View Full Version : Kiev versus Zorki

01-07-2005, 14:49
I am very interested in getting a Russian camera and have read more than enough about both the Zorki and Kiev cameras to know that I want both.. I know that I will probably eventually get one of each, being among camera fanatics everyone who reads this will understand. However I would like to hear from the Rangefinderforum mass and hear all opinions and experiences. Examples of issues I would like to cover is 1) Lens interchangeability between the Zorki and the Kiev. 2) Feature differences. 3) Mechanical reliablity. 4) Ease of use.

Thank you,


01-07-2005, 15:11
Gee! I fel as though we have hashed it out thoroughly already. Almost anything sayable on the subject ought to be somewhere in these archives.


01-07-2005, 18:12
I held out for the longest time contemplating a Kiev 4a or Zorki 4. I chose the Kiev and really am taken by it. More or less, modern RF photography is Leica photography. The form and handling of the cameras is built around what Leica has done forever. There is another world out there though, that started by Contax. It is a different, but brilliant camera design which was in production until the 1980s by Kiev. That makes my little FSU folly just a little more special to me.

01-07-2005, 20:49
Hands down the Kiev 4am is a beautifully made camera and feels great to handle. Can't explain it, it's just special. Maybe it has something to do with the proportions and rangefinder base? Who knows, but I can honestly say it's the nicest camera body I have ever come across.

01-07-2005, 21:05
....I can honestly say it's the nicest camera body I have ever come across.

Wow! This, from someone with an M6, a CLE, and an R2!

01-08-2005, 01:13
I have both Zorkis (and FEDs) and Kievs, and as for your questions:

1) nope; there are mythological adapters, but even if you find one (and they are rarer than hens' teeth...) for the price you might just as well get a Leica with a couple of lenses...

2) Kiev has wider rangefinder base; Kiev has metal vertical shutter, Zorki cloth horizontal; Zorkis (later ones, 3M, 4 5 and 6) have brighter, larger viewfinders;

3) hard to say - Kievs are said to be built to higher standards - but on the other hand, they are much more complex mechanically, so more can go wrong - and they are harder to fix by yourself.

4)That's a matter of taste - with the Kiev you have to learn the (awkward at first) 'Contax-grip', so that you don't cover the rangefinder window; on the other hand, the focussing wheel is great!

I'd say: Kievs are fine mechanical precision tools, heavy and complex, and it is a joy to deliberately use them for that; Zorkis are simple, easy-to-repair take-everywhere cameras that will also give you great results (after all, most of the lenses are identical!)


01-08-2005, 07:47
Ditto to what Roman has said.

In addtion to the large, therefore bright viewfinder, the clincher for me, is that the Zorki 3M is built to a simpler standard. It's more Leica-like.

Zeiss-Ikon is reknowned for some exquisite mechanical designs, but they usually come with some ergonomic quirks and are more difficult to repair. A CLA'd Kiev 2 or 2a will pretty much outclass the best Zorki.

By comparison, my Zorki 3M and FED 2, type d, are crude minimalistic photo apparatii, but much more true to the original Barnack concept and the LTM lenses seem to be plentiful.

01-08-2005, 09:34
Welcome to the forum, Jay! :) Just to pick up on Andrew's LTM lens comment, you might want to consider the camera choice from a lens perspective. I have a Leica but I have to say that I love the "look" of the Zeiss-based lens designs I have used on it. Only two admittedly (a current Elmar-M and a Jupiter-8) but they are warmer and have wonderful smooth OOF areas compared to modern Leica glass.

01-08-2005, 10:41
Originally posted by jcapodiferro
...<snip>...Examples of issues I would like to cover is 1) Lens interchangeability between the Zorki and the Kiev. 2) Feature differences. 3) Mechanical reliablity. 4) Ease of use.

Thank you,


1) What Roman said...Big $$$ for adaptors that your not likely to find, it would be much cheaper to have bodies and lens sets in both types than a couple of adaptors.

2) Books have been written about all the differences, to add to whatís been mentioned already.. with Zorki & FED's you normally have a long RF base length and no slow speeds or cameras with slow speeds have a short RF length (only becomes an issue focusing with 85/135mm lenses and fast 50mm wide open ie. Jupiter 3 @ f1.5)

3) None are noted as unreliable by design but remember we are talking about 50yr old Soviet cameras. Cameras with slow speeds can sometimes need a tune up, I have a couple that the shutter is sluggish at one of the slow speeds. I have fixed a few FED's and Zorki's but donít fancy working on a Kiev. One camera I've heard can require more service work than the others is the Zorki 3 (not the 3M).. something to do with the slow speed linkages (fixed in the 3M). The FED/Zorkiís (and Leicaís for that matter) have a rubber coated fabric shutter that can rot over the years and require replacing.

4) None are hard to use, the Kiev requires the 'Contax grip' and the use of a focus wheel. Some like the FED3b/4/5 and Zorki 4K/5/6 have thumb lever winders the rest use a round knob for winding (slower). Most have round knob for rewinding (slow). Some of the first models are bottom loaders (no removable or swing open back) and require the film leader to be cut with a longer tongue (FED/Zorki 1, Zorki 2, Zorki 5). Worth knowing is the Zorki 6 is the only one with a swing open back for easy film loading.

IMO your short list should include

(with slow speeds)
FED3a, Kiev 4AM, Zorki 3M, Zorki 4K

(w/out slow speeds)
Zorki 6, FED 2

IMO the Zorki 3M is "THE" Soviet RF if you donít mind spending a bit more than most models will cost you.

01-08-2005, 11:22
It might be well to keep in mind that all the Russian cameras are copies. In addition, Leica and Contax, are, were, and always shall be, separate entities. In their day, many considered the Contaxes to be the superior cameras in spite of their famous shutter problems. (BTW, no, Zorki and Kiev lenses aren't interchangeable - they have totally different mounts.)

I have two Kiev 4s. For Zorkis, I have a 1, a 4, and some others on the way. No Feds.

Anyone collect old Exaktas??

01-08-2005, 16:42
Thank you all for your advice. It helps to hear from some experienced users. I love super sharp, super contrasty photos. That being said, I am leaning toward what ever camera I can best use the Industar 61 with. I will keep everyone posted.