Solid, heavy, and blocky in appearance, the Kiev 19M is one of those Soviet gems that you rarely get to see nowadays. Modern cameras lack the heft, stance, and sturdiness that their older counterparts once had.
Our history with Soviet cameras runs deep here in the community and it’s no secret that many of our cameras and lenses were inspired by great Russian predecessors. This is why the story of the Kiev 19M hits close to home — it’s undeniably a camera with Soviet DNA. This is largely due to the fact that it was manufactured in Ukraine from 1988 up until the year 2000.
One thing to know about the 19M was made by a company named Arsenal based in Kiev. It’s a manual exposure single lens reflex camera that uses the Nikon F mount and was built with durability in mind. Earlier versions of the 19M had metal top plates but the company later switched to plastic to make the camera lighter.
Aesthetics-wise, the 19M had its own totally unique look. Its silver top plate version sported metal outlines that made the accents pop out. The combination of black and silver in the body and top plate have that perfect balance between “discrete” and “stand out”. The black version is definitely stealthier but it may look too normal for anyone who wishes to make a lasting impression.
The Kiev 19M was known for its good build quality and if it weren’t for the faulty meter, it would have been easily considered as one great film cameras. While the meters on 19Ms aren’t completely useless, they aren’t the best in the field either. The 19M compensated for this downside with its sturdy mechanical components and lens choices that could make fellow photographers green with envy. Arsenal made good quality lenses for the Nikon F mount, boasting clear and crisp images. Some Arsenal lenses were even capable of noteworthy bokeh at wide apertures.
During its 12-year production span, Arsenal was able to introduce and sell the 19M on the international market. When the Berlin Wall fell in November of 1989, it was exported to Western countries, sometimes going under the name Mirage 19M if it was in the Latin American market. Yet, despite its great features and noteworthy history, few people know about this film SLR today. But maybe, just maybe that’s part of where its charm comes from.
Photos Taken by Our Community with the Kiev 19M
Type: 35 mm single lens reflex camera
Frame Size: 24 x 36
Producer: Arsenal (Kiev)
Lens: Arsat-H 2/50
Shutter: ½ to 1/500 of a second, Bulb
Focusing: Zone focusing
Focusing Distance: 0.55m to infinity
Film Advance: Knob
Frame Counter: Auto Reset
Viewfinder: Direct optical viewfinder
Power: 2x LR44