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Posted - Apr 02 2021 :  2:09:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello everyone this is my first post and I am happy to join this community. I am a beginner photographer based in the U.S.(Chicago) and extremely interested in USSR cameras.

Currently, my arsenal is thin with a Zorki 4 but I have a Kiev 60 on its way! I have mainly shot digital (Fuji X) and I love it. But I played around with some film cameras (Canon and Nikon) and I have found them uninspiring. I am looking forward to starting my collection and shooting some USSR cameras because they have amazing history and are wonderful works of raw proletariat energy.

In any case, I ask this question. I want to get into CLAing my own cameras. Any helpful tips/guides? I know that quirkiness of USSR cams as I have been reading and watching tons of content about them. I would love to take some chances on imported cameras and tinkering around and solving their issues.

Also, what is your "daily" shooter? I am looking for a camera to take with me everywhere.


Michael Perkins
United Kingdom
29 Posts
Posted - Apr 02 2021 :  2:34:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Mike!

Great! Another convert! :-)

I have been using FSU cameras for about 5 years now and have built up a collection of about 100 or so. I've not really specialised in any particular factory's output so I have a bit of everything. Here's just a bit of my personal feelings:

- favourite camera to use: Kiev 88. I have a lot of different lenses for it and it's taken some great pictures. Of course, it's a heavy lump and the lenses are really heavy too, so a day's shooting leaves me with a pretty stiff neck!

- most reliable cameras: Smena. I've got really nice results with Smenas and they nearly always seem to work. OK, the Smena Rapid didn't do so well but maybe I didn't load the film in the rapid cassettes well.

- nicest 35mm SLR: Kiev 19/20, Zenit 19, Zenit 3, Zenit 1. Satisfying cameras to use. The Zenit 19 in particular takes good shots, it has a bad light leak around the door but I just tape the door up with electrical tape. I could change the seal if I could be bothered!

- best rangefinder: Kiev 4AM. Another Kiev! Yes, it's my favourite "brand". People do swear by Zorki 4's and 4K's but I don't have a lot of experience of them. With FEDs and Zorkis I've had quite a lot of disappointments with bad banding and some of the patches can be very dim. That said, my FED Atlas is great, and I have Kievs that are terrible - my Kiev 5 works very poorly and frame spacing can be hit or miss on many of the Contax-style Kievs.

Most of my cameras have not been CLA'd so that explains a lot of the bad results. Bear in mind that my favourite cameras tend to be the ones that by luck work properly! I have tried to fix various cameras, but none of those I've tried (FED 2, Zorki 10 and Smena 8M) has ever got back together again. So I really can't advise on that! I've successfully repaired quite a few lenses though (sticky apertures etc.) which is a good deal easier.

Anyway, welcome to the club and do post your purchases and experiences here - I for one look forward to reading about them.

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United Kingdom
131 Posts
Posted - Apr 09 2021 :  06:02:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi, take a look at [Link removed based on copyright claim by Maizenberg estate] he has scanned in Maizenbergs book on repairing Russian cameras. I'd download it if I was you as I wonder about Copyright issues!
Be careful - its easy to turn a CLA into a major rebuild job...

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sean perry
United Kingdom
329 Posts
Posted - Mar 12 2022 :  2:30:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello and welcome to the forum LeftyMike. I personally wouldn't dream of performing a CLA as I'd still have a few pieces left over even if I was lucky enough to manage to get a camera re-assembled!
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