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Lubitel Collection

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Lubitel / Lubitel 1

This is an original Lubitel, also known as a Lubitel 1. Often described as being closely modeled on the pre-war German Voigtlander Brilliant range, this Lubitel TLR pictured below was the first in a series which were made right up into the 1990s.

The Lubitel was actually not directly derived from the Voigtlander Brilliant, but from the
Komsomolets TLR which in itself was a very close copy of the Voigtlander Brilliant V6. Click HERE for a potted history of how these cameras relate to each other.

This example is from about 1952 and is especially nice as its inscription is in Russian. It was bought from a very good classic camera shop in the UK,
Arundel Photographica.

Technical Specifications

Photo of Lubitel TLR 
This picture was taken with a Minolta 7000i camera.

Lubitel 2

These 2 cameras are both examples of the Lubitel 2. The one on the left is an early one, probably from the 1950s or 1960s. The type illustrated on the right had been introduced at least by 1971, however this example is probably as late as 1977. As well as the obvious differences in the inscription, the earlier one has the shutter speeds, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and B (ZT-5 shutter), whilst the later one has the shutter speeds 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and B (ZT-8 shutter). Whether shutter timing actually various between the two is questionable.

The Lubitel 2 appeared in the 1960 edition of "The British Journal Photographic Almanac", where the following was said of it:

A notable attempt to provide a genuine twin lens reflex camera at a very low price ... The Lubitel [2] is capable of taking quite satisfactory pictures and is good value ...

The price given (pounds, shillings and pence) was 6 13s 9d, plus 1 1s 8d purchase tax. This equates at Year 2000 prices to about 107!

Technical Specifications

Photo of early Lubitel 2 TLR

Photo of late Lubitel 2 TLR

Lubitel 166

This is a Lubitel 166. Very often confused with the much more common Lubitel 166U - the Lubitel 166 is a camera unique in its own right.. Sometime around 1976 the Lubitel 2 was redesigned using a thermoplastic body and the resulting camera was named the Lubitel 166. One notable feature of the new thermoplastic shell was the use of spindles for both film and takeup spools. In the original bakelite body, the film spool just sat loose in a small compartment. According to Princelle this is the end of the story as the camera is otherwise the same as the Lubitel 2. However the camera is most definately NOT just a redesigned Lubitel 2 but as well as having a thermoplastic body also has other new features. The most notable is the lack of a red window, replaced by a proper film counter. Also the shutter is cocked by the process of winding on the film - not seperately like all other Lubitels.

This one dates from about 1979 and proudly displays it red and silver/white 1980 Moscow Olympics logo.

Technical Specifications

Photo of Lubitel 166 TLR 
This picture was taken with a Epson PhotoPC 650 camera.

Lubitel 166B

This is a Lubitel 166B. Introduced in around 1980, the Lubitel 166B is a simplified version of the Lubitel 166 and indeed is effectively a Lubitel 2 with a thermoplastic body. This example dates from around 1985. Unfortunately the Lubitel 166B retains the use of spindles for both film and takeup spools as introduced with the Lubitel 166. It also retains the Lubitel 166 back catch. Both features which have proved to be weak in actual use.

Technical Specifications

Photo of Lubitel 166B TLR 
This picture was taken with a Minolta 7000i camera.

Lubitel 166 Universal

This is a Lubitel 166 Universal, also known as a Lubitel 166U. Introduced around 1983 this camera was in production until at least the mid 1990s. Originally very similar to the Lubitel 166B, it features an improved back locking device and an insert to allow 6x4.5cm pictures as well. The use of spindles for the film spool was also dropped, either for reasons of cost or the fact they were fiddly and prone to problems! At some point in the models life it was redeigned and later 166U cameras are considerably lighter than earlier ones and vary in small details such as the strap mounts.

According to its paperwork, this particular example is from 1996 and is marked,  "MADE IN RUSSIA" and is one of the lighter ones. Many Lubitel 166U cameras are however are marked "MADE IN USSR".

Technical Specifications

Photo of Lubitel 166 Universal TLR 
This picture was taken with a Minolta 7000i camera.


Technical Specifications



  Lubitel 2 

  Lubitel 166 

  Lubitel 166B 

  Lubitel 166U 

Lens Type *

3 element (uncoated) T22

3 element (coated) T22

Focal Length

75mm (taking), 60mm (viewing)

Maximum Aperture

F4.5 (taking), F2.8 (viewing)

Film Type

120 Roll Film

Picture Size


6x6cm & 6x4.5cm


5 speed ZT-5 + B

ZT-5 or ZT-8


5 speed ZT-8 + B

Flash Sync


X at all speeds, M at 1/15 & B

Filter Size

27mm push on

40.5mm screw fit

Self Timer





When Made






*Note: The viewing lens on all models of lubitel appears to be uncoated

I've not taken many pictures with Lubitels - about 1 roll per camera so far. However my favourite 6x6cm picture was taken with one of my Lubitel 2s, I think probably the older of the pair:

Thanks to Ron Bishop and Mark Tierney who both identified the car as a 1958 Cadillac. Ron goes on to say that he thinks its an Eldorado or maybe a Cadillac De Ville. 1958 would tie in well with the camera - which dates from much the same time.

Lubitel 2 picture of 1950's American car

Detail portion of above Lubitel 2 picture

This is a closeup of the far left headlamp. Just to show the Lubitel is capable of decent quality even at the edge of the frame. I didn't record the aperture used - but it must be at least F8.

Click HERE for a brief guide to using the Lubitel.

For more practical information on using the Lubitel and lots of examples, here are a few places to go:
Yahoo Lubitel Group (well worth joining)
The Lubitel 166 Resource Page

Got a question or can't find the info you are looking for? Click HERE to contact us.

Click here for the Russian shelf

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All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.

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