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  1. #11

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    I've had a couple modified Kiev 88CMs over the years. Both were by Hartblei and both were pretty good. I wrote a small article about Kiev cameras on my site, you can read it here: http://www.jimadsonphotography.com/info/kiev_info.html

    My current opinion has changed a little though. Although I still think Kievs are decent cameras, I think their position as the best way to get into MF on the cheap is in serious danger. As many people have mentioned already, there is an abundance of used gear on the market that is of dramatically higher quality than the Kiev. Since getting rid of my Kievs, I have had a Mamiya 645 Super and (currently) a Hasselblad 2000FC. I paid less for the Hassey and Mamiya than I did for the Kiev. The difference in fit, finish, and reliability is beyond compare.

    Several people have mentioned that lens prices are not falling as quickly. This is partially true, but depends on exactly which lenses you are talking about. The Mamiya 645 lens prices are falling like rocks, and often you can find them used for the same price as a new Kiev lens of similar focal length. Now you may think it's invalid to compare used to new, but I disagree. The fit, finish, and quality control at the Kiev plant is so bad that new Kiev lenses are often in worse shape than decent (even pretty old) used lenses from better manufacturers. That doesn't even take into account optical performance, which can be hit and miss with the Ukranian made lenses. A few years ago, they were dramatically cheaper than the better brands and that made it worthwhile, but that's not so much the case anymore.

    It gets even closer if you compare the best Kiev lenses- the Carl Zeiss Jena lenses for Pentacon Six cameras- to the other manufacturers. CZJ lenses have not been manufactured since the late '80s, and thusly are available only used. They are much better in build quality and (usually) optical performance than the Kiev lenses, so they are a better comparison to the lenses offered by mainstream companies. The problem is that while Mamiya, Zeiss, and Pentax used lens prices have been dropping like rocks, the Zeiss Jena Pentacon lens values have been steadily creeping up. Most of them are actually more expensive than the Pentax and Mamiya lenses, and are about the same as older Hasselblad Zeiss lenses.

    Overall I think that Kiev's advantages have all but dried up.

  2. #12
    Adrian Twiss's Avatar
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    In the days when professional grade MF cameras represented a very substantial investment re-worked Kievs made sense for those on a budget or dipping their toe in the water. However they were a lottery with regards to both the quality of the product and the quality of service. I went down the Hartblei root in 2002 and had the camera modified with a Hasselblad acute matte focussing screen. I was lucky to pick up Schneider lenes for the Exakta 66 and multi coated Jena lenses at a reasonable price. The camera so far has been reliable and I have been lucky with my backs.

    Would I go down the same route now? Probably not their is a lot to be said of the peace of mind resulting from the use of top class equipment.

  3. #13

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    I agree but if your buying used equipment from anybody then don't be suprised when it has problems. Will a brand new Bronica/Pentax/Mamiya/etc be better then a brand new Kiev? Sure likely 100% of the time. Will a used one be better then an Arax Kiev? I wouldn't depend on it.

  4. #14
    Adrian Twiss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Zentena
    I agree but if your buying used equipment from anybody then don't be suprised when it has problems. Will a brand new Bronica/Pentax/Mamiya/etc be better then a brand new Kiev? Sure likely 100% of the time. Will a used one be better then an Arax Kiev? I wouldn't depend on it.
    This is a valid comment. However given the quality of manufacture of the likes of Hasselblad, Pentax, Bronica etc if one of these is used carefully and properly maintained it would still, on balance, be a safer bet than a Kiev or its derivatives. The trick, of course, is in the buying.

    That said, there is no reason to suggest that a well made Hartblei, Arax or 88cm will not give many years of good service. Its just that the "big boys" seem to manage this consistently.

  5. #15

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    Many people seem to worry about buying used equipment, but I don't understand why. I buy almost all of my gear used, and often in not-so-good condition, and I've never had a piece of good equipment die on me. Additionally, I tend to treat my gear pretty harshly and still after years have never had anything break. I've had stuff dent, crack, etc. but never quit taking pictures- and that's what I buy it for.

    I have, on the other hand, had a brand new Hartblei-modified Kiev die after two rolls of film for no reason. I had another one that worked fine for years.

    What I'm trying to say is that I believe a brand new Kiev is far more hit and miss than used gear from any better manufacturer. With Kiev, it may just up and quit working whenever it feels like it. With better gear, if it works when you get it, it's probably going to keep working.

  6. #16

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    The Pentax 645 I bought from Keh started acting up about three days after the warranty expired. It totally quit working at the worst possible time. OTOH I've got two Kievs. One a 60 I bought off a user on Ebay. The second a 6C that only received a CLA from Arax. Not the full treatment. They both work perfectly. OTOH Pentax wants more then I paid for the camera to fix my 645. That assumes nothing serious is wrong with it. Luckily they still have parts for the thing. Some of the older MF equipment from other manufacturers are totally out of parts.

  7. #17

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    If I was a pro would I use only a Kiev? NO! If I was a pro would I only have one Hasselblad? NO. Have I ever had a difficulty with a Kiev? NO. There are lots of working kiev cameras out there. Unfortunately the folks who own these cameras do not write about their good cameras. You hear about the complaints and failed cameras and bitter owners.

    As for other brands being more reliable, maybe, maybe not. No they are not as cheap yet. It is still cheaper to buy a bag full of P6 or B mount lenses when others own 1 or two from their brand. The glass for a Mamiya (very old Mamiya) is still more expensive than russian glass. People say it is better but I bet you could not pick out like images made with my gear and mamiya gear.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  8. #18

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    my experience with kievcamera cannot be printed here, I will try to be nice, they are disreputable, have no bussiness ethics and to put it bluntly, BALD FACED LIARS

  9. #19
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bohica
    my experience with kievcamera cannot be printed here, I will try to be nice, they are disreputable, have no bussiness ethics and to put it bluntly, BALD FACED LIARS
    I've heard that.

    Have you any experience with ARAX?
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  10. #20

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    I have. Arax is fine. OTOH unless you need a fisheye MF prices in general are now so low I'd have trouble coming up with a good reason for buying a Kiev. This from a person with two bodies and a good number of lenses.

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