Kiev 88

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. 

Kiev 88 front

Kiev 88 front

Thanks to wikipedia for some extra background info.  For those who want even more background info,

9 thoughts on “Kiev 88

  1. If it is like my Russian SLR – you don’t need a gym membership – you get all the weight training you need by carrying this around 🙂
    Certainly is a beauty.

    • another pentagon 6 TL, or a kiev 88 :). if you buy a kiev 88 you have to look for the CM model, this is the one that takes the pentagon six mount lenses.

      Or a kiev 60 is also an option, even has the looks of a pentagon 6 TL. But I do like the interchangeable backs, of the 88, though a kiev 60 (or pentagon 6) is also on my wish list.


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