KIEV 16mm SUBMINIATURES
The Soviets liked the design of the original Minolta 16mm camera so much that the original Vega camera was a near-exact copy. And they copied the original cassette as well -- in fact, it is interchangeable with the Minolta cassette. But over time, the Kiev engineers modified just about everything: the camera, the features, the format and the cassette, as well. The Vega 2 was designed to allow for 30 pictures on a roll instead of the original 20 -- the film counter was changed as well. Let's call this second-generation of cassettes the "Vega 2" cassette. To accomodate the extra film, the inside of the cassette was modified. Although it looks just like the Minolta cassette, the diameter of the take-up spool is slightly different. The Vega 2 cassette will only work in Vega 2 or later Kiev cameras. This cassette will not work in the original Vega camera, nor will they fit in any Konan or Minolta cameras. The original Kiev Vega cassette will work in any Minolta cassette camera and in any later Kiev camera. The Minolta cassettes will work in any Kiev models and any Minolta cameras. Talk about confusing! For more information about these cassettes see the MINOLTA, KIEV, FR, YASHICA, VEGA 16mm CASSETTES page.
(1960) -- 25mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/200. The Soviets liked the Minolta 16 I design so much they copied it almost to the letter. Most of the parts are actually interchangeable. The name Vega looks like Bera on the camera and Besa on the camera manual. Actually, there were a few minor differences, such as shutter speeds. With the Minolta the speeds are marked 1/25, 1/50, and 1/200. On the Vega they are marked 1/30, 1/60 and 1/200. In fact, they are probably all the same same speeds. Kiev even used an exact copy of the Minolta cassette as well, so that the Minolta cassettes can be used in this camera, and the Kiev Vega cassettes designed for this camera will work in the Minoltas. Minolta accessories, for the Model I ,can also be used, such as the filters and the flash holder.
(1961) -- This is a modified model with a slightly wider-angled lens -- 23mm. All other features remained the same.
(1962) -- 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/200. The Ruskies just couldn't resist making some improvements to the original Minolta design. But unlike Minolta which switched to the Minolta 16 II, the Soviets improved on the model I. The big change was the addition of a focusing lens. This was the first focusing lens on a camera using the Minolta cassette -- a long overdue feature. The Soviets added a tiny focusing dial right next to the shutter release -- focusing from infinity to 1.5 feet. Too bad Minolta never added this feature. In addition, an exposure calculator was added to the top of the camera. Too bad Minolta never added this feature, either. True, the exposure dial only runs from GOST 16 to 130 (ISO 18 to 140) but it's still a big help. They also added a corrugated cover to the camera instead of the plain slippery metal. It not only improves the boxy appearance of the camera, but it makes the camera easier and more comfortable to hold. The camera was typically sold in a kit which included the camera, good-quality vinyl case, wrist strap, UV, yellow and orange filters, owner's manual (in Russian), film cassette (with coffin), half of a developing reel (to work with a 35mm Russian developing reel), and an enlarger mask to hold the film in a 35mm film enlarger carrier. No wonder there are so many Vega 2 fans! But Kiev did not stop with improvements to the camera. They improved the original film cassette as well. This is the first model that used the new, modified "Vega 2" cassette. The Vega 2 camera was designed to allow for 30 pictures on a roll instead of the original 20 -- the film counter was changed as well. To accomodate the extra film, the inside of the cassette was modified. This cassette will not work in the original Vega camera, nor will they fit in any Konan or Minolta cameras. In addition, they made the cassette tops snap-on instead of tape-on and added a clip to the take-up spool, so no tape is needed there, either.
(1963-1964) -- It's the same camera as the model A except on the wrist-strap end of the camera. The original end was replaced with a black, protruding end. This makes the camera a few millimeters longer and provides a little protection against accidentally changing the shutter speed and aperture settings. But then it makes it a little more difficult to intentionally change the shutter speed and aperture settings. Most Vega 2 cameras are of this type.
(1974-1983) -- 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/200. The biggest change in this model was the film format. The format was changed from 10x14mm to 13x17mm by switching to unperforated film. Peforated film can be used, but the image with be cut off on the edges. Another change in the camera was that the exposure calculator was moved from the top of the camera to the back. Approximately one million of these cameras were manufactured and, as a result, they are fairly easy to obtain. They were probably the most popular submini camera ever made! Only available in black.
(1978) -- 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/250. 13x17mm format. If this sounds like a Kiev 30, there's a reason -- it is. It is a Kiev 30 concealed inside a package of "John Player cigarettes". Supposedly, these cameras were designed by the KGB to spy on the United Kingdom. And it is a very clever design. The top of the cigarette pack is open and the film is advanced by pushing and pulling on specific butts. In addition, there is empty space for a couple of real coffin nails. The aperture and shutter speed are set in the normal way with two dials on the bottom of the pask. The lens exposes out the side of the pack. Understandably these have a lot of collector appeal, so prices are high. For those of you on a budget, it's a LOT cheaper to buy a Kiev 30 and insert it inside an empty pack of Marlboros yourself.
(1987-1989) -- 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/200. 13x17mm format. Basically the same as the Kiev 30, but without the exposure calculator and no contact for flash use. The lens can be focused from infinity to 0.5 meters, with marks at 2 meters and 1 meter.
(late 1980's ?) -- 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/250. 13x17mm format. Same idea as the Kodak Ensemble kit. It's a modifies Kiev 30 in a gold-plated cover, with lipstick case, mascara holder, all in a pretty art-deco case with a handle. Highly unusual.
(1990-present?) -- focusing 23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/250. 13x17mm format. A simpler version of the Kiev 30M with more plastic. The lens can be focused from infinity to 0.5 meters, with marks at 2 meters and 1 meter. Still very similar to the original Minolta I. Often sold as a kit with cassettes, case, developing tools and a negative mask for the enlarger. Filters cannot be used on this camera. The only "improvement" is in shutter speeds -- they now run to 1/250. Several colors available -- black, white, grey, red, and green. It's likely that this camera is still being produced in the Ukraine.
To return to the main index for the Sub Club click here.
COPYRIGHT @ 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Joe McGloin. All Rights Reserved.