In the early 70s the Ukrainian factory Arsenal was tasked to develop a camera to compete with the widespread Praktisix and Pentacon Six, both SLR cameras with 120 film and 6×6 image format with a general approach similar to that of smaller 135 SLRs. Thus was born the first Kiev 6C (it would be more correct to say 6S), a mammoth SLR with decidedly boxy lines which rest in production for fourteen years, until 1985: this model was a great success, to the point that Arsenal drew an improved version, precisely the Kiev 60 sold in 1984, which took the role of direct antagonist of the Pentacon Six. In that regard, often reads like the Kiev is a mere copy of the Pentacon while, in my opinion, you should consider it more a rework as well as a tentative to improve the original. Compared to 6C, the new 60 loses the ability to use 220 film but, gains improvements in ergonomics and prism viewfinder.
It has been produced in some variants, not always recognized, until middle of 90’s:
- 1a (1984-1987)
- 1b (1987-1988)
- 1c (1985-1987) size 6×4,5
- 1d (1988-1991)
- 2a (1991-1992)
- 2b (1992-1993)
Must be considered also the 645 version, which produced frames in format 6×4,5 and it was the export version of the model 1c.
HOW IT WORKS
You see it and you promptly understand how to work with this king-size camera which in fact is quite simple: the only operations that require attention are the loading of the film roll and the management of the feed, and if necessary the use of the exposure. Going in order, the Kiev 60 TTL presents with sharp but clean lines, few commands located mainly on the upper cover in which stands out the large footprint prism viewfinder. On the left side of the cap there is the selection wheel for shutter speeds, while on the other side there are the loading lever, the frame counter window and the reminders of the speed of the film. The controls are all here and all that remains to do is to eventually use the exposure of the pentaprism.
This simplicity should not, however, suggest Kiev 60 TTL is a camera of limited value; in fact, leaving aside any instance towards the Soviet photographic materials, the Kiev 60 is a camera that if in order can grant you great satisfaction and its simplicity and its look like a common reflex will become rather strengths. There are two elements that justify the above: firstly the size of the film, with all the quality that goes into generous 6×6 frame, then the ability to access, thanks to the Pentacon Six mount, to a wide range of lenses at times of excellent quality.
As mentioned, the most complicated to use element is the metering system which is fitted into the big pentaprism; on top of this you will find all the commands for the correct metering operations. First, the scale feeling is quite unusual for us, being the values according to the standard DIN and GOST: luckily, it is easy to convert to common ISO / ASA values; the sensitivity adjustment thru dedicated wheel is the first step to be followed after previously engaged the shutter (the case of TTL metering, with mirror up nothing is detected). done that, acting on the second wheel, concentric with the first command, you must set the maximum aperture reached the lens, making it coincide with the value of the orange screen printed notch. At this point you turn on the meter using the three-position button on the left side and the same is also used to check up the battery, whose charge is confirmed by the LEDs positioned next to the command.
With the meter turned on, framing through the eyepiece, you’ll see in the viewfinder the ignition of two symbols “o” and “*” indicate that the over-and underexposure, the correct exposure is displayedwhen, while rotating the third ring (one time) you get both symbols illuminated simultaneously. At this point, you can turn off the meter and choose any of the time / aperture couples that you read in the rings. The procedure is rather cumbersome partly because you have to operate while holding a two and more kilograms of weight: it is probably easier to use an external exposure or rely on the experience and Sunny 16 rule .
The pentaprism, as already mentioned, can be replaced with a simple WLF: to remove it is sufficient to unlock it by acting on the wheel to the left and then simultaneously press the buttons on both left and right and lift it. The batteries, finally, are housed on the left side and closed with the classic cap.
Going back to the camera body, is to be mentioned the presence on the front side of the Synchro socket placed in the lower left, with a threaded hole for attachment fittings at the top and the shutter button with connection for cable release located immediately to the right, very convenient location. On the bottom we find, instead, the commands of the roll retaining spring, the back opening button and the threaded tripod.
Ultimately the camera is a pleasure to use and, as mentioned, if well maintained gives high satisfaction; the worst points are first and foremost the weight, which is great for both the all metal body and the lenses, and the slowest time that is only 1/2 second. Conversely, it can use different beautiful lenses, also of Soviet origin, including the fisheye Arsat / Zodiak 30mm (roughly equivalent to a 16mm in 135). Particular attention should be paid to the initial loading of the film and the subsequent cocking of the shutter, best is to make movements with light trying to always accompany the loading lever, in order to avoid problems of irregular spacing or overlap between frames. A check of the seals and lubrication in general counts as first tip once purchased while for the rest, the Kiev 60 (the two in my possession for sure) does not seem to have the need to change the timing only after resetting the shutter, worth breaking mechanisms: here you can easily do, sooner or later.
Model: Reflex 6×6
Format: 6×6 film 120.
Bayonet : Kiev / Pentacon
Shutter: on the focal plane, curtain side-scrolling, shutter speed 1/2 sec to 1/1000 sec and B mode.
Exposure modes: manual, B.
Viewfinder: prism viewfinder, WLF.
Sensitivity: manually selectable from 10 to 31 DIN (pentaprism)
Size: Length 170 mm, height 156 mm, depth 86 mm.
Power : 3 batteries LR44/SR44 (pentaprism)
Weight: 1.570 gr.
Solidity of the body.
Pentacon Six mount.
Excessive weight (with some scales)
Slowest speed only 1/2 sec.
Laborious metering procedure.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICES
Until recently, the Kiev 60 and 6C were really low in price while now the trend has shifted to prices generally exceeding EUR 100 for the body and 80mm lens (generally Volna-3); there are no substantial differences in price if the body is equipped with pentaprism or with the WLF, while the only pentaprism at times, especially in online auctions, is reaching prices equal to the camera: if in doubt, then, it is better to look for cameras with pentaprism already installed. Lenses, however, often have values much higher (up to over 400 €), which on average are unjustified.
Below, two images taken with the excellent 30mm fisheye Arsat: