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A beginer's trilema - Kiev, FED or a Zorki
Old 06-17-2017   #1
komunjist
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A beginer's trilema - Kiev, FED or a Zorki

Hi everyone!

I have recently gotten into film photography. I have an SLR - Praktica super TL, but I want to try out rangefinders. Since I am completely new to this I need some help I like mechanical caneras as well as watches, 'cause I don't like to depend on batteries and electronics, that is why i want to acquire a soviet camera.
I have spent all night going through the Kievs, Zorkies and FEDs, and now I am thinking about these three: Kiev4a, Zorki 4, and a FED 2, but I cannot settle.
I would like to buy a rangefinder because I am interested in street photography. Also I would like my camera to be reliable, although I know that the Soviet cameras have a lottery reputation
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Old 06-18-2017   #2
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So why not something Japanese? Their rangefinders are leap years past the commie cameras, and you can spend time taking pictures instead of asking what this or that problem is. And just because I have a bit of Scottish in me, they tend to be cheap!

Peter
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Old 06-18-2017   #3
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Have a look at what Oleg at http://www.okvintagecamera.com/about.html has on offer. He seems to have a good reputation. I love my Zorki 1. It works well and takes a good pic. My Kiev 4a however was another can of worms, ended up giving it away.
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Old 06-18-2017   #4
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Like any camera, Japanese or German ones, those three cameras you listed can be very reliable if they are properly used by previous owners and recently serviced. So find a good sample then you can expect them to click on for a couple of more decades.

I would recommend some models that I've had best experience with:
A pre-1970 Kiev-4a.
A Zorki-1c or 1d,
A Zorki-6
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Old 06-18-2017   #5
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There's a sticky I wrote, some years ago, on the pros and cons of the more popular models. It's at the top of this sub-forum.

To summarise, you need to decide which features are important to you. The Kiev has, for some people, awkward handling. The FED 2 has no slow speeds (i.e.under 1/30th). The Zorki doesn't have the most accurate finder. However, any of the three can give you great results - IF it's in good condition and serviced!
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Old 06-18-2017   #6
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Thank you all for answering.
I did not consider german ones, are there any cheap ones you would recomend?
I was going to do some street photography so I don't really need slower speeds.
The way I understand, and tell me if I got it wrong is that:
1. Kiev 4a, minus the awkward handling, is the best one but it is difficult to find one in good shape
2. FED 2 is simple but does what it can nicely
3. Zorki 4 has problems with slow speeds and isn't so reliable overall
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Old 06-18-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
Like any camera, Japanese or German ones, those three cameras you listed can be very reliable if they are properly used by previous owners and recently serviced. So find a good sample then you can expect them to click on for a couple of more decades.

I would recommend some models that I've had best experience with:
A pre-1970 Kiev-4a.
A Zorki-1c 1d,
A Zorki-6
I got an impression that Zorki 6 is really bad looking through reviews. It's interesting that you have a different experience. It fits my criterium - simpleness, but I thought that it is really bad...
Also, would you put Zorki 1c or 1d before FED 2, and why?

Last edited by komunjist : 06-18-2017 at 01:11. Reason: quoted the wrong message...
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Old 06-18-2017   #8
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Hi,

Looking at your list I would go for the FED 2 with a Jupiter-8 or Industar 61 (L/D). They handle well, if you like knobs to wind on, and have had a lot of thought go into the design. Also, you can get an instruction manual in English easily.

If you want a slightly more conventional camera (or less oddball) then look at the Zorki 6 for its lever wind, hinged back, fixed take-up spool and so on.

As others have said, it all depends on what the previous owners have done, or not done, to them. Experience tells me that buying a good looking one, putting a film through it and then sending it to Oleg will get you something as good as any of the other posher makes.

By the way, do that to a FED 1 and you'll get as near as you can to the 1930's Leica experience as you can without spending hundreds more.

Anyway, I'll wish you luck with your choices.

Regards, David
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Old 06-18-2017   #9
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Hmmm, talking of reviews, most of them are on the internet and are based on one second-hand camera bought from a stranger on an auction site. And the lies or otherwise told by the seller will influence the account.

You can read similar accounts of almost any make of camera from the highest to the lowest. Take my Leica M9 f'instance, although Leica did repair it for free (and the Digilux 2)...

And, judging by some of the questions people ask, most are sold without instructions and then screwed up by being used the wrong way. These are all elderly cameras and have their little foibles. Few know that you must not set the shutter speed before winding it on and cocking the mechanism, few know that you shouldn't go from 500 to B directly but should take the slow route and so on. And a lot of them expect a second-hand, 60 year old camera to behave like a brand new one because it cost as much...

Regards, David
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Old 06-18-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
]

I got an impression that Zorki 6 is really bad looking through reviews. It's interesting that you have a different experience. It fits my criterium - simpleness, but I thought that it is really bad...
Also, would you put Zorki 1c or 1d before FED 2, and why?
I'm not a repairman but I've successfully serviced several models at home. I shoot all my FSU RFs instead of just collecting them.

In my experience, FED-2 is the second most hyped FSU model on the Internet (with Zorki-4K being in the first place), and there are simply sooo many fed-2 that look good but are junks inside. I've had three and in the end I made one of them working.

Zorki-1 is a simple camera and a joy to use if you can get used to the bottom loading. It is so compact that it would be a camera staying in your bag or coat pocket all the time (with collapsible lens like Industar-22 or -50). That's why Leitz invented Leica. The separatde VF/RF is easier to use than I thought.

Being the end of the line model of KMZ's Zorki brand, Zorki-6 has a unique design: the shutter chamber is merged with the body chassis, so it doesn't have the four screws in the front face of the camera as you see on most other models. Fewer parts means fewer parts can go out of whack. Plus the Zorki-6 viewfinder is very well balanced: it has the brightness of Z-4, but the eye-point is much longer since the magnification is lower. I'm not an engineer but the parts inside Z-6 look more refined than the Fed-2 and -3.
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Old 06-18-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hmmm, talking of reviews, most of them are on the internet and are based on one second-hand camera bought from a stranger on an auction site. And the lies or otherwise told by the seller will influence the account.

You can read similar accounts of almost any make of camera from the highest to the lowest. Take my Leica M9 f'instance, although Leica did repair it for free (and the Digilux 2)...

And, judging by some of the questions people ask, most are sold without instructions and then screwed up by being used the wrong way. These are all elderly cameras and have their little foibles. Few know that you must not set the shutter speed before winding it on and cocking the mechanism, few know that you shouldn't go from 500 to B directly but should take the slow route and so on. And a lot of them expect a second-hand, 60 year old camera to behave like a brand new one because it cost as much...

Regards, David
Thanks David! I'm now leaning towards FED 2! What do you think of the Industar 26 lense?
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Old 06-18-2017   #12
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Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
I'm not a repairman but I've successfully serviced several models at home. I shoot all my FSU RFs instead of just collecting them.

In my experience, FED-2 is the second most hyped FSU model on the Internet (with Zorki-4K being in the first place), and there are simply sooo many fed-2 that look good but are junks inside. I've had three and in the end I made one of them working.

Zorki-1 is a simple camera and a joy to use if you can get used to the bottom loading. It is so compact that it would be a camera staying in your bag or coat pocket all the time (with collapsible lens like Industar-22 or -50). That's why Leitz invented Leica. The separatde VF/RF is easier to use than I thought.

Being the end of the line model of KMZ's Zorki brand, Zorki-6 has a unique design: the shutter chamber is merged with the body chassis, so it doesn't have the four screws in the front face of the camera as you see on most other models. Fewer parts means fewer parts can go out of whack. Plus the Zorki-6 viewfinder is very well balanced: it has the brightness of Z-4, but the eye-point is much longer since the magnification is lower. I'm not an engineer but the parts inside Z-6 look more refined than the Fed-2 and -3.
Thanks for the thorough answer! Unfortunately, here on the local photo market there are no Zorki 1s. There are a bunch of 4s, 6s, 3s, and Ss. But 1 seems to rare. Sadly, I cannot afford shipping so I have to satisfy myself with the offered.
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Old 06-18-2017   #13
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Only have a Zorki 4. My neighbour gave it to me after it spend years in his closet and was dragged all over the world and dropped a few times. Still works fine. I do like the viewfinder and its diopter correction. But the knob winder is a bit less fun. Otherwise a nice camera.
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Old 06-18-2017   #14
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Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thanks David! I'm now leaning towards FED 2! What do you think of the Industar 26 lense?
The I-26 is a sharp lens with good contrast, although the later I-61 is better still. Either of them is almost guaranteed to need a re-lube to be smooth, however. Tne russian grease is awful after a few years. I have numerous examples of the I-26 and I-61 and not one of them didn't need a clean and re-lube of the helicals. Fortunately, it's not difficult to do, with a little common sense and some jeweller's screwdrivers (and the instructions!).

There are also plenty of fans of the Jupiter 8, which is a faster lens if not quite as sharp at large apertures.
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Old 06-18-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thanks for the thorough answer! Unfortunately, here on the local photo market there are no Zorki 1s. There are a bunch of 4s, 6s, 3s, and Ss. But 1 seems to rare. Sadly, I cannot afford shipping so I have to satisfy myself with the offered.
The 'S' is close to a Zorki 1 but with a flash sync capability and not quite such nice looks.

Of those you list, the 6 is probably the best if you don't need slower speeds. The VF is excellent, it has lever wind and a hinged back for easy loading, plus a fixed film spool that can't get lost. It can often be found with a Jupiter 8 (f/2) but the alternative I-50 (f/3.5) is slower but very sharp.

By the way, it's not true that the Zorki 4's slow speeds are troublesome. Only poor operators and lack of servicing causes them to fail - most often by people not setting the speed after cocking the shutter only.

The Zorki 3, with a separate slow-speed dial like the Leica, is supposed to have a poor reputation for reliability. I have seen a few comments that this is undeserved though. I have a later 3M, with combined dial like the '4' and that is reliable.
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Old 06-18-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thanks for the thorough answer! Unfortunately, here on the local photo market there are no Zorki 1s. There are a bunch of 4s, 6s, 3s, and Ss. But 1 seems to rare. Sadly, I cannot afford shipping so I have to satisfy myself with the offered.
There is one big advantage with buying locally: you will be able to actually hold the camera and assess the condition before you spend any money.

I will repeat wolves3012 suggestion to read the thread he started about this.
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=43469 Very good information.

As far as which camera to start out with, my answer to that is a series of questions for you. Once you have a good idea of your answers, that will help you to decide amongst the cameras you have mentioned.

Do you wear eye glasses? If you do, that may affect how well you like or do not like any camera's view finder. Also, most of these cameras have a reputation for scratching eyeglass lenses.

Do you want strap lugs? If the camera you are thinking of does not have them, then you will need to use the leather case and the strap the case has. Nothing bad about doing that but these cases are as old as the cameras and I would pay close attention to the condition of the case.

Are you thinking of other lenses than the 50mm? The Soviets made lots of 35, 50, 85, and 135mm lenses in both the screw mount and the Kiev mount. There were also some other lenses made. 21 and 28mm lenses, but those seem to be harder to find. And the screw mount versions are not as scarce as the Kiev mount versions.

Some of the cameras have what I consider to be a full range of shutter speeds (B- 1 second through 1/1000 second) and some do not. Which speeds are available is different between camera models and you will decide what will suit you.

Some of the later cameras and lenses have the various markings on the camera screen printed instead of engraved and those markings can wear off over time.

One last thing I will suggest: look carefully at the screws on the cameras. Ideally, they will not be bent or damaged. I personally will pass on any camera where the screw heads are damaged. I take that as a clear sign that some one who didn't have the correct tool has tried to adjust or fix something and I would not trust that a person who does that has the knowledge to correctly adjust or fix anything. Having the right tools, sadly, is no guarantee that they will have the knowledge but damaged screw heads are, for me, a deal breaker.

Good luck!
And welcome to RFF.

Rob
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Old 06-18-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thanks David! I'm now leaning towards FED 2! What do you think of the Industar 26 lense?
Hi,

It's a lovely lenses. I bought two once for a pound... Anyway, I use it from time to time on the M9 but mostly it sits on the FED 2 and the Jupiter-2 on the Zorki-6.

A minor point, the J-8 turns round as you focus and so needs one of those nice Chinese lens hoods with the holes in for the RF and the I-61's (I hope) just move in and out without twisting so a good choice for them is the USSR made rectangular hood.

You'll find all of them, lenses and bodies, are OK but you have to have your eyes open when buying and ear-mark some cash for a trip to Oleg to get them in 100% condition. Oleg's magic is worth paying for, my early Zorkis and FEDs behave like my Leicas and feel like them too.

The problem with USSR made stuff is usually the previous owner, if they were looked after and treated as they should be (like all cameras) then they are great.

Rob's warning about straps and screw heads is another good point to remember. It hits the nail on the head, so to speak... And I hope that translates well for everyone;-)

The only other warning I'd offer is that you should not expect built in meters to work.

Regards, David
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Old 06-18-2017   #18
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Do you have your eyes checked? You will need really good eyes for FSU speed dial. It is getting much more difficult with my family FED-2 comparing to how easy it was thirty years ago. I26 has 180 focus throw, it is for slow street photography.
If you will buy FED-2 kit as is on eBay, you are looking at curtains with holes, dried lubricant in camera and lens. Zorki, Kiev same thing.
Do yourself big favour get Leica II-III series instead with fifty lens or something like LTM Color Skopar 21, 28 or 35 with corresponding viewfinder. You could get fully working Leica LTM, but it is next to impossible to get working FSU camera now just by buying it on eBay.
Or get still working Olympus XA. Or Canon LTM RF camera.
If for some reasons you need FSU buy it from specialized on-Line store. There is one in NY and maybe still one in Russia.
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Old 06-18-2017   #19
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My personal experience is this: The Zorki 4 and Fed 3 are the "best" user cameras of the whole lot of soviet rangefinders.

Overall, I think the Fed 3 is maybe a slightly better machine than the Zorki 4, it's just that little bit smoother operating, better finished, and ergonomic. The Zorki 4 though has a larger, brighter viewfinder, and is usually easier to find. I prefer the older versions that have strap lugs.

I've also had a Zorki 4K but the lack of strap lugs and slightly less well made feel overall just sent me back to the regular 4.

I've tried a couple Kievs, and aside from being clumsy cameras, neither one works particularly well or feels particularly solid (heavy though! But heavy is not the same thing as feeling well made!).

Also tried a Fed 4 and 5b and thought they were perfectly awful.

Zorki 6 to me just felt like a less well made Fed 3.
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Old 06-18-2017   #20
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KoFe do you have any thoughts on Moskva cameras. Years ago I bought a model V, I think it was, but there was a problem with the lens. The RF was fine but the lens needed adjustment. I improved it but never got it working properly. Is there a good source for Moskva's?
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Old 06-18-2017   #21
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Unless you are a masochist, don't waste time on the Soviet era gear. The latest Russian lenses, such as the Jupiter 3+ marketed by Lomography, are excellent (and expensive). However, the Soviet era stuff was never made that great to start with, and by now it is in dire need of service.

Problems usually include flaking chrome, non-standard film registers (i.e. that lens may work only with that particular camera and with no others), shutters that taper and cap. Also, they tend to be quite heavy for their size.


I've had a Moskva 5 - lens was never good, and even after I had the entire camera overhauled, it was never really good. My 1946 Voigtlander RF is an order of magnitude superior to this.

FED -1 - had flaking chrome, but was nice. It's flaw was the non-standard lens register.

FED -2. I've really tried to like this camera, but just gave up after a while. The shutter tapered all the time (one side of the frame is darker than the other, due to uneven shutter exposure). Even after I sent it to FEDKA to get it serviced, it was still a problem. All that the FEDKA repairman did was to screw up the spring tension on the shutters so much that it was noticably heavy to wind up the camera. Also, the infinity locks of some of the 50mm lenses scratched up the metal surround around the lens mount.

Some things to note about street shooting:
You probably won't have time to focus. You will leave the focus at the hyperfocal mark for the aperture, and let depth of field carry the day.
As such, you basically want a camera that you will be adjusting the shutter speed only, to control the exposure.

I picked up from a European (Lithuania) RFF member on this board a Carena Computer II. This is a tiny rangefinder (made in Japan), with automatic exposure. You focus, it deals with exposures for you. I tried it at a parade in my home town a couple of weeks ago. The 38mm f/2.8 lens is excellent for street shooting. It is very sharp - better than any Soviet era lens. Exposures are also accurate. The price of this wonder from the 1977-1978 years was $20 US, which is 15.65 GB Pounds at the exchange rate today.
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Old 06-18-2017   #22
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I don't think Moskva-5 is good camera at all after having two of them. One was never in use because RF was dead from the factory. Another was prone to light leaks due to bad construction of the film windows on the back.
Moskva-2 is copy of Zeiss, but most likely with bad bellows. Some metal parts are very small and/or soft.
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Old 06-18-2017   #23
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Quote:
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The shutter tapered all the time (one side of the frame is darker than the other, due to uneven shutter exposure).
That's where KIEV kicks in. You don't need to worry about uneven exposure, which is very common in badly lubricated Leica-style shutters.
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A true story...
Old 06-18-2017   #24
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A true story...

Hi,

Some years ago I had problems with two cameras; a Zorki and Leica, not at the same time, luckily.

The Zorki had to be stripped down completely as it had pinholes in the blind(s) and the total cost came to just under 55 pounds.

The Leica also had to be stripped down but not as much because the lubrication had dried out and only a rusty part had to be replaced. It cost just under 150 pounds.

Both cameras went to the same workshop and the Leica was a model 1 so no RF etc to add to the expense. As the Zorki blind(s) had failed I asked the cost of new blinds for the Leica and was told 150 pounds for the blinds and an extra 50 for fitting them at the same time as the other work...

That was in 2008 and I guess prices have gone up since but these days I'd send the camera to Oleg as I know how good his workmanship is and his prices are a lot different.

I also had a modern Leica that failed badly (actually a small switch had failed), no one would touch it except Leica and they charged me 45 pounds for the estimate. The estimate included about 300 pounds for the lens alone and some other work they suggested would be sensible at the same time. I didn't get the work done but carried on using the lens as I could see nothing wrong with it.

In a nutshell, Leicas are dear to buy and dear to repair; FEDs and Zorkis are not. If everyone was sensible and treated their cameras the same regardless of what they cost, we would have a lot less problems. Alas, a lot of people think they can repair cheap cameras at home and dear ones have to be sent away. The result is that there are a lot of sad cheap cameras and good expensive ones but it has nothing to do with the cameras or their makers.

Worse still, people believe what the sellers tell them and that adds to the problems and, again, the makers get blamed. I am using cameras made in the USSR that are roughly 70 years old and they are turning out good quality prints and slides. So there can't be much wrong with what the factory turned out all those years ago.

I also have cameras from the top makers dating back easily 20 years that have failed completely and that cannot be repaired. I have yet to hear people talk about them the way they attack FED and Zorki.

Regards, David

PS I've also a Leica with bubbles under the chrome and had so called Zeiss bumps on another. I shudder to think what they would cost to put right...
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Old 06-18-2017   #25
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My two cents: A Kiev 4a or Zorki 4k.

The difficulty lies in assuring that you are getting one that works. With the Kiev you get the classic Contax experience...

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Old 06-18-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbiemer View Post
There is one big advantage with buying locally: you will be able to actually hold the camera and assess the condition before you spend any money.

I will repeat wolves3012 suggestion to read the thread he started about this.
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=43469 Very good information.

As far as which camera to start out with, my answer to that is a series of questions for you. Once you have a good idea of your answers, that will help you to decide amongst the cameras you have mentioned.

Do you wear eye glasses? If you do, that may affect how well you like or do not like any camera's view finder. Also, most of these cameras have a reputation for scratching eyeglass lenses.

Do you want strap lugs? If the camera you are thinking of does not have them, then you will need to use the leather case and the strap the case has. Nothing bad about doing that but these cases are as old as the cameras and I would pay close attention to the condition of the case.

Are you thinking of other lenses than the 50mm? The Soviets made lots of 35, 50, 85, and 135mm lenses in both the screw mount and the Kiev mount. There were also some other lenses made. 21 and 28mm lenses, but those seem to be harder to find. And the screw mount versions are not as scarce as the Kiev mount versions.

Some of the cameras have what I consider to be a full range of shutter speeds (B- 1 second through 1/1000 second) and some do not. Which speeds are available is different between camera models and you will decide what will suit you.

Some of the later cameras and lenses have the various markings on the camera screen printed instead of engraved and those markings can wear off over time.

One last thing I will suggest: look carefully at the screws on the cameras. Ideally, they will not be bent or damaged. I personally will pass on any camera where the screw heads are damaged. I take that as a clear sign that some one who didn't have the correct tool has tried to adjust or fix something and I would not trust that a person who does that has the knowledge to correctly adjust or fix anything. Having the right tools, sadly, is no guarantee that they will have the knowledge but damaged screw heads are, for me, a deal breaker.

Good luck!
And welcome to RFF.

Rob
Thank you!
I do wear glasses, strap lugs are good but I would not prioritise on them. Wasn't thinking of shooting with other lenses then the 50mm. I would say also that slow speeds are not a priority as well.

I have contacted a lot of sellers, most of them are like "this is my late father's camera, he used it a couple times and they were not used since" I only contacted those claiming that their camera works. Do you have any advices regarding my "quality control" which I have to perform before buying it other than the screws? I presume that the timer lever should be in the correct position as well.
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Old 06-18-2017   #27
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If you buy from a reputable seller of FSU gear, who states the camera has had a CLA before selling to you, you can expect a good experience. The camera will cost more, but less overall than buying a cheap one and sending it out after you find it needs repair.
I recommend FSU gear from Alex UKR
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Old 06-18-2017   #28
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Concerning earlier remarks about the Mockba-5 , I have had 3 of them and other than replacing the light seals on the doors , I had good experiences with them . I guess the size of a 6x9 negative helped . The typical tiny viewfinder never helped focusing , however it was only when comparing the results against my Mamiya 7 that I had any reason to question the optics ( I believe that's high praise ) . I have no experiences with the earlier models that Ko-Fe has used and remarks are better cameras . Peter
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Old 06-18-2017   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thank you!
I do wear glasses, strap lugs are good but I would not prioritise on them. Wasn't thinking of shooting with other lenses then the 50mm. I would say also that slow speeds are not a priority as well.

I have contacted a lot of sellers, most of them are like "this is my late father's camera, he used it a couple times and they were not used since" I only contacted those claiming that their camera works. Do you have any advices regarding my "quality control" which I have to perform before buying it other than the screws? I presume that the timer lever should be in the correct position as well.
The self timer and lever should work.
Basic check for me is:
Are any of the vf/rf windows cracked or scratched?
Can you see the rf patch when you look through the rf or rf/vf window?
Does the patch seem to move and does the camera seem to focus correctly?
Are any of the knobs and controls wobbly or loose or out of place? Are they all present? If there is a collar to go around the rf window, is it present?
If there are strap lugs are they worn or loose?
Is the back of the camer well fitting and not bent or dented?
Any major dents on the reso of the body?
Is the lens damaged in any obvious way?
Any rust or loss of chrome or paint?--There likely will be some chrome or paint wear, this is not, for me, automatically a problem, it depends on how much and/or if the wear is consistent with use. Some wear like this is a mostly positive sign since it indicates to me that at some point, the camera worked well enough to be used.
After the visual check, I will, if still interested, then see how the functions of the varied controls appear to work.
Wind on and see how that feels. Is it smooth or not, does it hesitate or require excessive force? Fire the shutter. Do the speeds seem to sound correct? Particularly the slower speeds; you should be able to clearly hear the differences. This does not mean they are necessarily correct.
Does the lens unmount and mount easily? Most screw mount FSU lenses
do not have click stops but does the aperture control move easily and does the aperture change appropriately? The Industar-61 does have click stops, are they working as they should?
Is there major scratching to the front element? Is the rear element scratched or chipped? If present, are the filter threads damaged?
Does the back open or come off easily? Is the inside of the camera generally clean? Is there a take up spool?--this one is important!
Watch how the shutter curtains move when winding on and firing--how you will do this will depend a bit on the camera, the bottom loading cameras you will not be able to watch from the back side, for the others watch from both sides--except, I think, the Zorki 5 I seem to recall that camera must not be fired without a lens attached. When winding on, there should not be any visible gap or light coming through.
Where you can look for pinholes or other deterioration of the curtains.
The movement across the frame should be even. For Kiev cameras, do the ribbons controlling the shutter look to be in good condition?

Is the seller offering a return privilege? Because, once you've checked this stuff as best you can, the real proof of functionality will be how do your negatives and prints look. A test roll will, hopefully, show any light leaks, or not, and will demonstrate shutter problems, or not. And will show if there are issues with focusing.

Alternately, if your a gambling sort of person, find the best looking one at the cheapest price, buy it and run some film through it. And be prepared to have it serviced.

Frankly, I strongly suggest being prepared for that in any case: the newest FSU camera is probably 30 years old by now and some of them are 70 plus years old.
That said, finding a good repair person is a really good idea.
And I will unhesitatingly Recommend Oleg; see here:
http://www.okvintagecamera.com/

He has consistently done very good work for me and his prices are reasonable.

You may also be better off buying directly from him--email and ask either if he has a particular camera you're considering or ask him what he has available. That has been serviced.

From you earlier posts I got the impression that you were going to be buying locally to you? If that is indeed what you're planning, talk to other photographers around you--they should have some insight about the local sellers.

Some one saying " "this is my late father's camera, he used it a couple times and they were not used since" is not truly an indication of whether the camera works or not, it is very much like sellers saying " the camera worked before I stopped using it." I have a camera my younger brother gave me recently, it worked before he put it away, too. He put it away because he broke it!

Have you been happy with the Praktiflex you have now? If so, I'd suggest asking who ever you got that from--if it was a dealer, any way, and seeing if they have any of the cameras you are considering.

Regards,
Rob
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Old 06-18-2017   #30
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Hi,

A dealer is your best bet for almost 100% assurance. I have however had so called CLA'd ones that I have doubts about. The worst are done with a can of WD40... Cameras and lenses should be dry where you can see.

Anyway, back to the question; you can wind on the camera and fire the shutter. Things should feel smooth without stiffness and jerking when the shutter fires. Change shutter speeds when wound on only and try and find out if they know that.

Check the aperture ring turns smoothly and lines up OK. Check the focus, smooth should be the word. Unscrew the lens and cock the thing again and look at the blinds, they should meet and move over smoothly and upright. Then fire on a slow and fast speed and watch. They should not be crinkly or damaged.

Take off the back/bottom and see if there's a take up spool and no rust. Also look at the sprockets turning.

Ask about the instruction book, passport and box. It's always a good sign if they are there. Ditto other lenses (in black plastic tubs), filters, cable releases, lens hoods and so on. Minor but a good sign is a lens cap with the same logo as the lens.

Try the RF at infinity on a TV aerial and at a few feet away. Look for vertical and horizontal alignment where expected. The VF should be clear with a slight tint to it and a different one to the RF bit.

FWIW, missing take up spools shouldn't break the bank but there are one or two different types, not that sellers know that, and the dearest part to replace is the knurled shutter button guard on a FED 1...

Regards, David
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Old 06-18-2017   #31
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Get a zorki 4 with a jupiter 8, not a 4k. Try for an earlier one with engraved markings not printed, and one with strap lugs. Buy it from Oleg, he won't let you down. Don't listen to the cork sniffers who tell you not to buy soviet gear. I love my Zorki 4, it's a joy to shoot and the diopter means I can actually focus properly. I got a very nice Zorki1 off eBay and it's a jem with its I-22 collapsible. Takes great pictures, feels good in the hand, and although there is a 160deg throw on the focus tab the last 90 degrees are for 1-1.5 meters or so and that's never slowed me down shooting on the street, especially since I'm often zone focusing with it. Big plus is it can slip into your pocket.

They are also very simple cameras so with a bit of patience and very small screw drivers you can easily work on them yourself as long as you follow the excellent guides in the FSU sub forum.

Whatever you get just have fun with it
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Old 06-18-2017   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thank you!
I do wear glasses, strap lugs are good but I would not prioritise on them. Wasn't thinking of shooting with other lenses then the 50mm. I would say also that slow speeds are not a priority as well.

I have contacted a lot of sellers, most of them are like "this is my late father's camera, he used it a couple times and they were not used since" I only contacted those claiming that their camera works. Do you have any advices regarding my "quality control" which I have to perform before buying it other than the screws? I presume that the timer lever should be in the correct position as well.
What if curtains have tiny pinholes, which is common for old FSU cameras? You not going to see it on inspection. And they could develop within one month, after seller was using it last month.
Or lubrication dried out inside of shutter drums. You are not going to see it. And you can't fix it with just screwdrivers and dumping WD-40 in it.
Or lens is not aligned with RF. You are not going to see it. You'll see it on negative after developing only.
Kiev? I have perfectly working 4 from 1966. Even lightmeter was working. Sharp lens, no light leaks. Guess what? Shutter ribbon broke on third roll. It was just rotten over time. And guess what? It is not just screwdrivers to fix it...

This is from user perspective. I rebuild some FSU cameras and I CLA'd many FSU ltm lenses. And not only this. I do shot street with FSU cameras and lenses. And not just on May 1st.
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Old 06-18-2017   #33
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Getting into FSU gear is at time a nice, inexpensive way to see if a particular style of rangefinder camera suits what you want to do with it, and if it doesn't work out, then you didn't spend a fortune on some highfalutin camera that you'll never get your investment back on.

Yes, FSU cameras can be frustrating, exasperating, and just downright junk at times. But one that works properly is a joy to use. Just how many purchases you have to make to get to that point is the question.

With FSU cameras, there is no facility built-in for using different focal length lenses, so if you are not shooting with the standard 50mm, you will need an auxiliary finder that mounts in the accessory on top of the camera to be able to properly frame the shot. You would need an M series Leica for a built-in variable viewframe finder, or a Leidolf C35. Neither is cheap, because Leica is Leica, and Leidolf is rare.

Past all that, if you want the feel of a classic Leica, go with a Zorki-1, preferably a D model. It has a much better body than the earlier Zorki's (cast, instead of stamped plates), being the second to last body in that style it's going to be newer, and is a close copy of the Leica IIC. The early FED's are problematic (which is why the Zorki company was formed in the first place, to make better cameras).

Now if you like innovation in your cameras, Zorki and FED both started making changes to the Barnack design with their next models. FED came out with a wide base rangefinder combined with the viewfinder on the model 2 which is good for focusing accuracy. I'd look for a 2C, just in case you want to do some flash work (has built-in bulb sync), and need a delay timer.

The Zorki-3 is like a model 2 on steroids, with it's large viewfinder. But it adds the slow speeds missing on the earlier models, and a removable back for easier film loading. It's also more solid feeling than the earlier models.

The Zorki-4 moves the slow speeds from the secondary dial to the main dial on top the camera, so it's easier to use in that way. Later versions with the printed logo and shutter speeds are to be avoided.

Skip the Zorki-5, because there is the Zorki-6. It adds the long base rangefinder, flip open film back, M-X sync so you can use bulb or electronic flash, and a lever winder.

If you get a Kiev, it could lead to a Contax IIa/IIIa, which could then lead to a Nikon S2/SP/S3, which could then lead to a Voigtlander Bessa R2C (Contax mount) or R2S (Nikon S mount). But only the Kiev (or a pre-war Contax II/III) will allow you to use the Jupiter-12 lens. If you graduate to the others, you will have to get different 35mm lenses.

The lenses for the Kiev mount work fine on the Contax pre-and-post war models (with the exception of the J-12 on post-war versions). The lenses on FED and Zorki cameras will need some work to be able to use them properly on any other LTM camera, such as shimming to make them focus properly.

There are plenty of Japanese LTM cameras that are wonderful expressions of the German designs, and sometimes are high quality without the Leica price. Canon has a long line of models that will fit your every need (I prefer the P) along with excellent lenses. Nicca also made copies of the Leica III series that are highly regarded (some branded as "Tower" for Sears Roebuck) and used Nikon lenses. Minolta and Aries both had interchangeable lens models in their earlier days.

My recommendation is a Zorki-6, since you want to do street. It's faster action with a winding lever instead of a knob, has a great viewfinder, and is quicker to load with it's swing-open back. Get one matched with an I-26M lens with either lever or ring focus, or if you want to pocket it, the collapsible I-22. If more speed is needed, look for the Jupiter-3 f1.5, or Jupiter-8 f2.

Just my long winded 2 worth.

PF
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Old 06-19-2017   #34
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Hi,

No one seems to have mentioned the FED 3; it's big like the FED 2 but has a lever wind, shorter RF base and the back comes off like a Contax II or Kiev. The take-up spool also removes and can be lost.

As PF says, the Zorki 1 improved on the FED 1 and both improved on the Leica model II that they were based on (I'm being polite when I say based on). In fact after a couple of years' production the 1938 FED's had started to move away from the Leitz design with minor improvements. The Zorki took it a little further but they were rivals to FED in the post war years.

Another minor point, the position of the shutter button varies between models. You've probably seen its position on the FED 2 but some USSR made cameras had it in the middle of the wind on knob. That might be odd/awkward and make you miss a shot.

A minor point, again, and of little interest to street photographers, is that the FED 1 like the Leica II needed a special adapter for use with a cable release, they can be expensive or dirt cheap.

Talking to various photographers in what was the USSR I came to the conclusion that the minute they got the chance the stash of dollars under the mattress was swapped for a Japanese SLR (film and digital). So the "it was my father's and unused since ..." stories could well be true. And the cameras will need the agricultural lubrication replaced and, perhaps, the blinds but the result will be a very pleasant camera to use.

A final BTW, I was using my old Contax II not so long ago, like the Kiev it is a bit of a cumbersome lump and awkward/complex to use. I think it/they is/are best seen as a collectors item for occasional use.

Regards, David

PS When you've recovered from all this input, please let us know what you decide and tell us what you think of it.
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Old 06-19-2017   #35
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Thank you all for help!
Instead of choosing one, as I read all your posts, I ended up wanting all three. I guess it's what happened to all of you guys
The situation here is as follows: there are two FED 2. One has a timer, the other one does not. There is a bunch of Zorki 6, some even coming with a box since they were merely used or not used at all. Tons of Zorki 4 as well, but I'm not focusing on that one. There's a few Kiev 4a, if I understood correctly I should avoid ones that have black plastic on the timer, so I focused on the solely metal ones. There's a girl in the neighbourhood that sells her father's Kiev, so I'm gonna check that one out. However I do have a question about Kiev's: a lot people here do not know which model they have, since it is not written on them, so do Kievs 2 and 3 have the same looks as Kiev 4a and how do you distinct them if they look the same?
Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 06-19-2017   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by komunjist View Post
Thank you all for help!
Instead of choosing one, as I read all your posts, I ended up wanting all three. I guess it's what happened to all of you guys
The situation here is as follows: there are two FED 2. One has a timer, the other one does not. There is a bunch of Zorki 6, some even coming with a box since they were merely used or not used at all. Tons of Zorki 4 as well, but I'm not focusing on that one. There's a few Kiev 4a, if I understood correctly I should avoid ones that have black plastic on the timer, so I focused on the solely metal ones. There's a girl in the neighbourhood that sells her father's Kiev, so I'm gonna check that one out. However I do have a question about Kiev's: a lot people here do not know which model they have, since it is not written on them, so do Kievs 2 and 3 have the same looks as Kiev 4a and how do you distinct them if they look the same?
Thanks again for all the help!
Check http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?-1887505578
For detailed models/versions information.

I envy that you live at a place with such high resourcefulness of market regarding second hand camera! I can only find cheap plastic PS camera where I live.
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Old 06-19-2017   #37
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FED-2 with timer might have larger film advance wheel. If or then FED-2 like this is serviced, film advance is done by single stroke of index finger. It is faster and much more pleasing than this film advance apparatus on Zorki-6.

Are you after street photography with RF or after Kievs? Those cameras never ment to be quick to focus, but precise. For street photography you need it quick and easy. But it is not with Kiev.

Do you realize that buying three FSU "fathers" cameras means service for three cameras? If you could send with someone camera to Kiev, I have contact for Kiev service. It is not for sending to Kiev, but for brining in and taking after in Kiev.
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Old 06-19-2017   #38
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Darn you guys! Now I'm thinking about getting a Kiev.
I'm one of the "cork (glue) sniffers" who initially argued against Soviet cameras too.

From my web browsing yesterday, here's what I've surmised.

Kiev II and III ARE basically Contax II and III.
They often contain German parts, as these were made after all the German Zeiss items were carted off to the Ukraine, along with the German workers.
These have no flash synch port.
Stabilizer foot, like Contax - prevents camera from falling down when placed on a table.
Cyrillic lettering only "KNeB" (backwards N).

IIa and IIIa have flash synch ports, and may still contain genuine Contax parts. The PC socket is under the viewfinder window.
Lettering may be Cyrillic only, or with both Russian and English "Kiev".
The III and IIIa have a big selenium meter on top, metal self timer lever.
The rewind knob is built up, and rises to the level of the top of the meter housing.

The 4 has a slimmer meter box, and revised rewind knob and meter knob which are flatter and smaller. It still has a metal self timer lever.

4a is meterless, like the IIa which is its predecessor.
Whereas the IIa has a dished rewind knob, the 4a has a serrated button in the middle of the rewind knob which has a bit of a domed appearance.
Up to 1974, the top speed was still 1/1250.
After 1974, the top speed marked was 1/1000.

4am - meterless, had black shutter speed dial face, a new black rewind knob, and black plastic insert on the self timer lever.
Hot shoe for flash, as well as PC port.
Top shutter speed 1/1000
In my view, ugly compared to its predecessors.


4m - selenium metered version of 4am.

You can see all of these on fedka's web site, or at http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?-1887505578
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Old 06-19-2017   #39
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My personal input: the Soviet cameras can be excellent or terrible.

Case in point: I own both a FED Micron 1 and Fed Micron 2, and they are fabulous cameras, they work better than some Japanese rangerfinders I have owned.

+1 for the Kiev 2a, and +1 for the Zorki-4. My 1950'a Kiev2 has been extremely reliable. Excellent build quality for both. The only issue with the Zorki-4 (from ~1972) is the rangefinder needed calibration, which wasn't a big deal. Took me 5 minutes to calibrate it.

I would definitely purchase from a reputable dealer. You will pay more than eBay or some other source, but at least the camera has been inspected and will come with a return policy.

My Kiev 2a, very much like the Contax IIa:



My Zorki-4:

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Old 06-19-2017   #40
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I have a Kiev 4 that cost me about $50. It came to me supposedly working, having been fooled with a bit by previous owner(s). I fooled with it some more trying to get the rangefinder to line up. I think they're lovely cameras, and the 50mm Helios and Jupiter lenses are so cheap, it's a shame I don't get more use out of it.

I'll echo the sentiment expressed upthread, what I should have done is find a reputable dealer who would guarantee the camera, paid $100 or more for it, and had a reliable machine. Instead I went cheap, and now it's not that great.

It's been a couple of years, but I saw a comment on this forum about these Soviet cameras, and the tendency of people to not treat them with respect, dink around with them because they are cheap, and then complain when they don't work right. If people put the money in a CLA like they do with Leicas, then these cameras, the best of the bunch at least, would be very reliable and as capable as any Leica.

If you really just want a cheap rangefinder, get a working Yashica Electro and a battery, and start shooting.
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