The Pentacon Six System
by TRA

The History of the Pentacon Six

The Arax 60 and the Arax 645

Date: 2002 – 

The Arax 60 MLU.

From about 2002 a company in Kiev known as Arax started selling upgraded and modified versions of Kiev medium format SLR cameras.

The Arax 60

The Kiev 60 was upgraded by the addition of much-needed flocking in the camera throat, to eliminate the reflections caused by the shiny interior camera surface.  The Arsenal factory appeared to carry out no quality control of its cameras, many of which left the factory with faults.  Arax stated that it carried out this quality control and made any adjustments that were necessary.  The chrome areas were painted black and a new name plate was added.  The result was the Arax 60.

Top plate.  The camera is fitted with the new-style metering prism that incorporates automatic switch-off.

Bottom plate, showing the spool holder levers, the tripod socket and the button that must be pressed to open the back.
Mirror Lock Up (“MLU”)

As an optional modification, a mirror pre-release, or “Mirror Lock Up” could be added to the camera.

The small silver button above the flash socket in the right-hand picture above is the mirror pre-release button.

This is much easier to operate than the MLU on the Pentacon Six and Exakta 66 (1980s-2000).

A simple name bar on the camera back shows that this is the MLU version of the camera.
Arax 645

A more-modified version of the Kiev 60 was also offered: the Arax 645 provided 16 vertical frames with a nominal format of 4.5 × 6 cm, with or without the mirror pre-release.

Inside an Arax 60 MLU camera

Inside an Arax 645 MLU camera.  A lot more than changing the size of the film gate has of course been done;  the spacing mechanism and the film counter have also been changed.

At the time of writing (August 2010), these modified cameras are still available new from Arax.
Other Arax Cameras with the Pentacon Six Mount

Arax also offers various versions of the Kiev 88 CM, which has a Pentacon Six compatible mount, but in my opinion this range of Arsenal Kiev cameras is by design inherently less robust than the Kiev 60 design.  MLU and non-MLU versions are available.

Arax will also supply their cameras with leatherette in a range of colours, as well as other textiles and textures – worth exploring, if one wants a truly unique camera.

The Kiev 88 CM, modified and upgraded by Arax.
This particular camera is shown with the newer spot/averaging light meter.

I am grateful to Gevorg Vartanyan of Arax for permission to reproduce on this page pictures from his website, which you can find here.

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32 The Kiev 90

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© TRA First published: June 2010 Revised: August 2010