Film SLR Camera Kiev-19 Review
Kiev-19 is a soviet SLR camera with TTL light metering. It had been produced on Kiev factory Arsenal, Ukraine. Starting from 1985. Went in kit with Helios-81Н 2/50 lens and their modification. This review is for body together with Helios-81М.
The camera has mount, in USSR named as "Н"(N), which is identical to the Nikon F mount. Because of this you can use lenses from Kiev-19 together with Nikon and vise versa.
The cost of the camera in the distant 1980 was 150 soviet rubles. In those days it was quit solid amount of money. For me, as a student at the time to have such a device was a dream. Nowdays you can buy used camera together with the lens for very little money of $20-30. This option is suitable for those who want to start studying photography but is not ready to part with huge sums for modern DSLR cameras, whith minimum prices that start with a mark of $ 400.
Compared with today's digital cameras even the entry-level, 19-Kiev has minimum settings, no automatic modes, preset shooting programs, etc. But it has the needed minimum that will allow you to understand the basic principles of photography.
The Design of the Kiev-19 Camera
The firs impration from the camera starts from the case. Kiev-19 has a very nice carrying case, which even after 30 years looks quite decent. The part that closes lens is plastic, but it does not look cheap. The main part which covers the body made by thick high-quality leather. The top of the case closes the metal insert. Inside case is covered with red suede. Carry case protects the camera damage even if it falls to the ground.
First of all the top plane of the camera drew my attention with a small amount of controls. On the left side the ring of film sensativity is located. And it is protected against accidental displacement - for changing position you have first to click on the little shiny button. The ring is marked already on the new standard of sensitivity (ISO), marked values are 25, 50, 100, 200, 400. You can also select and intermediate values marked by dots.
At the center of the camera situated a hot flash shoe and the Sync slot. On the right side placed the shutter button and the shutter cocking lever, next to which is the window of frame counter.
The ring of shutter speed is not located on the top plane of the camera like in many Soviet SLR and rangefinder cameras but on the front plane at the left side. Using such a regulator is very convenient - change the shutter speed you can quickly in one motion.
At the top of the lens the scale of aperture is placed from f/16 to f/2, it is possible to select the intermediate value. There is also the scale of distances with the focus ring. The camera focuses using the focusing screen, with a matte Fresnel lens ring, a microprism and split image rangefinder. The viewfinder is large and comfortable.
To the right of the lens on the front plane of the camera is placed lever for closing diaphragm, which also performs the function of metering.
The shutter of Kiev-19 is mechanical lamel with vertical movement of the two pairs of metal slats. The range of shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/500 seconds, and «B». Flash sync speed on 1/60 sec.
The camera disadvantage is the lack of self-timer, which in those days were even equipped with other similar cameras such as the rangefinder FED and SLR Zenits.
Preparation for Shooting
Before you start shooting you need to check the elements of the exposure meter. The camera's specifications are listen two elements SC-32, MC-0,105, or modern replacement is SR-43, AG-12. They are loaded into the compartment at the bottom of the chamber, the cover can be unscrewed with a coin.
For loading film you need to open the back cover of the camera. To do this, lift the film rewind knob upwards. The lock will relise the cover.
Kiev-19 with his rewinding knob in the upper position and open lid
Loading film into the left slot. The end of the film should be put into the slot of receiving spool at the right end. Lets put down the film rewind knob and close the camera lid. Now allot shutter cocking lever to the right until it stops. This rewind knob should roll. We make two control shutter to enter the non-illuminated part of the film. Тhe camera is ready for use.
Loading camera with film
Exposure in Kiev-19
Exposure metering is performed by pressing skipping aperture lever, then the aperture closes to the value from the ring. While holding the lever at the left part of viewfinder you can see the red LED signs "+" and "-" this is the exposure meter measurement.
Minus at the bottom (Figure A) is lack of light, plus the top (Fig B) - over-lighting. By changing the aperture and shutter speed you can change the value of exposure. If the minus lights it is necessary to increase the shutter speed or open aperture and vice versa. When there is correct exposure light two characters shine at the same time (Figure C).
After loading camera with color film Kodak ColorPlus ISO 200, I went out to take pictures. There was snowing at night, and in the morning was bright sunshine. Immediately I faced with the camera limitations, at bright light exposure meter showed + even at the 1/500s and f/16. The camera has not short shutter speed of 1/1000. Although, at that time, at the 80s in USSR the popular films had sensitivity much less ISO 200 (most popular film had GOST(ISO) 65), and probably it was difficult to face such limits.
f/16 1/500 ISO 200
The film is more afraid of underexposure than overexposure. From captured 36 frames there ware been no overexposed only underexposed. So do not be afraid to raise the exposure value. The film likes light and forgives flaws of overexposure.
Photos captured on film have their own unique pattern. There is the depth of space.
f/16 1/250 ISO 200
Certain inconvenience occurs after the transition from the digital to the film camera. You can not see the picture immediately after it is taken. In a digital camera you can easily shoot the same subject with different settings later selecting the best. With the film the result can be seen much later that makes much more thoughtful approach to each shot. Also in the film has typically much less exposures than at digital camera. The film makes you think and not simply aim and press the shutter button. It is one more plus for beginners.
f/11 1/500 ISO 200
Another surprise is a much smaller viewing angle compared to simple digital cameras.
f/16 1/500 ISO 200
The same frame taken by simple digital camera Nikon Coolpix L25
The apparent lack of images made on the film is a large grain. But this largely depends on the quality of the film itself. I shot on the cheapest film. I think that this film is made with the expectation of acceptable quality when printing photos 10x15cm. Using films of higher quality with less sensitivity is much less graininess.
f/8 1/250 ISO 200
The sensitivity of 200 ISO, and big aperture of camera lens enables you to shoot indoors with natural lighting without a flash. However, when using slow shutter speed to 1/30 second you have to consider big risk of blurring. The depth of field at full aperture is minimal so there is a good chance to get blurred because of unfocussed. It is necessary to fix the camera on a tripod to avoid camera shake in his hands.
f/2 1/30 ISO 200
Helios-81М afraid of direct light.
f/16 1/500 ISO 200
Rewinding the film in Kiev-19
The signal for the end of the film is the difficulty cocking the shutter. If it suddenly starts to go tight, and the frame counter passed the mark of 36 it is a signal to the end of the film. No need to make an effort to plant the trigger - you risk tear the film.
To rewind the exposed film back into the supply spool press and hold the button in the bottom plane of the camera. Rewind is clockwise using the recline lever on the head rewind. End of rewinding can be seen when the entire film is wrapped around the feed cassette and it begins rotating more easily. Then open the back cover and pull out the film cartridge.
There are the film rewind button, thread for tripod and battery compartment at the basis of the camera.
Kiev-19 is a good film camera. It has good ergonomics comfortably lays in the hand. My copy is clearly working out all the exposure and rewinding. I had no complains for the mechanical part of the camera it is made soundly.
Camera has good initial options for those wishing to join the world of photography for a very symbolic price. Shared with Nikon mount allows it the subsequent use of lenses from Kiev-19 on digital SLR of this system.
More examples. All shots without editing and little cropping.
f/11 1/500 ISO 200
f/11 1/500 ISO 200
f/2 1/60 ISO 200