Saturday, December 28, 2013

5 Soviet Camera Brands That Are Worth Checking Out

Many photographers around the work, especially film photographers, still love old Soviet cameras till now because they can bring amazing colors and breathtaking backgrounds for their photographs. Many of Soviet cameras still work fine, they are cheap and also available on the second hand market and on eBay. And here are 5 Soviet camera brands that are worth for you to checking out.


FED 2 with the Jupiter 8 lens
(via Wikipedia)
The FED is a Soviet rangefinder camera, mass-produced from 1934 until around 1990, and also the name of the factory that made it. FED is indirectly named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka. It was his name that was given to the labour commune at Kharkiv (Ukraine) whose manager, Anton Makarenko, encouraged a workshop education for indigent children and who decided to copy the Leica in 1932.

Production of FED rangefinder cameras ended in the mid 1990s, Fed's site claims that it was in fact 1997: "Start of serial production of vertical drive for control system of tanks. Production of all types of cameras has stopped. 8,647,000 cameras were manufactured since the beginning."

Photo by Leo Tage-Hansen

Photo by photogtom43

Photo by Annette Pehrsson


Kiev 60 TTL (via Wikipedia)
Kiev is a Soviet brand of photographic equipment including cameras manufactured by the Arsenal Factory in Kiev, Ukraine. At the end of November 2009 Gevorg Vartanyan of Arax, a Ukrainian distributor of reworked medium format Kiev cameras and lenses, wrote to tell customers that the Arsenal factory was closing after 245 years of operation. The email said that management had been turned over to the Special Construction Department (SKTB), all work had stopped and the workers laid off, and that the factory warehouse was empty. He thought that Arax had enough cameras and parts to remain in business for at least another 4–5 years. The amount of stock remaining with other distributors around the world is unknown.

The low price of the Kiev medium format cameras has attracted many amateur photographers wishing to enter the medium format camera market on a budget. Some have reported that the prices of a Kiev camera setup with other Russian or Ukrainian components (e.g. lenses) can be 1/10 to 1/15 the price of a similar Hasselblad setup. One of the reasons for the lasting demand for these cameras is the price of the lenses that can be used on them. Despite the cheap price, the Kiev lenses are high quality optic wise, with many of the lenses being based on Zeiss designs.

Photo by *YIP*

Photo by Fatih Alkan

Photo by amamak photography!


The original Lomo LC-A
(via Wikipedia)
Lomography is an analog camera movement and community, and is also a commercial trademark of Lomographische AG. The Lomographic Society International was founded in 1992 by a group of Viennese students after they discovered the Lomo LC-A camera created by LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Since the introduction of the original Lomo LC-A, Lomography has produced and marketed an entire line of their own analog cameras. Most Lomographic cameras claim to produce photographic effects such as oversaturated colors (which can never be achieved with lo-fi lenses), extreme optical distortions, rainbow-colored subjects, off-kilter exposure, blurring and alternative film processing (obviously available with any film camera), all things usually considered bad in photography.

Photo by Kevin Dooley

Photo by Angela Marlaud

Photo by Liana Garcia Joyce


Zenit-E Camera with Industar 50mm lens
(via Wikipedia)
Zenit is a Russian (and formerly Soviet) camera brand manufactured by KMZ in the town of Krasnogorsk near Moscow since 1952 and by BelOMO in Belarus since the 1970s. The Zenit trademark is associated with 35 mm SLR cameras. In the 1960s and 1970s, they were exported by Mashpriborintorg to 74 countries.

During 1967 through 1969 KMZ built an automatic die-cast moulding line, allowing mass camera production. Camera production switched to the M42×1 thread (also known as Praktica thread) and an instant-return mirror was also developed. This led to one of the most famous Zenits — Zenit-E which saw (including its subtypes) over 12 million produced.

Photo by Liis Klammer

Photo by Oliver Liria

Photo by Aleksey Orlov


Zorki 2-s with Industar-50 lens
(via Wikipedia)
Zorki is the name of a series of 35mm rangefinder cameras manufactured in the Soviet Union between 1948 and 1978. It's also one of the widest known brands in Soviet photo industry. The Zorki was a product of the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory (KMZ), which also produced the Zenit single lens reflex camera (SLR). The first Zorki cameras were inexpensive Leica II copies just like the FED, but later models were considerably different from the Leica.

When using most Zorki cameras, the shutter speed should only be set after the shutter has been cocked. Setting the shutter speed before the shutter is cocked can permanently damage the camera. This especially affects all Zorki cameras with slow shutter speeds under 1/30 of a second, in particular the Zorki-3 and Zorki-4.

Photo by GuvanuvaLala

Photo by MarkGuitarPhoto

Photo by Brad Brok

Do you own a Soviet camera, or have you ever try on one of those vintage cameras? We love to hear your thoughts on them, feel free to tell us in the comments. Thank you!

All information from Wikipedia.

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  1. I own a Kiev 4 rangefinder camera(a Contax copy) and although its veiwfinder is not very bright it is a real fun shooting with it. The Jupiter 50/f2 lens is very very good. Here is one of my pictures wihch I took with this camera

  2. I own a Kiev 4 rangefinder camera(a Contax copy) and although its veiwfinder is not very bright it is a real fun shooting with it. The Jupiter 50/f2 lens is very very good.

  3. I have two Zenit and a Zorki, wonderful cameras, a bit heavy but always reliable. I also have several russian lenses (Helios, jupiter, Industar) and I love them. Not tack sharp at maximum aperture but at top quality level from f4 to f8/f11

  4. I remember trying my best to not feel ashamed of my Zenit B and then Zenit EM when I was a teenager. Nearly forty years on and I love (really love!) the E with Zeiss Tessar (Zebra) and EM Moscow Olympics model which I recently bought. I feel like I've come home. Like the idea of a Salyut and a Sputnik in the future.

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  6. The Zenit SLRs had/have a reputation for being cheap, and they certainly are. They are also incredibly durable/reliable, intuitive, and - particularly the model E variants - very satisfying to use, as their fabric shutters are much smoother, with less jolt and noise than modern metal units. The only other SLR I've used that I feel can give a Zenit a serious run for it's money at anything like a comparable price and user-friendliness is the Chinon CE series.

    Let's not forget former Soviet lenses as well. Soviet glass was (and still is) some of the best out there :)

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