At the top of the list of the cameras I most admire are the pre- and postwar Zeiss Ikon Contax rangefinder models II, III, IIa and IIIa. I respect them, if possible, even more than the contemporary Leica’s. Unfortunately, lots of other people share my opinion about them, causing the price of good quality examples to soar sky-high, far beyond my modest budget. So, I ended up buying the next best thing, a Kiev 4A (КИЕВ 4A), which is a Russian-made copy of the pre-war Zeiss Ikon Contax II, and quite cheap…
To be precise, it is wrong to call them copies. After the WWII ended, the Russians occupying the East Germany moved the whole Contax assembly line from Dresden to Kiev (actually a part of the modern day Ukraina), with all of the machinery, designers and employees. The production lasted from 1947 to 1987, a strong proof of the quality of the original 30’s German design.
This example (serial number 8003364), with a 53mm f/2.0 Jupiter 8M lens, was made in the year 1980. Unfortunately after mid-70’s the quality of the Kiev factory products dropped considerably; let’s hope this one was made on a day the factory workers imbibed a bit less Vodka than usual… At least, it seems to work properly for now.
I bought it via eBay from Ukraina just a few days before the current unrest there started. I was somewhat concerned about whether it would arrive intact, or arrive at all… However, my fears were unfounded; here it is now!