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TSVVS / VTS-VS

Created by Vlad on 8/15/2007 11:06:33 PM
Last Edited by Jacques M. on 3/24/2017 11:29:22 AM  
Located in
Still Cameras > Military and Official Use Cameras

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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz

Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Jul 26 2008 :  8:50:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I made a statement on the TVSS description based on the serial number of the lenses matched with the year of production of the cameras, and this statement opens a question ;-)

First : The f2 lenses are post war jena production... the 1,5 are 1938(prewar production)... and all those 1,5 are seen on earlier TVSS. Why did they use a prewar uncoated lens instead of an available post war coated lens ? being Jena or ZK... could those lenses date from the Ribentropp/Molotov agreement period ?
May be that some TVSS could be earlier than 1948 ?

Secondly : Are all TVSS bayonet the same ? As I see there are no external bayonet, the mount is an uncomplete contax mount with only the internal linkage ... (if not show examples)... or in 1948, They would have access to a stock of original contax bayonet at the factory (as in the early Kievs)... why did they design an incomplete system..? hence the absence of external bayonet forbids the use of biogon 35 and Sonnar 85/135 lenses...

My hypothese is that the TVSS was designed during the war or even before...

Stephan

Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Jul 26 2008 :  10:16:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stephan,
Thanks for your very astute observation about the TSVVS.

I have both a 1949 and a 1950 model of the camera and will examine them to see if the mount is the same for both in every detail ... but I think it is.

I believe that there are some TSVVS cameras that may have been made before 1949. I am very interested in the mystery of where these cameras were made and have noticed some unusual traits to them. For example, they have impressed numbers on the bottom of the shutter cage, very much the way the Contax does.

I think your hypothesis is very interesting and a very good question to be investigated. These TSVVS are very different from the FED-1 and any other Russian camera that I know. Maybe they were designed during the war, or possibly right after the war. Maybe they were originally made in Germany? These are more questions that may be worthy of investigation.

Here is a link to the page about TSVVS on the DVD Tech site that may be intersting to you if you have not seen it, although the essay by Yuriy Davidenko about the origin of TSVVS has not been proved (or approved by other collectors as far as I know) and he gives no references as to where he has found this information from.

http://www.dvdtechcameras.com/collect/fed/fed.htm

Thank you for bringing this lens observation to our attention.

Regards, Bill

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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  11:53:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There is one assertion by Yuriy that is totally false : the use of various lenses... with the limited mount A tvss can only use 50mm lenses... and btw the contax mount is far more difficult to change than a LTM, even if it less prone to misbehaviour and pathologies ;-)

I need to see a real TVSS in order to assess if they are or not compatible with other focal length contax mount lenses...

Stephan
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
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Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  12:24:56 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
From what I heard there will be an exhaustive article with research and cited sources about the origins of the TSVVS in the new Viktor Suglob's book. It is kept currently under wraps until the book is out. Waiting anxiously!!
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  3:28:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stephan
1) As I know, 1.5 Sonnars were made in large quantities in the prewar. In Contax mount, Leica mount and unmounted! This was under Government requirements and were used on Army, Air Force and Gestapo.
Lots of them becamer war surplus when the war finished.
These lenses were employed in several cameras Wica from Austria, Opema from Czecoslovakia Balerio from Italy to say few. and even on The famous Jena Contax. See Asquini/Pegorari Several of them went to Russia as war indenization, and were also used.
Mr James Small may have further explanations.
2) TSVVS positively cannot receive other than normal Contax/Kiev lenses.
3) You are absolutely right on dating TSVVS from its Jena Sonnar f2 lenses. and so, the possible "TSVVS-2"? as I previously have done.
Regards LP
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  3:45:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
sonnar 1,5 were made in quantity but I doubt that a 1938 batch would have been available in 1945... and if the Almaz connection is right why would they go for uncoated when coated batches were available...

Pre-45 Coated Sonnars 1,5 T were indeed largely military lenses, not the uncoated version... but they have no military marks...



Stephan
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  5:52:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stephan
In order to complicate things:
at http://www.novacon.com.br/odditycameras/Opema.htm there is a 1951 Opema with un uncoated 1.5 Sonnar 5.8cm! these cameras from small batch used pre-war CZ lenses in original Meopta mounts!
Regards LP
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Jul 27 2008 :  8:01:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
sonnars are complicated...

but it doesnt explain why they used non coated lenses on a camera that would have been the nec plus ultra of societ photography when they are supposed to be constructed...

and why they didn't take the external bayonette option...

Stephan
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Jul 28 2008 :  09:44:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stephan
That is true but at post war period, coated lenses were not so important. See that 1947 FED/Zorki came with uncoated FED lenses (not ZK lenses, -coated from the begining) and also several german lenses in German cameras. In that era American Wollensak. Elgeet , Baush&Lomb and kodak lenssed were "lumenized" "Balcoated" and "Wolcoated" much more as strong commercial selling points.

In 1946/1947 Mrs Cook&Perkings from England produced special adapters to use inner and outer RF Contax bayonet lenses on Leica. In 1950, Orion Miranda produced this same item together "Mirax" a reflex cage that transforms both Leica and Contax into a reflex camera.Also furnished was a special short mount 135mm lens.
Russians already had the Zenit camera.
LP
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Jacques M.
France
2057 Posts
Posted - Jul 28 2008 :  3:33:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

I totally agree with you, Luis.
Before the fifties, the fact to have a lens coated or not was not of great importance. But after, it was different with coloured pictures...
I bought a Fed-Zorki 1948 with a non original coated lens (K360 for JLP) some months ago. The seller told me that the owner -his father- had changed the lens to make coloured dias...

Amitiés. Jacques.

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
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Posted - Aug 12 2008 :  3:51:13 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Unrelated topic to previous discussion: This had never came up what but what are your all opinion in regards to JLP saying that TSVVS was made by FED when Ministry of Aeronautical Affairs (quoting..)"bestowed on FED a few hundred Zeiss Sonnar lenses, a tiny part of the "war booty" recovered in Germany by the Red Army"? Was this theory pretty much disproved?

Vlad
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 12 2008 :  4:54:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad
Certainly TSVVS cameras were never built at FED Factory. Even they managed together The War Air force. This affirmation I sustain since I was a simple observer at Zeiss distributor in Brazil when I was only 12. and learned to repair such cameras Then, all Zeiss cameras from Contax to the simplest Nettar had similar characteristics , Chrome, enamel, types of leatherette , screw standards, rivets, mirrors and finder lenses.
All FEDs and all TSVVSs, differ completely in thier materials although they have similar design. They were done at different factories by different engeneers.
The same way the TSVVS2? although share the same tecnical lay out of FED 2 although are completely different in their choice of materials workmanship and construction.
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Aug 12 2008 :  5:41:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
the f2 lenses on the tvss are not warbooty lens... but post war (1948) Jena production (above 3000000)

If it would have been war booty they would have been 28***** or 29*****... THose lenses were modified to ZK lenses but kept their number on the rear lens part...

By the way I just spotted a Contax mount f2 collapsible in the 293**** from a batch that should have been ZKised...

Stephan
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
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Posted - Aug 12 2008 :  8:00:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I see! Thank you both! I thought that much, we just never brought it up here, wanted to hear your thoughts..

Luiz, you're still at it with the TSVVS-2, eh?
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Aug 13 2008 :  4:02:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad
If you want I will show you a TSVVS 3!
LP
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Sep 09 2008 :  11:27:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here are some other TSVVS cases, including one from Alexander Bronstein that has an engraved plaque on it! The first photo is one of my cameras.


http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/TSVVS1.jpg


http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/TSVVS-700 Bronstein.jpg


http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/tsvvs_case.jpg



Regards, Bill

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Jacques M.
France
2057 Posts
Posted - Sep 10 2008 :  03:33:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Very interesting!
Could somebody translate what is said on this plaque? Thanks!

Amitiés. Jacques.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Sep 10 2008 :  9:58:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Jacques, I would be happy to translate it, but it's too small and fuzzy.. Bill, is there a better image by any chance?

Vlad
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Sep 10 2008 :  10:05:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
OK, I blew it up in Photoshop and whatever I could make out says "To Colonel Maksimov for [something something, probably good]service in VTS (Voyenno Transportnih Sluzhb - Military Transport Services, I would assume or Technical Services) from the chief of VTS, December something, 1957"...

Vlad
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Juhani Halmeenmaki
cedricfan
Finland
891 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Sep 10 2008 :  11:29:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit cedricfan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
1957? A used camera or very old stock even in USSR?

Smena rules
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Jacques M.
France
2057 Posts
Posted - Sep 11 2008 :  06:50:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Thanks, Vlad.
Surprising...

Jacques.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
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Posted - Apr 21 2010 :  7:45:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello All,

So thanks to Steve Berkowitz I've finally had a chance to hold the TSVVS or VTS-VS in my own hands for a while and to play with it. From pictures it looks like a Soviet camera but here's my personal opinion after I've held it and you can disagree with me: No way in hell this camera was made anywhere in Soviet Union. I know, strong words, but I am convinced. The chrome is too fine and smooth, the leather is unlike anything I've ever seen come out from USSR, the shutter operated so smoothly after all these years, materials used are unlike anything - the brass body, the shutter dial engraving style, the shutter dial itself - it's unlike anything I've seen or handled or touched that ever come out from USSR, the assembly of the camera itself was almost perfect. When I was holding it and looking at it and winding and clicking it, I realized that the story of the factory Almaz actually making it cannot be true in my opinion. There is absolutely no way the factory that is not known to make any cameras before could EVER (EVER!) pull off the best finishing/looking/working camera I've ever seen or touched that was made in Soviet Union. Even KMZ with their best cameras could not approach the quality of manufacture of TSVVS when you look at it closely and even feel it when you wind it up and click it. The only people who could produce it would have to have at least decades of training and experience making cameras. It must be either Germans or as Steve suggested even possibly Japanese manufacture. It was either an order made to occupied Germans or Japanese to make these for Soviet upper echelon ranks or it was a stash of cameras somehow found in occupied Germany and re-stamped with Soviet symbolics. That is my opinion after I handled the camera. I think it's Zeiss-made.

Vlad
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 21 2010 :  8:52:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Vlad,

I basically agree with you. I have often thought that the TSVVS - VTS-VS was actually made in Germany, most likely at a Zeiss workshop. The mount being similar to Contax, the small number impressed on the inside of the base-plate and shutter cage (just like Contax) and the use of Zeiss lenses, both pre-war and post-war, as well as the overall quality and the superb finish all lead to this conclusion, in my opinion.

One scenario is that it was commissioned to be made at a Zeiss workshop, by German craftsmen, in order for high ranking officials to be able to have a Soviet camera that was of the quality of the Leica mechanism and the Zeiss optics. In my opinion, since the Communist doctrine did not really officially allow the higher ranks to have better stuff, it was made for the Topographical Service officially, but given to Generals, Colonels, etc. since the Topographical Service probably didn't really have a need for a camera like this.

However, it is all supposition unless some documentation or actual eyewitness statement surfaces. It may be that there is little or no documentation due to the idea that it was made as a special thing for important people.

I can not see it as Soviet built in any way either. Just made and marked for Soviet Military!

Regards, Bill

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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  09:58:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
some question and hypothesis ?

- are there any TVSS with the outer zeiss bayonet working ?
- since early TVSS all have prewar uncoated 1,5 lenses... could it be that they were build in Germany before or during the war... and re-engraved as soviet product...
- later piece being made somewhere by former (zeiss or else) employees...with modern lenses

let's be wild... imagine Zeiss engineer asked by the german military or a someone at the factory to make a leica lookalike... trying to be as light as a leica, but with zeiss bayonet... on the other hand Zeiss lenses were adapted for leica anyway... why wouldn't they explore both way to satisfy the military request ? (Zeiss lenses in LTM, and Leica bodies in Contax mount...). Zeiss would have done that secretly because even in wartime, germany was a capitalist country with patent legislation... so a Leica copy would have been prosecuted.
After the war, Nikon did it... a nikon S being a contax with a "soft" shutter curtain... but they didn't care for patent...and the mount was slightly different

In a way, TVSS would be the missing link...

Stephan
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  10:04:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
may be it's simpler

if the dates are really 1948,1949,1950... it could have been done in Germany like the "Jena" Contax with which it share lenses... in the same factory... if anyone has a "Jena contax" and a period TVSS it could be interesting to have a "metal" laboratory inspecting the alloy...

S.


Stephan
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Jacques M.
France
2057 Posts
Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  10:58:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

A very good idea, Stephan, as the Contax "Jena" is said to be heavier than the normal Contax II.

Jacques.

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  12:54:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Stephan, Bill, both your theories seem much more plausible to me after I've actually handled the camera. I know we all have this gut feeling at this point after handling hundreds of different cameras from different parts of the world, that we can kind of say where it was made by the construction and quality of materials, and in this case just the overall feel of it screams non-Soviet. I agree Jena is the most probable source when theorizing, but what about this idea put forward by Steve that it may be Japanese?

Stephan, I only saw this one upclose, maybe Bill or Steve could answer your questions..

Cheers,
Vlad
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  2:43:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
the main problem is to get some metal ingeneer to analyse the metal... to see where it comes from...


Stephan
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 22 2010 :  2:44:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
is anyone in contact with a university with a metallurgic department ?

Stephan
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 24 2010 :  5:00:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I've got an email from Alexey Nikitin about this thread. He had sent me some pictures of a 1950 TSVVS/VTSVS that was sold on Molotok.ru. He had talked with the owner of the camera on the phone. The owner had told him that when he was still a boy, his family lived in Germany and his father was an army man in Soviet army in the division that was stationed in Germany. His father had made a deal with some other ensign about buying an illegal camera TSVVS from warehouse there. And the camera No756 was bought in Germany for 15 soviet rubles in some military base. From the conversation Alexey understood that from that warehouse you could buy more than one TSVVS camera. The owner said the camera didn't take really good pictures, later his Zenit was better.

And here's Alexey opinion about the origins of TSVVS: it was very simply for Soviet command or civil higher ranks just to order 1000 cameras styled after FED from German captured firms with Soviet presentation symbolics. And since there is 1949 camera - 1950 means there was an additional order.

The threshold of serial #s from 1949 to 1950 is between #311(Alexey's) and #330 which is already 1950. This means about 330 pieces were in 1949 and the rest (670 pieces) in 1950. There is also different versions of font of the writing for the year, since approx #471 there is small font for the year. (he saw #372 with large and #471 with small).

Also he wrote me about Alexander Bronstein's camera that says to "Colonel Maksimov A.K. for long and exemplary military service in divisions VTS S.A. from head of VTS".

But I think we already talked about that, VTS is Miltary Topographical Service and S.A. is Soviet Army.

Cheers,
Vlad.
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Ulrich W.
uwittehh
Germany
640 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 24 2010 :  5:23:37 PM  Show Profile  Visit uwittehh's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad,

that sounds really interesting. So if the TSVVS was just an order of the soviets to build 1000 cameras in occupied germany that days there must be some german workers and engineers that have built and constructed them.
Maybe it's a good idea to ask the zeisshistorica.org if they know something about such an order?

Ulrich

http://fotos.cconin.de
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 24 2010 :  5:46:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Vlad and Hi to Alexey since you are watching this thread!

To me, this information from Alexey Nikitin sounds authentic and his source that he talked with personally would have no reason to make up a story like this. Alexey is a very knowledgeable and honest collector and was lucky and smart to get this information. Thanks Alexey and to Vlad also for relaying it to us!

Now, if we can figure out which factory in USSR Occupied Germany (if this is the case) made them! Possibly Zeiss Jena, but much research has been done on that factory and output during the time period and no one mentions the TSVVS... but still a possibility.



Regards, Bill

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Apr 24 2010 :  9:50:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Very interesting indeed, this is the first of such type of "real" information that I've heard beyond the speculation of collectors.

Ulrich, if you have contacts with Zeisshistorica we would greatly appreciate any follow up on this! Being in Germany puts you into unique research position .

Cheers,
Vlad
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Ulrich W.
uwittehh
Germany
640 Posts
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Posted - Apr 25 2010 :  02:09:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit uwittehh's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad, I don't have contacts to Zeisshistorica. And they are not located in Germany, they are in USA :-) Just take a look at their website:
http://zeisshistorica.org/
So I think that it it better when some native speaker contact them.

Ulrich

http://fotos.cconin.de
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Apr 25 2010 :  6:09:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Oh I see . I may send them an email, I just meant in general that you may have better access to Zeiss experts in Germany, no?

Cheers,
Vlad.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Apr 25 2010 :  6:18:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I've shot Zeisshistorica an email, we'll see if they come back with anything, it would be awesome if they do!

Cheers,
Vlad
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Apr 25 2010 :  7:05:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
FYI, I've renamed this topic to be more general since it's tied to the Wiki entry.

cheers,
Vlad.
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
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Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  09:04:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I have communicated back and forth with Mr. Larry Gubas of Zeisshistorica, and received a reply this morning from him that you may find interesting. Here's his letter:

quote:

Hello Vlad,

I understand the point that information such as Jean Loup's can become dated quite quickly but it was an excellent starting point. As I said, I have no direct knowledge of this camera but rather most of what I know came from Dr. Mladek and him.

I do know a gentleman that was in Zeiss Jena for the time of the construction of the Jena Contax and he shared a great deal with me and I did interview a Zeiss engineer who was in charge of the physical move from Jena to Kiev for the Volga/Kiev camera but he was well over 90 years old when I met him nearly 6 years ago and has since died.

Neither of them mentioned this camera as a product of the work in Jena or Kiev but then I was unaware of this camera and did not ask the necessary question. my friend still lives in Jena but does not use a computer or email and so a question to him will take some time to transmit and receive. However, he was most thorough in his discussions with me and would be surprised to find that he had not mentioned it to me. I will check but it will take some time. He also worked in the photography department in Jena and Saalfeld for Zeiss and would have known if such a camera was manufactured there.

I would suspect that some Leitz craftsmen might have been gathered to go to Russia and improved the camera product of the Fed but that is just suspicion. The camera does seem to have a lot of Fed like elements. The use of Zeiss lenses on the Leica copies was part of an order to Zeiss Jena by the Russian officers after they arrived in Jena and Zeiss was familiar with the M 39 screw mount as they had manufactured Zeiss lenses for the Leica based on German military orders but the use of the lenses on this camera seems quite odd as it would seem to limit the range of the lenses.

Dr. Mladek has seen a good number of these cameras and has noticed a pressed metal numeric marking on an internal part which might prove helpful. He gave me images of these markings and the images of 3 cameras when I visited him nearly 6 years ago. I am presently limited in my ability to travel due to health reasons and must maintain my presence in my local surroundings for the present and so travel to visit him and others is out for the present.

I will contact you if I hear anything definitive from my friend in Jena.

Larry


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Jacques M.
France
2057 Posts
Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  11:45:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Just in addition to this topic, about lenses.
One of my friends made comparisons between Contax, Nikon rangefinder and TSVVS. And their lenses : can any lens mechanically be put on any body? (no question of depth of field here).

The answer is no. The TSVVS-Zeiss lens can be mounted on the two other bodies, not the reverse, even for the ordinary Zeiss Sonnar which cannot be put on the TSVVS. As if something inside the TSVVS mount was different from the Contax one (and Nikon's). But what exactly?

I have checked that but between TSVVS and Contax II: I don't have any Nikon. Strange...

Amitiés. Jacques.

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Juhani Halmeenmaki
cedricfan
Finland
891 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  12:39:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit cedricfan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Vlad

I have communicated back and forth with Mr. Larry Gubas of Zeisshistorica, and received a reply this morning from him that you may find interesting. Here's his letter:

quote:

Dr. Mladek has seen a good number of these cameras and has noticed a pressed metal numeric marking on an internal part which might prove helpful. He gave me images of these markings and the images of 3 cameras when I visited him nearly 6 years ago.




So what is this possibly helpful marking, very interested to hear

Best regards,
Juhani
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
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Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  1:15:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
On Steve's camera when you open a bottom plate it has a little "8" stamped into the bottom of shutter assembly.
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Steve
Bull Halsey
USA
229 Posts
Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  2:06:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As long as we're talking numbers.....

1. The number 8 is located as Vlad described, in the body as well as centered under the film spacing bar of the baseplate.

2. Would someone please add the serial numbers of my camera to the WIKI? The Body #816, and the 50mm F.2 Jena Sonnar #2019243. Can this be correct? Seems very low for the higher body number. Could have been exchanged at one time.

Steve
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  2:52:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here you can see close-up photos of the impressed number (in this case "63" that Milos was talking about, on one of my TSVVS ( No. 577).

On the bottom plate:

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/2642010_TSVVS21.jpg

On the bottom of the shutter cage assembly:

http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/2642010_TSVVS22.jpg

Here you can see those and other close-ups of the same camera (click on photos to enlarge):
http://www.nightphoto.com/TSVVS.html



Regards, Bill

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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 26 2010 :  10:12:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Bill,

thank you very much for these!

I am extremely happy to say I have also received an email from Dr. Milos Mladek with some pictures and very interesting information!

Here it is, the pictures follow:

quote:


it is of course tempting to draw some conclusions from the fact that the TSVVS is a very well made camera, unexpectedly well made for a Soviet camera, but I do not think that it was indeed German (Zeiss) or Japanese. I still consider the TSVVS a Soviet camera.

The history of Carl Zeiss Jena, prewar, wartime and postwar, is very well documented. There still are witnesses of the time from the factory, and as there never was a policy of secrecy in Germany comparable to the veil of secrets that covered all important things in the Soviet Union, the details of camera and lens design, patents, manufacturing data and sales are well documented and accessable.
Zeiss Historica merits all our thanks in this connection. If Zeiss really had made the TSVVS it would not have been possible to keep it secret, at least nowadays. Even the most minute details of camera and lens design history are now common knowledge among Zeiss enthusiasts. The eye witnesses would have talked about it, as they have given interviews to Larry, who unveiled the details of the Jena Contax history talking with the men who built it. Yes, there were some who were displaced to Krasnogorsk and to Kiev, but in most cases finally they returend to Germany and were able to report what they had done and experienced. I find it completely unlikely that such a well designed camera would have been manufactured secretly in Germany completely without leaving traces. Unthinkable.

The TSVVS is a very special camera. I have been admiring the TSVVS from the first moment I saw pictures of it. It must have been about 20 years ago, after the breakdown of the Iron Curtain, or slightly earlier, when the first examples of this uncommon camera were offered in a German auction house. They were exotic, not very high- priced, rather moderate, and we European collectors did not know what to think about them (oh, had I bought them!). And of course no one of us here in Austria had ever seen this hybrid of a Leica-shaped body and a Contax-inspired mount ever before, despite the fact that Soviet photo gear was definitely common here: Mashpriborintorg had a contract with the biggest foto dealer here, Foto Niedermeyer, for at least about thirty years, and they sold a big many of photo stuff from Lubitel over Smena, Zorki 4 and Kiev to the various Zenits and the Sputnik. Only the Leningrad (the most expensive of them all) was never sold here officially.

Then, in the second half of the 1990s, some examples of this rare beast turned up here in Vienna, and I was able to buy some of the most beautiful. I was able to see about two dozens of them, examine them, repair two of them (most are completely functional - the repairs were necessary because of mistreatment only). I agree with Vlad that the TSVVS is really very well made, and if you take one in your hand you feel a feeling of worthy craftmanship, of value, of precision. By the
way: if you have ever had a TSVVS in your hands you will never mix it up with a TSVVS forgery based on a FED (quite in contrary to some statement I have read in some forums years ago where someone questioned that something like a true TSVVS really existed - he considered them all forgeries, which of course is nonsense. Once you have got familiar with this great camera you can tell it from a distance (even from a small photograph) whether it is a forgery or not. It is outstanding in every detail and cannot be mixed up. Repicating all details would surmount the possibilities of even the most skilled forger precision mechanic.

The camera design details, yet, are also quite unique, and show no relations with any major brand like Leica, Nikon or Contax. An
example: Did you all notice that the built-in helicoid, while very inspired by the Contax Helicoid, is in fact totally different? If you turn a Contax lens (be it a Dredsen Contax from the 1930s or its replica, a Jena Contax from the late 1940s) from infinity to 0,9m it will take you a turn of 280 degrees, while in a TSVVS (even in the better of the forged examples) it will only require a turn of 190 degrees. This is a whole world! Even if there were the outer bayonet lugs to mount it, a tele lens would never focus properly on a TSVVS. It is highly unlikely that a workshop even if only distantly related to Zeiss Ikon would so to say invent the Contax bayonet a second timeworsening the original!
Not to speak of the Japanese, who copied the Contax mount in a much better way. There are also other details on the mount that make a relation with Zeiss unlikely. The clip that holds the lens in its place is a mass-produced part, and no one with access to such a part would dare to redesign it in a way so that it costs manyfold the money of the original, with no noticeable advantage. But that is what the TSVVS manufacturers did. The original clip of the TSVVS is different to that of any Contax (from I to IIIa), it is made of fragile, thin sheet metal and has a riffled little knoblet riveted to its end. Regrettably enough this part has been broken in nearly each and every example of the TSVVS. You can see the shape of the original in the attached pictures.
And: even if the manufacturers would have tried to mount a Contax clip on their lens helicoid, this would not have worked. The distance of the two screws that hold the clip in place is different from Contax to TSVVS (the screws are about 0,7mm farther apart in the TSVVS which means that you have to enlarge one of the holes in a Contax clip to mount it to a TSVVS - this modification can be seen in nearly every TSVVS). Can one believe that anybody manufacturing a camera with a Contax inspired mount who has access to the mass produced lens retaining clips would refuse to use them, unless for some special reason, total autonomy of manufacture, for instance?

In the course of the decades we all have developed some gut feeling of an unnamed cameras origin. And my guts tell me that the TSVVS is indeed Soviet. Let me tell you some few further details, why I think so.

Look at the screws. They are definitely bigger than you would expect in a German camera (not to speak of a Japanese camera!). And they are somewhat roughly made, very very slightly differing an size and the shape of its heads from piece to piece. The cut in the heads of a TSVVS screw is not always in the exact middle of the head. Yes, in an early FED all these characteristics are far, far more obvious. But if you keenly look for such small things with a magnifying glass, you see them. That does not mean that the TSVVS is crudely made - but it is different in a way from a German camera that I exclude a German manufacture. In a Viennese camera, by the way, things would be different (think of the a Wica, the world record holder in crudeness - but I love it . . . ). But the German camera industry got screws from specialised screw manufacturers, they did not make them on their own (I do not speak of the Pentacon years - then they more or less manufactured all in their own house, beginning from the screws, I speak of the years before). Precision screws in Germany always were a mass product of highest precision, and the TSVVS screws to me look like very well made domestic-made screws, with some strength- reserves against over-tightening.

You see, a simple camera, and so many different opinions on it. Here we say: ask three doctors, and you will get four opinions. Mine you have got now, and I am looking forward to the day when we all will learn "All trust on the TSVVS" as our collectors colleague Yuri Davidenko calls it. Or the whole prawda.

O.k., If I would have to the bet, I would probably bet that Yuri is right.
The story he tells us is so nice, that I like it.

But the day of the whole prawda will come!

Best greetings from Vienna, Milos



http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/2642010_TSVVS 1.jpg


http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/2642010_TSVVS 2.jpg


http://www.ussrphoto.com/UserContent/2642010_TSVVS 3.jpg

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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 27 2010 :  4:51:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
2. Would someone please add the serial numbers of my camera to the WIKI? The Body #816, and the 50mm F.2 Jena Sonnar #2019243. Can this be correct? Seems very low for the higher body number. Could have been exchanged at one time.

That serial number 2019243 would be a early prewar sonnar (probably collapsible or even black nickel)... is it T coated ? (send a picture)

Stephan
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Bill Parkinson
nightphoto
USA
1008 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 27 2010 :  9:50:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit nightphoto's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Vlad,

Thank you for relaying the letter from Milos Mladek. We know each other well and I always respect his ideas and opinions to the very highest degree! And, also the letter from Larry Gubas who is very knowedgable about the history of Zeiss. The TSVVS is a fascinating subject and although in some ways the mystery of its unknown origin is appealing to me, I would also be so happy to know the answer for sure!

I don't have any definitive answers to the origin of the TSVVS and my own speculations are only created by observations of the two examples I have in my collection, the photos I have seen on the internet of other examples, and my general knowledge of Soviet cameras and German cameras. Any ideas that I have are really questions since there has been no actual documents about the camera that I have seen or heard of and I don't believe anyone so far has proven where the origin actually was.

I agree with Milos that the story of Yuri Davidenko, with the origin placed at the Almaz factory, sounds good and is possible. But we have also just heard another story from a source that Alexey Nitikin that also sounds true and has some rather convincing details:

"The owner had told him that when he was still a boy, his family lived in Germany and his father was an army man in Soviet army in the division that was stationed in Germany. His father had made a deal with some other ensign about buying an illegal camera TSVVS from warehouse there. And the camera No756 was bought in Germany for 15 soviet rubles in some military base. From the conversation Alexey understood that from that warehouse you could buy more than one TSVVS camera. The owner said the camera didn't take really good pictures, later his Zenit was better. "

Of course 60 years has gone by and recollections, whether from a former worker at the Almaz factory or from the son of a Soviet soldier stationed in Germany, can be wrong in the details and actual facts, however the story from the Soviet soldiers son is direct and a TSVVS was on hand during the relaying of the story. When I reviewed the Alamz story (many times over the past few years, since published) I actually found little to back up any of the story and remember feeling that maybe either the whole story was not told by Yuriy, who I believe is telling it to his son to translate, or the story is mixed up in some way by the person who worked at Almaz and told it to them.

As well, I have often felt that the materials used were not so Soviet. For example we can see the unusual gray and green vinyl or plastic covering that some of these cameras had with the beautiful abstract designs in the photos of Milos' cameras. To me, I don't believe it is a Soviet or Russian material. Also, the type of leather used seems different than Soviet leathers that I have seen. To me, both of these coverings are more European and their identification and origin may be a key fact in identifying the origin of the camera itself.

I also agree with Milos that the camera was probably not made at Zeiss Jena, pretty much for all the reason he stated ... the Zeiss history experts and collectors have not found anything about it and also why would they change the mount so much when they already had Contax mounts or at least were prepared to make them (possibly).

As unlikely that it might be that a distantly related German (to Zeiss) factory would redesign the Contax mount which would no doubt be available to them to replicate, it seems that also it is unlikely that a Soviet factory would not have the same Contax mount to copy since they were making KIEV II cameras at Arsenal since 1947 and also must have had many captured examples of the Contax since 1945. Whoever made the camera, German, Soviet, or elsewhere knew that they would be using Zeiss lenses with Contax mount. So why is the mount different ... because the front of the camera is different, especially the top plate.

Also, if made in the Soviet Union, why is the body of the TSVVS different in length than FED body? The TSVVS is several millimeters longer than a FED and the Fed bottom plate will not fit a TSVVS. Seems like the Soviets would have used the measurements of a FED ... but maybe in Germany it was not thought of to find a FED to copy exactly.

One question that I have, and which would probably be helpful to know the answer, is: Do the serial numbers (on the whole) of the Zeiss lenses match up to the serial numbers on the early KIEV cameras. In other words, is it possible to make a correlation between the lenses on the TSVVS cameras and prove by these numbers that they come from the groups of lenses which are known to have been transported to the Soviet Union from Germany? To me that would be some very convincing proof that TSVVS was made in the USSR and also give more weight to the Almaz theory.

But I'm quite sure that there were places in East Germany (or the Russian Zone) during the late 1940s until 1950 that didn't have access to the manufactured screws. Remember, much German industry was destroyed by bombing and war, and no doubt things like miniature screws were hard to get and in demand for other things as well. Maybe some small workshop or factory would not have those perfect screws if a commission from
the Soviet Military was made.

So, do the lenses match the groups that were brought into the USSR after the war? And where is the origin country of that really cool vinyl green and gray covering that Milos' cameras have? Those are my questions before I make a bet too!





Regards, Bill

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Juhani Halmeenmaki
cedricfan
Finland
891 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 27 2010 :  11:10:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit cedricfan's Homepage  Reply with Quote
So far there has been talks about Russia=Almaz, Germany=Zeiss and Ukrainia=Kiev.
But what if it was made in another occupied European country? There was camera factories in other countries that got behind the iron curtain also.
And what is the soldiers "Germany"? Was it what most of us know as DDR? Or Germany during WWII which was pactically everything up to the USSR borders? Or Germany before war, eg what we now call Chech republic is old Germany?
A completely different factory could explain the odd mount, wrong length of body etc as it has no history of making FEDs or Contaxes or Kievs.
And being occupied Europe could explain the materials & screws. Not all Europeans are as thorough & precise as Germans in a tiny thing like screws...
Also a country like Hungary or Chech could be nicely in between DDR and Ukraina, giving possibility to use both Jena people and Arsenal people when needed.

Now I don't know much of the camera industry of eastern parts of Europe other than Baltic Minox and some after WWII Leica-copies, so please destroy this possibility with knowledge.

Best regards,
Juhani
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Stephan Van den Zegel
stephanvdz
Belgium
175 Posts
Posted - Apr 28 2010 :  09:00:59 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
And now Jacques M. discovered that the lens have to be tweaked to fit a TVSS (something that makes the normal contax lenses uncompatible... we are trying to see what ... may be the size of the locking pin...)...
it's clear that who designed the TVSS was not very much aware of contaxes... and don't forget that most of the earliest TVSS are equiped with prewar lenses... so why not an attempt from somewhere else ;-) to make something like a leica but working with contax lenses
(Zeiss was asked to build lens that were leica mount, why not another order somewhere to make a leica that fits contax lenses...? but who ever answered that order failed for some details...)


Stephan
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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 28 2010 :  2:42:40 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Someting about Zeiss Historica.
Finished the WWII, There were a great hope in relaunching Contax RF cameras. Instead there were produced Contax S. The transference of the Contax RF facilities to Ukraine closed all plans in rebuilting the Contaxes II and III in Germany. The upcoming of the Cold War and the decision of make the new Contaxes IIa and IIIa in Sttutgart, in the American Germay Sector, was an agreement with the American Government who warranted buys to turn feaseable the enterprise.Europe was not a good market at the time. There were LARGE AMOUNTS of Jena Sonnars in 1949 and 1950 just when the TSVVS was produced. The upcoming of Contaxes IIa and IIIa moved Jena to produce several optics like Herar Flektoskop and others. which were shown in USA Contaxes catalogues but not in German issues.
In the first years the official USA importers was the American Government once Zeiss was a State firm and was nationalized by the USA Government during the war. That way, East and West factories of Zeiss Trade mark were owned by the USA government. After the split, Zeiss East had representatives with Ercona Camera Co and Zeiss West with Carl Zeiss Co.
In Brazil happed the same. The Zeiss East became represented by Corema industrial and Zeiss West by Vitronac Material de Laboratorio, just were I began my love with cameras in 1956.
Several Jena Sonnars were produced and Exported; but suddenly, (1951) began operating the Zeiss-Opton of Oberkochen which supplied the new Sonnars and other lenses, including the new turret finder. Although with a smaller variety of items than Jena optics, those last became restricted to the Eastern cameras.
One can note that these TSVVS lenses does not begin with a number higher than 30XXXXXXX meaning production around 1949/1950 years.

Let us note two interesting facts: the exceeding supply of Jena Sonnars led American people in importing No-Name Kievs.

And what about the un-named and un-known origin camera I call the 1954/55 TSVVS-2 also with Jena Sonnar lenses?
My best Regards
LP




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Luiz Paracampo
Luiz Paracampo
Brazil
1713 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 28 2010 :  2:52:50 PM  Show Profile  Visit Luiz Paracampo's Homepage  Reply with Quote
About TSVVS Manufacture
I have no doubts in being from Russian manufacture.

1) They were made in small batches. This proves (enhaces) their high quality
2) They were built towards a selected group of the society.
3) They were built in Stalins' era when there was launched a plan to built the best in world -together watch manufacture.
4) This is the main reason to use Jena lenses. Z.K. lenses and Jupiter were in their beginings.
5) Internal pictures of the camera shown in Davidenko's site clears as being of Russian manufacture.
Regards
LP
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Vladislav Kern
Vlad
USA
3965 Posts
My Collection

Posted - Apr 28 2010 :  3:05:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit Vlad's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Luiz, et all.

Luiz, thank you this is very enlightening and does put a lot of things into context.

I think I may be swayed to the Soviet origins of this camera, the only think that I want to say that these cameras must be made by some manufacturer who had VAST experience building cameras, so best of the best at the time. Or some egineers from Germany. This cannot be a camera that was made by the factory or people who never built cameras before. So if it was in fact Almaz, they must've had some German or other highly qualified engineers brought in. This camera besides the feel of being hand-made, quality-wise of mechanism feels like an Leica M3.

Cheers,
Vlad
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