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dll927
01-31-2005, 11:32
This first two digits of serial numbers are supposed to be the year of manufacture. I've read on websites that the quality of Kievs became more questionable around the mid-1960's, due to more interest in production numbers than in quality. There is even one story that a whole month's worth of production was hauled off to the dump.

I'm interested in getting a 4a (no meter), and there are a couple advertised on eBay (dealers I've bought from before) that look nice. But they are dated around 1978 or so. I'm sort of wondering about them quality-wise. They seem to say that the 4's were produced from about 1958 to 1974. Any reaction or advice as to changes in quality over the years?

pshinkaw
01-31-2005, 12:07
The story is related by Peter Hennig:

http://www.cameraquest.com/zconrfKiev.htm

as re-published on Stepehn Gandy's website. The suspect year is 1981 although since it was a deterioration in quality it probably affected quite a few months and perhaps even a year or more before. I own a Kiev 4M and Helios-103 from 1983. They are perfectly fine. Another one of my Kiev's is a 4A from 1979. It is about the same qualty as the 1982 camera.

The best is the Kiev-2 and Kiev-3. Reputedly the quality starrted to go downhill after the first generation of Soviet technicians trained by Zeiss staff began to leave the work force. I don't know what a Soviet retirement program looks like, but it was probably sometime in the 70's when most of those workers retired. A lot of modifications to the orginal Zeiss design also came in during the Kiev4/4A production.

-Paul

webb3201
01-31-2005, 12:12
As a newcomer, I just went through the same question you are asking. I wanted a meterless Kiev and kicked around the Kiev II and 4am. I went with the AM as the model I bought was black, even though the model was an 80s model. In the end the machine seems very well made and all works well. If you want to get closer to the Contax roots, check for a II and you will get something from the 50s. In the end, I decided that for under 50 bucks, I could gamble. Good luck and enjoy.

taffer
01-31-2005, 14:02
Curiously I own a 4am from the cursed year (1981) and it's silky smooth :)

Have in mind also that probably more important than the year is getting it from a reputated dealer who will guarantee that it's working fine and will have no problems in giving you a return guarantee if not.

wlewisiii
01-31-2005, 16:46
I have to agree with Taffer. My 4a is from 1977 and is a marvellous camera. The dealer is always the key.

I prefer fedka (www.fedka.com) because, even though he costs more, he'll go the extra miles to make sure his customers are satisfied. I originally ordered a 4am because it was cheapest. His only one in stock didn't sound right to him so he sent me a higer condition graded 4a instead at the same price.

William

tedwhite
02-05-2005, 16:25
The Kiev 4A I'm using works quite well (it's a 1980) except that the little focusing wheel is kaput so you focus the lens by hand (which I don't mind, seeing as I use screwmount Spotmatics - but only on odd Thursdays). Then again, why did the little focusing wheel go kaput? Is it easy to fix?

Also, what's the difference between a Kiev 4A and a Kiev 4M?

pshinkaw
02-07-2005, 06:36
The "A " after the number indicates that it is the meterless version. They are more popular and usually sell for slightly higher prices at auction. The "M" after the number or after the "A" indicates that it is from the last series of "4" models which had a built-in take-up spool, rewind release built into one of the the two bottom latches, and a rewind crank. Thus, a 4A has no meter, but uses a drop-out take-up spool and has a rewind knob while a 4M has an exposure meter, built-in take-up spool and rewind crank.

Oh yes, to complicate things further, the 4M has a hot shoe while the 4AM (meterless version) does not. Although, with Soviet cameras, there could be exceptions.

-Paul

Roman
02-07-2005, 12:04
Oh yes, to complicate things further, the 4M has a hot shoe while the 4AM (meterless version) does not. Although, with Soviet cameras, there could be exceptions.

-Paul

...like my 4AM which does have a hot-shoe!

Roman

pshinkaw
02-07-2005, 12:24
Roman:

I knew that as soon as I came close to making a categorical statement, something would surface to make me look like a fool!

-Paul

tedwhite
02-07-2005, 19:16
Well, I've sent the Kiev 4A back to its owner - it was on loan to see if I liked Russian rangefinders - as I found it difficult to use (film loading, small and not so bright viewfinder) - but I must say that the Helios 103 is one heck of a good lens. Also, having to schlep a handheld meter along. Maybe I need a Bessa R2A? Or a Leica M6 or M7? Something with a built in meter? The Bessa maybe, but the Leicas are out my price range.

To the Kiev's credit: I have rarely held a more solidly built camera in my hands. Or, for that matter, a better looking camera. It's got the classic look in *****s.

Darn it, maybe I shouldl just quit whining and buy one on ebay, hang around with it for a couple of months, and learn how to use it well.

wlewisiii
02-07-2005, 19:38
If you do, then get a Kiev 4am - it should come with a Helios as that was the standatd by then, it won't have a (inaccurate anyway) selenium meter on top, it's easier to load and unload with the fixed spool and rewind crank, and they tend to be cheaper than the older ones. It's not going to solve all of your issues, but it might be one that is an acceptable compromise for you. It's a real pity the Kiev 5 wasn't better constructed as it sounds to me like you'd be a perfect customer for one.

I don't know what to tell you - I love how the Contax/Kiev looks and feels and I just don't get that same vibe from the Leicas I've fondled (I feel the same way about the respective glass too). I'm probably just too wierd for words... :eek: But with my "with me at all times" kit is a Keiv 4a with a VC Meter II clipped on it and my 3 lens kit - a SC Skopar 35/2.5, a pre-war Zeiss collapsable 50/2 and a Jupiter 9 85/2. It's replaced all the other cameras I used to use.

William