The Russian Invasion : Feds, Zorki & Kiev

Do you know that feeling when you see something you want but don’t really need. My friend Partha introduced me to this business of Ebay-ing and I tell you, its a addiction. And do you know whats worst, these sneaky Russian cameras, which like spies managed to infiltrate my mind, destroy its peace and induce a sense of restlessness. Before I even knew what hit me, I found myself bidding on a Kiev 88 Medium Format TTL Prism Viewfinder (it had been my dream to use a metered prism on the Hassey) and a Kiev 60 TTL (the medium format SLR) and a Zorki 4!

Saturday Night Lineup – The Leica III & Zorki 4

Now I’m not going to review the cameras because I’m still to work with them but I thought I should just tell you about the experience. Firstly, the cameras are uber cheap! Zorki 4 cost a mere 75$. Its not a Leica but then its still quite good in its own way. Secondly it takes ages to come by post. Most Soviet sellers would want to keep the costs low so they use local post to send the cameras. So don’t expect them to arrive quickly, they usually take about a month plus.

The Leica Summarit 50mm & The Zorki Jupiter 50mm

And even when they did arrive, don’t expect them to be in proper working condition. Both my cameras had to make a trip to the local repair shop (which is awesome, the guy is fantastic) for a CLA. The Zorki had been wrongly used so the shutter speed dial was stuck along with one of the shutter curtains. Also the Kiev’s lens didn’t go to infinity and its film advance lever needed oiling. This all after reading about the camera on ebay which specifically said “Camera in perfect working condition” (As I pointed out, sneaky soviets). In terms of the cosmetic condition, all the material was as per the images on ebay, which is great. No scratches or marks, no dents, nothing.

I would recommend you getting Russian cameras if you know what you’re going to be doing. I wouldn’t quite say that amateurs should go for this because these cameras can be a real pain. Most of them have to be tweaked and tuned before use and even after that, there are a few set of rules which if you forget to follow, you’ll be looking at permanent damage inside the camera.


4 thoughts on “The Russian Invasion : Feds, Zorki & Kiev

  1. I can totally relate to them destroying your peace of mind! I did buy a fed 5c & a lomo lc-a from soveit sellers. The latter works perfect & the former I haven’t tested but all the mechanism seem to work fine. I sorta don’t agree that an amateur shouldnt but because I’m amateur & I did! You just have to be prepared to get unpleasantly surprised once in a while.

    1. I guess it needs faith Magali =)

      When buying from ebay or for that matter anywhere, a 40 to 50 year old camera will need to be handled with care and that comes with the whole idea of using vintage cameras. Maybe I just forgot about that part of analog shooters, love of film conquers all!

  2. I have used a few of these. In fact, the Helios 103 lens is one of my favorites. It is a big thing to get a FSU rangefinder in good condition, if you are buying off ebay. You may look into for more reliable, serviced cameras but at double the price. But I must say I have never bought from fedka (yet). I have 2 fed5c and 2kiev 4am. One of the FED5s have a lightleak that becomes apparent at speeds 1/60 and less. The other came with a faulty rangefinder, which could not be adjusted. I still use that one though, with my voigtlander 15mm f/4.5, which does not need rangefinder coupling anyway. In one of the Kievs, a screw fell off from its metal curtain, and could not be replaced, so I got one more.

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