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KIEV ARSENAL - Kiev 4 (1957 - 1979)

Regular cameras

You think it looks like a Contax IIIa made by Zeiss Ikon ? You are right ! The Kiev 4 is just its twin brother as it has been manufactured by the soviets from the Contax machinery picked up in Germany and moved in Kiev in Ukraine. The good manufacturing quality of this camera and its level of sophistication, are at the origin of its success with amateurs and professional photographers.

As soon as you have it in hands, the heavy design of the Kiev 4 and the strong grip required to arm its shutter, let you think that it is a clumsy and noisy camera. False ! the (relative) quiet noise of its shutter curtain will be surprizing. Well... don't be fooled by appearances.

Kiev 4 (with a lens 1:2 f=50 mm Jupiter 8)

The Kiev 4 is an evolution of the former Kiev IIIA. The improvements are relying on the quality of the photo-electric exposure meter which has been downsized but improved in sensibility.

The camera is equipped with a rangefinder. Unfortunately, the soviet engineers of the Kiev Arsenal did not fix the conception mistake made by their German colleagues from Zeiss. These ones had located the rangefinder window set back from the focusing wheel. The finger rotating this wheel is inevitably closing up the rangefinder window.

The metallic curtain of the shutter is operating at different speeds from 1/1250s to 2s and B.

Regarding its optical characteristics, this camera can use several types of bayonet lens from Kiev Arsenal :

bulletKiev 1:6    f=28 mm Orion

Kiev 1:2,8 f=35 mm Jupiter 12


Kiev 1:2    f=50 mm Jupiter 8


Kiev 1:2    f=85 mm Jupiter 9


Kiev 1:4    f=135 mm Jupiter 11

The 50 mm Jupiter 8 lens can be avantajously replaced with another soviet lens : the Helios 103 pouvait être avantageusement remplacé par un autre objectif soviétique : le Helios 103. This lens provides better image quality especially with color films.  The Helios lenses are based on the Zeiss Biotar concept.

The common roots of the Kiev 4 with pre-WW2 Zeiss cameras, allows it also to use Contax lenses.

Four versions of this camera have been produced : the Kiev 4 and the Kiev 4M with a small-size selenium photo-electric exposure meter, and the Kiev 4A and the Kiev 4AM without this exposure meter.
The Kiev camera numbering process is simple : the two first digits of the camera serial number give its manufacturing year. Thus, the camera of my collection has been produced in 1973.

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