Kiev 4 - Staff Review

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A direct descendant of the famed Contax series of rangefinder cameras, the Kiev4 RF is highly-regarded for its capability to produce razor-sharp images.

The Kiev story began during post-WWII; the Russians took over the German Zeiss Ikon factories, (makers of the highly-respected Contax II and III cameras) as part of ‘war reparations.’ They shipped the leftover equipment and a group of engineers to the Arsenal factory in Kiev, Ukraine. Under the supervision of Mr. Wolfgang Hahn, an engineer and war survivor, the Contax line was set-up again to produce the rangefinder camera that we now know as the ‘Kiev.’ It was reported that earlier models sported original Zeiss Contax parts (supporting the argument that they’re not ‘Contax clones’ but indeed real Contax cameras), but eventually, everything was manufactured in the Arsenal.

The first batch of Kievs (Kiev II and III), which was produced during the early 1950s, was a luxurious item obtained only by high-ranking Soviets. Back in Zeiss Ikon, the Contax IIa and IIIa were dominating the camera market, prompting the Arsenal to redesign some new Kiev prototypes. After a series of modifications, the Kiev4 was officially produced in 1960.

The Kiev4 has a bayonet mount, making it compatible with the Zeiss Contax lenses. Its Jupiter-8 lens is reputed to be very sharp, but extra care should be considered when handling it – the aluminum lens barrel is somewhat frail and is easily damaged if dropped. The combined viewfinder and rangefinder window makes it easy to focus and frame in only one window – this is something that Leica hadn’t thought of, until 1953 (with the Leica M3).

The Kiev4 is prized for the extra-sharp images that it makes. Precise focusing is easy, with its clear depth-of-field scale coupled with a 9cm-long rangefinder base – this allows accurate focusing and isolation of your subject from the background. This makes a perfect camera for the amateur photographer, since it requires minimal focusing effort. It has also a moderately quiet shutter, which is certainly helpful when you’re sneaking up to shoot candidly!

written by shhquiet on 2008-05-25 in #reviews

8 Comments

  1. shhquiet
    shhquiet ·

    Any Kiev4 fans out there? Hello? Share with us some photos! :)

  2. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    I just ordered one on the lomoshop! As soon as I have some shots, I'll send them to you or upload them directly here! :)))

  3. laineyrocks
    laineyrocks ·

    i bought a kiev 4AM off of ebay, i've not yet had a chance to take any pics with it but when i do i'll post them.

  4. jimwhiston
    jimwhiston ·

    Hi

    I've just posted the results of the annual excursion of my Kiev 4 in my home. I've had the camera for over 30 years. it takes great pictures and is fun to use, if you don't forget how!

    Jim

  5. fuzzytnth3
    fuzzytnth3 ·

    I've been very happy with my Kiev 4 just recently started using again as I had been on a big Zero Pinhole kick for a while now but shall be posting some Kievs shots soon. I would like to get a couple more lenses but will have to save up some pennies.

  6. fuzzytnth3
    fuzzytnth3 ·

    I've been very happy with my Kiev 4 just recently started using again as I had been on a big Zero Pinhole kick for a while now but shall be posting some Kievs shots soon. I would like to get a couple more lenses but will have to save up some pennies.

  7. nfjd
    nfjd ·

    I just came from Prague, where I bought one. I'm really excited! I don't even know if it works or not... (Will be really disappointed if it doesn't)
    Can't wait to load a film and try... (already found the user manual on the web!)

    Any of you guys can give me tips or advices?

    Cheers!

  8. jt-jones
    jt-jones ·

    does the one sold on the lomography site comes with lens?

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