A site dedicated to Miranda Fv / FvT cameras and other forms of retro photography

by Jouni Rinne
Comments Off on Another Kiev 4A – and some buying advice on Kievs

Another Kiev 4A – and some buying advice on Kievs

A new Kiev 4A

A bit over a year ago I bought a ’80 Kiev 4A. It was quite a rough example, it worked… just and just, the shutter was noisy, they were slight grinding noises while advancing the film, and it had an annoying stubborn small light leak which I wasn’t able to trace and fix. All in all it wasn’t a pleasant camera to use – but it still clearly demonstrated the possibilities of the Contax/Kiev/Nikon S system; I was hooked, so I started looking for a better one. And found this: a Kiev 4A from year 1961 (serial number 6114681), sourced from Austria.

Kiev 4A '61 with accessories

The difference between this and my old Kiev is like that of day and night: the ’61 version is much smoother, almost silent and much better finished; the covering is real leather instead of the ’80 model’s crappy plastic.

I have also been able to acquire some accessories for the Kiev: on the top left is a 35mm f/2.8 Jupiter-12 (serial number 611519), a Russian-made copy of the legendary Zeiss Biogon lens. On the standard-issue 50mm f/2.0 Jupiter-8M (serial number 6121836) lens is fitted a cheap Chinese copy of a Leica lens hood (Walz-style). Sitting on the top of the camera is a KMZ-made turret viewfinder. This right-handed viewfinder is the “original” copy of the German-made Zeiss Ikon finder, and is correct for the Kiev. When the FED and KMZ factories started making their FED/Zorki Leica-copies, they noticed that the right-handed turret finder obstructed the use of speed selector on these, so they started making a left-handed model, too. The mirror-image model is much more plentiful today, consequently making the original model quite difficult to find (and more expensive). I found this one from Krasnodar, Russia.

1936 Contax II

For reference, here’s a picture of a 1936 Zeiss Contax II with a Zeiss turret finder.

Advice for potential buyers

Kiev 4A '61

If I had done my “homework” beforehand, so to say, I probably wouldn’t have bought the first Kiev. I’ve learned quite a lot about Contax/Kiev during the last year (some of the best information sources are listed in the “Resources”-section below), so, if you too are interested in buying a Kiev camera, I’m trying to share some of the knowledge here. The first two digits of the serial number tells the manufacturing year. The manufacturing years below are approximate, please see Resources for more accurate information concerning the various subtypes.

  • Kiev 2 and 3, from 1947 on: These are almost a carbon copy of the original Zeiss Contax II and III, and at best, equal quality. For that reason they can also be quite expensive. If you are able to get one in reasonable condition and price, buy it!
  • Kiev 4 and 4A, early version, from 1956 on: There were some mechanical changes to simplify manufacturing, but in general the build quality was very good. A good buy, like my ’61 shows.
  • Kiev 4 and 4A, late version, from about 1974 to 1980: These late models can be easily identified by the plastic covering of the body and the self-timer lever. This is the point where the build quality dropped considerably; there’s even a rumour that in the early 80’s two months worth of cameras were dumped straight to the scrap heap. I do not say that you should avoid these models, just that you should be aware that you are literally playing Russian Roulette with these – early 70’s to early 80’s – Kievs. They can be very good if repaired and adjusted by a competent technician, but straight from the factory… No. Just no.
  • Kiev 4M and 4AM, modernized version, from 1976 to 1987: These have somewhat modernized controls on the top. During the year 1982 the Kiev manufacturers shaped themselves up somewhat, so the later examples can be quite good (but not up to the original standard, unfortunately), but what was said about the late 4/4A applies to the pre-’82 4M/4AM versions, too.

Soviet Cams: Kiev
Kiev Rangefinders
Kiev Survival Site
Kiev 4A
Matt’s Classic Cameras: Kiev 4A
Contax II and III

by Jouni Rinne
Comments Off on Infrared


Recently, I’ve become interested in infrared photography. Oh, I’ve always been interested in it, but now I have actually done something and tried out both film and digital infrared photography. Some of the resulting pictures are shown below.

A series of pictures of an approaching thunderstorm in Toijala, Finland, photographed with Rollei Infrared 400S (developed in Rodinal 1:25 7,5min @20℃). Camera was a Miranda Sensorex C with a 50mm lens.

The first picture was taken without any filters.

No filter

The second picture was taken with a Hoya 25A red filter.

Hoya 25A

The third picture was taken with a Hoya R72 infrared filter.

Hoya R72

Also, I had a spare Panasonic Lumix GF1 body converted to an infrared-capable camera (i.e. the hot-mirror in front of the sensor was replaced with a plain glass one). The conversion was made by Kamerahuolto Mustonen & Laine in Helsinki, Finland. Currently, they seem to be the only camera service in Finland to have sufficient know-how for such a conversion.

Here’s an un-color-corrected test picture taken with the Panasonic Lumix GF1 and Hoya R72.

Lumix IR

by Jouni Rinne
Comments Off on Miranda – Micro Four Thirds adapter review (part 2)

Miranda – Micro Four Thirds adapter review (part 2)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Fotodiox has now a range of adapters for Miranda lenses. Since then I have wanted to see and test them for myself, so I ended ordering their Fotodiox PRO Miranda-MFT adapter for $59,95 plus P&P. It arrived a few days ago; here are the test results:

Fotodiox PRO Miranda-MFT

The adapter looks very good. The Miranda bayonet is made of chromed brass; the rest of the body is black anodised aluminium. The manufacturing tolerances of the bayonets and the m44 thread are very good, both the camera end and the lens end are a much tighter fit than the sloppy-ish bayonets in the ramir73-made adapters I reviewed earlier.

But now for the bad news…

The adapter body is too short for correct focus to infinity. Repeat: Too Damn Short!


The register (i.e. flange distance to the film or sensor) of Miranda cameras is 41,5mm, while in the MFT cameras it is 19,25mm, leaving 22,25mm for the adapter (The measurement ‘A’ in the picture above). While on the ramir73’s adapters the adapter length was correct, on Fotodiox’s adapter the measurement ‘A’ is only 21,65mm, i.e. it is 0,6mm too short. 0,6mm may not sound much, but even that little error causes the infinity focusing of a lens to be completely off the mark. As an example, on a certain 50mm Miranda lens I was forced to set the lens to the ‘5m’ mark instead of ‘∞’ to focus to infinity.

The Miranda bayonet is fitted to the adapter body with four screws, so this error could be fixed by placing spacers of suitable thickness under the bayonet… But why would I need to do that kind of thing to an adapter costing nearly $60? On a $5 Chinese adapter it would be acceptable, but… I’ll try to contact Fotodiox to hear whether they have something to say about this!

by Jouni Rinne
Comments Off on Repairing the RE (part 6): The first film

Repairing the RE (part 6): The first film

Well, I couldn’t resist adding a follow-up to the “Repairing the RE” post series. Just a few days ago I developed the first test roll of film taken with the repaired Miranda Sensomat RE (Foma Fomapan 100, developed with Rodinal 1:50, 8,5 min @ 20℃). Seems that the exposure meter adjustment was spot on, all of the pictures came out very well. Here’s an example picture taken within the ancient walls of the Häme castle.

Hämeenlinna / Häme castle

(As an aside, I had to reluctantly admit that the thin, soft film base of Foma films and the Paterson system developing spirals does not work together. I was forced to develop the film in an old Nikor stainless steel developing tank / spiral combo; the film went into the Nikor spiral without any trouble…)

by Jouni Rinne
Comments Off on Repairing the RE (part 5)

Repairing the RE (part 5)

I finally got round to fixing the second RE, and properly this time. The lens had some oil in the aperture blades, so I needed to partially dismantle it and carefully clean out the blades with lighter fluid. Also, the meter reading was off. After removing the left side cover I noticed that, probably because of the previous owner’s ill-advised attempt to adjust the meter to work with a LR44 (a wrong type of battery for this camera), the red lacquer seal on top of the meter had been broken; fortunately the actual, correct adjustment resistors at the bottom of the camera hadn’t, apparently, been touched. The meter needed just a slight adjustment; I checked the reading with a grey card, comparing the result with the readings of other – both analog and digital – cameras.

RE meter
Miranda Sensomat RE

I’m using the MR-44 adapter from Small Battery Company to power the RE’s exposure meter – the best possible, although not very cheap, substitute for the original PX675 mercury battery.

The first RE, which started this series of posts, has already been permanently demoted to a parts donor camera, so this post concludes the “Repairing the RE”-series.

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