How close did the Ukrainians come to cloning the Minox? : LUSENET : MINOX FAQ : One Thread

Is the Kiev 35A a Poor Man's Minox, or a poor copy with a completely different lens?

I bought a wounded Minox EL at a garage sale last year. In spite of the wobbly support for the cover, I found it exquisite. I've always liked fine compact 35mm cameras; I'd owned a Rollei 35 as a teenager.

The $30 garage sale Minox turned out to have a broken circuit board, and the $200-plus estimate was too much for me.

More recently, I've "won" an auction on Ebay for a Kiev 35A, which is supposedly a close copy of a Minox 35EL, made in the Ukraine. It cost me USD$40 plus $5 shipping, but has not arrived yet.

I understand that Kiev and other cameras from the former Soviet Union can be unreliable and can vary greatly in fit and finish. What I'm wondering is whether any readers of Martin Tai's Minox Forum have had any experience with the Kiev 35A, and in particular what people who have examined and use the camera think of the quality of the lens and the photos it produces.

(Yes, I intend to buy another used Minox, once I come up with a working model at the right price.)

Dan Iggers Toronto

-- Daniel Iggers (, March 12, 2000


Daniel, I have always interested in Kiev 35A, but never own one. AFAIK, Kiev 35A is a copy of Minox EL, with a Kiev designed lens.

The most frequent complain about Kiev 35A is light leak, you have to buy some black tap to tap around the light leak spot. The body is just plastic, not like Minox EL made of glass fibre re-enfourced Macrolon.

However, the Kiev 35A lens is a good performer. Kiev Ukraine does make good optics.

We all know that former Zeiss factory in former W. Germany ended up in Ukraine at end of WWII.

-- martin tai (, March 12, 2000.

I too have been interested in the Kiev clone of the Minox 35, so recently, like you, I bought one through eBay ($39 plus shipping).

The camera is an obvious knock-off of the Minox 35. It looks like they just made an exact copy of everything. It has a rather ugly green finish and is not nearly as smooth as a Minox, but nevertheless is an interesting conversation piece.

-- Bob Woods (, March 30, 2000.

My Kiev 35A did arrive, and I have been using it. After some fiddling to arrive at the right battery (four 44's stacked did not do the trick; a 5.6 v something or other 27 did), I've been using it. I have not had my first roll developed yet.

I did show the camera to someone who works at Alt Cameras, one of our "pro" camera shops in Toronto. That person, who owned Minox 35s for many years, was impressed. He said the Russian glass is superb, and he said either that optically there should be no difference or that the Russian glass might be better than the German.

-- Daniel Iggers (, March 30, 2000.

I had a discussion with a shop assistant in a used gear shop two days ago. He had a Minox-like camera on display there. The camera bore the "Minox" sign on its front panel. There was no "Minoxar" or "Minotar" inscription on the lens, however. Also the price was unbelievable low. The shop assistant did not know the origin of the camera but his colleague admitted that it could be a Russian or Ukrainian copy of Minox.

I know that the former Soviet Union made copies of cameras or electric razors (as Braun or Philips) and sold them in the Soviet block but the brand name of the copies differed from the originals. I have never met such a fake.

Jan Chleboun Prague, Czech Republic

-- Jan Chleboun (, April 11, 2000.

Last week my new Kiev 35 arrived, and after I ran a test film through it I was surprised at how good the results were. Obviously I've been lucky and received one that doesn't leak light, but after I had worked out the idiosyncrasies of the metering parameters, learnt not to leave my thumb on the back of the camera while winding on (it jams the film, which may break), and realised that the winding lever needs two throws to wind on, I was quite happy with it.

In case you wonder why I didn't obtain that information by reading the user's manual, it was in Russian or Ukrainian only, and although I can read the alphabet I can't understand the words...

I can definitely say now that the lens is considerably sharper than the lens on the Minox. I was using ISO 800 colour print film, and overexposed by two stops at that, but the clarity of the fine detail is astonishing.

Has the Kiev got the same build quality of the Minox? Of course not, but if you get one that works properly, it is a very suitable camera for keeping with you all the time.

-- Alan Fisk (, April 17, 2001.

I also am on the path of discovery of the 35A - just sourced new off ebay. Not having the lingo (instr bk Russian) I am puzzled by the battery - the 6 volt one from my Minox (yup, the real thing) just does not quite fit the comparment - unable to screw the lid on.

Anyone been along this way ? cheers

-- Glenn Rainey (, June 04, 2001.

Glenn, you must have used PX28 battery for the 35ML The Kiev 35A use PX27 battery, like the EL

-- martin tai (, June 06, 2001.

hey, well I've owned about 4 kiev 35a camera's and I had troubles with all of them. whit the first one I had great troubles with the lightmeter, because when the meter didn't reach above the 1/30 it just felt out, so everytime when that happend i lose a picture, the second one didn,t worked at all, the third one had a bad connection between the shutter and the light meter and the fourth one only worked for about 15 pictures, so now I bought a minox

-- roger van hout (, July 06, 2001.

Four LR44 batteries should work, but they should be put in the plastic holder which comes with the camera.

-- Zuochen (, July 07, 2001.

For those of you who bought Kievs with Russian manuals, has a English translation of the Kiev- 35 manual on their site.

-- Kurt Weiske (, August 13, 2001.

I bought one of the teeny kiev from that guy from san fran on ebay. At first I thought it was a hunk of crap, but the lens looked good, glass wise.. The lack of any kind of light seal foam and loose fit of the back/bottom can be scary- I gotta refoam all my old rangefinders so maybe I can invent a way to foam the kiev.

When I first opened the box and tried to fold the lens out, it was so stiff i had to be careful not to break it. It freed up and opens out smoothly (relatively) after about two rolls of film and playing with it for a while. For batteries I was stumped, and that's why I'm poking around here now- seeing what the battery deal is-

My sister-in-law is ukrainian and I got her to look through the manual and manual supplements for information about the battery. To my chagrin (and her amusement) one of the supplements to the manual said that the batteries for the camera will no longer be produced. But the factory still makes the camera... She was amused as that was how things worked in the bad ol' days.. Big ol' factories turning out products that can't be used.

Anyway, I went to my local drug store that I hate, and opened every battery that looked like it had a remote chance of fitting. I found that two DL 1/3 N cells fit perfectly and total six volts.

I have read that for light meters the mercury types are best with mecury oxide being the second choice. So knowing that I tried four 357 cells and it works perfect. The 357 cells cost about 1/3 what the 44 whatever cells cost, but they are silver oxide and have the same specifications. So my guess is four 357 cells are what you need.

Oh- I really like the camera cause it looks like such a hunk of crap that you don't need to lock your car doors and you don't sweat it when you leave it in a cheap hotel room in scary foreign lands..

It's kinda like a kodak disposeable with a killer glass european lens on it.. awesome!

-- clinton stephenson (, December 17, 2001.

Sometimes it`s not really taking pictures with this crude camera but it`s the tinkering around with it and then not expecting decent results from it but it then turns out half decent.

-- Trib (, December 19, 2001.

I was just tinkering around with my 35a kiev and trying to 'cipher a way to make the back feel more secure and not leak light when it dawned on me.. Bolt it on!

Get a good-looking pan head or socket head (these even come in black ) 1/4 inch by 20 thread bolt (tripod mount bolt sized). Select or cut it to be about the same length as the tripod mounting bolt and screw it into the tripod mounting threads, securing the removeable bottom/back to the body..

This will hold the bottom on better than ever!


-- clint stephenson (, December 19, 2001.

To add to my above bolt-on comment, 1/4-20 bolts also come in black nylon, which is lighter and easier to cut than metal and more in keeping with overall plastic motif of the kiev 35a..

-- clint stephenson (, December 19, 2001.

The Kiev 35a is a fantastic shooter. See some photos and a realistic description of the camera here:

Just buy one, they are loads of fun!


-- mark hahn (, February 10, 2002.

Regarding the Kiev 35A, I have a gray/green one and it leaked light along the top edge of the removable back. I understand that this is due to light passing through the thin area of the back and that the black model does not have this problem. I have painted this area black on mine with black acrylic fabric paint, but have not had a chance to test it yet. I agree that the lens is great. Also BE SURE to use the plastic tube if you use four bare batteries (such as type 76 or LR44, the battery chamber tube is made of metal and the batteries will short out rendering the camera inoperable and can ruin the camera. Charles

-- Charles Spickard (, February 13, 2002.

I've really want to like this camera. I've got a small electric flash that goes great with it, flash in one pocket, kiev in the other. The problem is that the cameras don't seem to work for me. I don't know if I'm much harder on them, or if I've just got bad luck, but I've had three of them now, and they all seem broken.
I actually ordered two from over in Ukraine, knowing that Russians often aren't the best with QC. One arrived about a week later, and the shutter didn't seem to be working. So I sent it back, and reminded the guy that I had ordered and paid for two. A couple weeks later, they arrived. I remember checking the shutters on both right away, and they seemed to be in working order. But after running a couple rolls of film through one of them, the shutter seems to have quit working. I was going to just switch to the other one, but that one seems to be dead two.
I'm tempted to run another roll through in case the camera actually is working.... it makes a click noise, but when I have the back off, and am looking through it, I can only see light coming through when it's set to higher apertures. I looked through the back of my cannon, and I can see light coming through even at higher speeds.
Has anyone had problems like this? The only thing I can think of that would have killed my backup is that I left it in my car overnight when it was really cold out. I can't imagine why that would damage it though.

-- Garrick Yoong (, March 04, 2002.

Garrick What battery are you using in the Kiev ?

-- martin tai (, March 05, 2002.

Here's an answer to those light leaks. I've had problems off and on with my Kiev 35A (I love the little beast). I've tried black tape along the top edge of the back casing but nothing seemed to work 100%. It turns out entire plastic body leaks light to some degree, especially the back/bottom casing. This individual painted his entire case and it seems to have fixed it. I'm going to try it myself. ml

-- Tom DelMundo (, June 07, 2002.

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