View Full Version : Bad advice?
After lurking around the RFF for a couple of months Iíve finally decided to join up. I appreciate the enthusiasm, knowledge, creativity and civility displayed here.
Anyway Iím interested in reaction to some advice I got recently (which I admit I have ignored) from a venerable camera repair guy in my neighborhood. Iíve never used his services, but heís been in business for a while and seems to know his stuff. He told me three things:
1. Donít buy cameras on ebay. Itís all a rip off, the cameras are stolen, etc.
2. Donít buy Russian cameras because they are shoddy, poorly made copies.
3. If you do buy a Russian camera, for Peteís sake, donít buy one with a metal shutter.
Now, like I say, the first two Iíve ignored already. Iíve bought several cameras on ebay, including a Fed 3 and a Zorki 4. They are both great little cameras and I love using them. I vetted the sellers through information on this forum and others. Everything went fine.
I keep thinking I want a Kiev, but advice number 3 keeps coming back to me. Just from watching this forum it seems there are lots of happy Kiev owners out there. In fact Iíve seen few posts regarding shutter problems. What do you think? Should I try a Kiev, look for a nice Fed 2 or enjoy the cameras I already have?
As for the Kiev wish, the advice No. 3 would be valid if those were priced like Leicas (i.e. about a thousand US$). For about $50 for a camera plus 50mm lens, even if it turns out that a camera needs a little work, like replacing light seals, etc., you won't feel like you've been ripped off...
If you double the amount, you can purchase from reliable resellers/repair persons (like Fedka, etc.), and you can be sure you'll get a 100% working camera, AND you'll have at least some kind of warranty/return privilege.
Others who purchased Kievs in the USA will probably have more detailed advice - but what I'm saying is that these cameras don't cost a fortune, so you don't lose much either way.
If you want to be sure it will work OK from the start, pay a bit more and buy from a reliable source, and that's it.
Your "advisor" probably didn't see many of them - at least not those in good condition.
BTW, I LOVE my Kiev 4A :D
He sounds like a camera saleperson I spoke with back in 1971 who worked at a high end camera store across the street from a large medical center. Most of his customers were doctors who wanted Leicas and Hasselbads. I asked about some Exakta stuff and he told me that their store did not sell Communist junk. In fact they did not even sell Japanese cameras because even Nikons were known to be lower quality cameras than Leicas. He said they only sold the finest quality European made and American made cameras like Leica, Hasselblad and the American made Honeywell Pentax! He then offered me a student discount on film, but the price was still higher than the drugstore at the other end of the shopping center.
At some point it isn't worth arguing. Just go on and keep buying what you want, it is your money. After all, if it turns out to be junk you can still resell it on e-Bay, right?
I have 6 Kiev's, 5 with metal shutters. One broke the other day, but it was the one made in 1952.
I can vouch for the greatness of my new Kiev 4am. I just started using the rig and I enjoy everything about the camera. The pictures are wonderful, and it is very well built. Based on my research, Kiev owners seem to be very happy with the purchases.
It does seem the quality control may be irregular on some Russian gear, but at the 25.00 per pop I have paid, I am very impressed. And worst case will be that I move on and make a camera a parts supply. My long term goal is to grab something more pricey, but the Russians I grabbed are a great way to make sure I like RF photgraphy.
Grab one and learn the Contax method, I think you will enjoy the system.
PS< I bought a Fed2, Zorki6, and Kiev 4am at the same time. Total investment was around 100.00. The Kiev is my favorite of the three so far.
I can't tell for advice 3, but for the rest, this seems to be some kind of scornful opinion and this is ridiculous. Go on and buy what you want. If you like your tool, you'll make great pics, whether it's a leica or a fed.
Your friend did not neccassarily give you wrong/bad advice, but its important to remember that different people see the same realities form different perspectives.
Kievs and indeed all rangefinders are an 'aquired taste' and buying a Kiev is a VERY cheap way of finding out about this particular 'flavour' of the photographic feast!
Anyone of any intellect who spends time looking at the 'bargains' on e-bay soon gets a feel for the suspect items which DO abound. Likewise they quickly find out who the good sellers are.
My Kiev 4a came from 'DVD Technic' for less than 50USD including post to the UK,....about a quarter of the price of a plastic 'point and shoot'....!!! My 35mm J12 was a real jump into the unknown as the seller was without any reputation but I got lucky and my 10 USD were not wasted!! All in all a precision camera kit to try out rf photography for £30,..here in the Uk thats a tank of petrol or a decent pub meal for two!...or 4 rolls 35mm film with processing! Yes they needed a certain amount of life breathed into them before they would work sweetly and yes, by modern camera standards they are weird and quaint to use. However, the shots with this gear are quite different to those with my modern cameras and none the worse for that!
What do you think? Should I try a Kiev, look for a nice Fed 2 or enjoy the cameras I already have?
Karl, welcome aboard! My answer to your question is "yes". My first russian RF was a Kiev 4a that I've been very pleased with.
The FED2 is another I own. I haven't had it long but I like the way this one fits my hands.
You might want to look into the Zorki 3m cameras.
These cameras are all relatively slow to operate which is a major reason that I enjopy using them--I have to slow down and think about what I'm seeing/shooting.
Of course, you're a goner now, the FSU virus has got another one. :D
Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. That settles it...I'll start looking for a Kiev. I guess I was just looking for some positive reinforcement since it was probably inevitable. This Russian fever strikes hard. Why is it so much fun to take these nice, sharp pictures with a camera that's so...well, foreign? And to think... it's probably been sitting in someone's closet for years.
I love my Kiev 4. The cameras are fun to work on, especially since they are identical to the Contax, so you can pick up a variety of repair books or read on-line, then look under the hood.
One benefit no-one has mentioned yet in this thread is that Contax/Kiev mount lenses are less expensive, often nearly 1/2 the price of identical LTM lenses. I have a jupiter-12, jupiter-9, jupiter-8 and Helios-103 for my Kiev 4. All are excellent.
The Kiev 4 I have is one of my favorite cameras. I use it for street Photography Black and White and usually use a Helios-103 (1.8) or a Jupiter 8 (2.0) . I also have a 35mm Jupiter and 85 mm Jupiter which i like and use from time to time. It would be a good addition to your camera group.
Why dont you have look in Mr. Gandy's web site on Kievs.
This article is quite interesting.
PS. I have a Kiev 4a and do like it a lot.
1. Donít buy cameras on ebay. Itís all a rip off, the cameras are stolen, etc.
I have a dealer/repairman(thats being nice) who has told me this a few times...
Reason he does is that he would rather have you buy a $200 Canonet from him...
He probably buys his off Ebay anyway to fix up, there is no way he could get
the amount of old cameras he has buying locally. He does film processing and the
cameras are just a sideline so if you dont want to pay the price, thats OK.
No clue on the other 2 questions....
The other thing to remember about buying a Kiev is it opens up all those wonderful old Zeiss lenses and the new SC mount wide-angles from Cosina. My current kit is an SC Skopar 35/2.5, a pre-war collapsible Sonnar 50/2, a Jupiter 9 85/2, and a Jupiter 11 135/4. I also have a Jupiter 12, a Helios-103, a Jupiter 8m and a in slight need of repair Sonnar 135/4. All of them, plus the camera, have set me back much less than the cost of one current Lieca lens. Even when I add the other 2 Sonnars I want (the 50/1.5 and 85/2), that will probably still be the case. Great great great glass at silly low prices. Perfect for a broke stay at home dad like me :D
Unfortunately, from the standpoint of a camera repairman, all he sees, is when someone brings a problem to him, and ebay is full of camera's with "issues".
As for Russian cameras, quality control and age can be a problem. Many of these cameras are at least 30 years old. One piece of good advice is "just like new", is not a good thing. You'd rather have a well used one since you know it works. Just think of it as "extensively tested".
I own 3 Kiev rangefinders, which I bought locally with a warranty, over a period of 20 years. before ebay , before the Ussr became FSU. I paid more for them then what they sell for now. i appreciated their quality and they have never let me down. Pay a little more and get one from a respected dealer . Remember, they are a clone of a camera that was almost the price of a council house in 1937 Britain, not as finely made, but too far off the mark.
that is" Not too far off the mark."
Since I'm nowhere near as familiar with these as many of you, I'm not understanding the warning about metal shutters. My understanding was that cloth shutters were more prone to developing problems such as burning and pinholes. Is there a particular issue with the metal shutters?
The ribbons supporting the metal slates can give up the ghost. but the ribbons on a Barnack style shutter can rot, rip . become unglued off the curtain drum or springed rollers also. remember some of these cameras can be over 50 years old. A properly maintained Contax/ Kiev shutter is as reliable as a properly maintained Barnack(Leica) shutter. Yes cloth shutters can develop sunburn holes, but these for the most part. can be easily fixed.
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