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Helios 103/Kiev 4AM question.
Old 12-31-2016   #1
xavyr
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Helios 103/Kiev 4AM question.

Good morning.

I have a long-ago bought but never used Kiev 4AM (a 1981 model) acquired years ago that I have never used (ummm, digital got in the way ).

My new-to-me Oly XA got my enthusiasm for RF rekindled, so I began reading-up on the 4AM to re-familiarize myself with the manual-of-arms.

I notice, however, that the Helios 103 itself has a tiny bit of rattly play in its components off the camera, and also that the mount to the camera is somewhat loose.

I've heard great things about the Helios, but think it's likely pointless to try even a test roll, given that the lens and its mount are in this wiggly condition.

My question is: is it worth (or even possible) to have these things fixed? If so, can anyone recommend a repair service? Or should I just start looking for a better specimen among the Contax-clone family?

With thanks for any input!
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Old 12-31-2016   #2
xayraa33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xavyr View Post
Good morning.

I have a long-ago bought but never used Kiev 4AM (a 1981 model) acquired years ago that I have never used (ummm, digital got in the way ).

My new-to-me Oly XA got my enthusiasm for RF rekindled, so I began reading-up on the 4AM to re-familiarize myself with the manual-of-arms.

I notice, however, that the Helios 103 itself has a tiny bit of rattly play in its components off the camera, and also that the mount to the camera is somewhat loose.

I've heard great things about the Helios, but think it's likely pointless to try even a test roll, given that the lens and its mount are in this wiggly condition.

My question is: is it worth (or even possible) to have these things fixed? If so, can anyone recommend a repair service? Or should I just start looking for a better specimen among the Contax-clone family?

With thanks for any input!
It is one of the best FSU lenses IMHO, especially for colour work.

Go through the exterior of the lens and tighten any tiny screws, don't overdo it and strip them. Snug up any loose beauty rings on the front if they are loose with a piece of rubber hose of the right diameter. You can slightly bent the locking tab to fit the lens mount latch spring for a snug fit on the camera body.

These lenses are cheap to replace, at one time sellers were offering them for 25 dollars with shipping and in like new condition, they are not much more now.
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Old 12-31-2016   #3
xavyr
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Thanks, xayraa - tried your suggestions, but took a closer look (as I should have done before I posted).

Following the instructions on the old 'Kiev Survival' site, I tried to put a slight upward bend to the lens flange tabs so that they exert more pressure on the underside of the mounting plate tabs - no help, but I could see that someone has done this before.

Howeve, it seems as though the focusing mount itself (within the mounting plate) is slightly wiggly. I can grasp the edge of the distance scale ring and wiggle the whole mount within the plate - the screws holding the scale ring in place will not tighten further.

Hmm - searching now for a diagram...
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Old 01-02-2017   #4
tunalegs
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I think that's normal. The whole mount in the camera will have a tiny amount of play because it has to rotate easily when focused by the tiny focusing wheel without tearing your finger tip apart. Maybe the older ones were tighter, but that's how my 4AM is.

As for the lens to the mount, if you take the lens off the camera, you'll see the tabs on the lens mount are cut in such a way that they have some capacity for spring in them. If somebody was a ham-fisted gorilla when mounting the lens they may have bent the tabs inward resulting in a loose fitting lens. You can gently pry them back out with small screwdriver to get a tight fit again.
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Old 01-03-2017   #5
xavyr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
As for the lens to the mount, if you take the lens off the camera, you'll see the tabs on the lens mount are cut in such a way that they have some capacity for spring in them. If somebody was a ham-fisted gorilla when mounting the lens they may have bent the tabs inward resulting in a loose fitting lens. You can gently pry them back out with small screwdriver to get a tight fit again.
Thanks, TL, for your help in this -

May I ask: with your own specimen, when the lens is locked at infinity, does the distance ring still have a small bit of movement? So locked, mine has about .5 mm wiggle side-to-side, and a much tinier bit front-to-back.

Following xayraa's earlier suggestion (as also seen on "Kiev Survival"), I saw that the cuts make for a sort of "torsion bar" to exert pressure in the right direction for a solid mount, and could see that they've been worked on before.

The, uh, "upwards"-direction adjustment of those springs had little effect - I found that one was already "pegged", maybe someone's earlier tightening attempt.

Maybe I am making too much of this lens-to-film-plane/consistency thing: I appreciate your advisory that I might be seeing "just how they are."

The lens itself is another story. The aperture ring alone still has a bit of slop, but doesn't appear to be of much consequence, since all else is tight.
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Old 01-03-2017   #6
tunalegs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xavyr View Post
Thanks, TL, for your help in this -

May I ask: with your own specimen, when the lens is locked at infinity, does the distance ring still have a small bit of movement? So locked, mine has about .5 mm wiggle side-to-side, and a much tinier bit front-to-back.

Following xayraa's earlier suggestion (as also seen on "Kiev Survival"), I saw that the cuts make for a sort of "torsion bar" to exert pressure in the right direction for a solid mount, and could see that they've been worked on before.

The, uh, "upwards"-direction adjustment of those springs had little effect - I found that one was already "pegged", maybe someone's earlier tightening attempt.

Maybe I am making too much of this lens-to-film-plane/consistency thing: I appreciate your advisory that I might be seeing "just how they are."

The lens itself is another story. The aperture ring alone still has a bit of slop, but doesn't appear to be of much consequence, since all else is tight.
Yes, mine has a bit of play when turning the lens while locked in infinity. It has barely perceptible in-out play as well (in the mount itself, not in the lens).
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Old 02-12-2017   #7
Philip Whiteman
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For what it's worth, my 1981 4M has very little play in the mount whereas my 1978 4 has a similar level of rotational and axial play to your 4AM, xavyr. I doubt you will see any ill effect in pictures taken on it, but you might get a small improvement in the rotational play by removing the lens release tang and carefully straightening the section towards the notch.

On my Kiev 4 the tang had been bent into an S-shape which both made the lens stiff to fit and allowed the tab to move within the notch. Straightening the tang made a surpringsingly big difference.
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Old 02-12-2017   #8
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Thank you, Philip, for the additional reassurance.

Though the shipping costs are, uh, uneconomical, I sent the 4AM off to Oleg Khalyavin for looking-over and freshening-up. It is on its way back just now, and I am very much looking forward to shooting it. Though it may be a few weeks, I will be sure to post results.

And thanks again to all for your counsel.
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Old 02-13-2017   #9
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Well, this morning I received a parcel from Oleg with the two cameras that I sent him - the Kiev 4AM under discussion, and a (formerly) woebegone Zorki 4k. I could not be happier.

The slight lateral and axial movement of the mounted Helios is gone, yet the focus is smooth and easy, the lens responding with ease to the wheel. The Helios seems to have got its own tune-up as well. The rangefinder optics are crystal clear, the patch well-defined with proper contrast, and function is dead on. The overall cosmetic clean-up inside and out is very impressive.

The Zorki is similarly tight, smooth, clean, and well-functioning; its own glass and rangefinder just as crisp and clear as can be, and it too focuses very smoothly. The faded shutter speed dial has been replaced with a fresh one.

Oleg's repair and renovation service is a bargain, even with the cost of shipping to-and-fro. I recommend him to all without reserve, and because I have a FED itch begging to be scratched, will doubtless be contacting him again.

Now to get shooting!
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