Kiev 4 AM: A Silent Sniper

2012-07-09 9

Let me introduce my latest purchase: a beautiful and very silent Soviet camera, the Kiev 4 (AM version).

Photo via

Here’s my usual review of a Russian rangefinder that has marked the history. The Kiev 4.

Built in the 50 factories of Arsenal Kiev, Ukraine, these beautiful metal cameras are considered the copy of the most expensive Contax (more or less like the FED and Zorki, Leica considered imitations of). But Kiev are far more than copies. They are closely related with the Contax. At the end of the Second World War, the Russians took as compensation for war, the Zeiss factory in Dresden and moved to Kiev, Arsenal the factories, where the first cameras were produced, continuing what Zeiss Ikon started.

The Kiev 4 Am in my possession, was produced especially in the ’80s and the main differences from the Kiev 4 are the absence of a selenium cell, reducing the shutter speed to 1/1000 and the spool winding drive.

It may be accompanied by a Jupiter-8m lens 50mm f: 2 or a Helios 103 f: 1.8, pitch bayonet, which then allows the use of more expensive Contax lenses.

To purchase this machine, I have totally given to Lomography Shop (found under the wrong name Kiev 4), and I must say that I was totally surprised and fascinated.

The trigger mechanism is really quiet and then allows you to take photos of people and animals in peace. The lens (in my case the Jupiter 8M) is very bright and gives nice colors.

A little hard knob winding of the roller which is also the same time. I prefer in this case the Zorki 4m with its loading lever rapid.

When it arrived, I did not lose time and looked for a film to load in it. The choice fell on Lomography Redscale XR 50 - 200 which I pulled at, like, 50 ISO. You know, as a test roll might be better to use a normal color negative in order to test the colors, but I wanted to be daring.

I shot an entire roll in a nice sunny day in my city in the company of two of my dear friends. Unfortunately, however, taken by the heat, I was not informed of how to rewind the film once it is finished. And then, I made a nice damage. Improvising a rewind, I inevitably broke the film. So I had to put everything in a dark room (which was actually not so dark) and I had to rewind it all by hand…but… the results were wonderful all the same. Even if the photos came burnt, I liked them to death!

REWINDING TO THE ROLLER: Just turn the release lever on the left of the back and place it at the yellow dot. You’re done!

Later, I tried a Lomography X-Pro Slide 200, a beautiful slide film that, if cross-processed, gives very nice yellowish tones (especially if slightly underexposed). Also in this case, the pictures were satisfying!

Here are some pictures:

Now, some technical features:

LENS: Jupiter 8M 50 mm f: 2
SHUTTER SPEEDS: B from 1sec to 1/1000
FLASH: hotshoe (you can use the flash lomography)

IMPORTANT: Never change shutter speeds without first arming the shutter!

Truly a beautiful camera among other things a little lighter than the Fed and Zorki, surely, it’s worth trying!
Lomo on!!!

written by kingdjin on 2012-07-09 #gear #shop #review #soviet #kiev-4 #camera-review #lomography #arsenal #am #user-review
translated by kingdjin


  1. reminator
    reminator ·

    two days ago I came across a little antique market in Barcelona and there was one of these accompanied by a fed 5 and fed 5B. The man asked 65 for the Kiev and 55 for the feds, I thought it was to much the cameras could use a little work over and of course the main reason was my fairly empty wallet, that city ain't good for your money you know!

  2. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    Nice review and my favourite camera easily, you should definetily get the jupiter 12 , its probably my favourite piece of soviet glass.

  3. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    Ohhhhh and i forgot
    FOR SALE!!! LC-A refurbished, bought two weeks ago so has 1 year and 50 weeks of warantee left, message me if you interested

  4. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    The Kiev rangefinder 35mm series, I think, are the best Soviet cameras. I have a Kiev 4am, and my favorite, a Kiev 2a with a Jupiter 3 lens (f/1.5!!). The best of FED's is the FED 2, and the best Zorki is the Zorki 6. These are very reliable.

  5. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @herbet-4 I agree that he kiev series is the best of the easy to obtain rangefinders, but easily the best FSU rangefinder is the leningrad. I wish i owned one!

  6. highdesertdan
    highdesertdan ·

    I carried mine around Coachella last year. Takes wonderful pictures but it is heavy. Like carrying a little metal brick around your neck. Heavy but worth the sweat.

  7. leisuresuede
    leisuresuede ·

    I was not a fan of rangefinders for a while until I bought a Kiev. The Kiev's are the best Soviet rangefinders,to me, after trying a Zorki 6 and a Fed 2. I have a 4a that I paired with Jupiter 8 & 12 lenses and put leather skin on the body.

  8. imyourman
    imyourman ·

    Hey, about the flash, does anyone know which one is better with the Kiev 4 AM and what adaptator to choose ?

  9. cyberpunkrocker
    cyberpunkrocker ·

    I have three Kiev rangefinders: a '54 Kiev 3 and '61 and '80 Kiev 4A's. The '61 one is definitely one of my favourite and most used cameras, as is the Jupiter 12 lens. An advice for potential buyers: the early models (up to early '70s) and the late 4M/4AM models are the best; the 4/4A models made between early '70s to early '80s can be very rough, the build quality was at its lowest then. Be sure to test them before parting with money (the 2 first numbers of the serial number tells the manufacturing year).

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