The Best Soviet Rangefinder Cameras

In this article, the team of our site will tell you about the best Soviet rangefinder cameras.

The Best Soviet Rangefinder Camera review

In Soviet times, a huge number of rangefinder cameras were created, and among such a variety it is easy to get confused, and therefore today we decided to tell you about what is the best Soviet rangefinder camera.

We want to immediately draw your attention to the fact that almost all Soviet rangefinder cameras were clones of German or Japanese originals, and those that were not clones or reparations products were most likely cameras of very low quality.

Soviet cameras

What is a Rangefinder Camera

A rangefinder camera is a type of camera that uses an optical rangefinder for focusing, which works on the principle of optical parallax.

Optical rangefinders have been used for focusing since the beginning of the 20th century, but this method of focusing gained popularity with the help of Leicas. Further, thanks to countless clones and imitations, cameras with a rangefinder focusing system gained unprecedented popularity until they were supplanted by more convenient SLR cameras.

Soviet film cameras review

Available Options

As mentioned above, a huge number of rangefinder cameras were created in Soviet times. Here we will not consider all the variations that were produced, since many of them are of too poor quality and others cannot be bought in our time.

Among the factories that produced Soviet rangefinders, it is worth stopping at three, and these are:

The FED plant produced cameras called FED, which were originally clones of the German Leicas and later with each new model became less and less similar to the German original. The main advantage of FED cameras was that they were relatively cheap, but at the same time they had the whole set of characteristics for convenient photography and made it possible to get decent pictures.

Soviet film camera fed

The KMZ plant produced Soviet rangefinder cameras called Zorki and were also clones of the German Leicas, and just like FEDs with each new model, they became less and less like the Leica cameras. The main advantage of Zorki cameras was that they had a slightly better build quality than FEDs and in some models had slightly better characteristics.

Rangefinder Zorki

The Arsenal plant produced cameras called Kiev. These were essentially Contax cameras that were assembled on the territory of the USSR on the original Zeiss machines with the participation of German craftsmen from the Zeiss factory. Kievs had much better characteristics, better build quality, but at the same time they were noticeably more expensive than FED and Zorki cameras.

Film rangedinder Kiev

What is The Best Soviet Rangefinder Cmera

For shooting, we can recommend two options, these are Zorki 4k and early versions of Kiev rangefinder cameras. Both of these options have a fairly good range of shutter speeds, a good rangefinder base, decent build quality and a good set of lenses.

Let’s look at these options in more detail.

Zorki 4k

Zorki-4k is one of the best soviet film cameras. This camera is distinguished by the fact that it is the most convenient of the entire range of rangefinder cameras produced at the KMZ plant. Zorki 4k has a fairly wide rangefinder base, which allows for more accurate focusing. The camera’s viewfinder is very large and clear, which also helps to make shooting easier. In addition, the camera has a shutter with shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000 sec. The camera is equipped with the m39 rangefinder mount, to which a huge number of lenses were produced in Soviet times. Zorki-4k is also a really cheap Russian camera.

soviet rangefinder camera review
Zorki-4K, Jupiter-8 2.0/50, Kodak Vision 200t
soviet rangefinder camera zorki
Zorki-4K, Jupiter-8 2.0/50, Kodak Vision 200t
The best russian Rangefinder Cameras
Zorki-4K, Jupiter-8 2.0/50, Kodak Vision 200t
The best Soviet Rangefinder Camera zorki
Zorki-4K, Jupiter-8 2.0/50, Tasma KN-3
Russian rangefinder cameras
Zorki-4K, Jupiter-8 2.0/50, Tasma KN-3

Kiev Rangefinder Cameras

Kiev rangefinders, as already mentioned above, are essentially Soviet Contaxes, with all the corresponding advantages. Rangefinders on Kievs have one of the largest bases of all cameras ever produced in the world. This means that focusing with Kiev is extremely convenient and simple. In addition, Kievs have a fairly large and clear viewfinder with a bright spot in the center. The build quality of early models is by far the best among all Soviet cameras.

A number of lenses for Kiev differ little from what is presented by Zorki. The only difference is an unusual mount, but it does not cause any inconvenience.

best Soviet Rangefinder Cameras
The best Soviet Rangefinder Camera kiev
Kiev-4AM, Jupiter-8M 2.0/50, Kodak Vision 200t
soviet rangefinder cameras review
Kiev-4AM, Jupiter-8M 2.0/50, Kodak Vision 200t
Soviet film rangefinder camera
Kiev-4AM, Jupiter-8M 2.0/50, Tasma KN-3
The Soviet Rangefinder Cameras
Kiev-4AM, Jupiter-8M 2.0/50, Tasma KN-3

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