Kiev 88, 88CM and Zenith 80
Kiev 88 is the successor of the Salyut-S and the Kiev 80. These cameras
were built by Arsenal in Kiev, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.
The Salyut S was launched in 1972 and looks like a close copy of the
Hasselblad 1000F. The Salyut was very expensive, the equivalent of
about 6 months standard salary, about 30.000 were made. From 1975-80
there was an export model, the Kiev 80, also branded as Zenit or Zenith
80. The Kiev 88, launched in 1980, is the most known model, sometimes
jokingly called Russelblad or Hasselbladsky. It is known that quality
control wasn't at its best, but in general, the cameras are robust and
reliable. Bad maintenance and operating errors are often the cause of
failure. To revise and upgrade the original cameras was a good
business for several third party firms.
The camera was often sold as a set with the standard 80mm lens, 2 film
backs and a metered prism, called Kiev 88 TTL. There was one major
update in 1999, they changed the original mount to the more common
Pentacon Six mount, replaced metal plane shutter by a cloth plane
shutter and made other improvements. These cameras are called Kiev 88
CM. It is possible to use the old lenses on the new mount via an
Regular production seems to have stopped in 2009, but third party firms
still sell their revised cameras, ARAX and Hartblei are the most well
known of them.
As a close copy, the size of the camera is identical to the Hasselblad.
Accessories like viewers are interchangeable, but not the lenses. Some
Body 631 gr.
Folding viewer 90 gr.
Metered Prism 475 gr.
Film Back 438gr.
45mm lens 575 gr.
80mm lens 322 gr,
150mm lens 976 gr.
250mm lens 3190 gr. (!!)
So with the standard lens and the folding viewer it's 1.5 kg (3
pounds), my favorite equipment with metered prism and 45mm lens is a
bit more than 2 kg and with the wonderful 150mm, due to its F 2.8
opening its 2.5kg. My camera dates from 1992.
The set. Instructions are in Russian.
Camera with 45mm wide angle lens.
Right side. Hot shoe, flash sync socket and strap pin on the body. On the front edge: lens release.
Back view. On the top of the film back: back release, only releases when a darkslide is in. Big rubber eyepiece on the finder
Left side, on the body: another strap pin, little indication window if
shutter is cocked and the big wind/shutter cocking knob. To change
speeds, you have to pull the knob away from the body and then turn to
the desired speed. NEVER EVER change speed with the shutter uncocked
!!! This will ruin your camera. So, whatever you do, ALWAYS first
cock the shutter. The shutter button is on the front edge of the body
Seen from above.
Camera bottom. 2 tripod sockets.
Metal shutter curtain, do not touch.
Camera and standard folding viewer.
Viewer mounted. the protection is essential for the metered prism.
View from above.
Loupe unfolded. It comes up, if you move the opening button a second time.
The metered prism. Set ISO first in the little window. Then set the
widest aperture of your lens with the little red arrow (~3.5 in the
picture). If you push the red button, the meter works for a good 10
seconds and shuts itself off.
Battery compartment, takes 3 SR/LR 44 batteries. Most prisms can take them directly, very old ones may need an adapter.
Seen from below.
There are 2 LEDs in the finder. Find the point when they are both lit by
turning the scale on the side. Read, choose the appropriate setting and
transfer the aperture to the lens and the shutter speed to the knob.
A Kiev 88 CM with some improvements to the 88:
A Kiec 88CM with its standard lens, an 80mm Carl Zeiss Biometar. Lens locking lever in "closed" position.
The camera has a Pentacon Six Mount, shortly P6 mount. It's a
breech-lock bayonnet mount. The big lever, in "open" position,
locks the lens when turned. This mount was widely common, you find it
on cameras like Praktisix, Pentacon Six, Exakta 66, Kiev 6C and 60. The
Kiev 88С, Kiev 88СМ, ARAX and Hartblei cameras have it as well. There
are models from other firms where you
have to turn the lens itself.
The shutter button has been moved to the side of the camera.
Right side: As usual.
Right side: As usual, except shutter release. Ordinry advance without handle.
viewing system. The ground glass has a split-image and a microraster
area. The loupe has a completely different design and housing.
The bottom has a different design.
The camera has a cloth shutter. The camera has a low production number,
1515. Some say it's because in 2000 they abandonned the numbering with
the year in front. But I'm not sure about it. If you know more, please
A Zenith 80 with a very old 65mm lens. Both are faulty, the body lacks
the slow speeds which seems to be quite common with old bodies. I got
them for free, as a very kind seller refunded me when it was clear that
they had severe faults.
Seen from the top.
Right side. Note the sync setting around the flash socket. The manual
says that with FP bulbs the camera will synchronize in M setting at all
speeds. It's 1/30 max at X
Left side. Except the pattern of the advance knob, no differences to the Kiev 88.
Screw Mount Lenses:
The Mir-26B 45mm wide angle lens.
Apertures from 3.5 to 22, distance down to 0.5m. Weight 575 gr.
The lenses have a half-turn screw mount, close to a bayonnet. There is
a red dot on the mount that should match the red dot on the body.
Front, protected by a UV-Filter.
An old MIR-3 65mm lens, F3.5-F22. The lens numbers do not have the year
as first 2 numbers, so this one is not from 72. The oldest have a black
and silver pattern, sometimes called zebra. It has a ring to close the
aperture to the chosen one for DOF
control. Nevertheless it should close the aperture at the moment
triggering the shutter of a Zenith 80 or Kiev 88. But this lens doesn't
close, it stays open. If you have any suggestions to get around this,
please contact me. The glass is still beautiful.
There are 2 versions of this lens, the newer one doesn't have the ring.
They have the same diameter, The old one is 92mm long (from the camera
mount ring at infinity, it extends only to 100mm at 0.8m. Add 10mm for
the overall lenght. Mine weighs 566 gr. The new one focusses down to
0.4m (!) and weighs 600 gr. It has only 6 aperture blades and seems to
be more reliable.
There was a successor, the MIR-38B, lighter and more compact.
The lens focusses down to 0.8m.
It has a beautiful multi-blade (12) iris.
Aperture from 3.5 to 22, min. focus 0.6m. Weight 550 gr.
6 blade iris.
The lens is compact, 75mm from flange....
...and extends to 85mm.
It came with its original box, the price was 270 Rub (in 1986 that would have been about 500€).
The case with a long strap contains the lens, there is an insert screwed into the upper part which holds filters and shade.
Shade and 3 filters: yellow, UV and skylight.
Arsat B 80mm
The standard lens, 80mm. This is the last model for the Kiev 88, an Arsat "B".lens, 80mm F2.8-F22.
The lens is small and only weighs 322 gr.
This one is from 1995.
Lens on camera at infinity.
As it focusses down to 0.6m, it extends a lot. The lens is short, only 39mm from flange, and extends to 55mm.
Kaleinar-3B 150mm lens.
It' a big and heavy piece of glass, as it opens up to F 2.8.
Apertures from 2.8 to 16. Min focus 1.8m. Weight 976 gr. (!)
Camera with 150mm lens.
The lens is extremely compact.
The Jupiter-36B 250mm lens.
Apertures from F 3.5 to F 16, weight 3190 gr. (!!), an extremely heavy lens. It extends from 147mm from flange...
...to 170mm and focusses down to 3.5m.
Lens front, filter thread 82mm.
Mount side. 6 blade iris.
Camera and lens.
The lens comes with a leather case on a long strap that contains the lens, there is an insert screwed into the upper part which holds 2 filters.
Pentacon Mount Lenses:
Zodiak-8 (Arsat) 30mm Fisheye
A Zodiak-8 30/3.5 lens, also sold as Arsat 30/3.5. It's a 30mm fisheye lens, quite heavy, 1003 gr., F3.5 to F22.
Enormous front lens.
Camera and lens.
Total length from flange is 80mm at infinity.
It extends to 88mm at closest focus, 0.3m.
Carl Zeiss 2.8/80 Biometar
A Carl Zeiss 2.8/80 Biometar with both caps. It's very lightweight, only 281 gr., F2.8 - F22
A very small lens.
Front. 8-blade iris.
Camera and the lens.
The lens is very short, 33mm from flange at infinity.
It extends to 43mm at closest focus, 1m.
A complete set of 4 Pentacon Six mount extension rings for close focus in its box.
They can be combined. There are pins to provide automatic diaphragm.
One ring mounted. Focus ~ 0.4m.
2 film backs.
Film back with slide.
Right side. Insert unlock and slide.
Seen from the back. Film ISO reminder.
Window open. As it sits very deep, there is no red glass. Do not expose to bright light nevertheless.
Left side. Manual advance, counter window ans indication window.
Lift the ring and turn a little to release the insert.
Winding side with advance knob and film supply wthout knob
Film plane side, pressure plate.
The pegs are hinged for easy access.
This is VERY important! The film has to be put under the silver rail to the right. If not, advance will be erratic.
Having re-assembled and locked the back (if the insert does not want to
enter the bottom of the housing, just turn the little advance knob of
the winding spool 1mm and try again), lift the advance ring and turn a
little in the opposite direction of the arrow until number 1 appears.
Open the "red" window and advance to number 1 on the backing paper.
Ready. On my backs I can get 13 photos on a roll if I stop a little
bit before number 1 on the backing paper. It's the second circle on
Ilford film and the first K on Kodak.
It's a very nice
camera, easy to use. Just follow the steps and ALWAYS cock the shutter
first. The lenses are very nice and give superb results. Prices are
low, full sets are often a bargain.
I know several
people who used these cameras for years without any problems. It seems
as if Kiev bashing has been in vogue for some time. I cannot confirm
bad quality, but maybe me and my fellow photographers were just lucky.