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12-06-2009, 05:10 AM   #1
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To get a Kiev 88... Yay or Nay?

I'm looking at a new Kiev 88 cloth shutter version (comes with the lens, TTL prism, waist level prism, two film backs, strap, filters, hood) on e-bay for a reasonable price, and I've always wanted to get into medium format, however, should I avoid the Kiev 88, or should I take a shot at it? Is there anything I should know about concerning this particular camera?

12-06-2009, 10:53 AM   #2
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Well it is an Hasselblad rip-off, so theoretically a good camera. On the other hand it is a soviet product, so the actual materials used and quality control is questionable.

I've heard that it's shutter may eventually fail (or may not). It is possible to fix it, but before such investment, id find out if there is anyone who could actually do this under reasonable conditions (price, distance/shipping, time).
12-06-2009, 11:51 AM   #3
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imo the best way to try medium format is a Yashica-Mat 124G or maybe a cheap folder. there's no doubting the higher quality of results, the issue is whether you think the extra size, cost of processing, fewer frames per roll are worth it

edit: hasselblads are very nice cameras and after you get the copy you might want the original

Last edited by k100d; 12-06-2009 at 12:03 PM.
12-06-2009, 12:48 PM   #4
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Hmm... Well, it is "only" $200, and it's the cheapest medium format camera I've seen (I've been looking for a bit now). It's new (or at least new old stock), so there's not a lot of wear and tear on the camera.

I have one russian lens (the 1000mm F10 mirror), and it's, so far, never let me down (my tripod on the other hand...).

I think I'm gonna try it. It's only money

12-06-2009, 02:11 PM   #5
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I have a Kiev 88CM-MLU (Arax branded, upgraded version).
It is a totally new experience.
From composition (mine is 6x6) to calculating the exposure (mine has no meter) and to winding the film (immediately after shooting), it does not resemble shooting with other cameras. Shooting with a Pentax 645N medium format is child's play, in comparison.
I am not trying to say that you should stay away from using Kiev88; in fact, I am telling you that it is a really nice challenge!
I like shooting with mine; I wish I had more opportunity to use it...
12-06-2009, 05:42 PM   #6
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It'll make a nice door stop when it quits working, which probably won't take long.

You can get a solid TLR for under $100, and enjoy something that is likely to work well.
12-06-2009, 10:21 PM   #7
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Well, I won it (didn't expect to win either). Since it's coming from the Ukraine, I don't think I'll be getting it before Christmas. I'll post when I get it with comments and results.
12-11-2009, 06:58 AM   #8
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Well, fun's the right idea with those. I wouldn't want to be responsible for advising anyone to buy one with necessarily any other priority in mind: ( ) you can also get into Mamiya for not much more, as well as the good old TLRs, but those Kievs have their charm appeal, if they work.

There are a site or two out there for Russian camera fans: I always thought it'd be a fun idea, though not always a very practical one,
(IIRC, I was considering them as a way of getting my hands on a 45 degree finder when my MF work was shaping up to be more important than it is presently. )

...treat it in the spirit as if you bought a strange old car from overseas: call it a nice surprise if everything works. These sites will also be a place where you can find some repair service and instructions and the like, or a place to sell back out of the stuff, possibly, if the 'charm' is too much for you.

12-12-2009, 01:05 PM   #9
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Well, I'll know in about a week how everything will work out. It's somewhere beween my house and the Ukraine.

I may make my cat my first test subject...
12-15-2009, 02:02 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by VF-19 Quote
I may make my cat my first test subject...
I'd choose something that sits still first! MF cameras are big lumps and take a bit of muscle to hold steady. The first time I fired off my Mamiya I got such a fright with the noise as the mirror crashed up and the winder whirred that I nearly dropped it. But oh, the joy of MF. You're gonna love it, mate. As for the Russian thing, back when I was just starting I owned two Russian cameras, a Lubitel and a Zenit. Neither of them gave me any trouble at all. All the best with yours.
12-17-2009, 03:50 AM   #11
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There's a window still that she (my cat) likes to sit on. I'll just setup the tripod in the room and wait for her to come to the room. I'll probably bribe her with treats so that she sits still long enough for me to take the shot.

Still waiting on the camera. I think I may get dinged with customs. Oh well.
12-19-2009, 10:21 AM   #12
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Ok. I got my Kiev yesterday, and I managed to avoid customs! Yay!

One oddity (aside from the harsh chemical smell of the camera). On the right hand side of the film magazine (back of the magazine is on the chest), there's a chrome circle with arrows indicating directions on it. It's used to wind the film and prepare the magazine for shooting. However, when cocking the shuter it... jiggles, as if it's not meshing with the winding gear.

However, I made myself some "120" film, by using a strip of paper, with markings on it, and it seems to be advancing the film (ok paper).

Seems like I got myself a good Kiev. Now I need to get me some real 120 film.... Probably some porta 400nc, and give the camera a workout.
12-19-2009, 11:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by VF-19 Quote
Ok. I got my Kiev yesterday, and I managed to avoid customs! Yay!

One oddity (aside from the harsh chemical smell of the camera). On the right hand side of the film magazine (back of the magazine is on the chest), there's a chrome circle with arrows indicating directions on it. It's used to wind the film and prepare the magazine for shooting. However, when cocking the shuter it... jiggles, as if it's not meshing with the winding gear.
Hrm, well, I *think* that little 'crank' ought to be disengaged fully. I don't know about Kievs in particular, but it might just be an indicator that film transport is working. Like it's on a little ratchet.

QuoteQuote:
However, I made myself some "120" film, by using a strip of paper, with markings on it, and it seems to be advancing the film (ok paper).
Oh, I'd meant to ask if you (or anyone getting new MF stuff) needed a spool for takeup: I process my own 120 and have a little pile. Occasionally an old camera will come without one. ...sounds like you have one, though. Or backing paper to play with, come to think of it.: I tend to keep it to tear up for bookmarks and darkroom masking, but I might have some as yet un-molested.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-19-2009 at 11:25 AM.
12-19-2009, 07:47 PM   #14
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Hey VF-19,

Let me know if you're interested in a 45mm (that's seriously wide-angle) Mir26 f/3.5 lens for that beastie. I have one on my desk at work which was advertised on evilBay as "Mir26B for Pentacon-six/ Kiev 60" and the photos didn't show the label or mount clearly. It has the big screwmount for Kiev-88!

I don't blame the seller, since a cyrillic "B" looks like a "6" and it was actually a "V" which looks like a roman "B"! So he translated the "Mir" part but not the "B" part. Hefty, Russian, and probably from the 1970s (when they cleaned them with vodka!).
12-19-2009, 09:03 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Or backing paper to play with, come to think of it.: I tend to keep it to tear up for bookmarks and darkroom masking, but I might have some as yet un-molested.
Great idea! I'd never have thought of using it for masking.

VF-19, you might want to check out the Wikipedia site for the Kiev. It talks about some of the common issues and mods (including a Pentacon mod, by the way). Seems like the order of cocking the shutter and shooting is really important.

Happy shooting.
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