Modified Soviet spy camera designed to shoot through walls is up for auction


We’ve seen our fair share of weird and impressive cameras go up for auction over the years, but this latest one might just be one of the most interesting we’ve come across. On Catawiki, an online auction marketplace, there’s a live auction listing for a KMZ Krasnogorsk Zorki 4 ‘reflex’ C166 (NIMFA-3) camera, a Soviet spy camera designed to photograph through small drilled holes in walls to capture compromising photos.

As spotted by Kosmo Foto, the modified 35mm rangefinder camera has a special lens assembly, decked out in stealthy black, that adds a reflex-style prism to the rangefinder camera. The kit for sale also includes various extension tubes to change the length of the lens. The spy camera is listed as being in ‘good’ condition.

Image credit: Catawiki

As of now, no bids have been placed on the camera. The starting bid is €2,400 ($2,710 USD), excluding shipping and auction fees. Catawiki’s ‘Expert’s estimate,’ determined by Frederic Loquin, states that the camera kit is worth between €5,000-7,000 ($5,647-7,906).

Image credit: Catawiki

The Nimfa-3 spy camera was not the only specialized rangefinder camera designed for spycraft. Various Soviet and Soviet-aligned security and spy agencies used many different specialist cameras for their work. The Guardian wrote about many Cold War-era spy cameras that were sold at auction in 2018. Cameras include some hidden in bags, umbrellas, cigarette boxes and more. Clandestine activity birthed some truly wild cameras.

Image credit: Catawiki

It’s difficult to know how rare the modified Zorki-4 rangefinder is. However, the rangefinder camera at its core was mass-produced by Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod near Moscow in the former USSR from 1956-73. Per Camerapedia, the Zorki-4 was the first Zorki camera to be exported in large quantities to western nations. The Zorki-4 was sold with either a Jupiter-8 50mm F2 prime or an Industar 50mm F3.5 lens. The camera has an M39 screw mount.

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