toy camera store

the kiev 88cm

The Kiev 88CM is a Ukranian-made medium format camera that offers pro-like featues such as TTL focusing, a pentaprism, removeable film backs and a wide range of good quality lenses. Film backs for 6x6 and 6x4.5 are available, and the range of lenses runs from fisheye and pan/tilt architecture lenses through wide angle and standard 80mm to long 120mm lenses and even zooms.

The CM model is the latest version of the Kiev 88, and is an attempt to resolve some of the quality issues that dogged the earlier versions. The redesign was based heavily on feedback from US Kiev users and has been well recieved, although many would caution not to rely on it in make-or-break shoots. Not recommended for someone selling themselves as a professional wedding photographer, for example, 'cos it might just fall to pieces in your hands as you're trying to get those once-in-a-lifetime shots.

The Kiev 88CM kit I bought included two 6x6 film backs, an 80mm Arsat lens, focusing hood, lens shade, TTL/spot metering pentaprism finder, and camera body for about US$600. That's less than half the price of just the body of the cheapest Hasselblad. A Polaroid back is also available for making test shots.

I bought mine from the very helpful Kevin at KievJapan. I've had it over three years and I haven't had any mechanical problems with it so far (fingers crossed as I type this). Pictures are wonderfully sharp and well exposed, and with a Polaroid back available, this is a great camera to take into the studio or for formal portraits. However it's a bit too heavy for me for either outdoor or urban hiking. In these situations I'd rather take the Lubitel or even the Great Wall and sacrifice the ability to change lenses and film backs.