I will immediately start with the camera you all want to hear about, the Sokol Automat. Sorry for the bad pic, I decided that all of my pics need to be analog and an instant is the fastest way. Formerly I used digi-pics when reviewing a camera… not anymore. I thought about doing a review for the magazine. It should sound like this. Have you seen this little Russian wonder? It is a vintage Lomo Sokol, one of the predecessors of our beloved Lc-a. It’s heavy but cool because it is Russian and made by the lovely people at the Sint Petersburg Lomo factory. It has an amazing contrasty saturated Industar 70 lens, which is a 50mm.
But I like details, so here is my review.
It was supposed to be a compact and advanced camera. It surely was advanced but it was never compact. It is a thick heavy piece of metal. It weighs 777 grams on my kitchen scale. It features a rangefinder with parallax correction, an automatic mode and a manual mode as well and it flash-syncs at all speeds. Pretty advanced for a camera released in 1966. But we all know the Russians did not really care about quality control and this one surely wasn’t built for eternity. Mine is quite crappy. The rangefinder is out of focus, the parallax correction does not work. Actually the viewfinder grid lines are just floating around, when you shake the camera you see them passing by. The automatic mode does not work anymore. I have put batteries in it and it just fires always at the same speed (see footnote 1). Luckily the shutterspeeds are correct. The industar 70 is really a nice contrasty and saturated lens. I shot a roll using hyperfocal and zone focussing. The pictures are not great, it was really a test roll. And I don’t think I will use the camera much. I have other and better camera’s. By the way it is a very unhandy camera, the shutter button is in an awkward place, you have to search for the focussing ring etc. When I put my hands on it, the controls just aren’t in the right place. Sokol means Falcon, they should have called it Hippo.
So now the Kiev 60. I was going to recommend it to everyone because it’s such a wonderfull good camera. But I did some internet research and apparently a lot of owners complain about the high malfunction rate of this camera. Some say you should avoid 1992 models because they have the tendency to do overlapping pics. Same story as above, quality control and the Russians… It seems I have got a good one, it’s a 1992 Kiev and it works just fine. It is a very heavy camera I think they used tank steel. It wheighs on my kitchen scale 1560grams without a lens, with the Zodiak 30mm fish eye it is almost 3 kg. The camera is big but not huge. It is not bigger than an Nikon F4 or F5. Here you see the three of them. Anyway it is not a camera you will have always with you… It’s more of a “next week I am going to shoot with my kiev 60 and I better start working out.” kind of camera.
What I like about the camera is that the controls are in the right place. when I take it in my hand, my index finger lands intuitively on the shutter release, my thumb on the wind lever. When I grab the lens I automatically feel the focussing ring and when I move my hand I am right at the the diafragm ring. On top of the body is a big wheel to set the shutter speed. that’s all a camera needs. There is a TTL lightmeter but that one is unhandy (see footnote 2). I prefer a handheld meter which is much faster.
Some pics with the Zodiak fisheye. The Zodiak is also a funny monster-lens. Mine has a serial wich states it is made in 1992 and on the lens barrel the Russian Best Quality (CCCP) logo is engraved. The USSR dissolved in 1991 and the CCCP logo was dismissed. It was not used anymore in 1992 because there was no CCCP anymore. I figure the lens barrels were already made in huge masses, so they used them anyway. Who cares. If you sould want to buy one read footnote 3.
Last, the Lomo Lc-m. Suddenly my wife wanted an Lc-a. So I gave her one of mine. But I always use two of them. So I decided to buy a special one, the Lc-m. It is basically an Lc-a with Iso up to 800 and a cable release. It should have an improved shutter but nobody notices it, because the Lc-a’s shutter is quite good. I shot today a roll with Fuji Velvia 50 and the most important thing I remember is: Velvia rules.
The Sokol Automat needs mercury battery. These aren’t made anymore. So I’ve read it should work with a silveroxide battery too. In my case it did not. In 1979 the Sokol 2 came on the market. I presume, so I am not sure, that the Sokol 2 will work on normal batteries. Because most of the late seventies camera’s I have do work on them and my early seventies cameras use mercury batteries. But with a Russian cam, you never now for sure.
On top of the pentaprism housing of the Kiev 60 there is a dial-thing. You have to set your ISO and the maximum aperture of your lens. Then when you look through the viewfinder there are two lights, one indicating underexposure and one overexposure. You have to turn the dial on the top until both lights light up. Then you have a good exposure. then you have to watch the settings on the dial thing and set them manually by adjusting diafragm and shutterspeed settings. It goes much faster with a handheld lightmeter. I already removed the batteries (1560 grams instead of 1572 !! ).
The Zodiak 30mm Fisheye should be equipped with a rear filter. Otherwise you can’t focus on infinity. The best part is: it does not look like a filter but as an integral part of the lens. It screws in so tightly it becomes one. This can be a problem when you buy one on Ebay because a lot of sellers really don’t know much about what they are selling. So if you ask them there is a filter, big chance they don’t know. A good indication is the following: In the lens case, underneath the top there is a compartiment that should be containing some additional (coloured an UV) filters. So if they are present chance is big the clear rear filter will be mounted on the lens.
So that’s for today ! !
Greetz , your academic friend Gauthier (actually former academic as I quit my job at the University for a more relaxed thing. hell yeah as long as I do not have to include a bibliography it’s ok).
written by gauthierdumonde on 2012-09-25