A Review of the Kiev 60: A Medium Format SLR


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…

Images from Thomas Prenner from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Sign up for a LomoHome and follow Lomographer and reviewer simonjamesweston to get updated for more of his gear reviews and analogue adventures!

written by simonjamesonweston on 2010-06-25 #gear #medium-format #review #ukraine


  1. panelomo
    panelomo ·

    beautiful monster!

  2. tveden
    tveden ·

    Hey it looks really cool, and your results are very nice. I does it take 220?

  3. lomosexual_manboy
    lomosexual_manboy ·

    I've been wanting this beast for some time now. Your gallery shows why.

  4. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great review for a great camera! And the shots are really beautiful!

  5. trash-gordon-from-outer-space
    trash-gordon-from-outer-space ·

    I am depply impressed both by the camera and by the pictures you have taken with it.

  6. ak47lomogurl
    ak47lomogurl ·

    love it!

  7. simonjamesonweston
    simonjamesonweston ·

    the camera doesn't take 220 but as 220 is difficult to find (at least in Hong Kong where I live) it doesn't matter.

    Not sure what picture 12 is on the photos though - definitely not one of mine.

    Thanks for the comments everyone ;)

  8. simonjamesonweston
    simonjamesonweston ·

    i forgot to mention crazy internal reflections too.....

  9. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Cool camera, wonderful gallery. Find a camera repair shop and get it CLA'ed, and the internal reflections blackened. Kiev cameras are generally reliable, and once they are working right, they keep working right. Heirloom material. The little girl could go off to university with it!

  10. simonjamesonweston
    simonjamesonweston ·

    Unfortunately I love the internal reflections, especially at night. The only repair shop worth sending one of these to from Asia is Arax in Ukraine - and they will do everything including adding the Mirror Lift Up (MLU) button so the massive slap from the mirror doesn't effect the image. I have a 65mm that allows me to get 20cm from the subject and don't get any negatives from the slap.

  11. paramir
    paramir ·

    beautiful gallery! sounds like a lovely tank... :)

  12. dogma
    dogma ·

    I dream about this camera!

  13. basterda
    basterda ·

    Ow wow!

  14. fornoise
    fornoise ·

    Beautiful little girls, and beautiful photos. I ordered a Kiev 60, but it only comes with the mirrored waist-level viewfinder, similar to the Lubitel's. Are the viewfinders interchangeable? I think I would really rather use the eye piece. Have you used both?

More Interesting Articles