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Is the Kiev 4 series a good piece to add?
Old 05-02-2012   #1
Pirate
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Is the Kiev 4 series a good piece to add?

I like the style of the Contax II / Kiev 4 cameras and would like to know from the Kiev owners if the 4 series is a good one to add to a user collection. My cameras get used and if I added a Kiev, it would get used too. Do they last? ....and all the other newbie questions that go with it.

Thanks
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Old 05-02-2012   #2
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Kiev 4's are great cameras. The long rangefinder base makes them easy to focus and the extra mass and smoother shutter allows you to take hand-held shots at speeds down to 1/25. I have four of them, one of which has an intractable light leak. Buy one from a reputable seller as they are much more difficult to work on than the FED's and Zorkiis. The older ones, Kiev 4 (not 4A), are reputed to work more smoothly.

Two of my working Kiev 4's have light meters which are reasonably accurate but if I were buying another one I would look for one without the meter. My VC Meter is considerably more accurate and consistent.
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Old 05-02-2012   #3
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I like my Kiev 4 as well. I treat mine as a user although it requires the "Contax grip" in order to avoid getting your finger over the rangefinder window. It is so different (retro?) in appearance that I find people notice it easily and comment, which I treat as a good thing. Gives me a chance to plug film and maybe take their photo.
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Old 05-02-2012   #4
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I was thinking about the 4A model - the one without the light meter. I use a couple of Gossens for meters.

Thanks for the comments.
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Old 05-02-2012   #5
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You might want to read this:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=118556

Lots of Kiev discussion in there. I think every point of what they're like to actually shoot with is covered in that thread.

I realised the other day that I miss shooting with mine. I've not put any film through it for a couple of months. Life, sadly, has got in the way of photography. And I keep picking it up every night, playing with it for a bit, and then having to put it back.

I don't know why. I shouldn't like it. Nothing about it makes any sense. But I love it nonetheless.
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Old 05-02-2012   #6
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I am somewhat ashamed of my camera gluttony, but I must admit that I own 3 Kiev 4A cameras. I absolutely love them.

I bought 2 of them on eBay (over the course of a year or so), and one from a fellow RFF member. When I bought the first 2 from eBay (from Russia of course!), I didn't have my hopes up -- I had read lots of mixed reviews of the Kiev 4 series, and I expected mechanical problems or light leaks, etc. I don't know if I was extra lucky, but I haven't had any issues with any of my Kiev 4A cameras. They all work wonderfully.

That being said, I also would encourage you to buy from a reputable seller, like Fedka or something like that. If you want the info on the eBay seller who sold me my 2 other Kiev bodies, send me a PM and I'll forward that info to you.

Another caveat: it seems that the later model Kiev 4 cameras were not as well-made. I have a 1966 model, and two later models from 1977 and 1981. These later ones are known as "black dial" Kiev 4 cameras, because they made cosmetic changes to the top plate, replacing the chrome knobs with plastic ones.

The later "black dial" models definitely feel coarser and less-refined than the 1966 model I own. I mean, they still work, but they just feel more "rough" -- the film advance feels a little stiff, the shutter release button feels stiff, etc. etc. The 1966 model is much more refined.

In terms of lenses, the most common lens for the Kiev 4 cameras is the good old Jupter-8 50mm standard lens. This lens was produced for countless tens-of-thousands of Soviet cameras like the Fed, Zorki, etc. ... it's a good performer. Next most-common would be the Helios-103 52mm F1.8 ... these seem to be a little more common on the later Kiev 4 cameras from the 1970's and 1980's. IMHO, the Helios-103 isn't as good as the Jupiter-8. It's a little less sharp and lower in contrast.

There are other Kiev 4 lenses as well, but they are more rare -- I wouldn't worry about them unless you really fall in love with the Kiev 4 series (like I did).

There's lots of good info on the net about the Kiev 4 series, a good site I found is from a guy who overhauled his Kiev 4 and he goes into lots of loving detail about these quirky cameras -- here's the link:

http://www3.telus.net/public/rpnchbck/

Best of luck with your Kiev 4 adventures!

p.s. I also recommend getting a Kiev 4 without the lightmeter. The lightmeters on these things are probably too old to work properly anyway, and IMHO they kind of ruin the cool retro sleekness of the body. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-04-2012   #7
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my Kiev 4M dates from 1983, no doubt it is a bit 'rough' compared to say my Contax IIa from 1950, but it works great for little money, the Helios-103 lens is a gem !
only problems I noticed: sometimes you get film frame overlap, sometimes the flash sync doesn't work properly at 1/50, and about 10% of the frame remain underexposed-
but the lightmeter works accurately enough, albeit a bit odd to use, if you don't like it get a handheld meter
fantastic Soviet era lenses can be found at bargain prices
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Old 05-04-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bowieknife View Post
...sometimes the flash sync doesn't work properly at 1/50, and about 10% of the frame remain underexposed...
Flash sync speed is 1/25 not 1/50, that probably explains the flash issues
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Old 05-04-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
Flash sync speed is 1/25 not 1/50, that probably explains the flash issues
hi thanks, at 1/25 there's no problem !
I have an early Contax IIa ( not the color dial model ), later modified to std flash sync socket, that seems to work fine at 1/50, but doesn't fire the flash at 1/25 or slower....
also a Leica III factory modified to flash sync around 1954 that needs different settings than my IIIf built in 1954...
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Old 05-05-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pschauss View Post
I have four of them, one of which has an intractable light leak.
Don't know if it will help but I had a light leak on my Kiev 4A that I couldn't pin down and it turned out to be a gap at the top of the first curtain. It only leaked when the shutter was being cocked and produced vertical banding. I used a light through the lens in a dark room as I cocked the shutter to see the problem. I used a smear of black RTV sealant to fill the gap.
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Old 05-05-2012   #11
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I've had all sorts of problems with my various Zorkis, but none with my Kiev 4AM, and it's been…3 years?
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Old 05-05-2012   #12
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I have a Kiev 4a with the Helios 50mm and the Jupiter 35mm lenses. I always wanted to know how the Contax compared with the LTM Leica, and found they each have their merits. The long rangefinder base is great, and I like the focus wheel, although many don't. A lot of fun to use and the results are just fine.
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Old 05-06-2012   #13
Elmar Lang
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I have a Kiev-4a since the mid '70s, and I've used it a lot. It always comes along with me and the Contax-II, with its mix of Jupiter and Zeiss lenses.

It still works perfectly.

The Kiev can be an excellent camera.

Best wishes,

E.L.
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