First russian camera recommendations

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by paul_shelasky, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. Hi,
    Ive been looking at some of the cameras for sale on Oleg's website. SO much to choose
    from. Am wondering if anyone can give me the lowdown on what model body and lens
    would be a good place to start. I think Ive heard that the Zorki 4 is a good way to go. Any
    thoughts please? Thanks so much!
  2. Since you're buying from Oleg, go for the 4K, the lever wind will be worth it plus you get the nicest viewfinder of the FSU rf's.
  3. kiev 4(a/m)
    but in the end this is a matter of taste, i happen to like the kiev. what fits in your
    hand, only you can find out.....
  4. Fed 5C gives nice results. The casing however (for whatever reason) smells like something the dog rolled in.
  5. I have read somewhere the description as "smells like cow manure".
    I tried to use perfume and God knows what else to get the bad smell away.

    Fed 5C gives nice results. The casing however (for whatever reason) smells like something the dog rolled in.
  6. A very difficult question! - my own experience suggests that the sharpest most contrasty standard lens is the industar 61L/D, although the jupiter 8 fitted to the Kiev and Zorki 4 is a stop faster and very nearly as good. The viewfinder on the Zorki 3 & 4 is probably the best, followed closely by that of the kiev. I love my late (1955 vintage) Fed 1 - a real fun camera, but now I wear glasses the viewfinder is a bit small. The only problem with the Zorki 3 & 4 I suppose is that the shutter can be broken by improper handling (I've bought 3 in this state) I suppose in the end I would go for the Zorki, but check it out carefully when you get it - have the markings worn off the shutter dial, does everything work as it should, is the rangefinder accurate - and at least with the 4K you get an easy to load camera with lever wind. Tying for second place - a Fed 4 with built in meter and the lovely Industar 61 l/d and a nice kiev with the same Jupiter Sonnar clone as the Zorki 4.
  7. Well, everybody has their favorites, for various reasons - here are my top choices:

    Zorki 6: ergonomically almost perfect (except for the rewind-release button that can be mistaken for the shutter release); wide-base rangefinder (means more exact focussing), lever-wind, back swings open for loading. The tranpsort mechnaism can be a bit problematic, so I'd buy only from a reliable source (like Oleg...); no slow speeds (but IMHO those are not needed for an RF, which is a handheld-camera, anyway).

    FED 2: good ergonomics (knob-wind, though), wide-base RF, the viewfinder is much darker than on the Z6, though (yet very contrasty!)
    The best-looking FSU rangefinder, in my opinion...

    Kiev 4: feels very solid, more so than other FSU RFs; wide-base RF (but very small and dim viewfinder); ergonomics slightly quirky; very quiet shutter; most precise lenses (speaking from experience here...); bayonet-mount makes changing lenses faster, but on the other hand there are not as many lenses around in Contax/Kiev-mount as there are in LTM.

    From what I've heard, the Zorki 3M seems to be very nice, too, but I never tried one myself. I personally don't really like the Zorki 4 - it does have the full set of speeds that others don't, and it does have a nice big and bright (by FSU standards) viewfinder, but it did not feel right in my hands (the wind-knob is too close to the RF-housing for comfortable use), and I don't like its jumbled-together looks...
  8. Hello paul,
    Well, I have had experience with the Fed 2, and Zorki 3M. The Fed is a charming camera and the only thing that lets it down is the viewfinder. though there must be some variation, mine is green tinted and it is hard to frame with the edges of the frame in mind, so it's rough approximation at best. the Zorki 3m I found not much better, and in my example the frame seemed to have bevelled corners and was equally frustrating in use. It was far less pleasing ergonomically.

    I tried a Zorki 4, and will hopefully own one one day. The viewfinder is excellent, and it is not so much larger than the other two mentioned.

    I have no experience with Kievs though I'd like to. Apart from the shutter speeds rubbing off the Zorki 4K's shutter wheel i would thoroughly recommend it.

  9. Another FED 2 and Zorki 3M user. I also have a Zorki 3.

    While the Zorki 3M doesn't permit the use of any flash unit, the FED 2 has a flash synch at one speed, 1/30th. Rather than use a flash, I usually uprate my film to ISO 800 or 1600.

    I had a Zorki 4 for one week and sprung for the 3M. The 4 is a clunker.

    The Zorki 3M and the FED 2 both have a splendid hand-hold and a buttery smooth shutter release. The Zorki 3M has the edge with regards to viewfinders and unlike its successors has the old Leica style rewind release lever.

    The FED 2 has only 5 shutter speeds, but has a much wider RF base, which is a real confidence builder when using the 85mm, Jupiter 8 at wide open apertures.
  10. The Zorki 4 is the same as the Zorki 3M except for an enlarged viewfinder housing to accommodate a flash sync. The Zorki 4K is a dog - among other things the printed speed dial markings wear off.

    I am interested in the praise for the I-61L/D, I have compared it face to face on the same roll of film with a J-3 and it was very second best. I have another three or four examples of the I-61L/D is it really worth trying them or (as I believe) is ot second best to the J-3 and J-8?
  11. I have a Fed 2b and a Fed 2c. Although they both needed a bit of tweaking when I received them, I have them working well and I enjoy their feel. Their shutter speeds are dead-on, but both show some shutter tapering. As others have said, the I-61 L/D is superb, and both of my J-8 lenses (1958 and 1984 production) are equally very good. My collapsible I-22 f/3.5 is a real dog.

    About 15 years ago I was in Bahrain and found a camera shop that had Zorki-4s new in box for (as I recall) about $100. I wanted one badly but I went through all of them and couldn't find a single one that had working slow shutter speeds. In that sense, the Feds are a lot more honest, they don't have the slow speeds but the speeds that they have work very accurately.

    Good luck in making your choice!
  12. I'd get a Zenit 12/XP, its stylish (well its a matter of taste), reliable and takes any M42 mount lens. No slow speeds though, but how often do you use them, and you always have 'B'.
  13. FED 5 is a great starter camera--really cheap in new condition and the I-61 L/D lens is great. Zorki 6 is the only Soviet Leica copy with a hinged back and feels good in the hand. As you work farther back in the FED and Zorki lines there is more chance of age-caused problems. There are some nice models but you may have to put some money into them to get them in shooting condition. Some people swear by the Kievs. They are a much more complicated camera which can mean more possibilities of problems. The workmanship on the Kievs really went downhill in the late 1970s. One made in the '60s is probably the best bang for the buck.
  14. If you are a realy Leica envious M3 (1954) and no money enough, like me, get a Zorki 3 (1951) with a clean J8 2.0. Wow! If you are lucky enough to have a Leica lens to make a good combo with it, you'r more than a lucky man.
  15. Oh yeah, the Zorki 3 is one of those cameras that proves, "no necesita tomar fotos con flash," when a camera is this nice.
  16. Thanks for all the ideas. I guess everyone has their favorites. The Zorki 6 looks pretty
    good as does the Zorki 3. I really like the looks of the Zorki 3, but l like the convenience of
    the film advance lever and the hinged back on the Zorki 6. What to do? How is the
    viewfinder in the Zorki 3? Good to use with glasses?
  17. The Zorki 3 finder isn't bad with glasses. It's one of the brighter FSU finders. The Zorki 6 is easier to fine focus because it has a longer finder base (distance between the two windows)the two images merge at a slower speed.
  18. ok, im thinking a Zorki 6 is the place to look. I see that Oleg doesnt have any listed for
    sale. Im really kind of soured on ebay right now. Unless someone can recommend another
    seller they are aware of on ebay that is a good bet for getting a good user. Or other
    russian camera websites to look at.
  19. I have had good experiences dealing with Alex-Photo on eBay or directly communicating to: Not sure if that email address is current. I have the Zorki 6 (amongst other Zorkis)and especially like the looks and feel of that model. Other brands & models can be fine too such as Kiev 4A, FED 3 (earliest 3A sure looks nice). My experiences with a Jupiter 3 & 8 are very good. I suppose the Industar 61 LD has more resolution (I have used that lens too with good results). One of the nicest photos I have taken recently was with a Jupiter 3 in M39 mount. You can get good ones or not so great ones from what I have heard but I have been pretty lucky. Even my 'modern' Kiev 4AM is a fine picture taker @ $35 (Jupiter 8 included). I hope to try out the Helios 103 on a Kiev soon which is supposed to be exceptionally good lens. A lot of criticism about Soviet era cameras exists, much of it is unfounded in my opinion. So many sold, so many used, one is bound to find some dogs. One can buy a box full for the price of a Leica M3 and not take better photos (I have used Leicas too).
  20. "Subject: First russian camera recommendations"

    To avoid them?

    Kerkko K.
  21. Paul, you definitely want to buy from someone who accepts returns graciously. When it comes to Russian gear daBay is cheap, but it takes months to resolve an issue, if you are buying from the Ukraine.
    Two more reputable dealers, while not cheap they are affordable:
    • Fedka is in NY and has a solid reputation for customer service.
    The simple truth about Russian gear is quality varies, but it is easy to service. My FED 2 falls into this category. I had to buy two to get the one that I fell in love with.
    Much of what is available, especially from individuals in the US will need to be serviced. Once serviced they are work horses.
  22. I have FED 5c, 2 and Zorki4K. I love strap lugs and believe the shutter of the FED2 is the ncest among these 3 to be set. The Zorki is a bit confusing; too many choices much to close together and the print that's wearing of. The 5c feels cheaply made. The hotshoe is far too soft to hold anything during rough use and won't align my auxillary finder properly and in fact I don't need the built in meter because I prefer to rely on a good handheld which I'm using with the rest of my cameras too.
  23. Andrew, thanks for the store links. I really like the looks of Soviet camera store since all
    the cameras seems to have been CLA'd.
    By the way do any of these cameras have a built in meter? Though this woulnd really be my
    deciding factor.Just curious.
  24. Correction: One can buy a box full (Russian cameras) for the price of a Leica M3 and many will be capable of taking equally good photos (I have used a few Leicas too). But then again the Leica owner might say you still don't have a Leica! No, don't avoid Soviet era cameras. Potentially a great value for your money.

    As far as metering goes the FED 5C has a built-in uncoupled selenium meter. Kiev 3 / 3A & 4 / 4M feature a somewhat bulky looking selenium meter. Selenium is not a big plus in my opinion compared to a good hand held CdS meter but, if it's a relatively accurate selenium then it might come in handy. With hand held CdS, try finding one that uses readily available non-mercury batteries or at least can be adapted.
  25. Here is how you remove the smell from the case. You put it in a large zip-loc style freezer bag with 3 dryer sheets. leave it for a week in any place you want. This also works for leather that has absorbed Tobacco ordor.
  26. In my "quest" for the Leica "Glow" I needed an inexpensive LTM camera body that could operate a Leica lens. I chose my "ebabe" Zorki 4 (which mounts an LTM) with a Jupiter 8 (a Leica clone) because it was cheap and engraved to the Colonel from the "Commander in Chief of the Air Force". When it arrived, a trip to Oleg for a CLA was indicated and completed. Now, it operates very smoothly and is rather quiet..... probably not up to Leica standards but "good enough" by any other comparison and much cheaper....... and you won't be concerned about carrying it around taking pictures under adverse conditions. What I really like is the bright viewfinder with its easy diopter adjustment.

    After a few rolls of film I'm still looking for the "Glow" but very pleased with the results. When I get some time I plan to rent an old Leica LTM and see if their really is a "Glow". Chuckle.
  27. Some of these leather cases are cured in urine. In dry places of the USA; the odor can be masked; seemed to be removed by methods. In high humidity areas; these cases revist the funky odor often; as traces of uric get new moisture. With my dozen plus Russian bodies; about 1/3 were really horrid in odor. I place the lot in box with a ozone generator; and got 2/3's of them OK. The still funky 4 got burned up in the fireplace; they have abit/tad of nice color while burning. The local grocery store had nice looking/fitting leather black jackets from China for 17 bucks last year. If kept in your house; your house has a strong urine smell.
  28. Thanks all! Im wavering between getting a Zorki 4 or 6. I think I like that the 6 has the film
    advance lever. How are these cameras as far as loudness of shutters.
    Anyone have any sample photos to share?
  29. Hi Paul, One of the most silent RF's is a Yashica Electro. I don't think anything is quieter than a leaf shutter. This is the Zorki watching the "Stealth" Electro....... and an example of Kmart processing and scanning..... cheap and quick though.
  30. Hi Paul, This a little better example but still marginal. I'm running some Leica film through it now (ahem...Kodachrome). I think it will perform well. Regards.
  31. Thanks John for the photos. I agree about the Electro- a true classic. I used one exclusively
    for about a year before it does on me. Well, not died, but its got a few issues. PLanning on
    buying another soon.

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