Breaking every rule on what not to do when you buy one of these cameras – I went ahead and bought it on eBay from someone in Ukraine who I didn’t know, and little did I know what a love affair I was getting myself embroiled in…
The Kiev 60 is a medium format SLR taking 6×6 only and was derived from the Pentacon 6, a fairly successful East German medium format SLR and was made in the famous Arsenal factory in Ukraine for close to thirty years until it closed a few years ago.
You can still find brand new boxed Kiev 60’s on both eBay and other sites, or like me, dive straight into the great unknown and buy one from 1987 that hasn’t been modified or improved from the day it was born.
Most lenses designed for the Pentacon 6 will also mount on the Kiev 60. This means that owning a Kiev 60 allows you to use the lens not just from Ukraine but also from Carl Zeiss that were built for the Pentacon 6. Having said that though, it would feel very disloyal to put anything apart from a Ukrainian lens onto this camera and one quick look onto eBay will show you that there are some incredible lens choices available for very little cost.
Mine came with the standard Volna 2.8/80 mm lens and a TTL prism with a meter that needs some serious adjusting to make it work. As it is, I am taking images using the Sunny 16 method and so far it seems to work with no problems. I haven’t had the shutter speed checked – but again seeing the results from the Sunny 16 method makes me think that there are no serious problems here.
The Kiev 60 is known to be a little more reliable than the Hasselblad style 88 and also allows you to go up to 1/1000th for real high-speed shooting that the 88 won’t match. The mechanism on mine is very noisy as the mirror lifts and the cloth curtain whooshes across – but even shooting in hand on 1/60th indoors – I am getting crisp images (or crisp enough for a non-professional).
The final problem that everyone talks about with this camera and in fact also the other SLR 120’s is frame spacing. You have to make sure you line up the start arrow of the film with the red dot painted on the back of the camera and by doing this on every film I find that I get good spacing on 4 out of 5 films. The worst overlap I have had so far is only 1 to 2 mm – so, not anything I would worry about.
The most important thing for me with this camera is that it looks and feels like a real cold war relic. Taking pictures with this camera is a thoroughly authentic experience and people will stop and stare as you pull this monster out. It is as Russian as the AK-47, as heavy as a tank and so far I am finding nothing but great images coming from this stunning beast.