Mystery of KIEV 35A light leak : LUSENET : Minox Photography : One Thread

The light leak of Kiev 35A occurs at the upper edge of film, under and to the right of viewfinder. All the light leaks on the negative frames occured at the same position, indicating that there is one light leak source. Take off the Kiev camera back and examine the fitting groves of the body with an Octoscop, there appear two weak points:

1) Just under the film advance lever, there appear to ba a seam, or crack or slit, Initially I suspect this slit could be the source of light leak; then I examine my 35ML, it has the same 'crack' or slit under the film advance lever; so this slit may not be the cause of light leak.

2) Right under the viewfinder, there is a mysterious 'vent' about one inch in length; the purpose of this 'vent' may be to facilitate the passage of air for the Minox camera 'piston' when open/close the camera. Because of this 'vent' in KIEV 35A, when camera back is put back on, there is a one inch area where the camera matter is thinnest and thus causes light leak. I cannot open up my 35ML or GT-E to examine wherether they to have such a 'vent', because both cameras are loaded, of they also have a 'vent', I wonder how GT-E and 35ML solved the light leak

-- martin tai (, July 28, 2000


I examine my GT-E with Octoscop, it too has

  1. A slit under the film advance lever
  2. An air vent ( one inch long ) under the viewfinder

So these two features must exist on all Minox 35 models, hence these alone may not be the cause of light leak.

Hoever there is aa visible difference between the camera backs of GT-E vs Kiev 35A

The fitting rim of GT-E is wider than that of Kiev; GT-E about 3 mm wide, that of Kiev about 2 mm. The wider fitting rim of GT-E stop the light leak

GT-E's camera back also fits tight to the camera body, leaving almost no gap; Kiev has a visible gap-- and that is where the camera material is thinnest

Several possible cures for Kiev 35A light leak

  1. Use black paint a strip of about one inch on the inside of Kiev camera back fitting rim, to increase the opaqueness.
  2. Stick a strip of black paper to the inside of the fitting trim of Kiev back
  3. Stick a piece of black paper at the outside of Kiev camera back such that it extends a little over to cover the gap
  4. Cover the gap on Kiev with a piece of black masking tape

-- martin tai (, July 29, 2000.

Test again Kiev 35A with a roll of Agfapan 200 film

  1. Kiev 35A underexpose by one full stop. ASA 200 film has to set as ASA 100
  2. Serious light leak at outdoor pictures. No light leak for in door or flash photos. The light leak portion of the photo becomes red. Apparently the camera back (dark green color) is not opaque enough
  3. Lens performance: The Kiev 35A Korsar lens is no match for Minoxar lens of Minox GT-E. With naked eye, it is hard to see the difference between these two lenses, but using Emoscop to examine the picture of same scene taken by GT-E vs Korsar, Minoxar lens is much sharper, there is no comparison

-- martin tai (, August 02, 2000.

Concerning the light leak... I believe it is related to the movement of lens and trap drop action. I photograph in bright sun and do not get a leak unless I open and close the lens door when the camera is in direct sun light. It could be that the air movement inside the camera causes the back to move away from the body creating a leak when the air vents. Or the light is leaking around the pistion. I am still playing with my Kiev35a to find out.

-- Ron (, October 13, 2000.

Wouldn't that cause a vacuum in the camera and actually cause the bak to "pull in" causing a tighter fit?


-- Darren Bradley (, November 01, 2000.

I think that the light leaks along the winding mechanism and actually over exposing the film on the take up spool, I say this bcause this is not only where the lip on the back is the smallest bu also all of my film was fogged there, so I reloaded the processed negs and the bands of fogged negative where fgged in direct correlation to where the film would have been on the take up spool.

-- darren bradley (, November 06, 2000.

I just recently bought 3 Kiev 35a's directly from Ukraine, for myself and two boys to bring to Italy. Knowing about the light leaks, I immediately shot rolls of film in each one. Two of them (one black plastic and one green) were perfectly fine, no apparent light leaks and the exposures were good without fiddling with the ISO setting for the film. Pretty good quality shots! The other green camera has horrendous light leaks. I have tracked the problem down for your amusement.

Based on reading the other posts I assumed that it was probably leaking around the fitting in the camera back somewhere. I put sections of black electrical tape all around where the back joins the camera and pieces over the film advance ,the back latch, and the iso switch. I took it outside on a bright sunny snow-covered day and took repeated pictures of the same thing while removing sections of tape. Before each shot I also took a mini mag light flashlight and shined it across the untaped section for good measure. The first shot was where all tape was on, and I shined the flashlight all around the lens piston and front cover hinges.

While tracking this sort of thing down by looking at your film -- remember that the image is inverted and upside down! This mislead me concerning the business about the seam near the right of the viewfinder.

Here are the grim results -- ALL pictures had light leak problems, regardless of tape position. The only place where taking tape off or shining the flashlight produced extra problems above and beyond this was produced by taking tape away from the top center of the camera where the "vent" described in previous posts is.

This puzzled me, so I just went into a pitch dark room, took the back off the camera and pushed the flashlight up against it at various places -- voila! A huge portion of the back is semi-transprent to this strong light, not only the thin parts around the edges, but the flat part of the back as well. The worst spots are (1) around the lower edges of the metal pressure plate -- especially the lower left as looking from inside the camera, (2) the thin part along the top center near the vent, (3) the dimple on the bottom where the film spool fits, and (4) some thin vertical strips on the right side as seen from inside the camera. There also seems to be a thin spot on the front of the camera on the film cannister side.

The worst discovery of all was that the SHUTTER is half transparent as well!!!! It appears that the green color of the camera is a sort of flocked paint, which is too thinly sprayed on -- even the shutter looks like this.

I should note that careful inspection of the other green camera showed some thin spots, but they apparently not serious and can be painted -- the black camera is light tight.

So there's my answer -- given the variations in quality, your mileage may vary.


Stephen brown (

-- Stephen Brown (, April 06, 2001.

I recently bought a bew Kiev 35A (being unable to find a reliable second hand Minox that was not excessiveley expensive) and found that it is about as light tight as a cage and as well made as a South American Soap Opera! It cost just peanuts (which is appropriate since it has made a monkey out of me!), so I am not heart-broken. However, what I want to know is how Kiev cameras are able to get away with so close (well, cosmetically) a copy of a Minox 35 EL.

-- Laurence Fowler (, July 11, 2002.

HI' I have two Kiev 35's.One black and the other green. One is perfect, the other has all the problems that I can think of!. The good one is black and I get no light leaks - no "off" exposure settings, and really sharp negs. I also have a Minox 35 and the black Kiev will match it in ANY area. The green one, however was a real problem! Light leaked everywhere and as a previous contributer said, the shutter was semi-transparent. I tried everything to solve the leaking and finally, in despair, I gave it to my son to "look" at. He sprayed the inside back with a matt black paint (having removed the pressure plate, of course)and that solved 99% of the trouble. The green plastic can be seen through if you hold it up to a light in an otherwise dark room. Along the top, just under the viewfinder is a rather delicate strip of plastic which, if the back is not tight, will allow light through. I took a piece of flocking material (thin) and stuck it along this strip to act as a light trap. This is the same fine flocking material that is self adhesive, that I use to "tweak" my Sputniks. Oh yes, the Sputnik is a Soviet Stereo Camera. Back to the kiev. The shutter did present a problem, but it was not so drastic as stopping me using the camera. It now has had a VERY fine spray with a matt coating and seems to be relatively lightproof. My son did not know the name of the product because he did not do the job. Should I find out, I will post it here. The one good point about it is that the lens is great if I deduct one segment from the focussing scale (ie) it is in focus at infinity when set to about 15 meters (45-50feet). All of the bother this camera gave me was really worthwhile because now I have a great little camera that is unobtrusive in the true sense of the word.

-- Tony Russell (, July 21, 2002.

Just got a Gray Kiev 35a. tried it out, so far no indication of light leaks. Have the makers improved their product? Camera seems great.

-- Smilin' Jack (, December 23, 2002.

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