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Camera Kyiv-III review

Kyiv-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 you can say that the most.

Kyiv-III is not a Soviet development, it is a copy of the German Contax-III camera. The secret of this fact was not particularly made. Rather, the idea was cited that Kyiv-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 canceled and all German developments were freely copied.

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

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

The original German machine tools and drawings of camera assemblies served as the basis for production. German experts advised the plant personnel. For some time, the devices were completely, and later partially, assembled from components made in Germany.

A little about the beginning of the lineup. We are now talking about Kyiv-III. Kyiv-II is an apparatus similar to the third in everything except the exposure meter. The second model has no exposure meter.

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

But Kyiv-I does not exist. Although Contax-I was. But his replica was not released in the USSR. Here it is in a photo from the web.

As already mentioned, Kyiv-III was a device of the highest class. Steeper - only mountains. With minimal changes in functionality, this concept was produced until 1985 and was relevant.

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

There were also Komsomolets and Moskva-2 in the medium format.

Nothing else comes to mind. Of course, all these cameras are a class below.

Although, more or less mass production of Kyiv-III is considered to have begun since 1952 - later.

In 1951, Zorkiy-3 was already released. He had a shutter speed of 1/1000 and had a rangefinder connected to the viewfinder, and the back wall was removable. But there was no built-in exposure meter.

A light meter is still a very necessary thing. And in Kyiv-III it is not for show.

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

And under a narrow film, such competitors massively swooped down already only in 1964 - Here and FED-4 and FED-10 and Zorkiy-10 and the Zenit-4 family.

By the way, Zorkiy-3 doesn't have a self-timer yet. And Kyiv-III has it.

In general, Kyiv-III was definitely the dream and desire of Soviet amateur photographers of the 50s.
According to an interesting practice adopted by the Arsenal, rangefinders did not put an index indicating the model. The instructions wrote, "Kyiv-III", for example, moreover, that's right - Roman. And the apparatus was just Kyiv.

Distinguishing the third model from others with a light meter, however, is not difficult.
Kyiv-III does not have a sync contact socket under the front viewfinder window on the left. The rest of the later synchrocontacts are.

The production of Kyiv-II and Kyiv-III ceased simultaneously in 1955. But only with the fact that the Kyiv-IIA and Kyiv-IIIA models came out. All the difference was precisely in 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 Zorkiy-S, look, there is interesting material there.

The very first issues of Kyiv-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 there were hardly many warehouse stocks of finished units at the enterprises of Germany. Meaning?

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

Although, here on the site there is an example of how the sensitivity scale in DIN units was used on the head of the exposure calculator on a 1954 camera. Apparently, this means that some German-made parts could still be used in the assembly of Kyiv-III, at least until 1954.

Even on German heads, the letter F was engraved in front of the aperture scale. Photo from

Since 1951, the letter A began to be affixed to the serial number of the device on the accessory bracket. Such a device is in the review. The letters B are less common. Photo from

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

Well, it seems to me that engraving letters next to the numbers in advance, and then mounting the brackets strictly with the desired letter on the cameras after installing one or another exposure meter is irrationally clean from the point of view. logistics. But, anything can happen.

In 1952-54, the inscriptions with the name on the front panel begin to be partially changed to double ones - Cyrillic + Latin, made in decorative fonts. Probably, initially such emblems were on export models - hence the Latin alphabet. Therefore, there is no clear transition to a new type of writing. Photo from

However, on Kyiv-IIIA the names are already mostly double. And then - just like that.

Now Kyiv-III of later releases 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 A545346.

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

Apparatus for 35mm film, rangefinder. Rangefinder base 90 mm.

The shutter is curtain with vertical movement of curtains.

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.

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

Fastening type - bayonet Contax-Kyiv external and internal.

The camera is equipped with a self-timer, it does not have a sync contact.

Kyiv-III refers to a line equipped with a built-in non-coupled selenium exposure meter.

3/8" tripod socket.

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


In front, in addition to the lens and the scales of distances and depth of field placed on the bayonet frame, they are located from left to right:

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

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

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

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

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

Behind - only the eye of the viewfinder.

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

The rangefinder area in the center is large, rectangular, and bright.

In general, against the first FED and Zorkih - a win, against Zorkiy-3 - rather, a loss, although a very large rangefinder base is still an advantage.

Below the camera are:
— two rotary locks locking a removable back wall;
- button to turn off the shutter during rewind;
- tripod socket;
- folding stop.

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

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

From left to right it has:

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

The head of the calculator is like a tower. Monumental.

The calculation of the exposure at Kyiv-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 apparatus 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 of the opposite pairs of aperture (in the middle part of the turret) and shutter speed (in the lower part) are the correct exposure pair.
5. If there is little light and the arrow does 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 Kievs. With these devices, focusing can be done by directly rotating the lens in the internal mount, or you can turn a special small wheel in the upper part of the body with your index finger.
Behind the wheel is a plate, when pressed, the internal mount is unlocked if it is parked in the infinity position.

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

Frame counter with manual film start setting.

The cocking and film transport head is large and comfortable.

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

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

Regarding whether it is possible to change shutter speeds when the shutter is not cocked, not everything is clear. The instructions say that it is recommended to change shutter speeds with the shutter cocked. Better to follow the advice.

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 the bottom and remove the back wall. Everything else is typical.

Attitude towards the camera

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, Kyiv-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 Kyiv-4M and Kyiv-III. German designers have created a camera with a margin of half a century ahead. Incredible.

That's all I have

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