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Camera Kiev-III review and instructions

Kiev-III was produced in 1949-55. Those. this is one of the very first post-war Soviet cameras.
In addition, it is also one of the most functional and technically advanced devices of that period. And we can say that the most.

Kiev-III is not a Soviet design, it is a copy of the German Contax-III camera. They did not make much of a secret from this fact. Rather, the idea was cited that Kiev-III is not a copy, it is Contax-III, released on the territory of the USSR.

As you know, after the Second World War, all German patents were revoked and all German developments were freely copied.

In addition, technical documentation, equipment and spare parts for Contax cameras and lenses were exported from Germany to the USSR as reparations.

At the new location, production was deployed at the Kiev Arsenal plant.

The production was based on original German machine tools and drawings of camera assemblies. German specialists advised the plant personnel. For some time, the devices were completely, and later partially, were assembled from components produced in Germany.

A little about the beginning of the lineup. We are now talking about Kiev-III. Kiev-II is a device similar to the third one in everything, except for the exposure meter. The second model does not have an exposure meter.

Documentation and so on for the second and third models were exported to the USSR at the same time. The production at the Arsenal Kiev-II was launched earlier - in 1947. I think the reason is simply that a light meter with a non-conjugated exposure calculation is a rather complicated device and it took some time to master it.

But Kiev-I does not exist. Although Contax-I was. But his replica was not released in the USSR. Here he is in the photo from the network.

As already mentioned, Kiev-III was a device of the highest class. Only the mountains are steeper. With minimal changes in functionality, this concept was released until 1985 and was relevant.

During the period of release of pilot batches from 1949, competitors of Kiev-III in the narrow film segment were only FED and Zorkiy of the first models.

Komsomolets and Moscow-2 were also in the middle format.

Nothing else comes to mind. Of course, all these cameras are in the lower class.

Although, more or less massive production of Kiev-III is believed to have begun in 1952 - later.

In 1951, Zorky-3 was already released. He had a shutter speed of 1/1000 and a rangefinder coupled with a viewfinder, and a removable rear wall. But there was no built-in exposure meter.

And the exposure meter is still a very useful thing. And at Kiev-III it is not for show.

The built-in exposure meter on a Soviet camera not of the Kiev family appeared for the first time on Iskra-2 in 1961, as far as I remember. Correct if I'm wrong. And this is a medium format.

And under a narrow film, such competitors appeared en masse already only in 1964 - here and FED-4 and FED-10 and Zorky-10 and the Zenit-4 family.

By the way, Zorky-3 does not have a self-timer yet. And Kiev-III has it.

In general, Kiev-III was definitely the dream and desire of Soviet amateur photographers of the 50s.

According to an interesting practice adopted by the Arsenal, an index denoting the model was not put on the rangefinder devices. In the instructions they wrote, "Kiev-III", for example, and, exactly so - Roman. And the apparatus was just Kiev.

However, it is not difficult to distinguish the third model from the others with an exposure meter.
Kiev-III does not have a sync terminal under the front viewfinder window on the left. The rest of the later sync contacts are.

The production of Kiev-II and Kiev-III simultaneously ceased in 1955. But only with the fact that the Kiev-IIА and Kiev-IIIА models came out. The whole difference was just the appearance of a wired sync contact socket.

I wrote about the massive and simultaneous introduction of flash synchronization into Soviet cameras in an article about Zorky-S, look, there is some interesting material there.

The very first issues of Kiev-III in 1949-51 were assembled from German components, at least partially. There were few such devices and it is difficult to find them now. It is clear that at the end of the War, German factories hardly had a lot of stock of ready-made assemblies.

Therefore, it is obvious that the really mass production of Kiev-III began only when Arsenal launched the production of domestic components.

Although, there is an example of how the sensitivity scale in DIN units is used on the 1954 camera on the head of the exposure calculator. Apparently, this means that individual parts of German production could still be used in the assembly of Kiev-III, at least until 1954.

Even on German heads, the letter F was engraved in front of the diaphragm scale.

Since 1951, before the serial number of the device on the accessory bracket, they began to affix the letter A. Such a device is in the review. Less commonly, the letters B.

The meaning of these letter indices is not exactly known. On the website it is said as a reliable fact that the letter means the accuracy class of the exposure meter. "A" is the highest accuracy class in accordance with GOST. "B" - apparently lower.

Nuuuuu ... .. It seems to me that engraving the letters next to the numbers in advance, and then mounting the brackets strictly with the required letter on the cameras after installing one or another exposure meter - this is irrational purely from the point of view. logistics. But anything can happen.

In 1952-54, the inscriptions with the name on the front panel began to partially change to double - Cyrillic + Latin, made in decorative fonts. Probably, originally such emblems were on export models - hence the Latin alphabet. Therefore, there is no clear transition to a new type of spelling.
However, for Kiev-IIIA, the names are already basically such double ones. And then - only such.

Now Kiev-III of late issues is not a rarity, and it is not difficult to find one. In the review, the device is in very good condition with the number А545346.

Camera Kiev-III

Kiev-III was produced at the Kiev Arsenal plant from 1949 to 1955. The total production volume is about 120 thousand pieces.

The device for 35mm film, rangefinder. Rangefinder base 90 mm.

Shutter - curtain with vertical curtain movement.

The curtains are assembled from narrow metal links (blinds).

The shutter speeds are 1/2, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1250 and B.

Standard lens Jupiter-8 2/50. Early releases could be equipped with a ZK 2 / 5cm lens.

Mounting type - external and internal Contax-Kiev bayonet.

The camera is equipped with a self-timer, it has no sync contact.

Kiev-III belongs to the line equipped with a built-in non-coupled selenium exposure meter.

3/8 '' tripod socket.

The weight of my copy without the lens is 709 grams.

Control elements

In front, in addition to the lens and the distance and depth-of-field scales located on the mount, are located from left to right:

- viewfinder window;
- the panel of the selenium photoexposure meter, closed with a lifting cover;
- large rectangular rangefinder eye
- lever and start button of self-timer.

Rangefinder base 90 mm. A very large base. Rangefinder Kiev has the largest rangefinder base of all Soviet cameras.

The exposure meter panel is closed with a cover. To lift the lid, you need to press on the small button in the hinge on the left.

When closed, the cover protects the selenium of the exposure meter from burning out, and when open, it forms an effective hood that cuts off light from the sky. The ribs on the front of the exposure meter, I think, should also protect from side light.

The self-timer start button is hidden under the cocking lever.

Behind - only the viewfinder peephole.

The viewfinder itself is - I would call it average. It gives a not very large and darkened picture.

The rangefinder area in the center is large, rectangular, light.

In general, against the first FED and Zorkikh - a win, against Zorky-3 - more likely a loss, although a very large rangefinder base is still an advantage.

Below the cameras are located:
  • - two rotary locks for locking the removable back wall;
  • - shutter off button when rewinding;
  • - tripod socket;
  • - folding emphasis.

The hinged stop allows you to put the device with some kind of massive interchangeable lens on a horizontal surface, and it will not tilt forward.

The top panel has a complex shape due to the exposure meter superstructure located in the center.

From left to right on it are located:

  • - unpaired exposure calculator, on top of which the rewind head is placed;
  • - bracket for accessories;
  • - pointer indicator of exposure meter;
  • - a focusing wheel and a pressure plate located behind it, which unlocks the stopper of the internal bayonet;
  • - arched window of the frame counter and a gear wheel for setting the first frame;
  • - massive head for transporting the frame and cocking the shutter; combined with the exposure head and the shutter release button located in the center.

The calculator head is a straight tower. Monumental.

The calculation of the exposure at Kiev-III looks like this:
1. Open the exposure meter shutter.
2. Rotate the middle ribbed ring on the calculator and set the sensitivity of the film loaded into the device in the window on the side surface.
3. Rotate the lower ribbed ring of the calculator so that the arrow in the exposure meter window is aligned with the diamond-shaped index.
4. After aligning the arrow with the index, any pair of aperture and shutter speed (in the lower part) located opposite each other is a correct exposure pair.
5. If there is little light and the arrow did not reach the rhombus, then you can try to combine it with indices 2, 5, 10, 20, 40 on the same scale. In this case, the shutter speed value calculated on the calculator must be multiplied by the appropriate coefficient.

The focus wheel is an interesting element inherent in rangefinder Kiev. With these devices, focusing can be carried out directly by rotating the lens in the inner mount, or you can turn a special small wheel in the upper part of the body with your index finger.
Behind the wheel there is a plate, when pressed, which unlocks the internal bayonet if it is parked in the infinity position.

The operation of the Contax-Kiev bayonet is described in more detail in a separate article. I will not delve into this issue here. I recommend looking, this is a very interesting type of mount.

Frame counter with manual adjustment of the start of the film

The head for cocking the shutter and transporting the film is large and convenient.

The same head changes the shutter speed. To change the shutter speed, the head must be raised and rotated to the desired value.

It is inconvenient that the excerpts are finely engraved, the most popular ones are set very tightly. All this is located on the side surface of the head, under the overhanging knurl and on the side of the exposure meter add-on. In general, I personally have to look closely.

As for whether it is possible to change the shutter speed when the shutter is not cocked, not everything is clear. The instructions say that it is recommended to change the shutter speed when the shutter is cocked. Better to follow the recommendation.

The release button has a relatively tight and short stroke.

To load the film into the camera, you need to turn the two locks from below and remove the back wall. Further, everything is typical.

Camera attitude

Here I want to very briefly admire the genius of the German designers who created the Contax-III in 1936, for a second. I repeat, Kiev-4M was quite relevant in 1985 at the time of the end of production, and then - in the course of use by the owners. But there are not so many differences between Kiev-4M and Kiev-III. German designers have created a camera with a margin of half a century ahead. Incredible.


The instructions for the Kiev-II and Kiev-III cameras were in one book. The Kiev-III light meter was considered as an additional option. You can find this general instruction in the Kiev-II overview. I don't duplicate it here.

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