Those who follow this blog might have noticed that I shoot with a Kiev 88 from time to time
(and that i’m a bit in love with this Russian camera).
So the Kiev 88, it’s an almost direct clone of the original Hasselblad 1600 F, sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Hasselbladski“. Originally called “Salyut”, and went into mass production around 1957. An automatic aperture mechanism was later added and the camera’s name was changed to “Salyut C”. After “Salyut C” the camera model evolved into “KIEV 80” .
With the further addition of a hot shoe for electronic flashes, the camera became “Kiev 88” .
The camera nameplates show the name “KIEV”, with older cameras using “КИЕВ” (in Russian language) or “КИЇВ” (in Ukrainian language). It was sometimes exported to the West as the “ZENITH 80” .
Kiev 88′ s have interchangeable backs, so you can load a different film in every back. There are 2 main types of back available (6×6 cm and, 6×4.5 cm). Also there’s a big difference in loading a new or an old film back, but both are useable on all Kiev 88′ s.
Kiev’s are also known for their problematic light leaks and other technical problems (“never change the shutter speed before cocking the shutter or you’ll do damage”, for instance). That’s why a number of third party distributors have appeared offering Kiev cameras in safer, quality controlled forms (Hartblei, Arax,…), these cameras often have a mirror lock-up and a pentagon six mount instead of the standard screw type lens mount.
Mine is an unaltered one, for now I haven’t had dramatic issues with it (only a light leak, but I think it was my fault loading the film, because it didn’t happen anymore afterwards). Overall it’s a cheap step into medium format, and if you can live with the fact that you carry around a camera with a 50′ s design (and weight) it’s a very fun camera to experiment with.