit is made in Brazil.
Yes, you have the cheapest SLR on the market and your profit margin is tremendous. I investigated a little bit more in the internet.

At Camerapedia I found this:
“There is a version of the Zenit 12XP made in Brazil, produced by BMA INDÚSTRIA E COMÉRCIO LTDA, which started making 12XP among some other Zenit models.”

With “other Zenit models” they mean the 12XSL?

Yes, because on my Zenit 12XSL is also the name BMA written, above “Indústria Brasileira”. But this is very strange, a KMZ-look-a-like Zenit 12XP and a Belomo-look-a-like Zenit 12XSL were built in the same Brazilian factory? KMZ never made a “12XLS” and Belomo never made a “12XP”, but BMA made these two cameras?

Okay, who is BMA in fact?

Until now I’ve knew that BMA made the TRON cameras, analog and digital point’n’shoot cameras. Theirs advertising slogans were:

“Revele sua Memória [...] TRON – E fácil fotografar”, in “Iris – a revista da imagem”, No.501, 1997.
In English: “Develop your memory [...] TRON – it’s easy to photograph”

“Campeões de Vendas – Acertam no Ângulo!” , in “Iris Foto”, No. 500, 1997.
In English: “Champions in selling – They strike in the corner!”

“A vida acontece lá fora. Fotografe.”, in “Iris Foto”, No. 497, 1996.
In English: “The life happens outside. Take a photo.”

Yes, the advertising slogans were spectacular, for sure!

And now we know that they built Zenit SLR’s in Brazil, really?

At the Camerapedia site of the Zenit 12 are pictures of the Brazilian 12XP, taken by a Brazilian photographer. I watched the three pictures and there are comments to one of the pictures, the Brazilian photographer wrote:
“Yeah, it was made here for a few years, but not only it. They made DF-2 cameras too, under the brand Zenit, what is very odd., since it has nothing to do with Russian cameras (they are seagull cameras if I'm not wrong and fit minolta lenses only. So if someday you find a 'Zenit DF-2', you can say for sure it is Made in Brazil too.”

Okay from these "Zenit-Seagulls" I’ve read at the USSRPhoto forum.

And now we know that Chinese copies of Minolta cameras were built in Brazil and were sold as Zenits, really?

Come on, it sounds like an April fools joke.
Were the production costs in Brazil lower than in China?

I found in the November 1998 issue of the Brazilian photo magazine “Fotografe Melhor” an advertising of a photo equipment shop and they sold the Seagull DF-300X for 330 Reais. There is a little picture of the Seagull and the information:
“Tecnologia MINOLTA. Compatível com acessórios MINOLTA”
In English: “MINOLTA technology. Compatible with MINOLTA accessories.”

Of course, and – logical - compatible with Zenit accessories. But just compatible with the "Zenit-Seagulls", because the others Zenits don’t have MINOLTA technology.

I found in the “Fotografia popular”, No.5, 1996 an advertising of a photo equipment shop and they sold also Zenits. The Zenit 11 for 98 Reais and the Zenit DF-2, yes a "Zenit-Seagull", for 199 Reais.
There are little pictures and information about the cameras.

Zenit 11: “Reflex semi-profissional manual, objetiva cambiável, velocidade de B a 1/500”

Zenit DF-2: “Reflex profissional manual, objetiva cambiável, encaixe Minolta”

The shop also sold a Pentax K1000 for 490 Reais, a Pentax P-30 for 590 Reais and a Canon EOS 5000 for 780 Reais.
They sold also simple point’n’shoot cameras, Canon Prima Jr.DX for 99 Reais and a Vivitar Zool WZ-28 for 199 Reais.

Yes, this is the Brazilian way of life.

But back to BMA, the “producer” of the Brazilian Zenits.

The internet knows almost everything, but many things it doesn’t know, until now.

I took a closer look at my photo magazine archive. The best place in magazines to find something is the rubric “reader's letter” and the Brazilian people have got many questions:

In the October/November 1992 issue of the magazine “Iris Foto”:
“Sobre a câmara russa Zenit 12XP, desejo algumas informações: 1. O fabricante é o mesmo da Lubitel e Kiev; [..] 3. A 12XP é popular no leste europeu e respeitada em outros países?” – [the answer]
”1. As câmaras soviéticas são produzidas em duas ou três fábricas da ex-União Soviética, sendo cooperativadas entre si. As marcas podem mudar, mas a tecnologia de produção é praticamente a mesma. 3. A Zenit 12XP é muito usada no leste europeu por fotógrafos profissional e amador. É usada também em Havana. A marca é respeitavel, apesar de tratar-se de um modelo mecânico, de funcionamento básico e sem nenhum recurso extra, como múltipla exposição, flash embutido etc. Enfim é um aparelho durável, simples e robusto, sem a tecnologia eletrônica japonesa.”

In English: “I wish some information about the Russian camera Zenit 12XP: 1. Is the producer the same, who produces the Lubitel and Kiev; [..] 3. Is the 12XP popular in East-Europe and considered in other countries? ” –
[the answer]
”1. The Soviet cameras are produced in two or three factories in the Ex-USSR, as a form of cooperative. The brands can change, but the production technology is seemingly the same. [..] 3. The Zenit 12XP is widely used by professionals and amateurs in East-Europe. It is also used in Havana. The brand is considered, although it is a mechanic model of basic handling and without extra capabilities like multiple exposure, built-in flash etc.. Therefore it is a camera durable, simple and tough, without the Japanese electric technology.”

Yes just in Havana, but not in the Bay of Pigs!
Come on, who wrote the answer?
Fidel Castro or Michail Gorbatschow?
But our Brazilian journalist is an expert in East-Europe!
I think he watched the movie “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and saw Juliette Binoche as photographer in the streets of Prague in 1968, but she used a Praktica LTL.
Yes the LTL didn’t exist in 1968, but this is an other story, and even Hollywood isn’t perfect.

In the July/August 1990 issue of the magazine “Iris Foto”:
“Adquiri uma câmara Zenit. Gostaria de saber [...] onde adquirir o manual.” –
[the answer]
“A Zenit 11 e 12-XP funcionam basicamente iguais. [...] A Zenit é importado da União Soviética como câmara básica (somente o corpo da máquina e a objetiva). Lentes e acessórios não são importados, o que dificulta a agilidade do fotógrafo. [...] A representante da Zenit é a Focal [...]. É provável que ali você consiga o manual.”

In English: “I acquired a Zenit camera. I want to know [...] where I can acquire the manual.” –
[the answer]
“The Zenit 11 and the 12-XP perform essentially equal. [...] The Zenit is imported from the Soviet Union like a basic camera (just the body and the standard lens). Lenses and accessories aren’t import, which make the ability difficult for the photographer. [...] The representative of Zenit is Focal [...].Probably you can got there the manual.”

Now we know that Focal was the brazilian importer of the Zenits.
But some months later, the same question, but the answer is different:

In the November/December 1990 issue of the magazine “Iris Foto”:
“Adquiri uma câmara Zenit 11 e gostaria de saber: [...] 2. Onde posso adquirir o manual [...]?”–
[the answer]
“[...] 2. Para conseguir o manual, procure a importadora Zenit no Brasil, a Sosecal[...].”

In English: “I acquired a Zenit 11 and want to know: [...] 2. Where I can acquire the manual[...]?”–
[the answer]
“[...] 2. To got the manual, look for the importer of Zenit, [who is] Sosecal[...].”

You see the importer of Zenit in Brazil changed in 1990. But who are or were Focal and Sosecal?

Focal sold for example the Focal 35MF, a finder camera (found in the October 1982 issue of “Iris – fotografia, ideo e som”).
I think they didn’t make this camera, perhaps it’s like the story of Porst and Revue in Germany.
In the Brazilian photo magazine “Foto Mundo”, No.6, 1972 I found that Focal was in that time the exclusive distributor of Minolta cameras in Brazil. I found in the September 1996 issue of “Fotografe Melhor” that the technical service of Mamiya and Minolta was in this time Sosecal and in the “Iris Foto”, No.495, 1996 that they were the distributor of Minolta cameras in Brazil.
Further I found in the photo magazine “Foto Mundo”, No.5, 1971 that Sosecal was in that time the importer and distributor of Yashica cameras. In the October 1982 issue of “Iris – fotografia, video e som” I found that Sosecal was the distributor of Mirage cameras.

Yes the names Minolta, Yashica and Mirage you read once already in my report.

But where is BMA? What was the role of BMA in this story?

Be cool, it will come, but now back to the rubric “reader’s letter”.
In the December 1994 issue of the magazine “Iris Foto”:
“Tenho algumas dúvidas sobre a câmara Zenit 12XP. Há uma loja em Juiz de Fora (MG) que está comercializando objetivas daquela marca. Elas são falsas ou já existe a importacão do produto?[...]” –
[the answer]
“Segundo o cátalogo de produtos da Fonseca ICI, representante da Zenit, já estão à disposição dos usuários desses equipamentos as objetivas Zoom 18-28 mm com f/4.0 e 4.5; 28-70 mm, com f/3.5; e 4,5 com dispositivo macro; 35-70 mm com f/3.5-4.5, também macro; 70-210 mm macro com f/4.0-5.6; 28-200 mm macro com f/4.0-5.6 e 100-500 mm macro com f/5.6-7.1. Portanto, desde que tragam o certificado de garantia expedido pela empresa citada, as objetivas não são falsas.[...]”

In English: “ I have some doubts about the Zenit 12XP. There is a shop in Juiz de Fora (MG)which is trading lenses of this brand. Are they counterfeit or exist already the importation of this product? [...]” –
[the answer]
“According to the product catalog of Fonseca ICI, the representative of Zenit, the following zoom lenses are already at disposal for the users of this equipment: 18-28 mm with f/4.0 and 4.5; 28-70 mm, with f/3.5; and 4,5 with macro function; 35-70 mm with f/3.5-4.5, also macro; 70-210 mm macro with f/4.0-5.6; 28-200 mm macro with f/4.0-5.6 and 100-500 mm macro with f/5.6-7.1. Therefore, provided that they've the warranty certificate issued by the mentioned company, the lenses aren’t counterfeit.[...]”

Yes the importer of Zenit in Brazil changed one more time.
The right question now is:
Who is or was Fonseca ICI?

Fonseca ICI was in this time the importer and distributor of the following products in Brazil: Pentax, Hama, Tamron, Sunpak, Tiffen, Guest and Zenit (found in an advertising in “Iris Foto”, No.500, 1997).

But yes, there is one more question:
What, Zenit made zoom lenses?

A good question. I watched at the Zenit-Camera page. The only zoom lens they have got for M42 is the Granit 4.5/80-200mm.
But I didn’t find more zoom lenses there. Perhaps they built zoom lenses years ago? I found nothing about these Zenit zooms.

But I found extremely interesting stuff in the “Iris Foto”, No.495, 1996, namely three advertisings. Two advertisings by Guest, yes a firm which was imported and distributed by Fonseca ICI. The first advertising is from the Guest lenses. The advertising shows 5 lenses, a 2.8/28mm and four zoom lenses, all for K-Bayonet. The second advertising shows the Guest G4000, a SLR with K-Bayonet.

The slogan of this advertising is:
“Jóia rara.” In English: “rare Jewel.”

Yes, it is very rare, but there is a third advertising and this one is from Vivitar.
This advertising shows five Vivitar cameras: four point’n’shoot cameras and one SLR, the Vivitar V4000.
This Vivitar V4000 looks like the Guest G4000.

And this is very funny, both have got the “4000” in their names.
The “G” by Guest and the “V” by Vivitar, very curious.

We know that the Vivitar V2000 and V6000 were made by Cosina in Japan. Here you can find lists with some of the cameras which were made by Cosina but were sold under other brands:
1. at the end of the page.
2. Listing of Cosina made SLRs (it is a word-document).

The common features of the Vivitar V4000, the Vivitar V2000, the Vivitar V6000 and the Guest G4000 are very massive.

No, I don’t want to say, that Cosina made the Zenits in Brazil,
this theory is totally absurd.

But who was the official and exclusive representative in Brazil for Vivitar at this time?

Yes, BMA!

Okay this hyperlink between Fonseca ICI and BMA isn’t very intense, but we have the first link between them. The plot thickens.

The next thing which I found was an article in the “Iris Foto”, No.497, 1996, and this evidence rocks:

"Zenit visita São Paulo
– Além de mostrar seus últimos lançamentos durante a Photobrazil’96, o Diretor Presidente da Fonseca ICI Importação Comércio e Indústria, Nelson Fonseca, aproveitou a opurtinidade para receber a visita de dois altos executivos da empresa FTF Zenit, marca que representa há anos no mercado brasileiro.
Através desta parceria, são comercializadas as câmaras reflex, atualmente distribuídas em quatro modelos: 12XP, 122, 122K e 212K.
Salientando a importância do mercado latino-americano e, consequentemente da participação brasileira, os diretores Gennady Melnikov e Alexander Joucov aproveitaram a rápida viagem para discutir novos empreendimentos que querem realizar no mercado nacional.
Entre os assuntos em pauta, foi evidenciada a ídeia de atuar em novos segmentos, não só o fotográfico, como o médico e o da produção agropecuária, apresentando euipamentos específicos, com a tradicional qualidade da marca Zenit.
‘Confiamos e temos muitas esperanças que em 1997 possamos trabalhar como outras linhas de equipamentos, como visores noturnos, lupas e também com novidades na área fotográfica como as câmaras panorâmicas’, fala Melnikov.
Com sede na Rússia, onde localiza-se sua única fábrica, a Zenit existe desde os anos 60 e é representada na América Latina por duas empresas.
Uma delas, a General Supply, é a representante que do Chile faz os contatos diretamente com a empresa brasileira.”

In English:
Zenit visits São Paulo
– Further to show their new products during the Photobrazil’96, the Senior President of Fonseca ICI Importação Comércio e Indústria, Nelson Fonseca, took the chance to receive the visit of two high executives of the company FTF Zenit, a brand which is represented for many years on the Brazilian market.
A result of this partnership is trading of the SLR cameras, current the four models: 12XP, 122, 122K e 212K.
The managers Gennady Melnikov and Alexander Joucov underlined the importance of the Latin-American market and therefore the Brazilian participation. The enjoyed the fast journey to converse about new lines of business which they want to realize on the national market. The idea to develop new sectors was accentuated among the topics on the list, not only the photographic sector, but also the medical and the agricultural sector, presented by specific equipment with the traditional quality of the brand Zenit.
‘We have the confidence and the hope that we can work with other lines of equipments in 1997, like night scopes, magnifiers and also with innovations in the photographic sector like the panorama cameras.’, says Melnikov.
With standpoint in Russia, where their only factory is located, Zenit exists since the 1960s and is represented by two companies in Latin-America.
One of them, General Suplly, is the representative in Chile, which makes the direct contacts with the Brazilian company.”

Peng, what the hell is that?
Did you read one word about BMA and Zenits made in Brazil?

NO!

But wait a minute and read this article, which I found in the “Iris – A revista da imagem”, No.501, 1997
(Yes, the magazine “Iris” had some surnames in their more than 50 years history.):

"Fábrica nova
– A B.M.A. acaba de inaugurar, oficialmente, nova fábrica na Zona Franca de Manaus, com o objetivo de ampliar a produção e melhorar a qualidade das marcas que comercializa: Vivitar, Tron, Tasco e Zenit.
Com 5 mil metros quadrados de área construída, a empresa, que investiu cerca de 4 milhões de reais na construção, está em plena produção desde o início do ano.
Atualmente com 180 funcionários, incluindo a turma de São Paulo, a B.M.A. produz câmeras, flashes, filtros, binóculos, telescópios e outros equipamentos; cerca de 850 mil peças ao ano.
Com o novo espaço, a empresa prevê aumento do número de funcionários e, consequentamente, da produção de deve chegar a 1,3 milhões de peças anuais.”

In English:
New factory
– B.M.A. just now established officially a new factory in the Zona Franca de Manaus, with the target to enhance the production and to advance the quality of the brands which they are distributed: Vivitar, Tron, Tasco e Zenit.
On a developed area of five thousand square meters, the company, which invested approximately 4 million Reais in the construction, is in entire production since the beginning of the year.
At the moment with 180 employees, included the crew in São Paulo, B.M.A. produces cameras, flash units, filters, binoculars, telescopes and other equipment; approximately 850,000 pieces per year.
With the new space, the company anticipates an increase of the number of employees and, of course, of the production, which can reach 1.3 million pieces per year.”

Okay, we know that BMA makes and made the TRON cameras, but says this source that they also built the Brazilian Zenits?
Perhaps.

But what did Fonseca ICI in this time?
The Brazilian Zenit importer and distributor changed once more?

I don’t know, but in the “Iris – A revista da imagem”, No.517, 1998 is an article about the PhotoBrazil 1998.
There is the information:

“Fonseca ICI – relança as compactas da linha Vivitar e lança dois novos modelos da Zenit e da linha infantile Guest.”
In English: “Fonseca ICI – reveals the compact cameras of the Vivitar line and introduces two new models of Zenit and of the Guest child cameras.”

This means that Fonseca ICI was still in the Zenit business and now they were also in the Vivitar business.

And what means the article with “two new models of Zenit”?
Perhaps the Zenit 312M by KMZ and/or the Zenit 130 by Belomo?
Or the Zenit 12XSL or the "Zenit-Seagulls"?

The whole Brazilian Zenit history is byzantine.
Now I’m totally dazed and confused!
Where is the solution?

Now starts the abstract thinking, the counterfactual thinking, the holistic thinking, the joined-up thinking and the straight thinking...

The keyword is: Zona Franca de Manaus!

There BMA built their new fabric and on my Zenit 12XSL is also “Prod. Na Zona F. de Manaus” written, between “BMA” and “Indústria Brasileira”.
And the Goko/Frata UF2 Drive was also built in the Zona Franca de Manaus.

But what is the Zona Franca de Manaus?

Zona Franca de Manaus means in English “Free Economic Zone of Manaus”.

In simple words: a tax haven!

I found in the “Iris Foto”, No.418, 1988 an article about the Zona Franca de Manaus:

“[...]’Anualmente, a Zona Franca importa de US$ 600 milhões a US$ 800 milhões. Porém, indiretamente, faz com que o País deixe de importar cerca de US$ 5,5 bilhões ao ano’.
Dados da Suframa indicam, ainda, que para cada dólar importado, a Zona Franca adquire no mercado interno 3,1 dólares. [...]
Outra impressão bastante difundida no Brasil é a de que a Zona Franca é um grande foco de contrabando. ‘No porto de Manaus entram mercadorias importadas legalmente através de contas cedidas pela própria Suframa. Daí não haver necessidade nenhuma de se fazer contrabando na região’. [...]
os benefícios concedidos às indústrias da Zona Franca, como incentivos fiscais, isenção de impostos de importação e exportação e de outros tributos federais, estaduais e municipais que resultam, segundo a Suframa, em economia de 25% no custo final do produto em relação aos de outras regiões do Brasil. [...]”

In English:
“[...]’Yearly the Zona Franca imports [goods of] US$ 600 million to US$ 800 million. Nevertheless, indirect, this brings the country to cancel the importation of [goods in the value of] approximately US$ 5.5 billion per year’.
Dates of the Suframa declare, yet, that for each imported US-Dollar, the Zona Franca gains on the national market 3.1 US-Dollar. [...]
Another considerable and common impression in Brazil is that the Zona Franca is a great stronghold of contrabandism. ‘Imported goods arrive legally in the harbor of Manaus straight through the ceded bills of the Suframa. Therefore there isn’t a need to do contrabandism in this region’. [...]
the conceded benefits for the industries in the Zona Franca, like tax incentives, the liberation of taxes on imported and exported products and other federal, state and municipal taxes, reveal, after the Suframa, the savings of 25% to the end costs of the product in relation to other regions of Brazil. [...]”

Remember now my words that perhaps the parts of the Brazilian Zenit 12XSL came from Belomo, that perhaps BMA built the parts in Brazil together or perhaps just made the head and bottom cover with the name “12XSL” and “Indústria brasileira” and put them on the semi-finished body of the camera and perhaps the result is this camera.

The résumé is:

A Zenit made in Brazil? Perhaps, perhaps no.

The Zenit 12XSL is an enigma.
And every enigma needs a song and in this case it is the “Partido Alto”-version by Cássia Eller.


EDIT 18.12.2010: SEE PART 2 with the Zenit 12 PRO!

7 comments:

fejas said...

Just found your blog by accident. And what a wonderful accident it was. Congratulations on your great work!

fabricio said...

WOW! Thanks a lot!

Davide Tambuchi said...

very interesting article!

Roberto said...

Bacana essa pesquisa. Estou com uma 12xsl aqui. Aparentemente está funcionando, estou pensando em comprar um rolo e ver o que aparece.

RY said...

muito interessante.

Szymon Kupka said...

On my Zenit's 12XSL down cover is "Made in Belarus". What do You think about it??

fabricio said...

This is very interesting, but can be seen as a proof, that the 12 XSL was really built by Belomo in Belarus and not in Brazil.