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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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"Why do we say copies of German cameras?"
Old 03-16-2015   #1
Ko.Fe.
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"Why do we say copies of German cameras?"

As I promised in the thread dedicated for pictures taken with our FSU cameras.

Why FSU cameras are often "the copies".


First FED and Zorki are well known example. And if you ever look inside of the later RF cameras from FED and KMZ they were very similar to first ones in terms of shutter construction.

Next is Kiev RF cameras. Made with Contax equipment and up to 4AM looking similar to original Contax RFs inside and outside.

Lets hold to Arsenal for a while -
Salut-C, Kiev-88 looks like Hasselblad 1600f.
Kiev 35A is copy of Minox 35.
Kiev 16 mm cameras were originated from Minolta 16.

Moskva MF RFs are similar to Zeiss Ikonta.

Porst CM auto is Lomo LCA.

I don't think this list is complete.


I'm not trying to be "logical", negative or smart ars here. It just the part of my own background. My wife's uncle used to work as young student at LOMO. And one local winemaker I know was working at KMZ.

I'm also not into snobbery against of FSU cameras and lenses here.
My most recent camera is Smena-8M, enjoyable camera with rich character in the lens.
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Old 03-16-2015   #2
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Some FSU cameras have been counterfeit versions of the Leica II(D), complete with the Leica script. Others have copied the Leica II(D) in appearance, although they are marked with the true manufacturer's name such as FED. Some look nothing like the Leica, but have counterfeit Leitz/Leica engraving. The word "copy" is simply more charitable than "fake."
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Old 03-16-2015   #3
David Hughes
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But have we seen it said about all the other non-FSU copies as often?

Regards, David
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Old 03-16-2015   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
But have we seen it said about all the other non-FSU copies as often?

Regards, David
I do not know exactly, but I would assume the Canons and Nikons that were also "faked" or "copied" Leicas and Contaxes in the 1960 were also called fakes or copies.

But they developed further and overtook Leica, in certain ways (not in the RF field). Thus, their image improved.

Now, we see a Nikon RF as an amazing forerunner of the F. Not as a poor copy of the Leica.
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Old 03-16-2015   #5
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Well, only the first model of FED and Zorki:s are really close to being copies. The rest of the LTM bunch have developed in their own way - maybe less in the shutter mechanism while more in the view finder.

The fakes are as far as I know all second hand jobs - the FED or Zorki just being a convenient starting point.
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Old 03-16-2015   #6
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Who are "we"?
I never hesitate to call earlier Canon and Nikons as knockoffs.
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Old 03-16-2015   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Why FSU cameras are often "the copies".
As part of the World War II "reparations", the Soviet army took most of the existing Zeiss factories and tooling back to the Soviet Union as the Kiev camera works.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Ze...porate_history

Kiev also produced several 35 mm film rangefinder cameras which were clones of the pre-war Contax II and Contax III cameras, and a range of 35mm SLR cameras.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiev_(b..._35_mm_cameras
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Old 03-16-2015   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bille View Post
As part of the World War II "reparations", the Soviet army took most of the existing Zeiss factories and tooling back to the Soviet Union...
Hi,

Why put the word in quotation marks? It rather suggests that the Third Reich didn't invade the USSR and destroy a lot of it including the camera and optical works that caused this...

I thought the basic facts of the 2nd World War were fairly well known.

Regards, David
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Old 03-16-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

Why put the word in quotation marks? It rather suggests that the Third Reich didn't invade the USSR and destroy a lot of it including the camera and optical works that caused this...

I thought the basic facts of the 2nd World War were fairly well known.

Regards, David

Was curious about that myself.
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Old 03-16-2015   #10
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Regarding the fact that the first Kiev RFs were made with German machinery by technicians trained by the German techs I am inclined to call the Kiev rather a Version than a copy.
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Old 03-17-2015   #11
David Hughes
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Hi,

Going back to the original post.

Canon and Nikon have been advertised as Canon and Nikon for many years and were known from the 40's to the occupying US forces; who also brought their cameras home and helped establish a market in the USA.

FED were made in the old USSR and sold in the old USSR and so were not known beyond apart from rumours in the 30's and a magazine article in 1941 (from memory). I first saw a FED etc advert in the UK in the 80's so there's no link with the earlier Leica copies to my mind here.

But - here we go - look on ebay and every FED and Zorki right up to the Zorki 10 is advertised as a Russian Leica copy. Or worse as a Leica but we all know, or should know, how to spot a fake.

Taking the other point made, like Nikon and Canon the USSR made FED's and Zorkis were based on the Leica II but soon started to move away from it and be developed by the FSU technicians. I'd say that the pre-war ones were a copy and the post war ones were based on the Leica, like a lot of other makes.

I hope it's easy to see the improvements and changes as I can't be bothered to type a list but I'll add that in some ways I prefer my FED I and Zorki I to the Leica II.

Regards, David

PS And - of course - FED and Zorki's reputations have been ruined by idiots who think repairing cameras and lenses can be done at home in the kitchen with the bread knife as the only tool.
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Old 03-17-2015   #12
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No one has mentioned that the USSR did not sign up to the international patents agreement (or whatever it was called). Don't know about Japan.

But David makes a point, it was hard to find anything Russian (in the UK at least) in the '50s (apart from dolls).

In 1961 there was huge and impressive Soviet exhibition in London as part of an export drive and then TOE opened a shop:

http://cameras.alfredklomp.com/toe/

...and then my brother in law bought a Moskvitch Estate which I remember had a heads up display on the windscreen for the speedometer...
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Old 03-17-2015   #13
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http://avaxnews.net/pictures/3907

Told you it was impressive!

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Old 03-17-2015   #14
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It's simple. They're called copies to boost their value. The association with Leica no matter how distant inspires people to spend money it seems. I don't sense it as derogatory in the least, rather it's exploitative of the Leica brand recognition.

I have seen some people call American cameras like the Perfex and Clarus "leica copies" and this claim is frankly ridiculous as neither camera even vaguely resembles any leica apart from having a rangefinder and a focal plane shutter - both of which function in a different basic manner than those in Leicas.
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Old 03-17-2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
It's simple. They're called copies to boost their value. The association with Leica no matter how distant inspires people to spend money it seems. I don't sense it as derogatory in the least, rather it's exploitative of the Leica brand recognition.

I have seen some people call American cameras like the Perfex and Clarus "leica copies" and this claim is frankly ridiculous as neither camera even vaguely resembles any leica apart from having a rangefinder and a focal plane shutter - both of which function in a different basic manner than those in Leicas.
That's probably where it all comes. Like all these listings "NOT LEICA, M9, M8" etc. Quite annoying actually.
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Old 03-17-2015   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschrader View Post
I do not know exactly, but I would assume the Canons and Nikons that were also "faked" or "copied" Leicas and Contaxes in the 1960 were also called fakes or copies.

But they developed further and overtook Leica, in certain ways (not in the RF field). Thus, their image improved.

Now, we see a Nikon RF as an amazing forerunner of the F. Not as a poor copy of the Leica.
In certain ways FED and Zorki also developed further. And they produce them in larger amount, so more people can reach the cameras and use them. Is using the copies and fakes "thieving"? Should I feel guilty about it?
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Old 03-17-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
Is using the copies and fakes "thieving"? Should I feel guilty about it?
I don't think anybody has ever suggested using them is. Just selling zorkis with fake leica engravings is.
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Old 03-17-2015   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Why FSU cameras are often "the copies".


First FED and Zorki are well known example. And if you ever look inside of the later RF cameras from FED and KMZ they were very similar to first ones in terms of shutter construction.

Next is Kiev RF cameras. Made with Contax equipment and up to 4AM looking similar to original Contax RFs inside and outside.

Lets hold to Arsenal for a while -
Salut-C, Kiev-88 looks like Hasselblad 1600f.
Kiev 35A is copy of Minox 35.
Kiev 16 mm cameras were originated from Minolta 16.

Moskva MF RFs are similar to Zeiss Ikonta.

Porst CM auto is Lomo LCA.

I don't think this list is complete.
To me your question is also an answer. Many of them were copies indeed - you gave quite many examples. And those of us who grew up in FSU (like myself) know very well that "a copy" of something created on the other side of the iron curtain always had a higher value. So I think it started there - the wish to create a perception of a higher value (as somebody has already mentioned).
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Old 03-17-2015   #19
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Hi,

I think that the Nikons and Canon copies were advertised as Nikons and Ccanons but FED etc never were and so didn't exist in our minds/perceptions as a brand with any reputation for a long time.

So we see Canon and Nikon RF's as themselves but not FEDs etc. Showing the power of advertising.

On another point, I would have said that the FED and Zorki I's improved the RF by the use of a slight tint to each glass to give better contrast. A pity that wasn't copied elsewhere for a long time.

Regards, David
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Old 03-17-2015   #20
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In Holland there was import of Praktica and OrWo materials from the DDR (East Germany), however the FSU range finders were not available in a large amount. I am very happy to have a Leica M7 with Leica M glass however I have a lot of pleasure with my FED, Zorki and Kiev RFs. But you do not have to forget that these camera's, for me 1958 and up till 1980 are already pretty old and need a CLA.
Looking at some individual Jupiter and Industar lenses you can have some excellent optics hardly worse then my M lenses for a fraction of the price. So far the Zorki-6 is my favorite FSU RF camera. The J-8 and J-12 my favorite lenses. Now searching for a J-9.
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Old 03-17-2015   #21
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Nikon and Canon copies. I guess the Yashica and Sears weren't copies then since nobody mentions them?
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Old 03-17-2015   #22
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Hi,

Well, I try to keep the tone of these threads at a higher level and so don't mention Niccas, or people having two and giving people the chance of making jokes about pairs of Niccas...

Regards, David
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Old 03-17-2015   #23
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Leica and Contax both have a "premium" image, so referring to FEDs, Zorkis and Kievs as copies is intended to raise their status in the marketplace. I can see no other "excuse" since the latter are valid cameras in their own right, in my view. Although it's a sweeping generalisation, most folk would agree that the originals were made to a higher standard with better-made components and better quality control. However, a well-maintained FSU is capable of perfectly acceptable results in its intended purpose.
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Old 03-18-2015   #24
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I started years ago with Industar-22 and Jupiter-8 lenses and then Zorki 1 cameras as friends suggested and with the support here on RFf. Good copies of German equipment is what they are. I was careful where I bought them. All kinds of filters, caps, hoods, and a case. Oleg replaced the shutter curtains recently in my '54 user. He provides great service. I'm happy.
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Old 03-18-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd View Post
Nikon and Canon copies. I guess the Yashica and Sears weren't copies then since nobody mentions them?
Hi,

Well, that well known book mentions 300 Leica copies and I don't much like typing...

Regards, David
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Old 03-20-2015   #26
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Quote:
As part of the World War II "reparations", the Soviet army took most of the existing Zeiss factories and tooling back to the Soviet Union as the Kiev camera works.
Only the Contax production line remained in Kiev, other machinery was given back after a while to restore the Dresden photografic industry.

This documentary is very hard to find now, it is worth if you can find it. Old workers of Pentacon telling about Dresden and its camera industry.

http://www.schmidt-film.com/Spurensu...s_Sachsen.html
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Old 03-20-2015   #27
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I have read somewhere that FED started building their cameras under license from Leica, so in that sense, they were copies. Just as all the Japanese companies that got started using the Leica and Contax designs when the patents were abrogated after the war. The reason I bought a Zorki 1d was to see if I would like using a Barnack design.

My only wonder in all this is why haven't the sellers used the tag line "Improved Leica Design" in their descriptions?

PF
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Old 03-21-2015   #28
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Originally Posted by jschrader View Post
. . . Now, we see a Nikon RF as an amazing forerunner of the F. Not as a poor copy of the Leica.
Not least because it never was. It was an improved Contax. A far bigger improvement, though, would have been dropping that bloody silly lens mount.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-21-2015   #29
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Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
I have read somewhere that FED started building their cameras under license from Leica, so in that sense, they were copies. Just as all the Japanese companies that got started using the Leica and Contax designs when the patents were abrogated after the war. The reason I bought a Zorki 1d was to see if I would like using a Barnack design.

My only wonder in all this is why haven't the sellers used the tag line "Improved Leica Design" in their descriptions?

PF
I've read all kinds of things, but I don't necessarily believe them. I've never heard that one before, and I don't believe it either.

First, WHY would Leica license a cheap'n'nasty copy?

Second, the Soviet Union had very little time for decadent capitalist patents, and cheerfully ripped off everything.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-21-2015   #30
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Hi,

There's an article in one of my old 1940's magazines (1942 from memory) about someone who bought a FED 1 (?second-hand) and returned it to Leitz for something and was told in no uncertain terms it was nothing to do with them. I guess they meant Leitz in Mortimer Street as it couldn't have been Wetzlar during the war..

As Roger says, best not to believe everything that you read, especially on the internet and forums. Anyone can post on them and they do...

Regards, David
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Old 03-21-2015   #31
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May take me a while to find it, Roger and David, but it was in a short history of the FED works. I found it kind of hard to believe too. Still, the first FEDs were copies, but I don't see why today's sellers of the FED-2 and beyond won't tout the improvements to the original design.

I think this article got the story right:
http://www.fedka.com/Useful_info/Com.../commune_A.htm

PF
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Old 03-21-2015   #32
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Quote:
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May take me a while to find it, Roger and David, but it was in a short history of the FED works. I found it kind of hard to believe too. Still, the first FEDs were copies, but I don't see why today's sellers of the FED-2 and beyond won't tout the improvements to the original design.

I think this article got the story right:
http://www.fedka.com/Useful_info/Com.../commune_A.htm

PF
And?

Why should "a short history of the FED works" have any inherent credibility, the more so if it is hard to find? Clue: if it were true, it would probably be a lot easier to find.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-21-2015   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post

Second, the Soviet Union had very little time for decadent capitalist patents, and cheerfully ripped off everything.

Cheers,

R.

Third (although of only tenuous relevance)...I dimly remember that there was a trade embargo on goods from the USSR so nothing really mattered until it was lifted in the '60s.

Time to discuss Concordski.
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Old 03-21-2015   #34
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I didn't mean to get your knickers in a wad, Roger. Please excuse my old stroke riddled brain for not being able to remember what every darn bookmark I have is pertinent to. Heck, maybe I dreamed it.

PF
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Old 03-23-2015   #35
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Quote:
Hi,

There's an article in one of my old 1940's magazines (1942 from memory) about someone who bought a FED 1 (?second-hand) and returned it to Leitz for something and was told in no uncertain terms it was nothing to do with them. I guess they meant Leitz in Mortimer Street as it couldn't have been Wetzlar during the war..

As Roger says, best not to believe everything that you read, especially on the internet and forums. Anyone can post on them and they do...

Regards, David

Here's the link where you told about the Fed discovered in 1942. I really enjoyed reading it again: http://rangefinderforum.com/forums/s...ht=Fed%27s+194
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Old 03-23-2015   #36
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I didn't mean to get your knickers in a wad, Roger. Please excuse my old stroke riddled brain for not being able to remember what every darn bookmark I have is pertinent to. Heck, maybe I dreamed it.

PF
No, I wasn't that uncomfortable. Or even "in a twist."

More than excused. My own brain, stroke fee so far thank God, is no more reliable.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 03-25-2015   #37
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Just to add to the title of this thread.
I was studying about Lubitel and found it was copy of Voigtlander Brilliant.
Somewhere on Flickr they have posted picture of both side by side.

Guess, which one I'm after now?
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Old 03-26-2015   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Just to add to the title of this thread.
I was studying about Lubitel and found it was copy of Voigtlander Brilliant.
Somewhere on Flickr they have posted picture of both side by side.

Guess, which one I'm after now?
Hi,

They are both nice but you've more chance of a boxed one with the Lubitel. There's two versions of the Voigtlaender, btw, and I hope the extra letter "e" still counts as OK for the Umlaut...

Regards, David
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Old 05-22-2015   #39
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I concur that the Kiev 2/3 were not copies of Contax but were initially war reparation taking over much of the Contax production line .

Initially , despite being made by hastily trained local people, Kiev 2 and 3 matched the quality of the German cameras but the Soviets demanded quantity over quality so build construction tailed with the introduction of the Kiev 4 .

However , the early Kiev 4 ,although compromised by the revised , cheapened body , was actually very well realised in creating the look and controls of the post war Contax with the meter construction of the original Contax III. A pre 1965 ? Kiev is still a fine camera if not butchered by back street repairers and Oleg does wonders with those 1970s/80s rough and ready Kievs with pretty rough finishing.

My hybrids of basket case KneB 3 and Contax III bodies with 1957 Kiev 4 meter and controls certainly do not lack precision engineering,engraving and finish.

My avatar is a box of parts Contax with Kiev shutter assembly which , like the hybrids works exquisitely.
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Old 05-31-2015   #40
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Hi,

I've a "Contax with Kiev shutter assembly which , like the hybrids works exquisitely" not by choice but because the tapes broke and the Kiev bits fitted it. FWIW it cost a lot mre than the Kiev 2 and I don't know which I like the most as they've both the f/2 Sonnar/Jupiter on them...

Regards, David
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