Film: 120/medium format
Format/Frame: 6 x 6 / 6 x 4.5 cm

Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskii Zavod (KMZ) was the Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk, a company that specialized in the production of optical equipment for the Army of the former Soviet Union (USSR) and special cameras for espionage. The company was founded during WWII (1942) in the western Moscow suburb Krasnogorsk, on the base of evacuated optical-mechanical plant No. 69. 

—Crypto Museum, The Netherlands
As of late, this “cheap camera” is no longer cheap. (April 2022 listing on eBay)

My Insights on the KMZ Yunkor

Now this is a rare camera, and from everything I can tell, even more rare than when I purchased it back in 2004. So rare, there is very little to read about it on the internet. That said, there are other “versions” of this camera with different names that seem to have been manufactured in other countries—in particular the Pouva Start that came from Dresden, East Germany (GDR) as early as 1952. Given the reputation of Russian manufacturers for knock-offs (i.e., Zorki, Fed, Kiev, etc.) of more popular (and expensive) German models, the Yunkor is likely a knock-off of the Pouva Start.

Who would have thought there was a market for a knock-off of a cheap, entry-level camera?

I’m unsure how I came about wanting this camera, but I did purchase it via eBay from a seller in Ukraine—when it was thriving and not being destroyed by Putin and his Russian minions. My guess in 2022 is that I had seen or read something about it on Flickr as it was being heralded as a “Russian Diana.”

I’d have to go back and look at the price I payed back then. I’m sure it was under $100, but I’m confident I paid over $50 too.

The sexy periscoping lens caught my eye. Unlike a Diana, you can slip the Yunkor camera into your coat pocket—akin to a folding camera.

Built by Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works (Красногорский механический завод, Krasnogorskiy Mechanicheskiy Zavod). KMZ made many different cameras, but the Yunkor was surely the most obscure of the bunch given the scarcity of information available, unlike the other more popular models such as the Moskva and Iskra folders, the 35mm rangefinder Zorkis, and the SLR Zenits.

Lastly, there doesn’t appear to be any consensus on how the name of this camera is spelled in English or even what it might translate to. I’ve listed it here as “Yunkor,” but there are other spellings such as “Yunkoyu,” and “Junkor.” Junkor might seem like a fitting name since this is considered in the same class as Holga and Diana cameras which are arguably “junk.”

KMZ Yunkor