Producing a modular-style camera that could take lenses with the
Six mount obviously met a demand, and soon other versions of the
started to appear modified to accept these lenses. There
two different approaches to this modification.
Twist and Lock mount
In the late 1990s a company in Kiev by the name of Hartblei started offering a range of modified versions of the Kiev 88. These offered various combinations of:
For a while they offered to upgrade clients’ cameras, although I believe that this service is no longer available. A kind Russian friend discussed my Kiev-B.i.G.-Six camera from Brenner with his contacts at Hartblei in Kiev, and they offered to modify my camera to take
to Hartblei specifications]
|The camera now had
It looked brand new. In fact, I had to check the serial number to make sure that it was the same camera that I had sent to Kiev!
At my request, it was returned with two Hasselblad-compatible 4.5 × 6 New Technology film backs. (These backs enable multiple exposures to be made easily.)
Testing revealed that
This body is also fitted with a Hasselblad-
compatible NT style film back.
The knob labelled “A” is the multiple-
|The Hartblei 1006C wind crank is a great improvement on the original knob or even other wind cranks.||
||The reinforced base plate is claimed to improve the
rigidity of the
body – although I had not noticed any problems with the
However, the metal coupling-plate (the bright metal part held in place by 6 tiny screws) fits no known camera bracket! It is too wide and needs filing down before a flash bracket or tripod release mount can be fitted to it!
Of course, the Variogon was not usable on any camera without its
mount, so several anxious months ensued, until the camera came
When I opened the box, the Variogon mount was not there! I
my Russian friend, who contacted Kiev. It turned out that
realised that the mount was more important to me than the camera,
had sent it to Germany in the hands of Richard Wiese of Hamburg,
to be in Kiev at the time. Richard posted it to me a few
Thank you Richard!!
|Richard Wiese is behind the publication in 2005 of a book by Lothar Braas on the Kiev Medium Format cameras: “Das KIEV Mittelformathandbuch”, planned as the first of a series of three books. This book, which is written in German, is a high quality production that is richly illustrated. It is available from Baier Fototechnik in Germany, and possibly other sources. ISBN 3-00-014755-1|
|Now I had to head for London again, to get Tom Page to put the lens mount back on the Variogon lens. This he did in a matter of minutes, and soon the lens was mounted on the Kiev “Hartblei” camera! Success!||
The upgraded camera with the 75-150mm Schneider Variogon mounted on it.
The breech lock mount on the original Praktisix and Pentacon Six cameras and copied on the Kiev 60 involves inserting the lens with the index screw in the “12.00 o’clock” position, and then rotating a ring on the front of camera body to lock the lens in place. The lens itself is not rotated. However, with the Brenner and Hartblei versions of the Kiev 88, the lens itself has to be rotated. If it were possible to design a mount on Kiev 88 cameras in which it was not necessary to rotate the lens, machining a mount that takes all the Schneider Exakta 66 lenses should be easier. But as the lens-to-film-plane distance on the Kiev 88 is greater than on the Pentacon Six (82.1mm, compared with 74.1mm for the Pentacon Six), there is just not space on the Kiev 88 to add such a breech lock ring on the front of the body. However, ingenious engineers in Kiev have overcome this problem by recessing the locking ring within the front on the Kiev 88.
Problem: if the locking ring is sunk within the front of the camera: there is no way to get one’s fingers in there to rotate the ring!
Solution: attach a slim lever to the ring, terminating above the front surface of the camera body mount, just behind the lens. Swing the lever, and you can operate the breech lock ring. Brilliant!
This camera was given a new name: the Kiev 88 CM
The Kiev 88 CM
It was not possible to mount most
Schneider-Kreuznach lenses for the Exakta 66 onto the
the original Kiev B.i.G. because all of the Schneider
lenses other than those with a maximum aperture of f/2.8
have at the back of the lens an extra pin (or in the
case of the Schneider 2× converter, two
pins) to communicate the value of the maximum aperture
of the lens to the metering prism, and the original
shape of the lens mount on the Kiev B.i.G. could not
accommodate this pin/these pins. You can see an
example of one of these pins here.
All of the Schneider lenses for the Exakta 66 also
all have a spring-mounted cam that communicates the
value of the selected aperture to the metering prism.
You can see examples of these cams here.
Can the Kiev 88CM accommodate these pins and this
All lenses that I have from Schneider, Arsenal, Hartblei and Carl
do now mount on my Hartblei 1006C camera. But there is one
problem, and the same problem has been reported to me by the owner
Kiev Hartblei 688M. I also seem to recall that some Kiev
have had a similar problem. Of all things, it concerns two
Jena lenses: the 50mm and 65mm Flektogon lenses. Both these
have a depth-of-field lever that is located right at the back of
behind the aperture ring. When these lenses are mounted on
1006c or on at least some Kiev 88CM’s, this lever is virtually
although with a fingernail or the tip of a cap from a Bic
I can just move it. It also rubs slightly on the mount and
of this it doesn’t always return immediately to the open position.
If it’s any consolation, observing the depth of field in the viewfinder with any wide angle lens is always difficult. However, the lens does have a depth of field scale printed on the lens mount. I have always found this very reliable with the 50mm Flektogon, and imagine that it will also be with the 65mm lens. So I can use hyperfocal focussing, which is very effective with wide-angle lenses.
For instance, if I am able to use f/22, I set the aperture to f/22 and then turn the focus ring so that the oo infinity mark is against the right-hand “22” marked on the fixed ring of the lens. Looking at the left-hand “22” on the same ring, I can see that the lens will yield an in-focus image from just under 1 meter to infinity.
You can see an image shot with the 50mm Flektogon set at the hyperfocal distance here. (“Autumn view in Stevenage”) For this shot I only stopped down to f/6.3, but with this wide-angle lens everything from the foreground a few meters away to infinity was in sharp focus!
For more information on hyperfocal focussing, see here.
More radical solutions would include either removing the depth-of-field lever completely or – better still, if possible – having a new DOF lever designed that would be longer and would bend forward at the exit point from the lens, providing access from just outside the aperture ring. This could be a good project for someone with machine shop capabilities and a sympathetic lens repairer, but I have not found it necessary – but then the 65mm lens that I habitually use on this camera is the Mir 38-B, which incidentally doesn’t have a DOF lever. For wider than that I usually use one of the 45mm Mir lenses. The commonly-available Mir 26-B doesn’t have a DOF lever either. The much rarer Mir-69B 45mm lens does have a depth-of-field lever, which is mounted on the other side of the lens (compared with the Flektogons), and significantly further forward, so that it is usable without any problem at all.
To read about other lens compatibility problems, click here.
To go back to the beginning of the Kiev B.i.G. review, click
then choose the section that you want to read about.
Back to beginning of the Kiev B.i.G. review
© TRA November 2005 Latest revision: November 2018