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KIEV RANGEFINDER CAMERAS


When the Soviet Armies entered Germany during the second world war one of the major targets were the cities of Jena and Dresden. These cities were one of the Third Reich's major centers of optical technology and home to Carl Zeiss and Zeiss Ikon. Before the war one of the most admired cameras had been the Zeiss Ikon Contax and Karl Zeiss was a leader in optical design. It was a major goal of the Soviet Union to capture these factories as part of their war reparations. The were successful beyond their wildest dreams. They captured the camera factory and the lens factory virtually undamaged. They even captured all the plans and experimental data.

The decision was made to immediately capitalize on this good fortune. The orders went out. "Dismantle the factories and send them to Kiev." The factories were loaded on trains going east.

So far this sounds too good to be true and it was. When the trains got to the Soviet border the problem arose. The width of the track on the Soviet rail system was different from the rest of the world. The equipment and documents would have to be unloaded from one train moved several miles and loaded on another train. But this should be no problem for anyone lucky enough to have these factories fall into their hands, should it?

Unfortunately it was a major problem. Military conscripts are fine to handle bullets and beans but lack something when it comes to handling precision equipment. Some of the equipment spent months sitting in the mud. When the factories finally arrived in Kiev they were incomplete and much was damaged. Defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory.

At this point I am sure that there was much gnashing of teeth in Moscow and a search was implemented to find a way to recover their lost fortunes. The solution was not long in coming. Through another incredible stroke of luck Jena was within the Soviet zone of control. This area soon would be called the D.D.R but at this point was just USSR occupied Germany. The factory was returned to Germany and as more "War Reparations" the Germans were allowed to make the factory produce Contax cameras and lenses. After this the factory was returned to Kiev and began producing cameras (approximately 1948). Obviously, the soldiers who had been so helpful the first time around had found new employment.

The Kiev family is based on two Contax cameras ,the Contax-2 and Contax-3. The like numbered Kiev is descended from its respective Contax. These cameras are basically the same. The difference is that the Contax-3 has an uncoupled light meter added.



Kiev Manual

Kiev II


Production started in 1947 and completed in 1955. 1947, 1948 and 1949 were all produced in very small quantities (approximately 2000 per year). The early cameras(1947,1948 and 1949)are believed to have made from German parts as production was ramped up.


These cameras are very easy to identify as they do not have flash sockets. There are three different Engravings possible on these cameras. Kiev in Script is found on the 1947 and possible some early 1948 cameras. Kiev in Cyrilic block letters on cameras intended for sale in the USSR. Kiev in Cyrilic and English is found on cameras produced for export. The engravings are filled with black except for a very rare version with red filled letters.

Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.


Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: None, although some cameras can be found that were modified

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.8cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 530gm
Normal lens: Zorki
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 494879

{Front of Kiev II} {rear of Kiev II} {top of Kiev II}
{bottom of Kiev II} {Front of Kiev II} {Front of Kiev II}

Kiev IIA


These are very easy to identify as they are Kiev 2s with flash sockets.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.


Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.8cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 525gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 5913492

{ front of early Kiev IIa} { front of Kiev IIa} { rear of Kiev IIa}
{ top of Kiev IIa} { bottom of Kiev IIa}

Kiev III(a)


This camera differs from the KIEV-2 only in those particulars which are associated with the mounting of a meter. This camera was produced from 1950 to 1955. Very early examples of this camera have meters marked in DIN. Just like the Kiev 2 these cameras were assembled, at least in part, from German parts. Mounted in the center of the top is a rectangular light meter. It has the accessory shoe mounted on the right side and a window with the meter needle and scale on the right side. this assembly has rounded corners and a curved right side. on the right side is an adjustment screw for adjusting the meter. The front has a metal, cover that is hinged on the top, covering the ribbed plastic metering window. The cover opens by pressing it to the left. The rewind knob has been modified to add the meter controls. It has 2 conical rings one to set the film speed in DIN with the apertures engraved on it and the other with the speeds engraved on it. This camera has no flash synchronization connector and has only the Cyrillic engraving.
The case is brown leather identical to the KIEV-2 except it is a little bit higher to clear the meter.



Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: None, although some cameras can be found that were modified

Kiev III(b)


This is a Kiev 3(a) with dual engraving.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: None, although some cameras can be found that were modified
Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 9.6cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 800gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 540207

{Front of Kiev 3(b)} {Front of Kiev 3(b)} {Front of Kiev 3(b)}
{rear of Kiev 3(b)} {top of Kiev 3(b)} {bottom of Kiev 3(b)}

Kiev IIIA


These are very easy to identify as they are Kiev 3s with flash sockets.
Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 9.6cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 825gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 6324757

{Front of Kiev 3A} {rear of Kiev 3a} {top of Kiev 3a}
{bottom of Kiev 3a}

Kiev 4A(a)


The back of this camera was redesigned to do away with the folding foot. This camera also introduced 1000 as the top speed replacing 1250. This did not represent a manufacturing change just the recognition of the fact that 1000 was the true speed. The lens has a different finish, all parts now all the same shade of chrome. The Accessory shoe no longer has the English engraving. This camera was produced from 1958. The case is also changed. It now has a chrome ring around the lens cover and two chrome rings around the top.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Kiev 4A(b)


This camera introduces several minor variations, first the self timer lever now has a small black plastic area on the front. Second the tripod screw is now 1/4 20 and the distance is no longer engraved on the side of the 50mm lens mount. The Kiev symbol was also added to the accessory shoe and the engraving filled with black.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.8cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 675gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 7722686

{Front of Kiev 4A(b)} {rear of Kiev 4A(b)} {top of Kiev 4A(b)}
{bottom of Kiev 4A(b)}

Contax/Kiev No Name


This without a doubt the most exotic of the Contax/Kiev line. This Camera was apparently produced at Jena during the years of 1963/1964. Over the years the quality had slipped, but here was a new camera with the original Zeiss feel. When handling one of these cameras it is obvious that they are better made. This improvement in quality is seen in the finish and also in the fit and feel of all parts.
The camera is a Kiev 4A(a). It appears as if they had forgotten to engrave the face plate and that it has an old style lens. This camera occurs in two variations. The first variation has the Zeiss Sonnar lens and has " USSR OCCUPIED GERMANY " engraved on the rear of the top. The second, and rarer has a special Jupiter-3 lens and no engraving on the rear.
There are several features which make the identification of the "NO NAME" easy to identify. The engraving is far finer than on other KIEVs. The back is also completely smooth without rivet heads protruding under the leatherette. The black enamel is also far better than normal. The only engraving in the accessory shoe is the serial number.
Since the vast majority of these cameras are found in the USA, it is believed that they were made specially for export to the US. This would mean that the second version without the engraving and with the soviet lens were either prototypes or over production. Since the serial numbers are high on the cameras with soviet lenses this tends to support the latter theory.
As is to be expected, the case is brown leather with no markings.
This camera more than any other of the series engenders the question " Is it a Contax or a Kiev?". It was definitely made in Jena but probably of USSR parts. But whatever it is there is no escaping this conclusion, it is the jewel of these cameras and the original manufacturer would have been proud of these cameras.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height:
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 565gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount:
Typical serial no: 6403761

{Front of No name} {rear of No name} {top of No name}
{bottom of No name}

Kiev 4(a)


This camera introduced the short meter and a new style rewind knob.
This camera was produced from 1957 to about 1978. This camera also introduced 1000 as the top speed replacing 1250.
The back was redesigned to do away with the folding foot . It also has a different finish on the lens. The Accessory shoe no longer has the English engraving. The case is also changed. It now has a chrome ring around the lens cover and two chrome rings around the top.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Kiev 4(b)


This camera introduces several minor variations, first the self timer lever now has a small black plastic area on the front.
Second the tripod screw is now 1/4 20 and the distance is no longer engraved on the side of the 50mm lens mount.
The Kiev symbol was also added to the accessory shoe and the engraving filled with black.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.7cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 775gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 7821569

{Front of Kiev 4(b)} {rear of Kiev 4(b)} {top of Kiev 4(b)}
{bottom of Kiev 4(b)}

Kiev 5


This camera is a complete redesign of the KIEV-4. Everything has been modified except the removable back. This camera was produced from 1973 to 1975.
The top deck has been completely redesigned with a large black frame surrounding a rectangular area on the front of the camera. The left side of this area has a small clear window for the range finder in the center of a pebbled metering area . The right side has a frosted glass area in the center and a clear area for the viewfinder and range finder on the right. On the left side as viewed from the rear of the camera is a film advance lever with shutter speed dial in the center. On the raised deck just to the left of the film advance is a rectangular window. The front of this window serves as the frame counter and the rear is the metering window. In the center of the raised deck is the accessory shoe which has the serial number engraved on it. On the left is the meter dial. Since the meter dial was over the film chamber it was necessary to move the rewind lever and it is now found on the left side of the camera. The name KIEV-5 is engraved and filled with white on the top of the front black window frame.
The lens mount has been redesigned and the internal mount for the 50mm lenses has been eliminated. The external Contax mount has had a new ring placed inside it to couple the lenses to the rangefinder. This new lens mount necessitated a new normal lens the Helios-94.
This camera is actually a contemporary of the KIEV-4(a) and was intended to be the replacement for the KIEV-4. Unfortunately, The camera was not well received and production and upgrading of the KIEV-4 continued and the KIEV-5 was soon discontinued, with the result that it is now an uncommon camera.
This camera has a brown leather case with a chrome strip over the top and around the lens cover. It has KIEV in Cyrillic block letters embossed on the lens cover.

Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras can be used with electronic flash at 1/30. However, you must immediately wind the camera to open the contacts or the flash will fire continuously. Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height:
width:
depth:6.8cm
weight: 950gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8
Lens Mount: external Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 7005704

{Front of Kiev 5} {rear of Kiev 5} {top of Kiev 5}
{side of Kiev 5} {front of Kiev 5 type2}

Kiev 4M(a)


There are four major identifying features with this model.
First a hot shoe has replaced the accessory shoe and "made in the USSR" has been deleted, second the shutter speed dial now has a black top with the shutter speeds in multiple colors.
Third there is a new standard lens and finally the case is now black with a plastic lens cover having raised letters.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras are designed to use electronic flash at 1/30. . Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Kiev 4M(b)


This camera has two changes, the self timer lever is completely covered with black plastic and the film rewind is now a folding crank.
This camera represents the last changes to the Kiev line. This camera was produced from 1978.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.


Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras are designed to use electronic flash at 1/30. . Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.


Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.8cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 755gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8M/Helios-103
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 8233027

{Front of Kiev 4M(a)} {rear of Kiev 4M(a))} {top of Kiev 4M(a)}
{bottom of Kiev 4M(a)} {Front of Olympic Kiev 4AM(b)}

Kiev 4AM(a)


There are four major identifying features with this model. First a hot shoe has replaced the accessory shoe and "made in the USSR" has been deleted, second the shutter speed dial now has a black top with the shutter speeds in multiple colors.
Third there is a new standard lens and finally the case is now black with a plastic lens cover having raised letters.


Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.



Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras are designed to use electronic flash at 1/30. . Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Kiev 4AM(b)


This camera has two changes, the self timer lever is completely covered with black plastic and the film rewind is now a folding crank. This camera represents the last changes to the Kiev line.




Caution:
When changing shutter speeds, to prevent damage to the camera, the shutter must be wound first, only then can you change the speeds.


Comments: 1. Flash Synchronization: These cameras are designed to use electronic flash at 1/30. . Flash bulbs will sync at 1/25.

Technical Specifications

Film Size: 35mm
Image Size: 24X36mm
Dimensions:
height: 8.7cm
width: 15cm
depth: 6.8cm
weight: 700gm
Normal lens: Jupiter-8M/Helios-103
Lens Mount: Contax bayonet
Typical serial no: 8008195

{Front of Kiev 4AM(b)} {rear of Kiev 4AM(b))} {top of Kiev 4AM(b)}
{bottom of Kiev 4AM(b)}

© Nathan Dayton 2000