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dll927
02-02-2005, 12:15
So far I've gotten all my FSU cameras on eBay. I have to say I've been pretty well pleased with the results. The cameras all seem servicable (not all tried yet), and some appear almost new-looking. (Is that what they mean by "mint"?)

What about Fedka and OKvintage cameras? Needless to say, the prices are higher, and I'm really wondering if it is worth it. In other words, is some sort of satisfaction from the camera having been gone over and tested worth more money than admittedly taking a bit of chance on Russian dealers? I really can't complain about the luck I have had so far. Of course I check on feedback from other buyers. And most sellers will take returns.

At those Russian prices, one could take a little more of a gamble and get another copy if one is not too great. Yes, you have to wait longer, but I don't consider that too much of an incovenience.

Just wondering how some of you feel about this question.

Roman
02-02-2005, 12:20
Well, I have never bought from Fedka or Oleg, but Oleg CLAd a FED2 and a Zorki 6 for me, and those two are my smoothest Russian rangefinders; if the cameras he sells are in the same condition, they are definitely worth the extra money; even my cameras from 'alex-photo' (who is one of the best/most reliable sellers on Ebay) don't feel as smooth as the 'olegized' ones...

Roman

Bill K.
02-02-2005, 12:37
Over the past 18 months, I have purchased a Zorki 4 and a Kiev 4a. Both sellers claimed that the cameras were good working order, yet I had issues with both of them. Considering the prices paid, ($40.00 or $50.00 US) and the fact that I do enjoy tinkering with them, they were not a bad deal. The Kiev in fact gave me some outstanding pictures, using an old meter and doing thing "the old traditional way".

Shipping costs being what they are, it would not be worth while to send them back for a refund. As dll927 pointed out, one must carefully examine the feed-back comments and weigh the risk v.s. the expenditure.

This has been my generally positive experience.

Bill K.

pshinkaw
02-02-2005, 12:51
I agree with Roman if you want cameras that work with little or no trouble. That is if you are primarily interested in making photographs.

I enjoy tinkering with the little beasts and so I do not mind taking some chances with dirty and partially functional cameras from the emergent free enterprise system of the Ukraine and Russia. It's a lot of fun and I get some satisfaction imagining that I am helping out some future Russian or Ukrainian retail tycoon.

I make it a point to buy only from Ukrainian or Russian dealers who use Westernbid or some equivalent US or British clearing house for their payments. It is far harder to get money there in a verifiable manner than it is to get the cameras to me in the US. Westernbid ssems to be very protective of their reputation and they will help a Buyer deal with a Seller who may be a little slow in shipping or ships different merchandise from what was ordered.

Some of the best Soviet cameras I have purchased, two Kiev's (Contax style rangefinders) a Kiev-60 and a Zorki-1 have come from US based individuals who for one reason or another no longer wanted cameras that they had purchased and imported themselves. None of them were camera dealers. The three 35mm cameras averaged about $25 in the aggregate and the K-60 costs me only $105. Shipping was cheap, they arrived quickly, and they worked perfectly.

Just do your e-Bay searches with the "distance: nearest first" sort feature enabled. Some Seller's have ways to get around that feature and still appear at the top of the list, but it's fairly easy to spot them and not waste time on those auctions. Some US based Sellers are now including in their auction titles the phrase "in USA". You can search on that text as well. RTight now there is a Zorki-4K auctioning at $9.95 from a US based Seller at the top of my distance based search.

If you are prepared to do some of the adjusting and repair work yourself, and you don't mind occassionally having to buy 2 cameras in order to make on functional one, buying from unknown Seller's far away can be a lot of fun.

-Paul

doubs43
02-02-2005, 15:28
"I make it a point to buy only from Ukrainian or Russian dealers who use Westernbid or some equivalent US or British clearing house for their payments. It is far harder to get money there in a verifiable manner than it is to get the cameras to me in the US. Westernbid ssems to be very protective of their reputation and they will help a Buyer deal with a Seller who may be a little slow in shipping or ships different merchandise from what was ordered."

Excellent advice. I once had a problem with a seller and Alex at Westernbid made it right. I was more than satisfied with his efforts to help me and I'll send him business when possible. I just had a lens for my Kiev-60 shipped today from the Ukraine (Alex-Photo) and I paid through Westernbid. I should hopefully see the lens (a Biometar 120mm, f/2.8) by the end of next week.

I have actually mailed a money order to a dealer in Russia and the experience was 100% positive. The dealer's name is Rosso20 and the whole thing went smoothly. I'll buy from him again if he has what I want.

Walker

Krasnaya_Zvezda
02-02-2005, 15:50
I've purchased over 20 cameras in the past year on ebay, the majority from the FSU. Of all my purchases, I've been burned three times---- all by US sellers. I've bought from at least 5 different sellers in the FSU, all have been great, alex-photo getting my highest recommendation.

pshinkaw
02-02-2005, 16:13
That is not to say that there are NO problems with Russian or Ukrainian Sellers.You just have to learn how to control your risks by selecting Sellers carefully.

I have entered into over 60 purchases from individuals from those countries in the past 3 years. A few were from Sellers with only 2 or 3 e-Bay feedbacks. I have only failed to receive my merchandise once. I lost $35.00 on that one. I sweated out two more for 4 -5 months that were a little suspicious, but even they eventually came through.

You might want to start out by just buying a camera of your choice from Fedka in New York. If you get hooked, you can try out the Russian/Ukrainian connection in light doses, say a Zorki-4 with a Jupiter lens for $25 and a Fed-2 with an Industar 26 for $20.

Remember, Moderation in all Things!

-Paul

Gordon Coale
02-02-2005, 16:17
The Best Stuff.com Russian Camera (http://www.beststuff.com/forum/index.php?f=25) Forum has a section of text files, one of which is Recommended Sellers or FSU Gear (http://www.beststuff.com/forum/download.php?f=27&id=25&fileid=13&file=Sellers.txt). It may be a little out of date. However, one on the list that I haven't seen mentioned here is Soviet Camera Store (http://www.sovietcamera.com.ua/). He claims to CLA his cameras and gives a guarantee. I bought what he advertised as a mint black Jupiter 8 and I received a mint black Jupiter 8. I would buy from him again.

doubs43
02-02-2005, 17:43
Gordon is correct about the list of recommended FSU sellers. Try this link: http://www.beststuff.com/forum/read.php?f=27&i=25&t=25

Click on the txt file to read it. The information is pretty much still accurate.

Walker

Krasnaya_Zvezda
02-02-2005, 18:42
The Best Stuff.com Russian Camera (http://www.beststuff.com/forum/index.php?f=25) Forum has a section of text files, one of which is Recommended Sellers or FSU Gear (http://www.beststuff.com/forum/download.php?f=27&id=25&fileid=13&file=Sellers.txt). It may be a little out of date. However, one on the list that I haven't seen mentioned here is Soviet Camera Store (http://www.sovietcamera.com.ua/). He claims to CLA his cameras and gives a guarantee. I bought what he advertised as a mint black Jupiter 8 and I received a mint black Jupiter 8. I would buy from him again.

I forgot about this place. Prices are pretty good, considering the CLA and the guarantee. Definitely worth looking into.

wlewisiii
02-02-2005, 19:02
Just to add my own 2 cents, I'll always go to Fedka first. His customer service is extrodinary and the added peace of mind is well worth the extra cost to me.

William

rbiemer
02-02-2005, 21:15
I have a short list of folks in the FSU I buy from. They mostly are or have been sellers on ebay so I could check out their feedback. I don't buy from ebay (I won't use plastic on-line and my email address is considered"anonymous").
I really like Gevorg Vartanyan(http://araxfoto.com/ . He sells Kiev Medium format gear that he has brought up to spec and says on his site that he will/can get other gear as well. I sent him a big pile of $ for my Kiev 60 outfit and am very happy with his ethics(and the huge package arrived by his estimated delivery time though ther were two US holidays that slowed the post office down!) As I need more med fmt stuff I will be happy to send him more $
I can also reccomend Oleghttp://okvintagecamera.com/ . I bought a Zorki 10 from him that was better than described and shipped quickly.
Two others I have personally dealt with:
RafCamera http://rafcamera.com/ is who I bought my Zorki 3m from and he was a bit pricier than other sellers but my confidence level was high and supported by his good/quick answers to my many questions I bugged him with before I sent my $
There is an auction site that's only FSU gear http://www.sovietcamera.com (not to be confused with sovietcamera store) This is where i bought my first two cameras(agat18k and kiev 4a) from seller "asper_cam"
The site currently seem kind of dormant. not much there and asper_cam seems to be the only seller. My guess is that its his site but who knows?
I have just ordered from another FSU seller (who I don't really know yet)--if the deal works out as well as I hope I will let everyone know who he is. I promise!
Rob

peter_n
02-03-2005, 07:34
I bought my J-11 and J-8 from eBay dealer ruscamera (http://stores.ebay.com/RUSCAMERA-STORE) and they were exactly as described and well packed. The J-11 is an excellent lens and the J-8 looks good so far.

dll927
02-03-2005, 08:44
UPDATE - I just ordered a Kiev-4a from Fedka. This is my first relationsbhip with them, so I hope it turns out well.

The description of the camera says it has "minor dust" in the lens, but that it won't affect pictures. We'll see. As it happens, I already have two Kievs - a Kiev-3 and a Kiev-4, both of which have meters stacked on top. I wanted a version without the meter. Both of mine have the Jupiter-8 lens, as does this one, so between the three lenses, I should come up with something!!

peter_n
02-03-2005, 09:31
I have bought from Fedka and had a good experience. You will get lots of order status emails. Good luck with the new cam!

Doug
02-03-2005, 15:44
Good luck with your new 4a, dll! I bought one of my Kiev 4a cams from Fedka too, and it got mixed up a bit. What first arrived was a Kiev 4, and meter even worked. But there was something iffy about the shutter, so I sent it back. Then a 4a showed up, but it had problems with light leaks and I sent it back as well. The third Kiev arrived in good condition, including color negs and prints he'd shot at a tennis match to show there were no light leaks! :) Pretty dedicated, and yet I found there WERE still light leaks unless I used the leather case. Neat camera anyway.