Kiev 6C TTL Review: 2 kg of pure Soviet muscle

In this Kiev 6C TTL Review we will talk a little about everything that accompanies this camera, its history, its characteristics and the necessary tricks to get the best performance from it.

In addition, we will resolve some doubts regarding the designation of the names and existing models of this range, those of type 6 of this line of Soviet medium format cameras.

In recent years the Kiev have been acquiring more and more value, coming to be considered a good option as cheap medium format cameras.

Kiev 6C TTL Specs

Release:1978
Camera type:SLR, Medium Format, 6×6
Film type:120 / 220
Shutter type:Cloth-curtain, Focal-plane shutter
Shutter speed:1/2 sec to 1/1000 sec, Bulb
Mount:B mount, Pentacon Six mount, bayonet
Standard lens:Vega-12B 90mm f/2.8
Metering:TTL, CdS light-meter within the prism
Battery:3x LR44
Flash sync:1/30 sec, via PC sync
Dimensions:172 × 140 × 157 mm
Weight:2kg

Overview

The Kiev 6C TTL is a camera made in the Soviet Union by Arsenal, in the Ukraine. It was produced between the years 1978 to 1986. It is inspired by the Pentacon Six, so it also uses the same mount.

The Kiev 6C is the first of two Kiev Type 6 models, followed by the Kiev 60. The TTL “models” for both cameras are determined by the TTL metering pentaprism used in each case (since it is removable for both) and that was the only change added to those models.

Kiev 6C vs Kiev 60

The difference between the 6C and the 60 is that the 6C has the shutter button on the left side of the body and also supports 220 films in addition to 120. The Kiev 60 was launched to meet the demand for a redesign of the camera, so it placed the shutter button on the right side, like the Pentacon Six. But in the process it removed the ability to carry 220 films. Both cameras were manufactured in parallel and both had “TTL” models (from 1978).

Other Kiev Type 6 Models

There were modifications for the Kiev 6C, especially for the Kiev 60, from companies like Arax and others without a label. Even today Arax (Ukraine) maintains the improvement service for these cameras, but no longer offers cameras labeled with its brand (ARAX) for sale.

Another modified and little-known camera was the Kiev 645, modified in the U.S from a Kiev 60 TTL to be able to shoot 6×4.5 (16 photos).

Viewfinder / Metering

Pentaprism finder

The default viewfinder for the Kiev 6C is the pentaprism finder, although the waist level finder or chimney finder can also be used, which is more comfortable for many with this camera (me included), especially due to the position of the shutter button and the weight of the camera.

To remove the finder, the camera has a small knob with a red dot that must be aligned. It comes out perpendicular without any sliding.

How to use the TTL Prism Meter?

To use the Kiev 6C camera with the TTL prism, follow these steps:

  1. Set the inner dial to the film speed, such as 100.
  2. Use the thin silver ring to align the aperture value with the red arrow. Note that the aperture value should be the maximum aperture of the current lens, not the aperture you plan to use for the photograph.
  3. Turn on the prism and look through the viewfinder. Rotate the outer dial until both LED’s are lit. If the left LED lights, this means there is not enough light. If the right LED lights, this means there is too much light. The correct exposure is determined by the position where both LEDs are lit, or (if it is difficult to get both lit) between them.
  4. Finally, check the exposure calculator and select the most appropriate exposure settings (aperture and shutter speed) based on the readings from the dials.

Battery

The Kiev 6C TTL uses 3 LR44 batteries for metering, and only for this purpose. That is why the battery compartment is located in the Pentaprism finder and not in the camera body.

Shutter

The Kiev 6C TTL has a focal-plane shutter, shooting at speeds from 1/2 to 1/1000 sec and of course, Bulb. The shutter works very well on this camera, although it is somewhat noisy (but not uncomfortable, it is part of its rustic character).

The shutter button is located, as we mentioned, on the front right side of the camera, a very particular position. Many people do not like it, which is why the Kiev 60 basically exists. However, this has not particularly bothered me personally. It is good to try new things and it is part of a different experience.

Film transport mechanism

One of the weaknesses of all Kiev cameras is undoubtedly the film advance, as it is common for the edges of the photos to overlap by a few millimeters. The film dragging is long and requires being done in a single action for the shutter to cock. In addition, if you perform this action poorly, it is most likely that you will have one or more completely unexposed frames.

One of the main problems with this type of camera has to do with the continuous “misalignment” of the film, making the mechanism more prone to failure over time. That is why it is best to take a few shots before loading a film (done correctly). To ensure that the camera starts off on the right foot.

For some the Kiev 60 is less prone to these problems, although it still has them (so i doubt it). That is why many recommend, regardless of the model you have, make sure to place the film correctly, and to carry out the advance action properly to minimize the risk of failure.

In this video you can see the “trick” to load the film well in a Kiev 6C/60 and minimize possible failures.

Lens

Vega-12B

The standard lens of the Kiev 6C TTL is the Vega-12B 90mm f/2.8, and it is one of the last prime lenses equipped with this camera in the 80’s. There are 2 more 80mm prime lenses that accompanied this camera and the Kiev 60 over the years. These are the Arsat 80mm f/2.8 (it has genuine fans who worship it) and the Volna-3B 80mm f/2.8, another very good lens.

In addition, there is the Zodiac-8B, which is a 30mm f/3.5 fish-eye wide-angle lens that has become very popular in recent years. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.9ft (30cm), which is great for a wide angle.

In fact, most Soviet lenses have this feature, but it is enjoyed much more on a medium format camera. For example, the standard for an 80mm prime lens in other brands is usually 3.2ft (1m). In the lenses mentioned at the beginning, they are 1.9ft (60cm), which is great. However, the distortion will be out of this world, but nothing unexpected.

Although Arsenal has never been known for making very reliable cameras, the opposite is true for its lenses, which are of very good quality, some like the Arsat 80mm f/2.8 are considered better than their German counterparts (Carl Zeiss) for the Pentacon Six.

Check lens prices on KEH Camera

Price and buying guide

The price of the Kiev 6C TTL may vary depending on the circumstances of the camera. The physical condition, the accessories it comes with, and where you buy it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a camera that is known for being unreliable, and that practically one unit compared to another can have a world of differences, since some were already factory-made to fail while others did not, luck and unpredictability accompany this camera and this factor is probably also part of its charm. That is why if you really want a Kiev in your hands, you should try to inform yourself well about the condition of the camera.

You may pay a premium if the camera is in very good condition, which is ideal, because as we have experienced, a camera with a lot of use means a greater probability of failure.

In recent years, the Kiev 6C TTL and its twin, the 60 TTL, have greatly increased in value. I remember that about 5 years ago you could buy one for around $60, now you can even find it for over $300. So depending on where you buy it, it should cost between $100 and $300 on eBay.

Sample photos

Final thoughts

In short, we are facing a very particular and unique camera, both the 6C and the 60. A camera that you certainly would not want to trust to work professionally with them, but that will get you more than one smile (and disgust) for adventure in life.

The 6C TTL is a camera that requires you to know it very well to offer good performance. That is what many argue, and from experience I have noticed that it requires its unique ways of using it. I learned that you have to be very methodical when loading the film and using the drag lever, doing it in one single movement, not too fast or too slow.

That is, if you have patience and don’t mind losing a photo or two, the process will be very fun. Without a doubt, you will live more than anyone the “not knowing how it will turn out”, which is part of the magic of analog photography.

But don’t be fooled, this camera can surprise and do a lot with what it can do.

Useful links

List of Soviet lenses for the Kiev 6C/60: https://kievaholic.com/lensspecifications.html

User manual: https://www.cameramanuals.org/russian_pdf/kiev_6s_60_ttl.pdf


Jorge Ferrufino

Fashion photographer, regular contributor for Dusty Grain.


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