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Best cheap Russian Rangefinder?
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:24 pm    Post subject: Best cheap Russian Rangefinder? Reply with quote

The article that Edgar just posted got me to thinking about this. I've owned Leicas and Canons, but that's it -- in 35mm at least. Just those two marques. I've seen numerous posts here about Russian rangefinders, but I never paid much attention to them, since I didn't have any. Well, that's changed a little now. I own a Moskva 5 6x9 rangefinder now (sort of a modernized knock-off of the Zeiss Super Ikonta C), which does a very fine job in medium format. And I read good reports, for the most part, on Russian lenses. I own only one -- a 58mm Helios 44/2 in M42. It's a good lens, but not as good as my Yashica DS 50/1.7 in M42.

So, anyway, the article that Edgar posted got me to thinking, so I decided to call upon the Forumind to find out what y'all think is the best reasonably priced Russian rangefinder. Any advice on lenses or necessary accessories to use with it is welcome as well.

The Russians produced Kiev and Fed and Zorki and -- ? I know the Kiev takes the Contax-style bayonet mount and the Fed and Zorki are M39 cameras, but that's about the extent of my knowledge on the subject.

So which marque and model or models do you prefer? And why? Any favorite lenses to go with your choice? Any essential accessories (like turret rangefinders, for example?

If you have any buying pointers as well that you'd like to add, those would be most welcome also. Fortunately, in the Kiev's case, that article covers buying pointers rather thoroughly.

Thanks in advance for your input.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Michael. Smile

I own some Zorkis, Kievs and Feds rangefinders.
Feds and Zorkis are quite the same, except that Zorkis have better quality.

Of all, I prefer the Zorki-3M which is a beauty, weights well in hand and is easy to set and use as Leicas.
It has good lenses and usually comes with a Jupiter-8 2/50mm.
What is interesting is the ability to set the rangefinder window to your view.
If you buy other lenses such as a Jupiter-11 4/135mm, you'll need a turret viewfinder.

I know a fine british seller who also makes business in Ukraine.
All his cameras are serviced and functioning well.
Here is his store on EBay : http://stores.ebay.fr/emjaybe63
I bought him a dozen of fine russian cameras and lenses these last years.

Some links :
Soviet cameras :
About Kievs (Contax copies) : http://www3.telus.net/public/rpnchbck/index.html
About Feds on our site : http://www.mflenses.com/fed-camera.html
About Feds and Zorkis : http://www.jay.fedka.com/

About russian LTM lenses :

History of Fed : http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/historique_eng.php?marque=Fed
chronology : http://www.collection-appareils.fr/Timeline/frise.php?Marque=Fed

Chronology of Krasnogorsk : http://www.collection-appareils.fr/Timeline/frise.php?Marque=Krasnogorsk
Chronology of Kiev brand : http://www.collection-appareils.fr/Timeline/frise.php?Marque=Kiev

I tried to make best choices for my collection, based on the models to have and the photographic and production quality. Here is my collection list :
- Fed-1 (mine is a F Type) 1950. It came with a collapsible lens Fed 3.5/50mm http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/camera-10829-Fed_1g.html
- Fed-2 (D1 type in dark blue) 1960 with Industar-26M 2.8/52 http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/camera-708-Fed_2d.html
- KMZ Zorki 1C 1952 with rigid Industar-22 3.5/50mm, boxed, import version. http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/appareil-11382.html
- KMZ Zorki-1D 1954 with collapsible Industar-22 3.5/5cm http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard_eng.php?id_appareil=11384
- KMZ Zorki-3M 1955 with Jupiter-8 2/5cm http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard_eng.php?id_appareil=11386
- KMZ Zorki-4 1957 with Jupiter-8 2/5cm http://www.collection-appareils.fr/x/html/page_standard_eng.php?id_appareil=11388
- Kiev-3A 1956 with Jupiter-8 2/5cm
- Kiev-4 III Type 1959 with Jupiter-8M 2/5cm boxed
- Kiev-4 AM black 1983 with Helios-103 1.8/53mm.

In conclusion, a french connoisseur advices :
In summary, the most interesting devices for the user are:

-the "D" variant of the FED 2. Even if it is not the most "noble" and most practical case, it is a nice device and a good adventurer. Plus, he's comfortable with the long focal lengths.

-The Zorki 1 specially described above is an advantageous substitution for the Leica II. Identical use, identical results.

-The Zorki-3M is probably the most "noble" Zorki, and one that does not "dissimilar" among Leicas. In fact, at the level of invention and finish, Leica could have produced it as well! And with his false air of IIIg, he does not leave indifferent!

-Buy at first the Zorki-4K, and you will be amazed by its service rendered/price ratio. With its magnificent 1:1 viewfinder and arm lever, it is a very functional device.

-A little more "light", the Zorki 6 is just as convenient to use thanks to its arms lever and hinged back. With separate viewfinder, it is an excellent carrier of 85, 90, or even 135 mm.

-For fans of the Contax system, for whom the handling of these boxes is not a surprise, it would be a pity to miss a Kiev 4a of the first series, or a 4AM of the last series. Buy cameras other than from the 60s and 70s because of quality issues (they are very fragile). Best is before 1958 and after 1982.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once you ged used with it , I prefere the Kiev 4a .The Zorki 2C that I also own is nice too , but I don 't like the bottom loading style . My Zorky 4 unit has a problem ...But still Kiev is nicer for me (nice viewfinder)

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teo wrote:
But still Kiev is nicer for me (nice viewfinder)

and great rangefinder if calibrated

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got a Zorki 4K with Jupiter 8, and a Kiev 4 with .....a Jupiter 8 for sale, both very tidy with good lenses, working rangefinder etc - but they aren't CLA'd. They work, but I wouldn't guarantee the speeds and I haven't run and processed film through them, I have run dead film through them to check the winders. Postage is a killer, but if you're interested we can work something out.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually Lloyd, I've found postage from the UK to the US to be quite reasonable. Not so, the other way around.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just noticed this topic. I have a couple Zorki 6 and Kiev 4A and I enjoy both of them very much.
I would probably like the Kiev more because of its handling and viewfinder, but the Zorki has an adjustable
diopter for its viewfinder which makes it very convenient for me since I wear reading glasses.
Both can be found here along with lenses for reasonable prices. Some cleaning and adjusting might have to be done.
Lately I have been shooting with a Werra-matic and I like it a lt too. Now I have the full range of lenses too.
A Tessar 50mm, Flektogon 35mm and a Cardinar 100mm. Wink
Actually I believe there are macro attachments also.

Last edited by uddhava on Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a couple of Russian rangefinder cameras as well from the first Fed to the Zorki 6 and many lenses. However, I use the cameras more as a showcase because some of them are really looking nice and with the exception of my Zorki 4 I never used them with film.
I really prefer to use my Voigtlaender Bessa R2 instead (my Avatar). It's much easier to use hence it has TTL metering, aperture times up to 1/2000 and easy SLR-like film loading. For me it's even the better Leica. Wink

BTW, a very good source for information on Russian cameras incl. FED and Zorki: http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?358713866

PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


after my own experience, a well-preserved, calibrated Kiev could be a very good choice.

I have a 4A made in 1968, bought back in 1975 when I was a schoolboy. It is still perfectly working after a long, intense use. Nearly 4 years a go, was sent to a capable repairman for a check-up: the shutter straps were still in perfect shape and it needed just to be cleaned.

In my opinion, a well-working Kiev should be among those made between the late 50s and 1975; the later ones, were often horribly mounted/finished (although I know of a 1981-made one that, despite its crude finish, gives very fine pictures, thanks to a well-working shutter, calibrated rangefinder and, last but not least, its Helios-103 lens).

All the best,