Somewhere along the line when I was a kid, I got interested in photography. I can't remember when it first really started, but I do remember the first camera I was given: a Zenit B. It was heavy as anything and, at first, a riddle to unravel.
Even by the standards of when I was using it, this thing was as pared back as you could get.
There was no light metering built in, so you needed to use a separate, handheld light meter to take constant readings, adjusting as you went along. There were no memory cards, so you had to rely on the 36 shots you had on the film, changing rolls when you ran out, manually winding the film back into the canister. There was also no way of checking what your photos looked like until they were developed. And the focus was manual, of course (and you had to stop the aperture down manually for every photo, too - pretty laborious).
Stamped on the underneath of the lens: 'Made in the USSR'.
But the lens itself? 58mm f2, clear as day. An indestructible body that could survive a fall from a serious height (probably because it was made out of old Russian tractor parts or something). And the results? Quality photographs and a real grounding in the essentials of photography.
I still have it and, once in a while when I have few rolls of film handy, I take it out for a spin.
To read a bit more about the Zenit B, click here.