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FSU Former Soviet Union RF This forum is for the Former Soviet Union rangefinder cameras, especially the many and various Fed, Zorki, and Kiev.

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Kiev 4a aka "World's Finest 35mm Rangefinder Camera"
Old 03-09-2013   #1
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Kiev 4a aka "World's Finest 35mm Rangefinder Camera"

Russian No Name Kiev 4A
Protax 4A proclaimed "The World's finest 35mm Rangefinder Camera"
For those endlessly losing sleep determining whether the Leica M3, M2, M4, or MP is the World's Finest 35mm Rangefinder, go back to sleep. This question was decided long ago. In 1983 the good folks at Cambridge Camera in New York City gave that championshp title to this version of the Russian No Name Kiev 4A. Only $129.95 - while supplies lasted.

For the lost newbies, a Kiev 4A is a Russian made 35mm camera inspired by Zeiss Contax II -- whose tooling dies were hauled off to Russia as a war prize after WWII. Yep, Kievs take classic Zeiss Contax lenses, and likewise the Ruskie Kiev lenses will fit classic Zeiss Contax. Not really known as high precision cameras and lenses, this Ruskie still offered a lot for the money: 1983 Prices: New bodies $129, 35/2.8 $89, 50/2 $49, and 85/2 lenses at $98. Apparently there are at least 3 variations of the "No Name Kiev," ie Kiev camera without name plate. After WWII one variation was made using mostly original Germany parts. Another version appeared in about 1963. This version appeared in NYC in 1983 - notice the self timer is not all metal as the 1963 version.
Only the last 1983 version, however, proudly shouldered the title of "The World's finest 35mm Rangefinder Camera."

Ad copyright Cambridge Camera, all Rights Reserved

Addendum
__________

I'm sure this ad was written from the word go as Over the Top Entertainment
-- much like the Fiats going over the Italian cliffs to motor to the US in today's TV ads.

My congrats to Cambridge and the copywriter for providing laughs 30 years later!

Stephen
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Old 03-09-2013   #2
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This ad is comedy gold. "There is nothing to get out of alignment." I better call DAG and get back the sh**load of money I spent because my Leicas were out of whack.
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Old 03-09-2013   #3
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I remember reading this advert when it came out. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Stephan.

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Old 03-09-2013   #4
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Wow, here I always thought that the 1963 No Name was the only No Name Kiev. I'm not sure this one wins the prize for best anything, but I wouldn't laugh too hard over the 'nothing to get knocked out of alignment' claim. The Kievs, like the original Contax II, do have a great deal less moving rangefinder parts to get knocked out of whack than other rangefinders. Still, I don't think the folks at Leica were as intimidated by this camera in 1983 as the earlier folks at Leica were in 1936.
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Old 03-09-2013   #5
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Good to know salvation is (or was) at hand - I never enjoyed being scared by the array of incomprehensible dials and numerals on my X-700...

Thanks for posting this - I badly needed a laugh today!
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Old 03-09-2013   #6
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Copywriter earned his day's pay for that one! Free pierogi lunch for anyone who can work "brainwashed" into today's ad.
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Old 03-09-2013   #7
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well better dump my M5 and pull the Kiev 4 out of the cupboard.
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Old 03-09-2013   #8
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So in 1983 some Americans in New York said the worlds finest 35mm camera came from the Soviet Union...just too funny
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Old 03-09-2013   #9
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To me this looks like a Ken Rockwell's early write-up...well, or he must have started his style from this masterpiece
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Old 03-10-2013   #10
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Love this AD . Sounded like one of those "Now the truth can be told. .. .... " story's. Good stuff, lets hear it for the ad men.
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Old 03-10-2013   #11
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hehe that is absolutely true..PROVIDED you take following details into account:
-It does not apply to cameras produced on mondays, the workers were still dead drunk of vodka in the weekend.
-It does not apply to cameras made in the end of "five year plan" the tools and drill bits were too wacky and out of measurement that the parts hardly fit or were like "gravel treated"
-It does not apply to cameras that had the traditional russian camera lube, you could not breathe having th camera under your nose, the smell of that rancid lube was so bad.
-It does not apply to any other camera that wasn`t assembled for Party Honchos. They had some quality control.. Otherwise the technican would go straight to Siberia on those camps that "Teach good communistic behaviour"
- I hope Cambridge camera had good relations with those "Party officials", otherwise.. no hope to live to that promise...
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Old 03-10-2013   #12
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I hope the advertising team responsible for promoting these paperweights went on to bigger things afterwards - like running presidential election campaigns, perhaps.... (!)
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Old 03-10-2013   #13
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If it's printed on a newspaper and/or posted on the Internet, it must be true.
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Old 03-10-2013   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWaldron View Post
Wow, here I always thought that the 1963 No Name was the only No Name Kiev.
So did I. It certainly still is the only one sold globally through several sellers.
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Old 03-10-2013   #15
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A great example of US media quality and truth in advertising.
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Old 03-10-2013   #16
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This ad made me chuckle ... a lot of marketing hyperbole, to be sure.

Actually I quite like the Kiev 4A, I've bought a couple of them. They're fun to use, although by 1983 the 4A was hopelessly outdated.

Funny to think that at the height of the Cold War, there was an American retailer that was pushing Soviet-made cameras.

I wonder if they ever came out with a special edition a la Leica? Maybe the 'Brezhnev 4A', with real Yak leather and hammer-and-sickle detailing?
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Old 03-10-2013   #17
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Addendum
__________

I'm sure this ad was written from the word go as Over the Top Entertainment
-- much like the Fiats going over the Italian cliffs to motor to the US in today's TV ads.

My congrats to Cambridge and the copywriter for providing laughs 30 years later!

Stephen
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Old 03-11-2013   #18
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1983-the Nikon FE & FE2s were competing with the Olympus OMs, the canon F-1 and AE-1, Pentax MEs, etc., these are all great cameras, most probably still in working order today. Price-wise, well you simply can't compete with slave labour, as an economics professor once told me, but for quality product, you can't compete with competition.
I thought the writing was horrendous. Clearly they were overstocked with "Protaxes" & hoping to dump them. Was any kind of warranty mentioned in there??
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Old 03-11-2013   #19
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Quote:
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Was any kind of warranty mentioned in there??
Do world's finest RF camera really needed it? Only second and third tier stuff needs warranty
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Old 03-11-2013   #21
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One of these actually engraved "Protax" would be an interesting curiosity.

But as to one of the earlier comments, it's true that the prewar Contax RF design (which the Kiev copied) is pretty bombproof.
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Old 03-11-2013   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
But as to one of the earlier comments, it's true that the prewar Contax RF design (which the Kiev copied) is pretty bombproof.
Except from what I've read, quality really fell by the 1970s and 1980s, when this ad was run.
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Old 03-11-2013   #23
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I love those Cambridge Photo ads, they were the photo equivalent of those late night infomercials.
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Old 03-11-2013   #24
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Or in this case, maybe the weekly world news.
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Old 03-12-2013   #25
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I don't remember that ad. I guess I was too much into SLRs at the time. I had a small Olympus PS RF of some kind and although small, didn't excite me as much as an SLR. I probably saw the ad and just wasn't interested. I used to devour Modern Photo, Pop Photo, and Petersons. I expecially perused the ads for things I wished I had but couldn't afford.

Does anyone remember the SLR, I think sold by Spriatone, but maybe Cambridge, that was a Russian SLR (I don't recall which), with the olympic logo covered up by its new US name?

Stephen, thanks for the trip down memory lane. I not laughing like some, as I have a Kiev 4am that takes good photos when the photographer behind it is in good form.
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Old 05-11-2013   #26
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Yes, Cambridge Camera. Are they still in business?
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Old 05-11-2013   #27
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Same phone number !!!


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Old 05-12-2013   #28
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Better go see if they have any of those world's best 35mm cameras in stock.

What? That ad is 30 years old? No way.
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Old 05-12-2013   #29
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Ha, very cool.
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Old 05-12-2013   #30
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I'll bet there was a lot of pressure on the salesmen to push that skylight filter and case on you as well.
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Old 05-18-2013   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post

Does anyone remember the SLR, I think sold by Spriatone, but maybe Cambridge, that was a Russian SLR (I don't recall which), with the olympic logo covered up by its new US name?

.
The Zenit 12XP. It was a good SLR in its class, if there were others in this class. H. Keppler wrote a nice piece about it in Modern Photo in 1981 or 82, presenting the Zenit with a 300mm (or 400mm Astranar "Girl watcher" Lens) as a suitable inexpensive stand-by for safari photography.

A working Kiev is quite good. BTW, was the Kiev in the Cambridge ads really a no-name Kiev? The 'nameless' front plate appears to be so only in the rendered pictures that accompanied the ad. Buyers, I think received a 4A with Kiev engravings. Subsequent ads (also in 81 or 82?) which appeared in the Cambridge pages show a named Kiev with the usual engraved bi-lingual label.
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Old 05-18-2013   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZorkiKat View Post
BTW, was the Kiev in the Cambridge ads really a no-name Kiev? The 'nameless' front plate appears to be so only in the rendered pictures that accompanied the ad. Buyers, I think received a 4A with Kiev engravings. Subsequent ads (also in 81 or 82?) which appeared in the Cambridge pages show a named Kiev with the usual engraved bi-lingual label.
The ad in question is from 1983, AFTER the named Kiev ads.

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Old 05-21-2013   #33
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I love those Cambridge Photo ads, they were the photo equivalent of those late night infomercials.
I actually remember shopping at Cambridge. IIRC they were about the only one open Sunday back in 1972 or so.
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Old 05-26-2013   #34
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Wow what a bargain.....
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Old 07-29-2013   #35
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What fun !

At least TOE ,the UK importers recognised the deteriorating quality problems of the later Kievs , so , they are probably the most likely to be still performing OK with decent original non USSR lubrication and thorough re-engineering where required .

However, TOE have been known to state that these export cameras were much better than may be expected . By this time , the best went for export instead of, in the early 50s Party favourites .
My mint boxed 1976 4a is surprisingly good .. but can't beat my Oleg Sourced/CLA Kiev 4 of the same year. Maybe USA cameras were also of best available quality ?
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Old 07-29-2013   #36
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Stuff straight out of Fox News.
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Old 08-22-2013   #37
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This ad wasn't the worst of Cambridge's sins
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Old 08-22-2013   #38
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I purchased, resealed, played and sold 4AM, last year.
Didn't like it, Contax bayonet, grip and focusing is not my cap of tee, at all. Feels awkward to me.
I purchased, repaired and sold several FSU cameras since previous year.
Almost nobody wanted Zorki, Moskva and FED-2 here. But Kiev 4AM, which is considered to be worst in quality among those Contax copies, was sold by same day and I was receiving e-mails with offers for a while after.
I have my used, cheap Bessa R delivered to my place, by previous owner, because no local interest.
Where are few "user" Barnacks in Toronto for sale under very good price, listed for a while now.
So, this advert might be right, have no clue why people likes FSU-copy-Contax here so much.
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Old 08-22-2013   #39
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Followed different local market places extensively and Kiev bodies are slightly rare items to find. Contax mount objectives are more common and even seen more compared to LTM versions. And perhaps thanks to early Kiev II copies their image is good enough and people tend to ignore late production quality issues
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Old 08-22-2013   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I purchased, resealed, played and sold 4AM, last year.
Didn't like it, Contax bayonet, grip and focusing is not my cap of tee, at all. Feels awkward to me.
I purchased, repaired and sold several FSU cameras since previous year.
Almost nobody wanted Zorki, Moskva and FED-2 here. But Kiev 4AM, which is considered to be worst in quality among those Contax copies, was sold by same day and I was receiving e-mails with offers for a while after.
I have my used, cheap Bessa R delivered to my place, by previous owner, because no local interest.
Where are few "user" Barnacks in Toronto for sale under very good price, listed for a while now.
So, this advert might be right, have no clue why people likes FSU-copy-Contax here so much.
Maybe for the same reason people here on RFF were so in to FED bodies back when RFF first started out, before so many were Leica lovers (opens secret trap door for run to shelter). Buy a FED and put a Leica lens on it. Pleased a lot of people.

Although I haven't done it yet, that was my plan when I got my Kiev 4am. But so far, in 35mm, I am still using my Contax and Fujica SLRs more than RF, and the Kiev lenses don't seem that bad either, so I have yet to get any Contax lenses for my Kiev. But some day, maybe the 15mm (sigh).
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