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  1. #1

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    can someone give realistic review of russian lenses and cameras

    i read a lot of argues about russian camera- there r only 2 types of people - one that hate them and one that think they r best.
    but what is truth??

  2. #2
    Ole
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    Russian (or FSU, many of them are Ukrainian) cameras are a bit like magic: Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. Chances are better for getting a working one if you believe in it - just like magic.

    And like every fairy tale warns us: Even when the magic works, you sometimes get unexpected results

    They're not the best. But they're not the worst either! When they work, they're good. Mostly they are also so cheap you can buy several to test out before you begin to aproach the price of a good second-hand "western" camera.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3

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    The question is not simple - the RUssian cameras, first of all, are no uniform even inside one breed So everything depends on a particular case. Personally I find some of Russian cameras very good in common - for example, Kiev I, II and III rangefinders (copies from Contax) and their lenses, as well as Iskra 6*6 folder. Some of FEDs and Zorkis are quite good, and the early Zenits and lenses for them. 85/1.5 Helios-40, though it lacks automated aperture and weighs a ton, is an excellent performer for portraits - and it's very cheap. Industar-61 L/Z and L/D are capable of very good pictures. I can give more examples - but it has no reason, because you should ask about any particular system ) The worst part of Russian cameras is poor craftmanship and unsuitable materials - but this trend had begun maybe after 1968, so almost everything made beflore this year is usually good.

    Cheers from Moscow,
    Zhenya

  4. #4

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    I've got a collection of probably close to a dozen Russian, Ukrainian, and Soviet cameras, as well as lenses. Most of these cameras are simple. The most popular ones (FEDs, Zorkis, Zenits, and a few variants like the Kristall) are derived from (or simply are) clones of early Leica designs, but they lack the quality control of Leicas, or even of typical Japanese cameras. Up until they stopped production just a few months ago, some cameras made by KMZ (the main Russian camera factory) used a shutter design that was based on the original Leica II shutter design. It had a few improvements, but was still a simple cloth focal-plane shutter with speeds of 1/30s to 1/500s. If this sort of simplicity appeals to you, mechanical Russian/FSU cameras are worth investigating, with the caveat about quality control not being that great. You can still get the latest of these cameras new, although production has stopped. Of course, if you're buying an older camera used, the camera's current condition is more important than out-of-factory condition.

    A few of the more modern Soviet and Russian cameras have automatic exposure electronics, metal vertical-travel shutters, and so on. Again, quality control can be an issue. When they work, they can be decent cameras, but getting them to work can be a frustrating experience. Interestingly, the Soviet Kiev 10 was one of the, if not the, first SLR with automatic exposure. I've got its descendent, the Kiev 15. It's a heavy beast and the automatic exposure feature no longer works on mine, but considered as a manual-exposure camera (using a handheld exposure meter), it's a perfectly useable camera. It's also got a very unusual metal fan shutter, if you're interested in such details.

    All this said, IMHO Soviet and Russian lenses are better than their cameras, as a group. I can't say that they'd beat the very best Japanese or German lenses (I don't have access to such expensive glass), but they're certainly on a par with the Fuji, Pentax, Chinon, Tamron, and other consumer-grade Japanese lenses I've got. If you track down spec sheets, keep in mind that the Soviets didn't exaggerate their performance numbers in the way capitalist Japanese and Western companies have done for years.

    If you're interested in learning more, check out the Zenit Camera Group on Yahoo. It's a very friendly group, although of course the people there tend to like Russian/FSU gear, so don't expect an unbiased discussion of the quality of the cameras.

  5. #5
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    They aren't the best, and I don't hate them, so I don't fit into either category. These cameras fascinate me - enough so that I have six of them. I shoot with them because they're fun. I have some problems occasionally - I don't always get sharp results - but part of the photographic experience to me is the enjoyment I have making the images. Simply using these cameras is fun.

    If that works for you, get one, or ten. Don't get them as a substitute for good gear - get them as something to use in addition.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJim
    Don't get them as a substitute for good gear - get them as something to use in addition.
    As my lengthy reply suggests, I tend to agree; however, I do strongly adhere to the principle that the most important piece of photographic equipment you have is behind your eyes, not in front of them, when you trip the shutter release. Russian/FSU cameras are perfectly capable of taking excellent photos. The trouble is that they may not be quite as flexible or reliable as many other cameras, which can make it harder to get certain shots with them.

  7. #7
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    Absolutely I agree.

    The fun factor, though, may inspire people to take photos they wouldn't ordinarily take. This can lead to some pretty terrific images.

    I have the same problems with my Nikons. My F100 is fast but heavy and large. My FM2n works better in the cold but is slower to operate. Pick the right tool for the job.

  8. #8

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    I am also one “in the middle”. My Kiev 60 is fun and reliable but it took two purchases to get a good one. I can’t say I wouldn’t use it for critical photos (i.e. weddings) because I have but it definitely is not a “fire-and-forget” camera. If one is going to use Russian gear for critical use, buying from someone like http://www.kievcamera.com/hartblei.shtml or http://www.kievusa.com would be advisable, although I don’t know how many different Russian choices they have.

    Actually I think one of the beauties of Russian cameras, the Kiev MF in particular, is the flexibility. Glass (very good glass, I have experienced) one can get for reasonably low $$$. I take pictures from macro to landscape to portrait to nature and even racing with my MF Kiev and have had MUCH more good luck than bad with the equipment. But that is a MF camera and this is a 35mm forum. Still, it seems to me that there are many Russian cameras that accept lenses from M42 to Nikon mounts.

    I use old Zenits in the camera club I lead for youngsters. They seem to get a thrill from the weight (go figure). Practically the lenses are inexpensive, the kids have snapped some great pictures and the cameras have all seemed to hold up to the kids use.

    Nikons, Canons, Minoltas, Olympus’s they are not but they are not bad and, I believe, for the money they have a place in the photog community.

    I agree, mostly it's the one holding the camera that really makes the difference and Russian cameras can be a lot of fun.
    [COLOR=Blue][FONT=Georgia]Jim Anderson[/FONT][/COLOR]

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by sajianphotos
    ... I take pictures from macro to landscape to portrait to nature and even racing with my MF Kiev and have had MUCH more good luck than bad with the equipment. But that is a MF camera and this is a 35mm forum...
    A 35mm forum?
    Tom Hoskinson
    ______________________________

    Everything is analog - even digital :D

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hoskinson
    A 35mm forum?
    Did I say something wrong?
    This is the
    35mm Cameras and Accessories
    forum, isn't it? I seemed to have rambled on about a MF camera.
    [COLOR=Blue][FONT=Georgia]Jim Anderson[/FONT][/COLOR]

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