The Pentacon Six System
The History of the Pentacon Six
The Kiev 6C
Dates: c. 1970 (prototype); c.1971-c.1986
(information from Princelle, p.225)
The Kiev 6C with the plain prism.
The horizontal lever on the camera throat is used to stop down the
lens aperture to check depth of field.
This explains why many Arsenal lenses do not have their own depth-of-field
This camera was made by the Arsenal company in Kiev, which
since about 1947 had been manufacturing the pre-war German Contax II and
III 35mm rangefinder cameras, which had been re-named “Kiev”.
The Kiev 6C clearly had some degree of inspiration from
the Praktisix or Pentacon Six, and adopted the same lens mount. Note
that “C” is the Cyrillic alphabet equivalent of Roman alphabet “S”, so
the camera is sometimes described as “6S”. However, I am not aware
of any examples of this camera manufactured with a Roman alphabet name-plate.
|Unlike the Praktisix and Pentacon Six, there
are no projecting spool holder “feet” under the body – but the fact that
the spool holder levers are recessed within the base merely makes the camera
taller than the Pentacon Six. The Pentacon Six has the tripod socket
under the “throat” to which the lens is attached (the front half of the
mirror box), so a camera case bolt can be used (without the case) to provide
a third foot, allowing the camera to sit horizontally on a flat surface.
In the Kiev 6C the tripod socket is in the camera base, so no such solution
is possible, which is why in these photos the front of the camera has been
placed on a (non-original) filter and lens cap. With many lenses,
the Pentacon Six and Praktisix balance better on a tripod than the Kiev
The camera had strap lugs that were better placed than
on the Praktisix and Pentacon Six (although those cameras were usually
supplied with a case which had its own strap). The lugs had a hole
to accept standard triangular metal strap connectors (visible in the photo
to the right), which were supplied as standard.
In the odd tradition of medium format cameras from the former Soviet Union,
a 1-second exposure setting was lacking. The shutter speeds were
from ½- 1/1000 sec plus B.
Another oddity was that on the Kiev 6C the shutter release
had to be operated by the left hand.
The camera took 120 and 220 film and had a two-position
pressure plate to allow for the different thickness of the two films
(220 film does not have backing paper apart from at the beginning and end
of the film). This shows a remarkable attention to detail
and the desire to ensure that the film was both as flat as possible and
in exactly the right position to give the sharpest-possible image.
This was not to be seen again on a camera with the Pentacon Six mount
until the introduction of the Exakta 66 in West Germany in 1984.
The camera was supplied with a 90mm f/2.8 Vega-12B lens
with an automatic diaphragm. (Russian b. For the difference
between “B” and “V” lens mounts, see here.)
There was a flash sync socket on the front of the camera.
The camera was usually supplied with a folding “waist-level
finder”, but a non-metering prism was available, and subsequently a metering
The Kiev 6C was a lot bigger, heavier and noisier than
the Praktisix and the Pentacon Six.
It was supplied with a large leather outfit case, initially
brown, although later cases were apparently black.
This particular body was made in 1977, and the lens (originally supplied
on another camera) in 1976.
|The Kiev 6C had both 120 film (12 exposure) and 220 film
(24 exposure) capability.
A film speed reminder dial on the right of the camera
top plate showed film speeds in the Russian GOST and European DIN scales
View from above of the Kiev 6C with plain prism
The knob top-left in this picture switches between 120 film (12 exposures)
and 220 film (24 exposures).
In this image, the camera is set for 24 exposures, and the film is
on its 20th frame.
1981 version of the Kiev 6C
||The camera in the above illustrations was made in 1977.
Later versions of the Kiev 6C had a different name-plate, as illustrated
here in a camera from 1981. This became the name-plate style that
was adopted when the replacement model, the Kiev 60, was introduced.
To go to the Bibliography, click here.
To go on to the next section, click below.
30 The Kiev 60
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© TRA June 2010, Revised November 2011