Iskra, a Really Wonderful Old Russian Folding Camera!


Here’s the Iskra, a particularly well made Russian 120 folder from 1960. This may be one of the
best Soviet cameras ever made! It seems to have been based on the Agfa Isolette II.

The photo of the Iskra camera was taken with the Ricoh Caplio Industrial Camera, and the background is an old pillow slip.

The Iskra (means “spark”) was the 2nd to last Russian 120 folding camera (Iskra II was the last and had a selenium light meter), and was a very high end effort by KMZ in Kraznogorsk. They were made from 1960 to 1963, and they replaced the Moskva 5.

I bought my example from the Fedka Store for US$205 with guarantee, and it works perfectly. The things to watch out for are light leaks in the bellows, and worn out frame counter. It has a an automatic frame counter like a Rollei Automat. They were very well made, but many were very heavily used by pro photographers. Some were converted to the red window and the counter removed. Mine appears to have
only been lightly used, and only had dry grease on the shutter, easily remedied by Harry at Camera Max. It has a sweet little leather case, and looks very Indiana Jones. It folds very flat, and if your coat pocket is wide, it might fit.

Anyway, the data:
Size: not all that big.
Weight: very heavy.
Materials: metal, glass, leather.
Viewfinder/rangefinder: integrated, very bright, 55mm baseline, parallax correction. Accurate!
Lens: Industar 58, Tessar type, 4 element, f/3.5 to 22. Sharp! Excellent bokeh!
Focus: helical, rangefinder coupled, 1m to infinity.
Shutter: Moment leaf type, 1 to 1/500sec. plus B. Accurate! Flash sync with all speeds, PC socket.
Note: the shutter and aperture have an interconnect for setting same exposure values, and most important, YOU MUST CHANGE THE SHUTTER SPEED BEFORE YOU COCK THE
SHUTTER!! This is the opposite of almost every other Russian camera.
Film: 120 rollfilm only.
Service life: with a CLA’ing every decade or 2, probably forever. Harry at Camera Max tells me that there is a leather processor in LA that makes bellows to order in colours. The bellows can be replaced, if necessary for about US$100.

I think that for reasons of fine art, 120 film will be around for the foreseeable future. If you find one of these, your multiple-great grandchildren may use it.

written by herbert-4 on 2010-07-29 #gear #russian #120 #rangefinder #review #soviet #camera #old #folder #kmz #user-review #iskra


  1. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    great camera! B&W shots are my faves!

  2. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Yes, great Russian Camera. I love the pictures.:))

  3. dogma
    dogma ·

    WoW another amazing camera from my favorite type: folding! Gallery i so great a specially portrait #2

  4. bravopires
    bravopires ·

    marvellous camera and marvellous shots!

  5. paramir
    paramir ·

    wonderful results! super-sharp images. looks like a great camera!

  6. droogieboy
    droogieboy ·

    Wonderfully sharp pics for such an old folding camera. Well done!

  7. myloveletter
    myloveletter ·

    great gallery! wish i could try the camera!

  8. panelomo
    panelomo ·

    classic beauty!

  9. life_on_mars
    life_on_mars ·

    great gallery )) Really good russian heavy-monster

  10. masala27
    masala27 ·

    Very nice photos. Vibrant.

  11. neufotomacher
    neufotomacher ·

    It's the bellows that has kept me from even considering such a purchase. Like your positive push for this camera.

  12. astyanaz
    astyanaz ·

    As you mentioned about them being used by professional photographers - The worst thing I have heard about them is that a great many of them are worn out from use. That comes from professional repairmen, some of whom won't work on them for that reason.

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