November 13, 2021

Kiev 4 - Repairs

A Kiev 4 with light green leatherette, the meter cover flipped open and sporting a Jupiter 8M lens. It sits on a white desk

It all started when I ran a roll of film through an old Kiev 4, wanting to try out my new home development gear. The resulting strip had some bad spacing issues; the first 8 - 10 inches were blank and as the roll went on the frames got closer together until the last 3 or more overlapped almost entirely.

So I decided to tear it down and have a look.

TL:DR In the end, it didn't need as much work as I thought. Since I had removed the old leatherette I ordered a new set and glue. More of an exploration and replacement of the camera leatherette than the CLA I had envisioned.

Taking the camera apart wasn't as hard as you might imagine, with the help of some repair manuals and a bit of patience.

Two manuals in particular, both from a website called Learn Camera Repair.

These are english translations of russian language camera repair manuals, each covers multiple cameras including the Kiev 4.

A Kiev 4 sitting on a green craft cutting mat. The camera leatherette has been removed exposing the raw aluminum body.
The camera stripped of it's old peeling leatherette and cleaned up of residue

I started by removing the old leatherette as it had become brittle and was peeling away at the edges, as well there are 3 screws beneath the that I wanted access to for the tear down.

It was easy to remove, requiring only minimal scraping with a small flat screwdriver and some alcohol and cotton swabs. I used 90% isopropyl.

Next I removed the shutter cock dial and the film rewind dial, then the meter adjustment crown. I made the happy mistake of also removing the film advance fork, which is not necessary in this case.

If you do not need to, I recommend you do not remove it. On the plus side in my case, part of the reason my film was not advancing correctly was because a pervious "repair person" had reassembled this incorrectly. At least it seemed so.

Some small parts next to a cm ruler on top of a green craft mat. Nearby is a small cheap screwdriver with a plastic handle, like those supplied with cellphone repair sets.
The order I found the advance fork parts

The parts were probably in the correct order, but the spring that accompanies the shaft inside the widing mechanism is very strong. So the issue I believe was that the locking washer with the cutout was not fitted over the shaft end, causing the fork to spin freely. When reassembling this, I had to use a small plastic screwdriver handle, like the one pictured, to press very firmly on the fork while fitting the washer and then inserting the screw and tightening.

This issue explained the film not advancing when winding near the end of the roll. The second issue that had an affect on my film advance was I had not loaded the film per the instructions. I found a user created manual for the Kiev 4. Here I learned one should tighten the film back into the cassette when loaded, this explained the large gap and the beginning. I had advanced the film until I saw the rewind knob turn, which didn't happen until I took up all the slack in the cassette.


Continuing to dissasemble the camera I found that the felt sealing the top plate from light had started to fall apart.

I regret not taking pictures but I took the opportunity to repair this. Removing the old material was easy as with the leatherette. Then I cut very thin "strings" of felt from some craft sheets I had around. I glued them in place with clear nail polish.

You can see from another picture that the viewfinder glass is cracked. I intend to come up with a replacement or repair for this in the future. Possibly even improving the size of the finder area, I tried looking through just the round rangefinder window and found it was a better experience than the tiny rectangle. Maybe I can come up with a round replacement, it would not even need magnification.

The camera and all removed parts and screws

I skipped taking photos of the leatherette work as it was sticky and required two hands.

The leatherette pieces with glue and wood spatulas