Krasnogorsk is a suburb of Moscow, USSR and the company Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory "KMZ" (Z for Zavod) is named after it's location. The company logo is a trapezoidal prism, usually with an arrow. The company also makes the Zorki camera and made the Zenit 35mm cameras.
The F-21 was made from 1951 until the 1980s. It is a small camera with a spring motor film advance resembling a miniature Robot camera. Originally made for the KGB in a separate area of KMZ they lack a view finder indicating their special purpose use. It is slightly smaller and lighter than the MF-1, has the same technical specifications, with modification to the speed dial, to the button to wind the motor and to the film cartridge.
Either side of the camera are small ears that allow it to be latched into a position in cases, purses, camera cases, behind coat buttons, belt buckles and inside larger cameras.
The cameras are often found complete with spare double cartridge in special metal cases. The camera should have a serial number on the front above the lens. Some have been milled out,
The 35mm film slitter cuts film to 21mm but standard film is too thick to fit the confined space of the magnesium cassette. Ultra thin base film is needed. The image size is half-frame, but in the same horizontal position as standard horizontal position as with 35mm cameras.
The MF-1 is a very small 18x24mm camera with clockwork motor drive used by the Russian Secret Service MVD with special film cassette, with interchangeable f/2 28mm lens with speeds of 1/10 - 1/100, successor of the famous UFA and forerunner of the F-21, extremely rare.
Type 1 with f/2.0 28mm fixed focus
Type 2 with f/2.0 28mm focusing lens (fixed at infinity by a removable screw)
Type 3 f/2.9 lens and TTL light metering (Neon)
F-21 Button Camera
The button camera is a concealed version of the F-21 in a special housing with remote release attachment to the front of the camera. The camera remains hidden with the lens concealed by a coat button. The centre of the button splits open when the remote is squeezed which simultaneously fires the shutter of the camera.
Type 1 of the button cradle, the diaphragm is controlled by a lever in the corner of the cradle.
Type 2 The diaphragm setting can be made from the remote release handle.
Type 3 button disguise was modified to allow for metering through a tiny hole near one edge of the button, since later versions of the F-21 had CdS metering.
Other versions of concealed camera housing have been offered for sale, but may represent enterprising East European workshops converting standard F-21 into more saleable spy cameras.
Neozit (Neotsit, Neocyt)
The modern, 1970 spy camera, updated version of the F-21, now with a plastic body, relatively quiet electric motor film advance, electric remote release. The batteries are stored in the remote release. Shutter speeds 65,130,250,500
Neozit Button Camerae
Consists of a Neozit camera in a special cradle with a coat-button front. Remote cable release contains three rechargeable button cells. The camera end of the electric release cable has two small holes that allow a special battery tester to verify the charge condition of the batteries. Set with camera, button cradle and release cable $600-900.
The Zenit-MF-1 camera, introduced in 1994 at Fotokina, is intended to take pictures from 3m to infinity on a perforated film 21 mm in width and 0.16 mm in thickness. Film rewinding and shutter cocking are carried out automatically. 28mm lens, f/2.8, 14 frames 18x24mm, shutter 1/10, 1/30, 1/100, spring drive. Dimensions 77x41x55 mm and weighing 180g.
Minox Leica M3 8x11 camera next to the equally as small F-21 with 18x24mm film.
Last updated 16th September 2005