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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Vlad Posted - Aug 04 2007 : 5:17:36 PM
Hello everyone,

Welcome to USSRPhoto.com!

My name is Vladislav Kern, I am an administrator and a creator of this web site. I live in Buffalo Grove, IL, USA and collect Soviet/Russian cameras.

I am a computer consultant immigrated to U.S. as a teenager from former USSR some time ago. Collecting Vintage and Antique Soviet Cameras is a nostalgic passion of mine.

I hope this web site will help collectors of Russian/Soviet photo equipment to collaborate more and help compile a unique online catalog of Soviet equipment. There aren't a lot of us, so we should get to know each other. Feel free to post any topic or question regarding this subject on the forums.

I do not consider this to be "my" website, this site is a gift to camera collectors all over the world. Everyone who is registered on these forums can as well add, edit and revise any online catalog entries. That information is free to share, publish or reference without any royalties or permissions, it is of public domain for public good to which I hope we all will contribute. Do not ask permission to post anything from this site anywhere, it is automatically granted, if you do reference this site when republishing, I thank you, but if not, that's ok too.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Vlad Posted - Sep 11 2007 : 09:07:49 AM
LOL! For that I think you need to get Stalin back in power :)

BrianT Posted - Sep 11 2007 : 01:20:39 AM

I'm waiting for the digi back for the Kiev lll to be announced.:)

Brian. Live in hope and die in despair.
Vlad Posted - Sep 10 2007 : 3:43:25 PM
Wow that's nice and contrasty! :) My digital stuff is Nikon D80 and Canon G7, I'm not a pro, these are plenty for fun :).

I think I will get the Zenit DSLR when that's is out.

BrianT Posted - Sep 10 2007 : 3:29:11 PM
That's a bit better Vlad 2200 in four months hell man that only 130 a week, you gotta do better then this.:)

I have a 4x4 mask Vla I don't intend using them. But I am going to go back to film for B/W. I have three digital cameras a Nikon D200, Sony R1 and a Leica Digilux 2. These are all super for colour but the results in B/W have haven't got that film like quality. So I bought a Nikon F3, the best pro film Nikon ever made, got a new meter if I want to use one of my early Leicas and some processing stuff.The intention is to scan and print digitally. I didn't want the expense of a dedicated scanner so I bought one of the latest flat beds. These have really improved, the results a better than I got with a Nikon Coolscan lV and cost 200.


Have a look but I had to reduce it and send it to myself by E mail...two computers with a wireless connection that doesn't work.

The picture is of friend Derek Grossmark, perhaps the owner of the worlds finest collection of Leicas some of his carsare rather nice as well.. M4, 90mm Summicron at F4, HP5 I think even at this file compression an indication of the film like quality can be seen.
Vlad Posted - Sep 10 2007 : 1:26:23 PM
I went a bit overboard there with cameras past few months.. actually I started going through transactions and I was lying. There was a $3800 eBay motors car purchase for my uncle in that shown eBay total that I forgot about... I thought it was not right... could not be that much... so it's more like $4200.. :) Well, still not a small sum.

Yes the Moskva is a very nice camera, do you have a 6x6 mask for it? 6x9 is quite an awkward format for modern film processing facilities.

Well FED and Arsenal camera production was established in Ukraine I believe because Stalin wanted to boost Ukraine's economy and to make it more integrated into Soviet Union. I believe at that time, the UN had separate representative seats from Russia and Ukraine... I know Arsenal was an active military factory even pre-revolution in czarist Russia, he just moved the Contax production to it right after the war.. I'm not good in history of this factory, others probably know the whole story... what I'm not sure whether it was destroyed in the WWII or not... From the pictures that I've seen it looks like it's the original building.


BrianT Posted - Sep 10 2007 : 10:58:48 AM

$8000 WOW! I think I would have lost my breakfast....if I could still have afforded it. But that is the problem for the collector. Being retired I have to be a little careful, no we aren't poor, just comfortable without any worries apart from health.

Re collecting my interest is with older stuff with history, one reason I chose Kiev. Now am I not right in thinking Stalin awarded different cities with different camera factories i.e. Leningrad and Moscow. I have one Moskwa I think it's a five.....hang on.


There we go. Anyway am I right re the Stalin thing only I am sure this camera started as a Zeiss Ikon?

WOW I have just checked the preview. If you click enlarge on the picture it's a bit of a WOW...even if I say it myself. These digitals just gt better.


Vlad Posted - Sep 09 2007 : 10:31:55 AM

If you like Kievs I know a lot of collectors that just stick to one line of cameras. You can just be collecting Kiev cameras and there are plenty of those to collect up to modern ones. I've shot most of them, they are excellent units, especially the modern ones with Nikon mounts! Kievs 19 and 19M are some of my favorite cameras to shoot. You can make Kiev Arsenal a theme of your collection. Just a suggestion.

I decided to collect all Soviet production cameras in May this year. You are so right in terms of it being addictive. I looked at my eBay russian camera purchases for past 4 months this morning and almost lost my breakfast... the total was in excess of $8000 for these cameras... man... you don't realize it until you look back.. :)

BrianT Posted - Sep 09 2007 : 05:17:53 AM

The only trouble with collecting cameras is that it becomes addictive. I love my Kievs but there are very few opportunities to add to the collection. I also have a few Rolleiflexes and Leicas but both are very expensive to collect. I was wondering if I should start looking for something different to occupy the long winter evenings. I do ave a Moscow 5 which is nice but what do others think. Incidentally I know very little about Kievs I know even less re any other Russian camera company.

Right off to watch the Italian G.P. on the box.


nightphoto Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 8:25:39 PM

An interesting fact pertaining to the strength and longevity of Russian aircraft and cameras is that during World War II, when the FED factory was evacuated to Berdsk, due to the impending Nazi takeover of Kharkov, the FED workers and the machines they had were put to work making direct injection aviation pumps named, NB-3U. The components were intended for combustion engines, designed by A.D.Shvetsov, and were installed on La-5, La-7 and Tu-2 aircraft. The TU-2 Built from 1941 to 1948 was the USSR's second important twin-engined bomber, the design brought Andrei Tupolev back into favour after a period of detention.

So the FED and the bomber may not be so different!

Regards, Bill

nightphoto Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 6:25:43 PM
Hi Everyone,

Well, I don't have the experiences that either of you do (in different ways), and I agree with what both of you say in many ways. I I do think that the Soviet camera industry and production is different, in a number of ways, from most other countries. Their production was not driven by a profit motive during Soviet times, however there was a lot of pressure to produce quantities of cameras (the five-year plans are a good example) and it also seems that there was an amount of critical feedback, both from the Soviet press, the people who used the cameras, and in later years, from the international press and critics (for example at the Photokinas whenthe Soviets were trying to exports some goods to get some foreign trade happening).
Although many of the mass produced Soviet cameras were copies of German, French, American, and other countrie's designs, there were some innovative and creative cameras made as well, especially after WWII.
Where I think Soviet photographic production was at its best is in the field of optics, a field where mathematics and extremely fine calculations are so important. Many Soviet lenses are known for their optical qualities, and in many other fields besides photography.
But the Soviets could make a very fine camera when it was required, by the government or military especially. Many of the KGB surveillance cameras, mostly made in the 'special workshop' of KMZ are quite amazing in with their micro-clockwork mechanisms and finely crafted construction, not to mention the creative ways that they were hidden for undercover use!
Also the TSVVS is an interesting example of high quality construction for the military. I have used the TSVVS, Leica II, FED-1, and Zorki cameras all, and all are of a similar design and construction. A Leica is much better made and you can feel the quality when used, compared to a FED or Zorki. But, in my opinion, there is not so much difference in the feel between a TSVVS and a Leica, and if I had to rate them, I would have to say the TSVVS is quieter (shutter) smoother (shutter) and has a more soilid feel than the Leica II I have used. So obviously the Soviets were capable of making top rate cameras. Even the very first FED cameras (say under serial number 10,000) that were made largely by hand have a better feel than the later and larger production. So the large production of the FED and Zorki had a down side of a strong, but not as fine camera, and an up side that many more Soviet folks over there could take more photos than would have been possible if quality and thus cost were higher.

Regards, Bill

BrianT Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 12:55:15 PM
What you say re longevity is partly true. However the Tupolov 95 was of a design that even today would be hard to beat. For the purpose for which it was intended it was superb, in fact still is. The Bear of course has its counterpart in the Western world. The B52 first flew in 1948 (?) and it is anticipated that it will still be Americas leading bomber way beyond 2030!. The Shackleton I mentioned was our premier maritime reconnaissance aircraft for fifty years. I could go on, but I don't want to become a bore...my wife reckons I'm too late there.

Re quality, when I had my boat I had a boxed Russian ships chronometer, only one word would describe it .....wonderful.


By the way I live in Yorkshire, the U.K.s version of Texas....with class.

I would like to hear from Bill, how about it....a few details?
Vlad Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 11:38:03 AM

That is an awesome story! Yes, the Russian aircrafts have a very long life span, part of it lack of funds, but part of it is that they are just workhorses, just like the Kalashnikov rifles.

I've been looking of photographs of some U.S. special forces in Iraq, guess what - a lot of them actually use AK rifles just because they are so durable. Lot of Soviet stuff was built to last, maybe because they were just so simple mechanically.. I think the same applied to the cameras.

I went to the Chicago Photographic Collectors Society meeting couple of weeks ago and brought a backpack full of Soviet cameras. A few people commented on the quality of work and sturdiness on some of these Soviet cameras, saying that some of the American made cameras would completely fall apart at that age.

I think if you look at overall history of mechanics and technology compared in UK, US and USSR - Soviets had known that they are working with limitations of production and materials so they tended to create simpler and much more long lasting products, when the western world had striven for commercialism, building ingenious products technologically-wise but with shorted life span because of that, and also because they wanted the consumer to buy better stuff in the future, upgrading what they have, thus spending money and driving the economy.

This was not a factor in USSR, they were looking for longevity and because of that, I think, the byproduct was quality in a lot of cases. (although you do get some junk sometimes when people at factories were rushing to make the 5-year plan, or end-of-year models). I'm talking about the design of things mostly rather than finally produced items.

BrianT Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 11:10:15 AM

You say the nicest things

Sorry Vlad, no pictures. I was in the RAF from 1958-65, if you remember things were very different to what they are now, security was a little tight.

But was that last statement right? This week a squadron of Tupolovs (Nato code name Bear) were intercepted off the North coast of Scotland by Typhoon fighters of the RAF. During the period 59-62 I spent half my life flying there and well up into the Artic circle, photogaphing.....yep, Bears. The same aircraft more than forty years ago. Only difference we were flying Shackleton Mk llls. But the Russian aircraft are the same. The Bear first flew in 1949, 58 years!!!! ago. But that's what we did, the cold war was at it's worst. The only thing was as we formatted on the giant Bear we always got a friendly wave from the crew. The politicians were at war not the forces.

As this forum demonstrates we are all just trying to get along, so why the hell don't they us to?
Vlad Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 09:54:36 AM

first of all absolutely no thanks is need it, I enjoy this as much as you do. :)

And R.A.F. photographer? How cool is that? Do you have any pictures from that period that you wouldn't mind sharing with us? I am always fascinated by old military photographs.

And it is so iron to me when you say you bought a Kiev when you were poor, because in USSR if you owned a Kiev you were considered rich :)

I and, I'm sure rest of collectors here are very happy to have such an active a contributing member on this site!

BrianT Posted - Sep 08 2007 : 08:02:10 AM
What a lovely fellow that Vlad is, big hand for his generosity. :)

Seriously, well I was being serious about thanking Vlad but seriously.

I am an old fart living in the North of England with my wife Annie and Wesson my dog. Actually those perhaps should be the other way round.

R.A.F. photographer during the late 50s early 60s. left and took up developing offices etc. Made a few people rich and stayed poor. retired in 1980 at the advanced age of 40. Wrote a couple of books on Leica, in the early 80s. One " The Leica Pocket Book" is still in print though I severed any connection after the 2nd edition.....the taxman caught up with me.

At one stage in my life I was poor and as an everyday camera bought a Kiev. Many years later I decided to renew my acquaintanship and discovered with Glasnost and Ebay the task had become easier.

Until I found the invitation to join this forum I thought I was he only nutter on this planet who enjoyed the Kiev..

The rest you know or will eventually find out.


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