Kiev-4, First impressions

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Joe Grodis

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Well I received my Kiev-4am RF with Helios-103 Lens in the mail today and hope that it performs better than it looks. Build quality appears to be much lessor than a Zorki.The film advance knob slants a bit to one side, some screws are raised too high some are to deep, and there are gaps between adjoining metal pieces. The camera is actually in EX+ condition but build quality is poor. I'm rather disappointed. This is a 1981 version and figured it would be at least as good as a Zorki-3. I'm not one to throw the baby out with the bath water so I'll twist on a Carl Zeiss Sonnar and give it a go. Maybe you can't judge a camera simply by it's looks? Anyways, I'll give it a work out and see what happens.
 

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The Helios-103 may look like junk, but if it is in resonable condition will out perform all but the post war Contax IIa sonnars, it needs a lens hood...

Noel
 
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Joe Grodis

Joe Grodis

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The Helios-103 actually looks very nice and I'll certainly burn up at least one roll of film with it to see what it can do!
 

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I just tried out my own 4 yesterday with an Opton Sonnar and an out of date roll of Gold 200. The big bright RF patch is nice when I'm not sticking my finger over it. Maybe I can get used to it someday. Build quality on mine seems pretty poor too (hope it doesn't have light leaks - the cover seemed sort of ill fitting). Mine has a funny take up spool and I needed to trim the film to just a little tongue in the center.

Dan
 

eSFotos

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If you want a good quality Kiev, try to get pre-1956 version. 1976-1981 versions have the worst built quality.
In saying that, IMO Kievs are better picture takers than Zorkis.
 

Michel Hardy-Vallée

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My first Kiev was a II and my second is from the 70s. Build quality of the older ones was definitely better, but like every FSU camera, many possible problems can ruin a good handling camera. For my old Kiev, the shutter was the trouble, and it eventually croaked. My current one works fine, if not for the broken exposure counter. Not a big problem, but I like my Contax IIa much better...
 
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Much will depend on where the camera came from, yes build quality was inconsistant but you also have to factor in repairs and attempted CLA over the years. mine is ex UK where i believe the importer checked and adjusted all kievs before sale.I think it is a 70`s build and the quality is very good.I have jupiter lens combo and yes it takes a better picture than my zorki, better rangefinder and truer framing than the zorki also.
Despite the build quality issue, you got a really good lens and hope the body does its job.
 
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Joe Grodis

Joe Grodis

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I'm not going to give up on the Kiev program for sure. It wasn't until after my buying 3 Zorki's that I stumbled upon one that actually worked very well. As a matter of fact my 3 newest Zorki's are actually my worst ones. My 1954 Zorki-3 is a pleasure to use and does great work. Now, with that said I should have thought about that when buying this Kiev-4. Newer doesn't mean better, so I'll be ordering a 50's variant in a few days. There's a fair amount of very nice affordable Ziess lenses for these cameras so I'll no doubt get at least 3 more.
 

Xmas

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Hi Joe

As well as the German lenses there are the Russian ones, if they are in good condition they are good, but the Cosina Voiglander, and short focal length Nikon lenses (RFDR) are also excellent.

Noel
 
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Joe Grodis

Joe Grodis

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Nikon? Is there a Nikon lens with Kiev-4 / Contax RF mount? Anyways, still on my 1st roll of film and the first thing I noticed is how quite the shutter seems to be be. I have it set at 1/500 and it is so quite I'm getting concerned. Maybe the Vertical shutter is quieter??
 
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The Kiev does have a very quiet shutter Joe, but sure, the elastic will snap one day! easy solution though, CLA or 30 bucks for another one.
 

Fotoguy20d

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Processed my film and the thing leaks like a sieve (okay, maybe not that bad, but bad enough). Tried it with an f1.5 Opton Sonnar and whatever 50mm f2 lens it came with (don't read cyrillic so I have no idea). Light leaks aside, I do like the look of the prints - nice and sharp, and good color tones. How do you improve the light seals on these things?

Dan
 
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Joe Grodis

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I've never changed the light seals on a Kiev-4 (yet) but, On a few Zorki's I got away with using black yarn and silicone rubber for an adhesive.
 

T42

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One thing which might help light leaks around the camera back is to use the camera case. I removed the rivet that holds the upper and lower halves of the case, and replaced it with a snap. Now the camera has a sort of half-case. My sample is not up to the build standards of my old Leica M3, but it does not show any of the defects described by Joe. Its 50mm f2 Sonnar-like Jupiter 8M does quite well. Frankly, I was very surprised at what I got for a mere $35 out of Ukraine. I doubt that most mere mortals could tell the difference in image quality between my 1959 M3 with '54 Summicron and my 1969 K4a with 1970 Jupiter 8M. And the price differential was about twenty to one.

Rick Oleson's website has some useful Contax/Kiev information too. I replaced ribbons in 2002 using this link:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-29.html

There may be an issue with putting Nikkors on a Contax or Kiev. While Nikon did copy the Contax bayonet mount, it is my understanding that the flange to film distance is not exactly the same. I am not sure whether or not CV accounted for this with their lenses for Contax mount. But I would check it out before spending money on the idea.

Question to the group: Has anyone with a Kiev RF replaced the Jupiter 8M with a Helios 103? What are your impressions of the difference in terms of functionality and image quality? I am wondering if the coatings are superior, and if the flare is less than with a 1970 Jupiter 8M.
 
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Peter Black

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My 4A didn't leak light, but frame spacing got tighter and tighter as the film wound on until they were almost overlapping at the end. I have one gallery shot taken with the Jupiter 12 if it's of any interest.
(there was a url link here which no longer exists)
 
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Hi Peter,
I have the same problem with frame spacing. It works for approximately 24 pictures, but after that the overlapping starts. Have you found a remedy for the problem?
Erik
 

Peter Black

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Hi Peter,
I have the same problem with frame spacing. It works for approximately 24 pictures, but after that the overlapping starts. Have you found a remedy for the problem?
Erik

Hi Erik
Never had the guts to tackle it myself and I didn't feel that I wanted to spend a whole lot of money on it as it was very cheap to start with. I had mainly used it to see how I would get on with a rangefinder before I bought something more expensive, and I'm surprised to say that I found the focusing wheel to be better to use (for me) than focusing the lens on the M3 I subsequently bought. :confused:
Peter
 
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I am quite attached to mine, and it works great with 24 frames. Just bought a Jupiter 12, by the way. Might be interesting.

Am thinking of having it fixed though.
 
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regarding frame spacing, i assume you guys are putting tension on the film when loading? you need to wind the rewind on a bit after loading film, you may already know this. Having said this i prefer to use 24`s only in this camera. Light leaks can also occur from around the film advance.regards
 
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Erik , you can find a manual at butkus.org or www3.telus.net, the rewind knob must turn as you wind on the film from 1st exposure after loading, you will need to turn it more than feels `right'.
regards and enjoy
 
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Joe Grodis

Joe Grodis

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Well I finally got my photographs back from the lab with mixed results. The first annoyance is the camera has a minor light leak that affected about 2 out of every 6 shots. This isn't a big deal since I can replace the light seal in about 10 minutes. The second annoyance is a black foggy horizontal line across the middle of a few shots. Shutter problem? The last annoyance is there are a few double exposures. I can't see how that is even possible on this camera. But, on the bright side, The shots that did come out were better than average and that Helios lens has proven to be at least as good as the Zeiss Opton.
 
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The shutter travel vertically, so the horizontal line may indeed be a shutter problem. Do you remember what shutter time you used on those shots? Maybe this problem do not affect all of them.

You also seem to have problem with the film winding. I do as well.

I agree that the lens is very nice.
 
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