1990 Kiev 19 (USSR)

The Kiev 19 was a late Soviet 35mm SLR made at the Arsenalna factory in Kyiv. Compared to the cheaper Zenit range of cameras, it was designed for pros and serious enthusiasts. While the earlier Kiev 17 that it was based on was an original Soviet design, it owed a lot to contemporary Japanese cameras, especially the Nikon F series.

The camera is large and heavy, especially when compared to a Zenit or any rangefinder. It has TTL lightmetering powered by batteries and indicated by LEDs in the viewfinder – one is lit if you are under exposed, the other is lit if you are overexposed and both are lit when properly exposed. The camera uses the Kiev bayonet mount that had been standard on most Kiev SLRs and which was actually the same as the Nikon F mount. As well as sharing a lens mounting with the Nikon F series, it also had the same design of vertical metal shutter.

The standard lens that it was supplied with and that mine came with is the excellent Helios-81 50mm f/2. This is the same (optically at least) as the lens that came with the Kiev 10 and 15. The lens stops down automatically when the shutter is pressed and there is a depth of field preview lever that also activates the metering on the lens flange. Rather unusually, the shutter speed selector isn’t on the top plate but is fitted vertically onto the front of the camera. This is terrible ergonomics and seems to have been copied from the Kiev 15 as the Nikons (like most other SLRs) had the speed selector on the top plate next to the shutter release and the advance lever.

Sample Images