The Pentacon Six System
Should I buy a Pentacon Six or
a Kiev 88CM?
The Kiev 88CM is the latest version of the Kiev clone (if that is what
it is!) of the original focal plane Hasselblad camera, first launched in
the late 1940s.
You may be thinking of buying a Kiev 88CM if you:
The Kiev 88 is an intrinsically more complicated design that has more that
can go wrong than a Pentacon Six or Kiev 60.
require interchangeable film backs
want to use a Polaroid back
prefer the cube camera shape to the 35mm SLR style of the Pentacon Six.
Dealers and writers of magazine articles desperate to find excuses to criticise
the Pentacon Six or Exakta 66 sometimes said that a major fault was that
– in contrast to the Hasselblad – these cameras didn’t have interchangeable
backs. (Of course, neither did the Pentax 6×7!) What
they didn’t use to say was that for less than the cost of one Hasselblad
back you could get a whole second Pentacon Six body, with its
own shutter speeds, lens mount and viewfinder. Which would you rather
have on an important assignment or a once-in-a-lifetime trip: a second
film holder, or a whole second camera as a backup? In any
case, picking up another camera is a lot faster than changing backs.
Combining the shutter speed selection and the film advance in one knob
has caused many Kiev 88s to fail.
Only change speed after winding on! (This still applies
to current models!)
In earlier versions the shutter speed dial should only be rotated clock-wise;
rotating it anti-clockwise will cause the camera to break!
I believe that this retriction no longer applies – I certainly hope that
it doesn’t, as it is so easy to rotate the shutter speed dial in the other
Having a removable back just about guarantees that sooner or later you
will have light leaks that will ruin some of your shots (I have had this
with my Hasselblad, too!)
Of course, if you must have a Polaroid back facility, the Kiev 88 is
the only way to go.
Otherwise, I recommend that you get a Pentacon Six, Exakta 66 or Kiev
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© TRA November 2005