Sunday, March 01, 2015

Shooting the Kiev IIa

My Kiev IIa dates from 1956.  Aside from the addition of the flash synch socket it is a well-made close copy of the Zeiss Contax II.  This is a camera that demands some familiarity to get the best performance it is capable of delivering.  The best explanation of the peculiarities of the Kiev rangefinder I have seen is at Laszio Gerencser's blog, The Camera Collection.

The Contax grip is an essential part of using the Kiev IIa.
Though no fault of the camera, the pictures I snapped during our recent snow storm were not worth posting.  I did like a couple of the compositions from the previous day's outing when the storm was just developing.

Tiguex Playground

San Felipe de Neri
I believe both of these shots were made with the 35mm Jupiter 12 lens which I generally prefer to shoot on this camera, mostly because of the brilliant accessory finder which goes with it.  The 5cm/f2 Jupiter 8 is also a very good performer.


Jim said...

I read the description on the blog you linked and now can't imagine this camera being any fun to shoot at all. How do you find that it handles?

Mike said...

It actually handles pretty well once you have used it enough to get accustomed to the peculiarities. The oddest issue is actually with the normal lens which rotates the f-stop settings out of sight as you focus. That goes away when you mount another lens like the Jupiter-12. On the plus side, the camera is sturdy and well made and capable of producing very good images. The metal focal plane shutter is less noisy than most, and it makes a very satisfying purring sound at the lower speeds.

The other thing to keep in mind with the Kiev and the Contax on which it was based is that the camera contained a large number of important advances over the contemporary Leica. Those include, the more accurate and faster shutter, the removable back, the single window viewer/rf, the wide-base rf, and the bayonet lens mount. The Contax lenses were at least as good as those on the Leicas and the Soviet copies are very close.

Robert Vonk said...

I am shooting with a Kiev-4AM with J-8M. The lens is really excellent but I knew this already from my previous Russian FSU RF cameras with J-8 (Zeiss Sonnar design) LTM. Also that J-12 (Zeiss Biogon design) can be more then excellent. But you have to be a bit lucky for a good assembled one. So far with the Kiev I unlock infinity and turn on the lens itself. Further the 4AM has some improved features like de-lock of the film by turning 1/8 of the bottom de-lock bottom on the Red point. The middle X-contact, the collapsible rewind crank and a big turning wheel. But also a Zorki-6 I can certainly recommend. A bit smaller, easy to handle only no slow speeds, but they can also not break. I also own a Leica M-7 with Leica glass so in big enlargements till 40x50cm the differences are not that big for the J-8 and J-12 and of course for a fraction of the Leica prices.