OddCameras.com                          Kiev 88

The 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 adapter.

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 weights:

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.

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.

Some photos:

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

Front view.

Seen from above.

Camera bottom. 2 tripod sockets.

The body.

It's small.

Metal shutter curtain, do not touch.

Matte screen.

Camera and standard folding viewer.

Viewer mounted. the protection is essential for the metered prism.

Viewer unfolded.

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.

Eyepiece side

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.

The Mir-26B 45mm wide angle lens.

Apertures from 3.5 to 22, distance down to 0.5m.

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.

Mount side.

Front, protected by a UV-Filter.

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.

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.

Mount side.


Camera with 150mm lens.

The lens is extremely compact.

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.

Insert released

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 cant 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.