What are the thoughts about Kiev?

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campy51

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Would buying one of the Contax clones be a waste of money or are they any good? I watched a video on the 4A and he said buy one that was made before 1980. After that they weren't reliable. Any thoughts?
 

btaylor

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The general rule is the earliest the better- ‘50’s-‘60’s better than ‘80’s. I’ve had a couple, one from the mid ‘60’s and one from 1980 or so. They both worked, fortunately. The glass can be very good and is usually inexpensive. I never got a good copy of the Jupiter 9 85mm f2, but the Helios 103 is one of the sharpest lenses I have. For some reason I’ve always preferred the Contax lla, it’s not as bulky and handles better than the Kiev/Contax ll, IMO.
 
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mshchem

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Is there a shop that specializes in these that could, maybe, have one that's been gone through? One in top shape? These cameras and lenses are certainly capable if mechanically sound.
I would be careful about buying from Ebay unless the seller is got great ratings for selling these items.
 

Eugen Mezei

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Buy any soviet gear only if you cand hold it in your hands.
This being said I indeed bought one of my Kievs from eBay. I was after the Helios 103 it came equipped with, but the camera itself turned out to be ok.
This and also my other Kievs are relatively new, 80s and some from the late 70s. No problems if not missused (oh, that remembers me about the other Kiev I bought online and was assured it would work, well I bet the seller rolled over it with his truck, the entire body was bent).
What often happens is that one of the ribbons in the shutter breaks. Than the shutter hands on that side. But that is an easy replace.
 

Pioneer

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I have bought and used two or three Kievs that were very good cameras. The one that had been repaired by Oleg (I believe that is his name as it has been awhile) was an excellent camera and worked extremely well. Good cameras if you get a working example.
 
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Willy T

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I have bought and used two or three Kievs that were very good cameras. The one that had been repaired by Oleg (I believe that is his name as it has been awhile) was an excellent camera and worked extremely well. Good cameras if you get a working example.

Oleg Khaliavin, online as "OKVintage" (https://okvintagecamera.com/)
I've had Kievs and Zorkiis reconditioned by him; he does first-rate work. He acquires,repairs, and sells them. Never had a single problem.
 

guangong

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The Kiev is a clone that retains the same shutter as original Contax and becomes fragile with age and use, whereas the Contax 2a has a different more robust and reliable shutter. The 2a is also more compact.
i do have an inexpensive Kiev that I use in stormy weather. My 50mm Jupiter is a fine lens, my 85mm is wobbly in construction but is ok. If a Contax is to be used I would recommend the more reliable 2a. Be aware that some wide angle lenses for Kiev are not suitable for use on 2a.
 

blee1996

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I would also vote for Contax IIA/IIIA as regular user: newer design, better finish, more reliable shutter, and a bit less "Contax grip". Although KMZ lenses are quite good.

My luck with Kiev has been less than ideal: bought two different ones from different eBay vendors, and both have various problems with either shutter or rangefinder. So in the end I have to return both.

I also had problem with my first Contax IIIA, with some speeds bad. Finally the second time I got a good Contax IIIA.

If you get a Kiev 4A from reputable vendor like Fedka or OKVintageCamera, you will most likely get a good working camera. But the price advantage compared to Contax IIA is diminishing.
 

MarkS

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I bought a Kiev from the 1980s for fun. It worked ok, a little crude; a squinty viewfinder that scratched my glasses, the film advance was a bit wonky, so most of the time the spaces between frames fell across the sprocket holes ( a pet peeve). The 53mm lens was quite good, though. The small issues could be fixed- but I've been spoiled by decades of Leica M cameras, so the VF was a deal breaker. A good one in top working order should do very well for many people.
 

Pioneer

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If you really need a more modern handling camera than the Contax II then the Voigtlander Bessa R2C is the way to go. It even has an exposure meter that works pretty well. They can be a bit difficult to find but they are very nice cameras.
 

ntenny

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The R2C is a really nice camera. It looks like CameraQuest still has some new, albeit at ever-increasing prices—I suppose not unreasonable considering the uniqueness of a modern platform for the Contax lenses.

-NT
 

loccdor

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I bought a Kiev 4 in 2011, all shutter speeds reliable, self timer works, Jupiter 8 50mm f/2 lens is quite sharp, rangefinder patch is nicely visible. Worse I can say is that the seams of the back leak light when it's not in its case. I use black tape to fix that. And, film loading with this camera is slow in the field, and kind of fiddly. Film rewind is also a little painful with the sharp metal knob. The camera didn't have issues shooting in deep freezing temperatures. It cost me $50, a huge bargain. It's my nicest-looking 35mm camera. I haven't tried the Contax it's based on, it was out of my price range.
 

Donald Qualls

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I have three Kiev branded Contax copies -- two Kiev 3 from the 1970s, one with a slow shutter and the other with the usual frame spacing issues (overlaps and skipped frames).

And I have one Kiev 2 from 1955 that works perfectly (frame spacing isn't perfect, but it's as good as my other older 35 mm cameras: my Jubilette and Weltini). I absolutely love the Kiev 2 -- I've currently got it loaded with ORWO DN21 (cine print film, ISO 12. same as Lomography Berlin). With the f/1.5 50 mm Sonnar copy (I forget the Jupiter number) I can hand hold in anything reasonably called daylight, even with such slow film.
 

Dali

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Got 2 Kiev 2a by the past and they were flawless.
 
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campy51

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I ended up buying a Contax IIIA with a non working meter and a Contax II that the shutter doesn't fire. Also ordered a Jupiter 8 from ebay that looks in good condition. I intend on doing my own basic cla and hope the one with the shutter problem is just a stuck lever or just dirty.
 

davela

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If it's Contax mount lenses you want to use, I'd recommend a guaranteed and working Contax IIA or IIIA. Sometimes IIIA's are availble for less than IIA's because of the common desire many users have for on-camera meters, and most IIIA meters are no longer working. Anyone using these cameras should understand exposure anyway, or know how to operate a modern handheld meter. I've owned more than one Kiev and reliability is simply not their strong suit. Even more seriously, many have reported that light leaks with Kiev's are common, particularly later era models.

The original Contax II and III's are nice collectibles, but most need service now and they are simply not as well made as the post-war IIA and IIIA IMO (and I've owned and used them all too - so I speak from experience). The Bessa R2C is a wonderful camera (I own one), but one should expect to pay at least $1000 for one these days. Like all CV Bessa rangefinders (I have used at least), it's shutter and film advance are prone to occasional jams, requiring service to remediate. It is a camera however that is very modern in all respects except the retro lens mount really, and it is also a valuable cameras as a collectible.
 
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davela

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I ended up buying a Contax IIIA with a non working meter and a Contax II that the shutter doesn't fire. Also ordered a Jupiter 8 from ebay that looks in good condition. I intend on doing my own basic cla and hope the one with the shutter problem is just a stuck lever or just dirty.

If you can easily repair a mechanical watch, you can probably repair a Contax II. That eliminates about 99% of us! My point is that it's not as easy as it seems - a fair degree of skill, experience and/or training is needed. Best of luck with it in any case.
 
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campy51

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If you can easily repair a mechanical watch, you can probably repair a Contax II. That eliminates about 99% of us! My point is that it's not as easy as it seems - a fair degree of skill, experience and/or training is needed. Best of luck with it in any case.

I purchased these from a camera store as is condition but the IIIA is functioning but who knows how well. I paid $140 for the two of them. If the IIIA is actually in a usable condition it would be worth it. The II is to tinker with and see what I can do. I have fixed several Rolleiflex cameras and others that were in a non working state and the problems were mostly just dirty. The first thing I will do is use my number 1 tool. If nothing is broken and is just dried oil and grease this will free it up. I fix copiers and you would be amazed how times just some squirts fixes the problem or at least shows you where the problem lies by partially freeing up the mechanism.
 

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blee1996

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If the IIIa is in a working condition, especially a mostly working shutter, then you are almost all set. I would probably just use it, and leave it alone. CLA the shutter yourself might end in a non-working camera, since it is a bit more complicated than most cameras.

Recently I got a IIIa with a mostly working shutter except /1250s but too much dust, grime and haze in the viewfinder. I did open up the top and front cover to clean up. If you buy a $1 repair PDF manual from the learncamerarepair store, you should be able to do something similar without too much sweat. In the end, I did not touch the shutter nor adjust the RF.

Contax_IIIa_CLA Large.jpeg
 

Sergey Ko

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It is not a waste of money, the quality\price ratio is better than Contax RF. They can be not so good from one unit to another, but they much more cheaper.
From Ukraine the prices are high already, but you can check prices in Russia (Avito dot ru, for example) to understand the price & to bargain.
If someone can pay in Russia for you -then you can buy directly, the post is in working order.

I have one Kiev-4A with Helios-103 & Jupiter-3 (f1,5) -both 50mm, Jupiter-9 (85mm), Jupiter-11(135mm) & Jupiter-12 (35mm). Just the items of my collection.
Here is some pictures from Kiev-4A+Jupiter-3 on the open f1,5:

Venia & Kirpikla by Sergey Kozlov, on Flickr

Venia & Marina by Sergey Kozlov, on Flickr
 
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campy51

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Here's an update on my Contax purchases. The IIA is completely useless because of broken ribbons. I at least learned how to take out the shutter assembly. The IIIA appears to be working so I put a roll of HP5 in and developed it today and was a big disappointment except for one picture that came out really nice. Just about all were either very very thin or almost black. I don't know if it was me or not. I used flash on quite a few and they are not good. I was reading that some of these are partially synced? I have been thinking what I may have done and not have the shutter set to 1/50 th for flash sync. I checked the shutter speeds with my phone app and everything came out about 1/3 off.
 
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