FAQ - Kiev 88

Is the Kiev 88 less reliable than the Kiev 60?
The general concensus on this seems to be that, yes, the Kiev 88 is more prone to problems than the Kiev 60. The more complex gearing of the Kiev 88 which is needed to give the interchangeable film magazine design, requires a greater degree of precision to be implemented correctly. Precision is something that the factory which makes Kiev cameras seems to be lacking at times.

The Kiev 60 uses a simpler design, giving up the interchangeable film backs. Simpler design means easier to manufacture and in theory, less prone to breaking down.

That said, some Kiev 88's have been known to go for many many years giving problem-free service. Some Kiev 60's are dead on delivery. I don't think it is fair to say that ALL Kiev 60's are more reliable than ALL Kiev 88's. With either camera, it can still very much be luck of the draw.

Which is the better shutter material -- cloth or metal?
There is no clear answer to this question, but here are some things to consider:

  • The Kiev 88 was designed to have a metal shutter, and cloth does not have the same physical properties as metal.
  • Metal shutters operate better in cold weather.
  • You cannot accidentally burn a hole in a metal shutter if you don't cock the camera after an exposure (no instant return mirror). Sunlight focused through a lens on a cloth shutter is not healthy for a camera.
  • Metal shutters arguably offer more reliable shutter speeds.

On the other hand:

  • Cloth shutters are a little quieter.
  • A black cloth shutter is less reflective than a bronze-colored metal shutter, thus minimizing the chance of internal reflections.

Is it necessary to only turn the shutter speed dial in one direction?
There doesn't seem to be a definitive answer to this question. Some people seem to say that one should only change the camera's shutter speeds by rotating the dial clockwise... but others (myself included) regularly change shutter speeds by rotating the dial in either direction without any problems.

Note: A version of Hartblei's mirror lock-up function (Studio Master version) required that users ONLY change shutter speeds by rotating the dial clockwise. Rotating the knob counterclockwise would break the camera. Hartblei has now discontinued this model.

What's the difference between all the Kiev 88 models?
The Kiev 88 has been a very popular model for upgraders to work on. Every time someone comes out with their variation of the basic camera, they tend to give it a new name or model designation. This can lead to a whole lot of confusion.

From the factory, there is the Kiev 88 and the Kiev 88CM. First, the Kiev 88 is the most basic model with no mirror lock up, no crank, bronze-colored corrugated metal shutter curtains, and a Kiev Type-B screw-in lens mount. Over the basic Kiev 88, the newer Kiev 88CM features a Kiev Type-C breech-lock (not bayonet) lens mount which means that it will take most (but not all -- because of slight differences in the locking ring) lenses made for the Kiev 60 and the Pentacon Six. The Kiev 88CM also adds a winding crank, a reinforced baseplate, and cloth shutter curtains -- but still no mirror lock up function.

From Kiev USA, we see the "factory upgrade" which is basically a plain Kiev 88 which has had its innards checked and adjusted where necessary -- but with no added features. There is also the Kiev 88CC which adds a winding crank and an upgraded shutter, and their Kiev 88CB with the crank, upgraded shutter, mirror lock up and a bayonet mount which is compatible with Kiev 60, Pentacon Six, and Exakta 66 lenses.

Hartblei offers many models to choose from. Their Kiev line of cameras includes their internally upgraded Kiev 88 and Kiev 688 with its Pentacon-style bayonet lens mount. Either model can be had as a "Master" version which means it has mirror lock up capability, or "Studio Master" version with more complete mirror control allowing you to return the mirror to its 45-degree viewing position if you change your mind about taking the picture. Hartblei also offers their own brand labeled Hartblei cameras which are like the Kiev models, except that they offer compatibility with Hasselblad film backs. The Hartblei 1008 has the regular Kiev 88 Type-B screw-in lens mount while the Hartblei 1006 has the Pentacon-style lens mount. Either Hartblei camera can be had as "Classic" with no mirror control, "Master" with mirror lock up, or "Studio Master" with mirror up and down control. Hartblei's Kiev and Hartblei cameras can be had with custom trim as well -- red and black snakeskin anyone?

Kiev Camera also offers some models of upgraded Kiev 88's. Their Kiev 88m includes mirror lock up and a cloth shutter and you can also order a Kiev 88m with a Pentacon-style bayonet lens mount.

Other Kiev 88's in different guises include the Brenner Foto "B.I.G. Six", Wiese Fototechnik's "Pentasix" (which is manufactured by Hartblei), and Cambridge Camera's "Cambron Six".

Similar cameras which were produced prior to the Kiev 88 include the Salyut, Salyut C, Zenith 80. The Salyut had a no automatic lens aperture control and its Mir-3b 65mm and Tair 300mm lenses can be used on the Kiev 88 Type-B lens mount cameras but without automatic aperture control. The Salyut C was almost identical to the Kiev 88 but most do not have an accessory shoe. The Salyut C's Vega 90mm lens is fully compatible with the current Kiev 88 Type-B lens mount. The Zenith 80 was the export model name for the Salyut C.

Can I use Kiev stuff on a Hasselblad?
Between the Kiev 88 line and Hasselblad's cameras, only the finders are compatible. Quite a few Hasselblad owners have gotten by with Kiev 88 prism finders which are much cheaper. The Kiev prism finders do pick up internal reflections which some people find distracting.

The screw mount of the Salyut and Kiev 88 lenses (not the 88CM, which has a Pentacon 6 style mount) is very similar to the one used by the early focal plane Hasselblads, 1000F and 1600F, however they are not compatible due to screw pitch differences. It has been reported that the Hasselblad screw pitch is slightly smaller and so these lenses can actually fit on Salyut and Kiev 88 bodies, but they will not lock in place properly.

Also, Hartblei's Hartblei branded cameras offer film back compatibility with Hasselblad cameras.

Can I use Hasselblad stuff on a Kiev?
Again, only the finders are compatible. So, you could put a Hasselblad finder on a Kiev if you wanted to (and could afford it).

Hartblei's self-branded cameras do offer film back compatibility with Hasselblad, so you can put a Hasselblad film back on a Hartblei-labeled camera.

And, you can put a lens meant for the Hasselblad 1000F or 1600F on a Kiev 88, again, if you really wanted to.

Which Pentacon Six lenses will NOT go on a Kiev 88CM?
The most well known troublemaker is the fat barreled CZJ Sonnar 180mm lens. The barrel of this lens is too thick to seat into the lens locking ring of the unmodified 88CM (this is not an issue with the Kiev 60).

Fortunately, if you already have a Kiev 88CM and a Sonnar 180mm you'd love to mount on it, Colin's Kiev page provides the information you need on how to modify the Kiev 88CM lens locking ring to accept the Sonnar 180mm lens.

The depth of field preview lever on the 50mm Flektogon and 80mm Biometar reportedly prevent proper mounting on some Kiev 88CM's. Again, tolerances vary. However, if you are not afraid of modifying your lenses, the depth of field preview lever can be easily removed from the lens with only partial disassembly.

The Carl Zeiss Jena lenses are also known to push a bit too strongly on the aperture actuator arm inside of the Kiev 88CM body. This arm is in turn connected to the mirror and the pressure can shift the mirror out of proper alignment making accurate focusing impossible.
(The author solved this problem on his Kiev 88CM by removing the small screw and three washers from the tip of the aperture actuator arm in the camera.)

Can I use Kiev 60 and Pentacon 6 lenses on a normal Kiev 88?
No, you can't. The registration distance (distance from the lens flange to the film) is shorter on the Kiev 60 and Pentacon 6 than it is on the Kiev 88. To use a Kiev 60 or Pentacon 6 lens on a Kiev 88, the lens would have to be recessed into the camera body which is something no simple adapter can achieve.

It would be possible to construct an adapter with an negative element in it which would allow use of Kiev 60 and Pentacon 6 lenses on a Kiev 88, however such an adapter is not known to exist. If it existed, such an adapter would probably be expensive and possibly degrade image quality significantly.

The most common route taken is to change the mount on a Kiev 88 body, recessing it into the body and converting it to Kiev 60 breech lock mount (as in the Kiev 88CM) or to a Pentacon 6 bayonet "twist-and-lock" mount (Kiev USA and Hartblei).

Without recessing a Kiev 60 or Pentacon 6 lens into the Kiev 88 body or without using a negative element, these lenses would not be able to focus to infinity on the Kiev 88.

Is the Salyut C a better camera than the Kiev 88?
Some people will tell you that the Salyut C (or "S" depending on who you talk to) was manufactured to a higher standard than the current Kiev 88. This has something to do with economics and politics under communism versus capitalism.

While this FAQ will not claim that either on is necessarily better, it is worth mentioning that just about all Salyut C's are used cameras and about 20 years old. "You pays your money, and you takes your chances."


Last update: January 11, 2007
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