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Helios lens

Kiev 17 camera with H mount (Kiev)

The first DSLR camera with Nikon "F" mount ("N" - Nikon) produced at the Arsenal. Before that, there were already sophisticated automatic SLR cameras Kiev-10 and Kiev-15TTL (Tee) with a fan-type shutter and their own unique bayonet mount. To use the bayonet from the previous Kiev was considered not advisable and not promising. The new optics mount for the Kev-17 was borrowed from the promising Nikon. Although initially the designers wanted to use the Minoltovsky bayonet. The option with the attachment of optics "K" (pentax) has not been fully considered. Since at the time of designing Kiev-17, the "K" optics mount had just appeared. Bayonet "K" was offered in 1974 to all manufacturers as a single standard. But I will introduce the fact that the fate of the new "K" mount was not known, and Nikon had a similar and necessary unit, they opted for a more proven version. The credibility of Nikon among Soviet photographers and journalists played an important role. The F (H) bayonet has a focal length of 46.5 mm, and in the Soviet Union the main part of the lenses was produced with a threaded mount (m42) of optics and a focal length of 45.5 mm. Which led to the need to create a new and competitive fleet of optics from scratch. The lion's share of buyers should have been experienced photographers, the camera was positioned in the Union as an amateur camera and had a number of advantages over cameras produced at KMZ, first of all, it is a viewfinder covering almost the entire frame and a wide range of shutter speeds.


  • Small format SLR camera.
  • The viewfinder displays 93% of the frame.
  • Focusing is carried out using Doden wedges and a microraster.
  • Mechanical focal-plane shutter with vertical travel.
  • The worked out extracts 1000-500-250-125-60-30-15-8-4-2-1- "B".
  • Flash sync at 60s exposure.
  • The shutter speed dial is located on the front of the camera.
  • Two contacts for flash sync.
  • Self-timer.
  • Bayonet mount optics "H" (F).
  • Standard lenses Helios-81M (2/50) and Volna-4 (most likely an experimental batch). Camera weight 1100 grams.

Ergonomics and comfort (first impression):

Classic?? No ... Sometimes you wonder how the Arsenal solved simple problems with non-standard methods. The shutter speed dial is located on the front panel under the left hand. This unusual arrangement has become a topic of discussion for many amateur photographers. For many, this feature seemed to be a serious obstacle before buying. But as practice has shown, most of the amateur photographers for the first time picking up the camera and snapping off the film, change their opinion to a positive one. The fact is that during operation, the fingers intuitively find all the levers and controls. And you don't get the impression of being overwhelmed. It is worth noting that the absence of the shutter speed wheel in its usual place is rather a plus, since a lever (button) of the aperture jumper has been added. In the event that the shutter speed head was in its usual place. The fingers of the right hand would be overloaded and take much longer to get used to. And the diaphragm jump lever itself is not implemented in the best way (in the K-19 it was made more "tenacious"), the ring finger often slips, and the middle finger stretches uncomfortably. The shutter cocking trigger does not cause any particular complaints, its simple ergonomics are not very convenient. The new models took this into account and replaced it with a more convenient one. The shutter button is truly soft, no effort. A light touch of the index finger activates the shutter without the slightest tremor or movement.

On practice:

First of all, Kiev-17 attracts with its modern viewfinder (repeated at 19.20.19m). It displays 93% of the frame, which is still a high indicator today.

(on the top photo is the K-17 viewfinder, on the middle Zenit-19, on the bottom Zenit-EM)

As noted by the owners of budget digital cameras: "It's huge !!!" (they are about the viewfinder). The fact is that the magnification of the image itself in an optical prism is an order of magnitude higher than that of the same digital budget cameras, which is very convenient. In the field of vision there is a microraster, and in the center of the Doden wedges. Considering the fact that the bulk of the lenses produced in the Union for this system are high-aperture, then complaints about Doden wedges at low illumination are reduced to a minimum. Due to the lack of TTL metering, the viewfinder is slightly lighter than on the new K-19,20,19M models.

The focal plate shutter was created from scratch, although most likely with an eye on Nikon. Has a wide range of excerpts, 1000-500-250-125-60-30-15-8-4-2-1- "B". Pure mechanics, which is very difficult to overestimate, there is no dependence on the charge and the availability of batteries. It clicks loudly, but without the characteristic clanging like on Zeniths, this is most likely a merit of more perfect mirror mechanics. This shutter was used only in K-17 and K-20, in Kiev-19,19M the shutter is simplified. During repairs, it is not possible to remove the entire shutter (or most of the parts) from the K-19 and put it on the K-17.20. Only the lamellas themselves (metal curtains) can come up. Separately, it is worth mentioning the soft, to some extent gentle, release button. After Zenits EM, ET, 11, TTL, 12Sd, 122, etc. the release button seems airy. Thanks to such a descent, there are much more successful shots (without blurring) than on the same Zenith.

I want to note an important fact, at long exposures there is no need to hold the shutter button until the shutter works. Pressed and released, and the mechanics will independently work out the set shutter speed. While at Zenith, the shutter button must be held until the shutter clicks.

The tripod mount is located in the center of the bottom panel, in combination with the soft shutter release button, there is almost no blur at long exposures.

TTL metering, it's not there. It was believed that the bulk of buyers are professionals and in their arsenal should be a manual exposure meter. The introduction of TTL metering into the camera significantly increased the cost of an already expensive system. A striking example of Kiev-20, which was produced in small batches and was discontinued due to low purchasing power. For a beginner, the lack of a built-in exposure meter will be a problem.

Standard lenses: Volna-4 1.4 / 50 and Helios-81M 2.0 / 50. If everything is clear about Helios and there is a lot of information on the Internet, then Wave-4 stands alone (not to be confused with Helios 123), a rare high-quality fifty kopeck piece. Field of view 44 °, resolution from center to edge from 45 lines in the center to 25 lines at the edge. It holds back light a little better than Helios-81m. He is more likely a collectible rather than photographic glass.

Kiev 17 with Bayonet N (Kiev):
The bayonet mount of the optics, as described above, is copied from the Nikon F (Non AI) system.

How to remove a lens from a camera Kiev 17:
Press and hold the lens lock button (1.), then unscrew the lens as shown in the photo below (2.).

The optics park was re-created:

  • MC Mir-73H 2.8 / 20 ($ 100).
  • MS Mir-20N 3.5 / 20.MS Myo-24N 2/35 (often on sale from $ 50-100).
  • MS Zenitar 2.8 / 16 under H (often found at flea markets $ 180-220).
  • MSMir-47N 2.5 / 20.
  • MS Mir-67N 2.8 / 35 shift ($ 100-150)
  • MC Volna-8 1.2 / 50 (incredibly rare collectible lens).
  • MC Volna-4 1.4 / 50 (rare lens).
  • MC Helios-123 1.4 / 50 (according to unverified data, it was produced until the recent closure of the Arsenal, in small batches, 500-1000 UAH).
  • MS Helios-81N 2/50 (50-100 $)
  • MC Kaleinar-5N 2.8 / 100 ($ 80-110)
  • Telear-N 3,5 / 200 (70 $ + \ -)
  • MC Yashma-4 2.8 / 300 (rare lens, 550-600 $)
  • MC Yantar-14N 2.8-4 / 28-85 (collectible sample, once met at aukro for $ 500)
  • .MS Yantar-20N 3.5-4.5 / 35-200 (for the same aukro for $ 450).
  • MS Granit-11N 4.5 / 80-200 ($ 50-60).

After the restructuring, all lenses produced at Arsenal were named Arsat. Considering the disadvantageous flange distance of H (F) mount lenses, many factories have been producing lenses with interchangeable (universal) A mount for a long time. But without a jumping aperture mechanism, which, when installed on Kiev-17,20,19,19M, did not lose focus at infinity. Such installation is possible if there is an adapter KP A / H (or similar). But it will be almost impossible to install a huge amount of high-quality optics with M42 and M39 mounts on Kiev (and on Nikon if you want) without loss. Using the KP M42 / N adapter, it will be possible to install optics with an M42 thread, but there will be no infinity. There is also a similar type of adapter with a lens, infinity will appear, but the picture will significantly lose quality.

The camera is equipped with a leather protective case, designed according to the classical scheme.

On the bottom of the wardrobe trunk there is a screw with which the camera is screwed on. The front (front) panel of the case leans forward, thereby giving access to the controls and the camera viewfinder, does not block the view of the lens.

The case has an adjustable shoulder strap for convenient transportation of the camera. The protective properties of this case can be envied by cheap Chinese bags and not only. If dropped from a height of about one meter, the camera should not be seriously damaged.

Common problems:
  • The shutter can jam at one point.
  • The mirror sticks.
  • The mirror does not completely cover the frosted glass in the viewfinder.
  • The shutter speed crown is practically not fixed in some positions.

Other scenarios are also possible. In order to protect yourself from most of the problems, it is recommended to look after a camera from 1981 and younger ...


A wide range of shutter speeds, an excellent viewfinder, Nikon's bayonet, the ability to operate the camera in difficult conditions force us to recommend the camera for purchase ... But, as always, you can find a fly in the ointment in your favorite camera, there is no built-in TTL metering. The problem is solved by a portable (manual) exposure meter, as originally planned by the manufacturer. On the other hand, not every amateur photographer, but especially a beginner, will find it convenient to use a manual exposure meter. And in the efficiency of shooting, we lose, extra time is spent on additional action with a separate exposure meter. Buying Kiev-17 in the First Place I would recommend to owners or future owners of the Nikon system. Moreover, it is necessary at the same time to look after yourself a manual and unpretentious exposure meter of the Leningrad -8 type.
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