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!
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.
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.