through the F-Mount -  photography by Jürgen Becker
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Soviet KIEV 19 plus MIR-24N 2/35 MC

January 11, 2015

Between ca. 1975 and 2001 F-Mount cameras were built at the Arsenal factory in Kiev (Ukraine). The brand name of these F-Mount cameras was "КИЕВ", later they also used the same name in latin letters ("KIEV").

The brand name KIEV or КИЕВ is well-known for their rangefinder cameras based on the CONTAX. After WW2, as a part of reparations payments, the CONTAX production lines were transferred from the Zeiss Ikon plant in Dresden/Germany to the Arsenal plant.

Arsenal is also noted for their inexpensive medium format SLR cameras like the KIEV 60 and 88.

1 kg of solid Soviet technology from the late 80s.
While the camera body - comparable to a Nikkormat FTx in size - weighs only 665g, the lens is surprisingly heavy with 335g.

The information about Arsenal's F-Mount cameras is a bit contradictionary. I think there are four production models, all four with a mechanical shutter:

The four cameras share the same base design: the KIEV bodies have the finder positioned centrally (in contrast to most other 35mm SLRs with their finders positioned leftwards) and the shutter speed dial is located on the front side to the left.

KIEV 19 body compared to a Nikkormat FTn.

Both camera and lens have got an engraved Arsenal logo. The first two digits of the serial numbers are the year of production. On the underside of the lens there is the small "CCCP"-logo which stands for "best quality".

The 19 and 19M models are relatively easy to find. I paid around 30 euros for my sample including the 35mm f/2 lens.

The lens mount with the huge stop-down lever on the left.

Non-AI lenses are fully usable.

The build quality of the camera body seems to be very good! Mirror, shutter, winding lever, shutter speed dial, ISO setting: everything works fine. Just the same with the lens: both the focus ring and the aperture ring (with half stop clicks) operates as smoothly as possible! Moreover, the two items appear sturdy to me.

I my opinion the centred finder is ergonomically disadvantageous: the right side of the body could be a bit longer for better grip and the left could be a bit shorter for easier focussing.

The KIEV 19 takes every type of F-Mount lens with an aperture ring, even non-AI lenses.

Metering must be made stopped down. Pressing down the huge DOF preview lever switches on the meter. That is clever! It saves energy and you can't forget to stop down before metering (a typical problem of Nikon bodies, when the AI coupling unit is folded up). In the finder there are two LEDs, exposure is proper if both are on. A pity, one of the two is dead in my sample. Nevertheless it is usable and the meterings approximately match those of my other bodies.

The ISO range is limited (20-640), just like the shutter speed range (B + 1/2-1/500 sec).

The finder is bright. Except for the two LEDs, no further information is shown within the finder. The focussing screen corresponds to a Nikon "K"-screen.

On the underside of the camera you will find the battery-chamber and the (non-centred) tripod mount. The camera is powered by two LR44 batteries (just like e.g. the F2 series, F3 series, FM/FE/FA series).

The film sensitivity must be set in "ГОСТ". That's not a problem because within the memory holder there is a conversion table between ГОСТ and ASA (ISO). The table goes up to ГОСТ 700, but the highest settable value is 500...

No surprises inside. Again: very good build quality.

Of course, I have tried the МИР-24Н 2/35 MC on my DSLRs. The quality the MIR lens delivered in these first trials was surprisingly good! Therefore I decided to try the lens more intensively.

Unusual detail: the aperture blades are made of sheer metal instead of black painted metal! Maybe, that is one reason for the extreme flaring problems this lens has.

Design flaw: in contrast to Nikon lenses you should not put this lens upright onto the table. Otherwise it will stand on its aperture lever!

Specifications of the MIR-24N 35mm f/2 MC:

The advantages of this lens are:

Sadly, I also have to report two drawbacks:

I have attached some sample images at the end of this article.

If you want to learn more about Arsenal's F-Mount cameras in particular or more about Soviet camera production in general, I recommend to visit the following websites:

Sample images (Nikon D700 plus MIR-24N 35mm f/2 MC):

Shot at F2.

100% crop.

Shot at F4.

End of the contact wire. Shot at F8.

100% crop of the lower left corner.

Sun in the image... Shot at F16.

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