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FSU Former Soviet Union RF This forum is for the Former Soviet Union rangefinder cameras, especially the many and various Fed, Zorki, and Kiev.

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Can't make up my mind
Old 12-15-2018   #1
Sega
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Can't make up my mind

Before I start this is not a for sale thread, please do not ask to buy it or swap for it.

A long time ago I bought this:


Whilst not quite the same, its resemblance to the Nikon S2 drew me in (mirror window is wrong side) as I couldn't afford a Nikon and liked the addition of the S2 in MGS Peace walker (its a game for those a bit older).

I'd had my Zorki a while at this point and I thought I'd try using it along side it. On field test it did really well with the Jupiter 8m taking some nice sharp shots and there being little to fault it bar the rewind button popping out and the spring going awol, now replaced with a slightly too long but usable spring. But this is where it kinda stops.

I've not really taken it out since as things bugged me about using it. The fact it locks when you focus to a close point and needing the lever touched to unlock costing valuable seconds which on the street is no good.
The speed settings being on the wind dial are a struggle to read quickly, again costing seconds, the dial also feels a lot stiffer than that of the Zorki to lift.
I'm not a fan of the way the aperture stops can move the focus point if you haven't got it held in place, another lens may be better but when you aren't using it frequently it doesn't make sense to buy lots of glass.

I do see the pros, it will allow me to use Contax stuff if I wanted, it has lugs so a strap can be used without that annoying ER case with some of my other backups lack, it also has the metal shutter making it less prone to failure.

It feels like it'll want a CLA soon, the speeds don't quite feel spot on but I'm not 100% on whether I should really keep it as I've used it once in about 5 or 6 years. But I keep getting torn as it looks pretty and I'm a sucker for USSR stuff, what do you guys think?
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Old 12-15-2018   #2
nzeeman
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keep it-contax and kiev lenses are so lovely! but surely CLA will be preferable if you feel it doesnt quite work properly... or you can go and get earlier models-believe me those early years are so smooth-guy that was doing CLA of my kiev ii few weeks ago was confused how silent and smooth its shutter is..
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Old 12-15-2018   #3
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You might consider buying a Bessa R and a couple of inexpensive but very good FSU LTM lenses. These cameras are small, light, and have excellent meters. They are also dead reliable. With such a setup, you could work a lot faster and just get on w/ the business of taking photographs. I shoot SLRs these days, but this is what I would buy if I wanted to shoot a rangefinder. In the past I've owned a Leica M3, M4, M2, M6, all manner of Leica/Fed/Zorki LTM cameras, a Hexar RF, Bessa R2A and R3A, and just about any other rangefinder camera you care to name, but my Bessa Rs were always the most fun to shoot.
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Old 12-16-2018   #4
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Personally I'd keep it even if you don't end up using it ever again.

Value-wise I know, having done so, that it's possible to buy a tried, tested and guaranteed type 3 / 4 Kiev 4A with case, cap and spool for under £40 so selling yours with, perhaps, a few reliability 'unknowns' is not going to fill the coffers by too much so you might as well hang on to yours and enjoy it from time to time.

The Contax/Kiev versus Leica/FED/Zorki battle is timeless and, ultimately, un-winable. Each design has pros and cons. If you find the various niggles you mention to be lessening your liking of the Kiev over the Zorki then use the Zorki most of the time and bring out the Kiev when you simply fancy a change.
If you decide that you prefer the advantages of the Kiev but are hesitant to use yours due to the reliability factors you mention then, as nzeeman suggests, you might consider tracking down an earlier body. IMX(*) the examples produces in the '50s and early '60s are a bit smoother than some of the later ones.

One factor which might be of interest - depending on your budget - is that Jupiter (as an example) lenses for the Kiev are usually to be found much cheaper than their LTM-mount counterparts.

Pip.

(*) I have half-a-dozen Kievs from '52-'59; a couple from the '60s and a pair from the '70s as well as a '38 Contax II. IMO the '50s Kievs feel almost identical in operation to the latter; so much so that I doubt I could tell which was which in a blind test.
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Old 12-16-2018   #5
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Remove the little locking lever on the lens. Old Leica normal lenses had this and most people remove it it as an annoyance. Usually not too hard. Pick a shutter speed and then adjust the aperture only for exposure. This will speed things up.
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Old 12-16-2018   #6
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Jam the locking mechanism on the camera body with a toothpick. Get it serviced so that the focusing works smoothly -- or focus using the lens barrel, not the small circular saw.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-16-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
You might consider buying a Bessa R and a couple of inexpensive but very good FSU LTM lenses. These cameras are small, light, and have excellent meters. They are also dead reliable. With such a setup, you could work a lot faster and just get on w/ the business of taking photographs. I shoot SLRs these days, but this is what I would buy if I wanted to shoot a rangefinder. In the past I've owned a Leica M3, M4, M2, M6, all manner of Leica/Fed/Zorki LTM cameras, a Hexar RF, Bessa R2A and R3A, and just about any other rangefinder camera you care to name, but my Bessa Rs were always the most fun to shoot.
I might have a look at a Bessa R at somepoint, I already have a few LTM russians for the Zorki (Keep meaning to track down a compatability list for it to find more).
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Old 12-16-2018   #8
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Jam the locking mechanism on the camera body with a toothpick. Get it serviced so that the focusing works smoothly -- or focus using the lens barrel, not the small circular saw.

Cheers,

R.
I always use the lens barrel on it as that wheel does my finger tips after a while, not sure I want to jam it though incase I knacker it though.
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Old 12-16-2018   #9
Sega
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Originally Posted by nzeeman View Post
keep it-contax and kiev lenses are so lovely! but surely CLA will be preferable if you feel it doesnt quite work properly... or you can go and get earlier models-believe me those early years are so smooth-guy that was doing CLA of my kiev ii few weeks ago was confused how silent and smooth its shutter is..
I did think about trying another as I think that ones a 79, I'd probably CLA it even if I did get rid of it as I have the time at the moment and it'll occupy me, to me though its never sounded all that different in noise level to my 67 Zorki 4 but then I had been using a Zenit SLR along with them that litrally sounds like a gunshot with its mirror slap.
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Old 12-16-2018   #10
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Similar camera has changed hands on RFF at least three times.
I was one of the owners and send it to Kiev for service, but I was not satisfied with remaining crude shutter speed settings. It applies for all FSU RF cameras where they slapped slow shutter speed mechanism. Crude, primitive and annoying. IMO.

Kiev RF never meant to be street cameras. They were given for low budget, not central news papers. Kievs were in use to go to kolhoz and take portrait of working people, get it published and used as toilet paper (because in soviet it was none).

If you are not collector, let it go.

This is how most of us went. Crude FSU, plastic-fantastic Bessa R, Leica M and hoping someone will still be around to service it and get parts.
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Old 12-16-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pippy View Post
Personally I'd keep it even if you don't end up using it ever again.

Value-wise I know, having done so, that it's possible to buy a tried, tested and guaranteed type 3 / 4 Kiev 4A with case, cap and spool for under £40 so selling yours with, perhaps, a few reliability 'unknowns' is not going to fill the coffers by too much so you might as well hang on to yours and enjoy it from time to time.

The Contax/Kiev versus Leica/FED/Zorki battle is timeless and, ultimately, un-winable. Each design has pros and cons. If you find the various niggles you mention to be lessening your liking of the Kiev over the Zorki then use the Zorki most of the time and bring out the Kiev when you simply fancy a change.
If you decide that you prefer the advantages of the Kiev but are hesitant to use yours due to the reliability factors you mention then, as nzeeman suggests, you might consider tracking down an earlier body. IMX(*) the examples produces in the '50s and early '60s are a bit smoother than some of the later ones.

One factor which might be of interest - depending on your budget - is that Jupiter (as an example) lenses for the Kiev are usually to be found much cheaper than their LTM-mount counterparts.

Pip.

(*) I have half-a-dozen Kievs from '52-'59; a couple from the '60s and a pair from the '70s as well as a '38 Contax II. IMO the '50s Kievs feel almost identical in operation to the latter; so much so that I doubt I could tell which was which in a blind test.
I've always been one to hate seeing things just sit, thats probably why I'm getting mixed thoughts on it now.

My Zorki I use more than anything else, DSLR included, I think the only thing that would probably change that is if I got one of the Leica M's as I just get on with RF's more than any other style of Camera.

I did notice the Lens thing recently as I was hunting for a 35mm LTM and I know its value isn't mega high, I think I paid around that for it so could say its like free Motoring, again I'd probably fix it even if I sold it or traded it just to occupy me.
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Old 12-16-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Similar camera has changed hands on RFF at least three times.
I was one of the owners and send it to Kiev for service, but I was not satisfied with remaining crude shutter speed settings. It applies for all FSU RF cameras where they slapped slow shutter speed mechanism. Crude, primitive and annoying. IMO.

Kiev RF never meant to be street cameras. They were given for low budget, not central news papers. Kievs were in use to go to kolhoz and take portrait of working people, get it published and used as toilet paper (because in soviet it was none).

If you are not collector, let it go.

This is how most of us went. Crude FSU, plastic-fantastic Bessa R, Leica M and hoping someone will still be around to service it and get parts.
The thing is I've never found my Zorki that bad, I've had several Japanese SLR's and its slow speed seems to be close enough based on the negatives, only speed issue was the advance knob which I got used to.
The Kiev though feels stiffer to wind and change speed than the Zorki, slower to operate in general.
I use street as an example, I wouldn't say I shoot any particular disipline as I go more on if I see something that feels right I'll take the shot which if its something happening in a moment the slow camera can bite you in the bum.

I do collect on a small scale although of late I've cut down as space has got tight.
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Old 12-16-2018   #13
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Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
Remove the little locking lever on the lens. Old Leica normal lenses had this and most people remove it it as an annoyance. Usually not too hard. Pick a shutter speed and then adjust the aperture only for exposure. This will speed things up.
I'll have a look at it and see how its attached as I don't want to permenantly modfy it just incase I change my mind.
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Old 12-16-2018   #14
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I liked Kiev II for going somewhere without people and take pictures of not moving objects.
It felt like mediation.
But then parallax was a bum. Don't know why but it seems to be more prominent than with FED-2.
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Old 12-16-2018   #15
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I would keep it. After all, it's not a valuable camera. Ok, the Kiev/Contax ergonomics aren't everyone's cup of tea but as the FSU RFs go, the Kiev is one of the best-featured, all-rounders.

You can bypass the infinity lock if it annoys you, just wedge a piece from the end of a toothpick or something similar under it on the body. As for a quick-shoot style, why not do the slow bits in advance?

I don't use the Kievs that much but with most RFs I tend to set aperture in advance, wind on, set shutter speed and then just focus and shoot when I see something (or hyperfocus for faster response). If the light hasn't changed too much, you'll get a good result.
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Old 12-16-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sega View Post
I might have a look at a Bessa R at somepoint, I already have a few LTM russians for the Zorki (Keep meaning to track down a compatability list for it to find more).
Compatibility for the Russian LTMs on the Bessa R? In general you will be fine with anything except some (but not all) J-12s. Apparently its something like 1/3 will be fine. Others won't fit at infinity focus but will mount at near focus then can be focussed out for testing.

If you mean which lenses fit the Kiev then I'm no real assistance. I thought it was all pretty good.

Now the fine print. The consensus seems to be that the FSU cameras and lenses run a slightly different focus ratio between lens and RF to the Leica standard. This has little effect for wides but increasingly becomes problematic with fast long lenses. Its also more evident at minimum focus. For handheld daylight use for scenery or groups its no problem. For shallow DOF portraiture its a huge issue.
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Old 12-16-2018   #17
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Compatibility for the Russian LTMs on the Bessa R? In general you will be fine with anything except some (but not all) J-12s. Apparently its something like 1/3 will be fine. Others won't fit at infinity focus but will mount at near focus then can be focussed out for testing.

If you mean which lenses fit the Kiev then I'm no real assistance. I thought it was all pretty good.

Now the fine print. The consensus seems to be that the FSU cameras and lenses run a slightly different focus ratio between lens and RF to the Leica standard. This has little effect for wides but increasingly becomes problematic with fast long lenses. Its also more evident at minimum focus. For handheld daylight use for scenery or groups its no problem. For shallow DOF portraiture its a huge issue.
I meant the Zorki, Potraits arent really my thing bar the Mrs and the Pooch so wouldn't bother me too much in a way and if I knew the error I could either compensate or set one of the 3 bodies to it.

The Bessa would only really be a maybe, it is something I couldn't buy for a while and without getting rid of something else first and eventually I would like to get hold of a Leica which could see if being stuck on a shelf.
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Old 12-16-2018   #18
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I would keep it. After all, it's not a valuable camera. Ok, the Kiev/Contax ergonomics aren't everyone's cup of tea but as the FSU RFs go, the Kiev is one of the best-featured, all-rounders.

You can bypass the infinity lock if it annoys you, just wedge a piece from the end of a toothpick or something similar under it on the body. As for a quick-shoot style, why not do the slow bits in advance?

I don't use the Kievs that much but with most RFs I tend to set aperture in advance, wind on, set shutter speed and then just focus and shoot when I see something (or hyperfocus for faster response). If the light hasn't changed too much, you'll get a good result.
I do generally preset after metering but sometimes I will want to change something on the fly like depth of field or exposure to get a couple of results to experiment with.
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Old 12-17-2018   #19
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I have a few Kievs (II, IIA, 4a), and I think they're great. They're so common and relatively inexpensive that it seems better to just keep it.

Kiev/Contax cameras are definitely quirky, but it's easy to get used to. Negative film generally has enough latitude that slight shutter speed deficiencies are not a big deal. They are really surprisingly robust (all of mine work well, and are pretty close to accurate). Obviously they must have been made in such vast numbers for a reason. At one time Contax cameras were used by some photojournalists (Robert Capa used one when he landed on D-Day); this tells you something about their handling and toughness.

I have two Leica screw mount cameras that I hadn't shot with in at least a decade —*and both have broken slow shutter speeds. Yet all three of my Kiev's seem to be fine, and they too sat on a shelf for ten years until I recently got back into shooting film.
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Old 12-17-2018   #20
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I have a few Kievs (II, IIA, 4a), and I think they're great. They're so common and relatively inexpensive that it seems better to just keep it.

Kiev/Contax cameras are definitely quirky, but it's easy to get used to. Negative film generally has enough latitude that slight shutter speed deficiencies are not a big deal. They are really surprisingly robust (all of mine work well, and are pretty close to accurate). Obviously they must have been made in such vast numbers for a reason. At one time Contax cameras were used by some photojournalists (Robert Capa used one when he landed on D-Day); this tells you something about their handling and toughness.

I have two Leica screw mount cameras that I hadn't shot with in at least a decade —*and both have broken slow shutter speeds. Yet all three of my Kiev's seem to be fine, and they too sat on a shelf for ten years until I recently got back into shooting film.
That's the thing, it doesn't feel right to me for something to sit untouched for so long, it's probably this thats made it feel a little stodgy on the shutter, I always feel like taking the Zorki out but this I'll pick it up and then put it back when choosing what I want to shoot today as it just doesn't feel like it gels well enough with my style and habits.

I'll ponder it some more over Christmas as I'm not likely to be able to do anything until then.
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Old 12-17-2018   #21
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I have a few Kievs (II, IIA, 4a), and I think they're great. They're so common and relatively inexpensive that it seems better to just keep it.

Kiev/Contax cameras are definitely quirky, but it's easy to get used to. Negative film generally has enough latitude that slight shutter speed deficiencies are not a big deal. They are really surprisingly robust (all of mine work well, and are pretty close to accurate). Obviously they must have been made in such vast numbers for a reason. At one time Contax cameras were used by some photojournalists (Robert Capa used one when he landed on D-Day); this tells you something about their handling and toughness.

I have two Leica screw mount cameras that I hadn't shot with in at least a decade —*and both have broken slow shutter speeds. Yet all three of my Kiev's seem to be fine, and they too sat on a shelf for ten years until I recently got back into shooting film.
Not just Capa, but also Ansel Adams and Stanley Kubrick to name a couple.
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Old 12-17-2018   #22
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Before I start this is not a for sale thread, please do not ask to buy it or swap for it.

A long time ago I bought this:


Whilst not quite the same, its resemblance to the Nikon S2 drew me in (mirror window is wrong side) as I couldn't afford a Nikon and liked the addition of the S2 in MGS Peace walker (its a game for those a bit older).

I'd had my Zorki a while at this point and I thought I'd try using it along side it. On field test it did really well with the Jupiter 8m taking some nice sharp shots and there being little to fault it bar the rewind button popping out and the spring going awol, now replaced with a slightly too long but usable spring. But this is where it kinda stops.

I've not really taken it out since as things bugged me about using it. The fact it locks when you focus to a close point and needing the lever touched to unlock costing valuable seconds which on the street is no good.
The speed settings being on the wind dial are a struggle to read quickly, again costing seconds, the dial also feels a lot stiffer than that of the Zorki to lift.
I'm not a fan of the way the aperture stops can move the focus point if you haven't got it held in place, another lens may be better but when you aren't using it frequently it doesn't make sense to buy lots of glass.

I do see the pros, it will allow me to use Contax stuff if I wanted, it has lugs so a strap can be used without that annoying ER case with some of my other backups lack, it also has the metal shutter making it less prone to failure.

It feels like it'll want a CLA soon, the speeds don't quite feel spot on but I'm not 100% on whether I should really keep it as I've used it once in about 5 or 6 years. But I keep getting torn as it looks pretty and I'm a sucker for USSR stuff, what do you guys think?
The Kiev doesn't resemble a Nikon—actually, it's vice-versa. As the Kiev is a replica of the Contax that the Nikons imitated in certain respects, (sadly not by including the superlatively precise Zeiss rangefinder, since Nikon elected to follow Leica with cloth focal plane shutter and a short base length rangefinder, both retrograde features).
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Old 12-18-2018   #23
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It's its passing resemblance, I've been facinated by the Cuban revolution and Soviet Union for years (I do not however follow communisim) and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is set around the time of the cuban missile crisis and is set around there with the main character obtaining a Nikon S2 which is also supposed to have been a favourite of Castro himself.

A few of my Japanese cameras seemed to have adopted the Leica style guts although if I remember right a Minolta I've got in storage has a shutter like the Contax/Kiev one.
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