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Gareth Blackstock

So many quality Russian kits for sale...

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Here is a great example of quality 16mm gear going cheap, if postage was not such a killer to Oz, I would buy it myself!

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/16mm-Soviet-movie-camera-SP-16-magazine-Konvas-Kinor-Arriflex-Eyemo-AKS-AKC-CP/192738101731?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/KMZ-Kinor-16-SP-Soviet-Russian-1961-Professional-16mm-Cine-camera/183615491213?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Movie-camera-Konvas-KSR-2M-with-Crystal-Synchro-motor-17EP-16APK-Mattebox-5-Mags/323397686825?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

For those that want to try 35mm!

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/KONVAS-1KCP-movie-film-camera-w-25M-8M-motor-28mm-50mm-135mm-lens-woody-box-grip/312149938239?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

There are some seriously nice kits coming up very cheap, and although most have unique lens mounts, lenses for these cameras are very cheap considering the alternatives.

 

All it takes for the adventurous film maker is a daring heart, a touch of confidence, and thanks to Google translate, an English user manual!

Edited by Gareth Blackstock

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Careful because the Konvas aren't very good cameras, ya kinda get what you pay for. Even a K3 is better in a lot of ways price vs performance.

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G'day,

what about Kinor, there seems to be many positive remarks about Kinor, Konvas info is quite hard to find. What experiences have you come across?

 

Are there any inherent faults that you know of for future buyers to be wary of?

 

cheers, Gareht

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They're just poorly made and pretty damn old as well. Kinor's are just copies of the German cameras in many cases (not all). Where the Kovacs were more like the Eclair's which were hard to copy and even the Eclair's didn't work well.

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I had a look over Olex's Russian camera page, interesting reading about the work he does to improve and update/repair some of the camera's weak points.

 

https://sites.google.com/site/olexserviceskinor/home

 

The cameras I think will remain attractive to a few people as they offer a cheap way into 16mm and many old Russian lenses are becoming quite sought after. A few people out there do not mind putting a bit of effort into making their camera work well.

 

I suppose not many cameras were able to replicate the B&H Filmo "bomb proof" reliability and durability....

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Depends on your definition of cheap. You can get a refurbished Super 16 K3 for $220 on ebay. Even though it's not the most stable camera in the world, it is a mirrored reflex camera with a decent lens.

 

For around $400 you can get a Canon Scoopic, where it's not much of an upgrade, it is for sure better than the K3, but not super 16.

 

For around $600 - $800 you can get a Bolex EBM which is a world of difference from any of the russian cameras in stability and build quality.

 

Some of the Russian lenses are good, but not all of them. I personally like my Optar MKII set and SOME of the Lomo's are pretty amazing too. The housings are just poorly designed and require a real good technician to keep working. For the amount of money I've spent keeping my Optars calibrated properly, I could have gotten a set of Super 16mm Zeiss Superspeeds. I didn't know any better when I got into it so, live and learn.

 

The SP-16 listed in the ebay ad, is a real hunk of junk. I've seen them work before and they're tin cans. It would need A LOT of work to even function like new, let alone be worth the price of admission.

 

KSR 2M in the ebay ad is just a copy of the Eclair Cameflex in a lot of ways. I know the movement isn't the same, but if you look at the two cameras side by side, you can see the Russians just copied it. The Cameflex was already a difficult camera to use, very loud, heavy and not well designed. I can't fathom how the Russian counterpart would be.

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G'day,

 

Well I had a look around on a popular auction site, and I must say I was not able to find any cameras within the price range you suggested, I did find some that were in very good condition and ready to shoot:

 

Bolex EBM $1990USD

Canon Scoopic $999 USD

Krasnogorsk 3 $750 USD

Arriflex 16BL $3250 USD

Beaulieu R16 $2222 USD

CP-16A $1900 USD

 

Compared to these prices, a cheaper kit from Russia remains pretty attractive. I understand that from the point of view of someone who is earning money from shooting film, buying the best you can because when you're paid to shoot you don't want your camera breaking down is logical.

 

If I could charge for filming for people I reckon I could buy one of the above kits and even afford to get it serviced. But I am an amateur, I still try to keep good equipment and shoot professionally, but I don't get paid. And considering the number of members of this forum, I would be very surprised if more than 15% or 20% could state they earned their living entirely from film work, maybe 10 years ago, definitely 15 years ago perhaps, but I am inclined to think that the future of film shooting will be done mostly by amateurs, not paid.

 

And I think the majority of those film shooters will be happy to put extra effort into fixing or maintaining cameras or shoot according to equipment limitations, if it means getting to shoot film. A fairly simple equation, $500 on kit, $1000 on film = short film master piece. or $1500 on kit, and delay shooting film while saving for more money.

 

Just my thought, probably wrong.....

 

Gareth

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russian gear is OK for any use as long as it is properly serviced.

The service is the key here, these can be very picky cameras and they will ruin your shoot if they are not working correctly or if you don't know how to use them.

They can be very handy and affordable if in great shape and properly serviced and adjusted regularly.

 

Cameras directly off of ebay don't work before they are put together by a technician. I have bought couple of Konvas cameras and they may even have gravel/small rocks inside them. the sellers know nothing about the cameras OR if they know they don't want to tell ...

 

Please notice that almost all of the Russian kits you linked are sold WITHOUT LENSES.

Russian lenses are pretty affordable in general but they may be EXTREMELY DIFFICULT and time consuming to find in good shape and you will spend couple of times more to lenses than what the camera costs.

Kinor sp lenses are relatively rare. Kinor 2m lenses too and you may need to purchase what you can no matter the shape they are. Wide angle Konvas lenses tend to be in very bad shape, especially oct18 ones. It took me 3 years to get a good condition 28mm F2 lens for it which is not scratched all over the elements.

35mm lens is great and 50mm too. 75mm totally overpriced by hipsters and impossible to get for good price. 135 kinda cheap quality but ok but very affordable. 22mm vignetting a little and pretty rare. 18mm impossible to get in usable shape. for oct19 versions it is a bit easier but they are much more expensive.

You really should concentrate on the lenses you want when purchasing a camera, especially if wanting a Russian kit. There is additional danger of accidentally purchasing AKS mount lenses when trying to find oct18 mount ones. the mount look pretty similar in pictures and the sellers may not know the difference but they are totally incompatible mount and cannot be used with Konvas at all.

 

Kinor cameras are great in other ways (except very difficult to find usable camera body and usable lenses) but the motors are their weak point. eBay motors may be in too bad shape to be used at all (burned down electronics because of wrong polarity "test runs" by sellers etc) and even working motors may be unreliable.

I purchased 3 motors and got two bad ones and one which works SOMETIMES correctly and most of the time not. I strongly recommend building your own motor for it or ordering the Olex crystal motor which is much better construction anyway.

 

Russian gear can be affordable if you know what to look for and how to service them. You have to be very knowledgeable about the stuff though and you need to be patient to wait for the usable ones to pop up

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ps. your 16mm Western manufactured camera kits seem to be pretty overprices. You should maybe get an Aaton LTR or Arri SR if wanting to spend thousands on a 16mm camera :)

 

 

I could sell you a SOMEWHAT working Kinor16 2m camera with 12-120 lens but it would need to be locally picked up from Finland because I need to show you what is done to it and how to get the motor back running WHEN it starts to run on wrong speed.

It is a bolted-together diy camera project so if expecting to just get an easy and reliable 16mm camera for your shoots I would try some Western model :D

 

Konvas is OK though if properly serviced and if you happen to get a good kit together. May take some year or two to accomplish. As said the Kinor 2m needs the crystal motor to really work. Don't buy the SP you won't get good lenses for it

Edited by aapo lettinen

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KSR 2M in the ebay ad is just a copy of the Eclair Cameflex in a lot of ways. I know the movement isn't the same, but if you look at the two cameras side by side, you can see the Russians just copied it. The Cameflex was already a difficult camera to use, very loud, heavy and not well designed. I can't fathom how the Russian counterpart would be.

 

Konvas cameras are not exact copies of Cameflex. the early top latch model has similar type of magazine sprockets but for example the film path around the gate and the camera body and mag gears and mechanics are totally different. The actual movement is different as well in Konvas vs. Cameflex, there is nothing similar in them. (I have couple of Konvases AND a Cameflex so pretty easy to compare side by side :) )

 

The turret design and oct18 lens mount is copied from a Arriflex (probably Arri2A) but Konvas was not the first model copying Arri and the "original Russian copy" model would be the AKS4 camera which resembles Arri2 very clearly.

 

So the path probably was: Russians first copied the Arri2 fully and when Cameflex came around they partially copied the quick magazine design to Konvas but kept the well-working Arri-style turret and designed a more simple and cheaper to manufacture movement by themselves.

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The Konvas magazines are not difficult to load, you just have to be careful to maintain exactly correct loop sizes.

 

the problem with the Konvas mags is that they are quite picky about correct maintenance and calibration (pp spring pressure etc) and there is some compatibility issues if you try to mix different generation mags.

If you know what you buy it would not be a problem at all like with any equipment :)

 

the easiest way to load the Konvas mags by my opinion:

 

 

 

If you want a good old 35mm camera I recommend Cameflex! it is possible to get one in good condition, just make sure that it has NIKON MOUNT so that you can easily find good lenses for it :)

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Thanks for such an informative write up Aapo, some really good info for potential camera buyers. It is hard to get such info, Olex is another forum user with a breadth of knowledge on Russian cameras.

 

The things that most potential users are wary of are just the things you have offered, lens availability, correct mounts, tips about motors, magazines and specific camera foibles.

 

I suppose with the internet auctions the same old dictum's are very applicable, do your research or risk getting stung accidentally, and if a camera seems too cheap to pass up, there's probably a very good reason... which is the same for all camera's to differing degrees.

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Hello Gareth,

 

I agree with Aapo. The key to the Russian camera is good service. I bought one about 12 years ago. Wire transfered $1000 to someone in Kiev and then waited. One month almost. My camera arrived intact, as described. But, I spent quite a bit of time researching and servicing it. Mostly it entailed opening things up and cleaning or lubricating them. The magazines, the trasport and pull down, drive gears. Olex is an amazing resurce. He had detailed photos of lubrication points that were very helpful. I shot two short films with that camera and have recently tested out an anamorphic lens. The camera is surprisingly wonderful to use. I recently came into a 2M package and have yet to shoot anything more than lens tests. I see that almost all Konvas packages for sale on ebay are without lenses. I purchased mine before the time when people were looking for glass for their digital cameras. I suspect that camera brokers are finding that the Russian glass is worth more than the camera and easier to sell so they are separating them. I recommend the Konvas if you can have it serviced and it isn't handled by numerous users.

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Hello,

 

I don't suppose you took any pictures of the work you did while working on your camera? It seems that while there are quite a few Russian kits around, due to the lack of instruction manuals or "how to" books, and that there are not many being used, most people are probably scared off getting Russian equipment. If it was not for Olex being able to service the cameras and offering know how on the sorts of things one cannot find in books, perhaps no one would shoot with Konvas or Kinor.

 

For instance the varieties of Russian mounts probably scares off a few people, but then again, there is plenty of room for confusion with western mounts and lenses.

 

I hope more people use them, even take pictures and describe in detail how to maintain and fix bits, after all, film makers were fixing cameras themselves long before service shops emerged.

 

cheers, Gareth

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Careful because the Konvas aren't very good cameras, ya kinda get what you pay for. Even a K3 is better in a lot of ways price vs performance.

 

I can't say much about the KCP 1M but if i watch videos in the tube where semipro hobbyists are using the 1M with fomapan 35mm bulkfilm i must say, it doesn't look so bad?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dzhboB-vxg

 

i mean...well. i like it. and there is also formapan 400ASA avaiable for cheap (fotoimpex)

 

i maybe give it a try.

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