Kiev Arsenal
Kiev 4 A – 53/99

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USSR 1984 – Compact – 35 mm – Common.

The Kiev rangefinders were produced for over 51 years by the Arsenal factory in Kiev (Ukraine, USSR) and carry an incredible history.

At the end of World War II, the victorious Red Army captured and “relocated” the still-standing Dresden Zeiss factories to Ukraine to start a new production. The first Kiev cameras were actually made from parts (and with machinery) pilfered from the Zeiss factories. The result are very close copies of the Contax II, the last Zeiss camera to be produced in Dresden.

In way, the Kiev rangefinder is a Soviet version of a German rangefinder that was designed to compete with another German rangefinder, the Leica II.

The start of production in the new factories was laborious, but the Soviets would not stop improving on the copy, to the point of making the Kiev a camera in its own right, full of qualities and very appreciated. Helping to its popularity is the fact that it inherited The bayonet mount from the Contax, allowing Zeiss lenses to be used directly on a much cheaper alternative. From the Sixties most models were made in two parallel variants: with and without a selenium light meter.

The Kiev 4 were massively produced from 1957 to 1987 with only minor design variations, making it difficult to distinguish the various versions (which you can identify by the serial number).

In its design stability, the Kiev is probably the closest thing you can find to a time traveler.

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