In praise of my Hartblei modified K88

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mark, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    Whenever I get film back from the processor I make the obligatory public praise to what ever god is keeping my modified FSU MF camera working and working really damned well. I ahve had the camera for three years now and I have had no complaints with any part of the system, and I paid less than 1/3 what a hassy basic kit costs. SO here goes the praise.

    I just got 10 rolls back from the processor. I nailed the exposure on the eight rolls of slides, RDPIII and RVP50. No banding, or frame spacing, and no uneven exposure issues. I am still struggling with exposing color negs but it is great that I don't have to fight the camera. Of course the success of what was in those pictures was not near as great. There are four frames, though that I am really damn proud of.

    A mixture of Vodka and Cabbage will be sacrificed on a special pyre this evening, so don't be down wind.
     
  2. mfobrien

    mfobrien Member

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    My 16 year old daughter bought an unmodified Kiev 88 last year, and has made wonderful shots with her Bladski. No metering, and she seems to get most of her exposures dead on.
     
  3. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've been visiting the ARAX site for some time, now ...

    Does Hartblei have a site?

    Does anyone have any experience with ARAX and how they compare?
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    This is my very educated opinion
    At this point in time the prices of NEW FSU equipment are too high when you consider the very real possiblility that you will get a lemon right out of the box and problems may hound you to the point that you throw it through the window. You also have to factor in the falling price of used equipment from other more reliable manufacturers.

    http://www.kievaholic.com/kievreportsearch.html

    Yes hartblei has a website. The link above is to search a forum dedicated to these PIA but very fun cameras. If you do a search on the word hartblei you will see that there is a lot of confusion to who the hell hartblei actually is. The company split up and two different companies claiming the same name. The website www.hartblei.com is not owned by the original person and has produced some really bad cameras as of late. The original owner of the company is a guy named naumenko(sp) and people have a real difficult time getting ahold of him, if they can at all.

    Arax has produced some gems and some dogs it is a crapshoot. Arax prices are comparable to other places like kievcamera, Kiev USA is a ripoff plain and simple. Prices way out of league and their cameras are not built any better, no matter what they claim. Kiev camera has a weird return policy. Instead of fixing the problem they send you a new camera and you get a whole new set of problems. Arax, at least trys to fix the camera they sent you. This is a better idea with these cameras. Right now Arax, except for price, is the better deal. they are also the nicest buch of folks.

    Buying russian cameras is like playing russian roulette. People buy them because they have access to some really good and cheap glass and they like to fiddle with their cameras. I have been lucky to not have to fiddle with any part of my camera.

    On the upshot I am addicted to the possibilities a FSU camera affords me. Mainly good glass at cheap prices. A hassy owner may only be able to afford 2-3 lenses while I have owned up to six and paired it down because of weight not price. Plus you have the 30mm fish eye for 250US$ and a 180 sonnar for less than that.
     
  5. CZeni

    CZeni Member

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    Local shop here has a used 88CM set up...body, three backs, w/l, metered prism, 45 tilt/shift Hartblei, 80mm Arsat/Hartblei, 150mm Hartblei and 250mm as well. Whole mess is $800...astonishingly cheap. It seems to work well - the owner simply wants to move it, have gone digi.

    I have a Kiev/Hartblei 60 that works superbly...the 30mm fisheye stays on it most all the time. It's wacky, ugly and loud with that huge mirror but it takes some great images...
     
  6. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Ed,

    no, Hartblei has no website - they ceased "public" business and modifying Kievs a while ago and hartblei.com is a scam.

    Mr Naumenko -the master brain behind the "real Hartblei" thing- decided to limit themselves on modifying and tweaking optics. Not only Zavod Arsenal, you may send in your most loved lens for a fresh MC. They decided that it isn´t in their favour to spend so much time tweaking a camera for so little money - a reshape is a weeks effort.

    I believe that the "Pentasix" sold by Richard Wiese of Hamburg are in fact Hartblei Kievs. I own one sind 1998 and simply love her - Kiev88 with P6-mount (Breech lock type, she takes all lenses I tried... and believe me, I tried many, all I could get my hands on), MLU, a Rollei SLX GG, fabric cloth...

    A friend bought a used Hartblei/Kiev in Prague, we compared the two - they shared a very similar bayonet.

    The best is the 4,5/55 PCS Arsat. I own the first known model (well, known to this date, if you see one older that SN 980001, call me!) and it is a gem. Sharp, handy, only the mechanics are a bit rough.

    The other gem is the 2,8/180 Sonnar in P6 mount. A new definition of "nice".

    Sean, forgive me, but the best place to discuss them is the Kiev Report. :smile:

    http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/ma...t&nav=messages&prettyurl=/kievreport/messages

    The problem with Arax is, that they most likely are reworked, used Kievs - Zavod Arsenal doesn´t sell to them directly. Only the 88CM sold by Gevorg Vartanian seem to be new bodies... I have no proof for that, it is a feeling in my stomach - why else would one make such a big effort on reshaping the outside (leather, painting the chrome black) and crippling the original Zavod Arsenal serial numbers? These are removed (they indicate the year of manufacture in clear numbers) and replaced with a subsequent Arax SN.

    Mark, "buying russian cameras is like playing russian roulette."... Mmmh. Wanna play a round of ukrainian roulette? ;-)

    Honestly - I see no problem. I know how much to pay and what to expect for that. I know exactly how to treat (and service) my camera and it is only mishandling that triggers most known problems with the shutters and the film
    transport. If you take care, she won´t let you down.
     
  7. mfobrien

    mfobrien Member

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    Ihave a Kiev 60 that has not given me any problems. I bought a 165mm lens for it this summer for about $40... unbelievable bargain...
     
  8. rjr

    rjr Member

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    D´oh. Mark, I guess I found you on the Kiev Report- "hayniem"? ;->

    Who else (but you, Tom Hoskinson and me) from there is around here?
     
  9. mark

    mark Member

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    Yep that be me. And Gevorg is reworking older cameras. That question was asked of him early on in the game. Since there are so damned many K88's out there that are new old stock, he is buying those and rebuilding them. SO far the Arax track record seems to be the best for out of the box working cameras. Shutter and advance problems, if there are any are present right out of the box. If these work and the shutter dry fires a lot without sticking or or seizing it seems the camera is good to go. Kiev Camera has a terrible record for out of the box working cameras. That whole return and replace instead of repair issue causes a lot of problems. Of course they have been around longer and sold many more cameras.

    I agree care needs to be taken, lots of care and the occasional sacrifice helps too. Kievaholic and the kiev report are the best places for information. I wonder if there ARE any other kiev masochists around? I see in the gallery that one person uses a Fed.
     
  10. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Mark,

    in the last year I have helped a troubled Arax user with his new "Arax CM" - he had bad light leaks in a brand new camera and he was frustrated on how his SE looked after a few weeks of use - the leather bruised, the black paint flaked off the chrome (one particular stupid idea that Arax copied from Hassle-Blad). Trusting the new camera he left with it for the holidays and came back with many spoiled rolls of Provia F - he sended a sample slide to Gevorg, thats where the "long time no hear" game with Kiev started.

    I lost track how the thing ended, but I know that he is just selling all his Kiev/Arax-setup. :-(

    >Of course they have been around longer and sold many more cameras.

    I believe that these cameras are no bit different in reliability and troubles. Arax stayed clean for how long - 6 months after starting their international business? Hey, "Ms Stephe" even repeated the trouble she had with Fourman!

    The only thing that can be trusted is a long-term warranty - and this has its price. Wiese has to warrant full 24 month and cover all costs and expenses on shipping for the customer in any case of mechanical trouble - and even he has a few dark spots in his fame and the cameras are expensive.

    I only know of three Kievaholics at APUG. It may change. :smile:
     
  11. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I have owned a Hartblei 88 with the back modified to accept Hasselblad backs (something Arax refuse to do because they claim it puts too much stress on the winding mechanism). So far no problems but I have a Pentacon Six and Exakta 66 Model II as a back up.
     
  12. mfobrien

    mfobrien Member

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    Well, I should also add that for the $, the Kievs can't be beat if they are working well (always a caveat, I guess). My daughter bought her Kive 88 geat for less than the price of a used back for a hassy...
     
  13. mark

    mark Member

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    It is amazing how quickly the tides turn in the kiev world. Weisse is expensive. I was lucky to get my camera when I did. I got the camera because Hartblei, at the time, seemd to be pumping out trust-worthy cameras.

    Truely buyer beware. I got rid of my second body that I bought on Ebay. plain ol' k88 and it was perfect. They can be had on ebay, that is like putting 4 bullets in the gun instead of only one.
     
  14. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    Kiev 88CM

    I bought a Hartblei 88CM from Kievcamera in Atlanta about 4 months ago and I absolutly love it. One modification I did when I first got the camera, even before I ever used it, was to put a narrow gasket around the light trap on the back of the camera, where the film magazine connects. Don't know if I really needed to but thought why take the chance. Since seems to be one of the commen complaints and one of the easiest to fix. I used a very narrow stip of Gaffers tape. Other than that, I have had no problems. Spacing perfect and meter is dead on. Payed $495.00 for whole brand new kit.
     
  15. captainwookie

    captainwookie Member

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    I also bought a Hartblei 88CM from Kievcamera about three months ago. No problems yet, but I am still crossing my fingers every time I wind it. So far, I like it. I probably will be deciding on getting another lens for it after the Holidays, still debating over wide angle or portrait.
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    As Roman said earlier in this thread, for a wide angle go with the 4,5/55 PCS Arsat - also my favorite. For a portrait lens, my favorite is the Carl Zeiss Jena 180mm f2.8 Sonnar.
     
  17. captainwookie

    captainwookie Member

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    Thanks! Still have to decide which I think I’ll use the most. My current challenge is finding a good bag to put everything in.
     
  18. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Tom,

    last week I CLA´d my 4,5/55 - relubed it, put it back into order. Guess what I found?

    .
    .
    .

    - it wobbled because two out of three screws holding the focussing helix in place were missing.

    - the thing has a nice feature - the rear elements are designed as "floating elements"! Would you have expected that in an ukrainian lens?

    After securing the helix and relubing it, the whole thing started to feel much better. :smile:

    Kaeptn, I could live with two lenses - the PCS Arsat and the Sonnar Tom mentioned. Both are gems.
     
  19. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Anybody ever take a part a 150mm f/2.8? The aperture pin on mine isn't working very well anymore. I'm guessing a spring used to hold it in place? I'll likedly just glue the pin pulled out so the lens is always stopped down but would rather a better fix.
     
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Very interesting, Roman. Sounds like Arsat Quality Control took another Vodka break...

    When I get ready to CLA my PCS Arsat I'll be asking for your advice.
     
  21. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Tom,

    I blame it on Wiese and the status of my lens - pre-series, prototype, whatever you´d call a #980001.

    The design is quite straightforward, easy to dis- and speedy to reassemble. Not too many variables, despite the multi-entry helix.