For a long time after my Zenit TTL stopped working, it was always at the back of my mind to pick up another Russian camera to use the beautifully quirky Helios-44M 58mm f/2 lens with. Meanwhile, I had the chance to buy a very cheap Mamiya/Sekor 500TL which is not Russian but could be paired with both the Helios and Mamiya/Sekor 28mm (which I had adapted to use on my Pentax K1000 but not really enjoying the combination).
While I shot through more than a handful of rolls on the 500TL using the Helios lens, I always found the results… too good. I was ridiculously pining for photographs that were flawed but dreamy – something distinctive that only a Russian combination made me feel. In my search for that, I picked the lightest and cheapest camera available to me on eBay which torturously took more than three months to arrive in the midst of pandemic shipping and did not work as perfectly as the seller had claimed.
Long story short, the mirror does not stay in position after one pulls on the advance lever. Almost all of my photographs on this test roll were out of focus. I tried to look for a fix online and found someone on Reddit with the same problem on the same camera. The simplest thing to do without trying to repair it myself or sending it to the shop is to always focus before advancing the lever, which apparently I did enough times on my test roll to have a few photographs turn out at all.