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  1. #1
    stevebrot's Avatar
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    Kiev 4AM Feels A Little Rough

    Well actually, a lot rough.

    I am a total FSU Noob. I got my Kiev 4AM yesterday and am a little disappointed with condition, both cosmetic and functional. It was made in 1983 and while it generally does not look too bad, I noted the following problems in decreasing order of importance.
    • Rangefinder does not attain infinity focus
    • Shutter is very difficult to adjust when going from longer to slower speeds. The wheel is difficult to turn and the mechanism feels rough.
    • Film advance/shutter cock is VERY rough, is fairly difficult to turn towards the end of its travel, and does not reliably arm the shutter
    • Light seals appear to have been removed but not replaced (no light seals for the most part)
    • Shutter curtains appear slightly askew and bottom curtain "latch" has signs of abrasion
    • Lens mount cover is dented
    • Fair amount of brassing and scratches on painted surfaces
    • Camera cover material is in poor condition and is lifting from the body in multiple places

    The camera was listed in EXC condition and I am negotiating with the online dealer for a replacement, but I need some perspective on what to expect from the next one he sends. Here are my questions:
    • Is the wind supposed to be rough and "jerky" with significant resistance at the end of throw?
    • Is moving from higher to lower shutter speeds supposed to be difficult to almost impossible? I thought I was going to break something.
    • Where are the light seals? I expected to see black cord somewhere, but could not find any. Where are they supposed to be?
    • Is the mount/focus mechanism supposed to feel sort of loose with a fair amount of play?

    What makes the condition of the camera even more difficult to understand is that I also bought a Zorki 4K, also advertised as EXC. The Zorki is in extremely good condition with all controls working smoothly and apparently accurately. The shutter speed dial is a little finicky, but I sort of expected that. All told, it is a pleasure to use. I don't know about light leaks and shutter accuracy yet, but am running a test roll through it today.

    Thanks in advance for your help and advice.


    Steve

  2. #2

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    Just so you know, on the internet (except KEH), EXC condition basically means it looks like it tumbled down the grand canyon. Doubly so for anything originating in the Eastern Bloc countries. What you need was EXC+++ or Mint-.

    DO NOT change shutter speeds without cocking the shutter. You will break the camera.

    You can send it to a gentleman in Brooklyn who specializes in these Russian cameras if you want it repaired. His name is Edward Smolov. PM me and I can give you his contact info.

    Try and find an early one, I think the quality went seriously downhill after the early 70s. The Stoli was free flowing in the Kiev factory at that point, I think, and the quality shows. The slow shutter speeds on them never seem to be really accurate. I have a Kiev 4a that is in excellent condition and works pretty well but I had to have it repaired and I recovered it as well from cameraleather.com
    Last edited by chrism; 10-19-2010 at 10:43 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: re-read OP

  3. #3

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    The controls on a AM can be rather variable but if the dealer is supplying it to Western customer he should really describe it better.

    I don't have an AM to hand to check but the black cord should only run around the top of the camera chassis - from memory, but Contax and early Kievs seemed to do without it.

    The shutter is best set before winding on, as it wears the ribbons less (for the faster speeds). If the camera is badly worn then there can be a difference in shutter speed depending on if you set the shutter before or after winding.

    It is best to buy a Kiev in country with a prior inspection some are in nice condition, and might only need glue on the covering. Otherwise you will need to rebuild. Even in country somelook cusometically nice but are rust buckets underneath, too many Ru winters of condensation.

    The focus mount helicoid can be slack when it is lube free, that is characteristic, of many Kievs.

    Noel

  4. #4

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    The 4am was the last of the Kiev Contax clones. 1983 is pretty late in the run, so I'd expect it to be of rather "rough" quality. This might have been around time a delegation from Moscow arrived at Arsenal & proceeded to throw six months worth of inventory in the garbage because it was of such bad quality. (That's a true story, BTW.)

    I'd definitely send this to Fedka in New York & see if he can overhaul it.

  5. #5
    stevebrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Slack View Post

    I'd definitely send this to Fedka in New York & see if he can overhaul it.
    I got it from Fedka and we are working on getting a replacement. I don't believe that this camera represents the general quality of his stock, though it may be that the condition of this camera is typical of late run Kiev. According to Yuri, the "roughness" often improves with use. I will continue to play with this one for a few days to test that theory, though I may go with an earlier version if that is what it takes to get one that is mechanically sound.


    Steve

  6. #6

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    For shooters I use cameras from '62 to '68, the finish and smoothness is better than a post '72 camera, but an AM is still a reasonable shooter and its normal kit lens the (Helious) is better then a J8 if both are in reasonable condition, it does look ugly though.

    Noel.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism View Post
    DO NOT change shutter speeds without cocking the shutter. You will break the camera.
    Is this really true of the Kiev RFs? I know about the Fed/Zorki cameras, but the Contax of which the Kiev is a clone doesn't have this requirement, and I thought in this case the Russians followed the original closely.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Is this really true of the Kiev RFs? I know about the Fed/Zorki cameras, but the Contax of which the Kiev is a clone doesn't have this requirement, and I thought in this case the Russians followed the original closely.

    -NT
    here is the manual for Kiev cameras in English,

    http://www.keithberry.telinco.co.uk/kiev4man.htm

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by vedmak View Post
    here is the manual for Kiev cameras in English,

    http://www.keithberry.telinco.co.uk/kiev4man.htm
    Maybe I'm missing something---it lists the steps that are needed to prepare for a shot, and it does mention cocking before setting the shutter speed, but I couldn't find anything that said "don't do it the other way".

    I'd like to know for sure, as I've considered getting a Kiev as a backup to my Contax body, but I'd find this restriction to be pretty annoying.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  10. #10
    stevebrot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vedmak View Post
    here is the manual for Kiev cameras in English,

    http://www.keithberry.telinco.co.uk/kiev4man.htm
    Here is the pertinent text from Keith Berry's manual (referenced in the above link):

    Shutter cocking is effected by turning the shutter knob clockwise (one complete turn to the stop) or, Kiev-5 only - by a stroke of the lever wind.

    Exposure time setting is attained by turning the same knob, pulled out this time, till the black dot on it is aligned with the desired exposure time value. In this position the knob is lowered until it clicks into place. With the shutter tensioned, exposure time changing from a slower to a faster shutter speed demands a somewhat greater effort than when turning in the reverse direction. It is recommended when changing from higher to lower exposure time settings to turn the shutter/film winding knob so that the black dot is a little past the selected exposure time value and after that, rotate the knob in the reverse direction (clockwise), to align it with the desired mark and lower the knob. Set the exposure time after shutter cocking.
    And here is a similar section from the Kiev 4M manual at Mike Butkus' site (transcribed from the export version of the manual from Arsenal):

    Shutter speed selection is done through the knob 10 as follows: Raise the knob 10 by the edges (fig 13), and turn it so that the black dot on the top plate points t the number of the chosen shutter speed, and lower the knob back.

    The advance knob should be turned clockwise before changing shutter speeds. In this state, the shutter speed can be set more correctly. The shutter speed can be set with the shutter either cocked or fired. However, it is recommended that the shutter speed be changed with the shutter cocked.
    The Kiev 4/4A manual reads the same.

    Just today, I read on one of those "expert" sites that changing speeds with the shutter un-cocked is easier on the mechanism, but that on some cameras that practice may result in different shutter speeds than with it cocked (same as the comment above by @Xmas). So...

    Is the water muddy enough yet?


    Steve

    (Has been doing altogether too much Kiev research lately...)
    Last edited by stevebrot; 10-19-2010 at 09:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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