Friday, March 14, 2014

A German camera made in the Ukraine - Arsenal Kiev 4

Back in 1932, the giant Zeiss Ikon conglomerate decided to bring a 24x36 rangefinder camera with interchangeable optics to the market, not wanting to loose customers and reputation to Ernst Leitz from Wetzlar. This was the birth of the legendary Contax, which some sources say it was designed to be superior to the Leica in every way.In fact, most features implemented in the Contax are natural extensions of Zeiss Ikon's gathered know-how, ranging back to the pre-merger companies.

The Contax, though, has a fascinating history after WWII, which saw entire production lines, machinery and experts from the original Zeiss Ikon factory in Dresden taken by the Russians to the former military arsenal in Kiev, Ukraine (then Soviet Union) as war reparations.

kiev 4

The cameras made by Arsenal Kiev are, in fact, neither Russian plagiarisms nor low-quality camera, as is the reputation of many Soviet cameras, but much more "a German camera built in the Soviet Union". Although quality standards and craftmanship levels decreased steadily along the Kiev's extremely long production run (1949-1984), this Kiev 4 exemplar from 1962 seems to work smoothly after more than fifty years. The lens, a Jupiter-8M is a fine copy of the legendary Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/2 from the original Contax.

kiev 02

I acquired this camera because Kievs still have a moderate price tag and my morals prevented me from paying the ridiculously high prices that a Contax can reach. In fact, I got a pretty good deal on this camera, considering its condition.

Let me introduce you to my first rangefinder system camera :)

Arsenal Kiev 4
My Kiev 4 flickr set

Maker Arsenal
Model Kiev 4
Type rangefinder system camera
Lens Arsenal Jupiter-8M 50mm f/2.0 (No. 6222704, 1962)
Lens KMZ Jupiter-12 35mm f/2.8 (No. 5911210, 1959)
Lens LZOS Jupiter-9 85mm f/2.0 (No. 6303583, 1963)
Shutter Contax, 1/2 - 1/1250 + B
Film type 35mm 24x36
Year 1962
Country Soviet Union

No comments:

Post a Comment