To the victor goes the spoils. That was the case when the Zeiss factory in Dresden was given to the Soviets as reparations for World War II. The whole factory including the machines and some technicians who previously worked there were brought to Kiev (modern day Kyiv) to establish a camera manufacturing plant.
The Kiev III was a 35 mm rangefinder camera that was in production from 1948 to 1958. It was copied from the earlier Contax III by Zeiss and was manufactured using the same camera dies used by Zeiss back in Germany. It can be argued that the Kiev IIIs and IIIas that rolled out of the arsenal plant were basically Contax cameras (albeit some would also argue that they are inferior to German-made Contax cameras when it came to build quality and refinement).
One of the main attractions of the Kiev III/IIIa was its built-in light meter situated on top of the camera. It featured a protective cover that flips up when the camera is in use. Built-in light meters were not common fare for cameras during that time so it made the Kiev III/IIIa stand out in both the form and function categories. However, even with the built-in meter, the III/IIIa was overshadowed by their more popular successors, the Kiev 4 and 4m.
Other Kiev tidbits:
- Some Kiev IIIa cameras feature Roman/Ukrainian logos instead of Cyrillic.
- The IIIa was the second Kiev model to feature a built-in light meter.
- Kiev III/IIIa cameras have to be wound using a winding knob on the top right part of the body. Only after then could the user adjust the shutter speed before shooting.
- The Jupiter-8 2/50 lens fitted on some models of the Kiev III/IIIa was a copy of the Zeiss 50 mm f2 lens.
Sample Photo Gallery
Film: 35 mm cartridge film
Size of Picture: 24 x 36 mm
Shutter Speed: 1/2, 1/5, 1/10 1/25, 1/50, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 second, 1/1250. Bulb (B)
Lens: Jupiter-8 2/50
Aperture: f/2, f/2.8 f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22
Viewfinder: coupled rangefinder
Weight: 634 grams (22.36 oz) body only