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The Kiev-10 and Kiev-15 are very strange-looking and unusual cameras made and distributed only in the USSR. The odd shape of the body is clearly derived from the prestigious Ziess Contarex, but these Kievs were among the first cameras to implement auto exposure. In fact, these Kiev bodies have a little thumbwheel that controls the lens aperture -- very much like modern DSLRs. Most significantly, the lenses for these cameras are both smaller (like rangefinder lenses) and cheaper than for other SLR mounts, so they could be very nice adapted to modern digital cameras, such as my Sony NEX-5.

The bad news is that the apparently unnamed lens mount these Kievs use has never been used by any other cameras. nor have there been adapters allowing these lenses to be used on bodies with other mounts. The flange distance is fairly short and although each lens has an aperture iris, it doesn't have an external aperture control ring.

Anyway, I recently was the only bidder on the eBay lot shown in step 1, so I'm now the proud owner of a complete set of Kiev-15 lenses -- and a beat-up-looking Kiev-15 body that the seller threw-in for free. So, here's a little instructable explaining three different methods to make these lenses usable on modern digital cameras, especially my NEX-5.

If you're reading this page while trying to decide if you should bid on that cool Kiev 10/15 lens, here's what you need to know:

  • The lens cannot be adapted to an APS-C or larger DSLR; for focus to reach inifinity, you'll need to do a mount swap.
  • The lens can be adapted to a mirrorless camera.
  • The adapter you need to make should cost between $2 and $25 and isn't too hard to make.
  • External control of the aperture is not possible with the first two mount methods, but the third method (step 6) gives you an uncalibrated aperture control ring.

Update, August 2013: Got access to a 3D printer? I've now created a fourth mounting method: a 3D-printable adapter that allows Kiev 10/15 lenses to be mounted on a Canon FL/FD/FDn body mount and still provides an uncalibrated means for aperture control. Thus, these lenses can now be used with things like the FD Lens Turbo focal reducer.

Update, August 2016: Got access to a 3D printer and a Techart Pro LM-EA7 autofocus adapter? If so, now you can use these lenses on the latest Sony E bodies with full autofocus! The adapter design is Thingiverse Thing 1706976, also described in Step 7.

Step 1: The Five Lenses

The first step is to get the parts... and for me it began with the eBay lot pictured.

This lot included five lenses all in the Kiev 10/15 mount: 20mm f/3.5, 37mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2, 85mm f/2, and 135mm f/4. These are all lenses with excellent optical reputations, built in the USSR between 1978 and 1983. The price I bid -- and ended-up paying -- was less than what the cheapest one alone would have cost in a more friendly mount.

It is important to note, however, that the reason I was comfortable biding at all was actually something else in the photo: the two plastic jar cases. I knew that these kinds of cases had a compatible lens mount in their base, so I figured that would give me a donor for the lens mounting flange. There also is a potential donor flange on the Kiev 10 or Kiev 15 body, but I'd rather steal from a lens case than a camera -- especially one as collectible as these Kievs.

So, here's the basic parts list:
  • One or more Kiev 10 or Kiev 15 lenses.
  • A donor for the mounting flange.
  • A mounting platform that ends in the desired digital camera's mount.
  • Means for attaching the mounting flange to the platform.
  • A way to control the lens aperture.
The good news is that it's very cheap and pretty easy to make an adapter. The bad news is that the control of the aperture is really problematic. Two of the three four mounting options I discuss here leave the aperture control tab inaccessible... unless you don't mind changing aperture by taking the lens off the camera, nudging the tab, and remounting it. The third method gives external control of the aperture, and it is neither difficult nor expensive to make, but the control is still a bit crude and uncalibrated. The new fourth method provides an internal interface with the aperture control tab so that a slight twist of the lens on its mount opens/closes the aperture... also a bit crude and uncalibrated, but quite effective.

Anyway, this instructable describes all three four options....
<p>Hello ProfHankD. I'm likewise on the faculty of a major university (U. Florida) however, I am an ecologist, not an engineer. I have a huge collection of classic East German and Soviet lenses that I use on my Olympus EM-1, and consider myself a good hobbyist photographer, now even playing with a Kiev-4a and Zorki S and some B&amp;W film. Last week I made a spur of the moment purchase of a Jupiter 9 on eBay. It had 50 seconds left and was $42. I've been shopping for an 85 mm for some time, and bought quickly. Bad move! It is the Kiev 10/15 mount. Are you considering designing and printing adapters for the micro four thirds system? I know many who would pay a decent price for such an adapter as it would open up a while new array of compatible lenses. Until then, I'm going to try a 'no regrets' option and see what happens ... a hybrid of one of your options. Take that Minolta adapter, which I have, and see whether the lens sits into it well enough to attach the two together with a double thick piece of bicycle inner tube. As an engineer this probably sounds stupid, however, I use lenses like this nearly 90% of the time wide open, so if this works I'd be good with it. Crazy idea? Karl</p>
<p>Bicycle inner tube is not a material I've used or would be likely to recommend. Then again, I have used hot glue, so I'm not calling anyone crazy. (Actually, hot glue provides surprisingly decent material properties for forming something to hold mismatched flanges together... you can even peel it off fairly cleanly from metal mount parts if need be.)</p><p>I assume your lens didn't come with the flange in the plastic lens storage can? If it did, modifying an FD adapter is easy; if not, I'd still lean toward hacking an FD adapter if you don't have a 3D printer. I don't happen to have a micro4/3 body, so I haven't made any adapters for them, but it shouldn't be difficult to design and 3D print one that takes Kiev 10/15 directly to micro4/3.</p>
<p>An earlier version did the breech lock on the Canon side, which worked great but was much more touchy about tolerances than this one is. An improved design is in the works, but the truth is that tolerances are very tight relative to what current 3D printers can easily do, and the ones I've printed don't have much trouble... but I tuned my printer and the design together on the tolerances. I really need to post a customizer version that allows folks to tweak the tolerances themselves, but I had problems with bugs in the customizer. I've recently found some work-arounds, so in my copious spare time.... ;-)</p>
<p>No hurries at all :)</p>
<p>Hi. Just a note to say I got printed this model. I have bought recently some kiev 10/15 lenses (Jupiter 9, and MIR 20), and I finally could tested them today.</p><p>Unfortunately the side that goes to the Canon FD adapter is loose coupled, so it moves too much, making it unstable. Probably it is a problem with the printed model I got. It rotates all the way around and tilt so it is not possible to control the aperture neither the focus without getting the adapter out of the FD mount.</p><p>I will try to solve the problem manually getting something that get the internal rail for the FD mount thicker so it remains mounted.</p><p>Thank you for sharing your knowledge and I hope you are able to have a second design that permits a better coupling in the FD side</p>
<p>This sounds really interesting, do you get infinity focus?<br>But one thing confused me, first you are talking about NEXs and then about FD mount? I have an old Canon FD mount SLR, wouldn't it be possible to make a shift adapter out of this? Of course, I would have to alter your lens-side mechanism to attach medium format lenses. <br>When imagining future 3D becoming like CSC with metal cutting abilities, this will be the next revolution!</p>
<p>FD-lens-to-E(NEX)-body adapters are common, even focal reducers. Thus, the first 3D printed adapter I made for Kiev 10/15 was to FD, allowing Kiev 10/15 lenses to be used on those standard adapters. I've since made adapters that go directly from Kiev 10/15 to E/FE, and eventually will post one with really elegant aperture control (although all my 3D printed adapters allow aperture control, it's done by twisting the lens a bit, which is scary in that twisting too much could dismount the lens). No problems with infinity focus on these, although the adapter has some thin spots which probably would get permanently bent too easily if the adapter was made of metal -- material properties of PLA are really excellent for making adapters.</p><p>I've made hundreds of custom lens adapters by 3D printing, but I've only been posting designs as they get fairly stable. The really bad thing about rapid prototyping is that nearly everything you build reveals something that you could change to make it better, and there's really no excuse for not making the improvement. Thus, the cycle never seems to stop. ;-)</p><p>As for making a shift adapter to go on an FD body (is that what you meant?), it's certainly possible, especially taking medium-format lenses. One of my not-yet-good-enough-to-post designs is a generic tilt/shift for E mount, and it could be mutated for that too. There are even some commercial tilt or shift adapters for medium format lenses on a few different 35mm SLR mounts....</p>
Dear Professor Hank, <br> <br>Thank you for this handy guide for use of KIEV lenses on Mirrorless cams. <br> <br>I'm using the Third mounting method since it's the most ideal, and have my FD - FX (Fuji X Mount) adapter and the Jupiter-8M 50mm f/2 lens that i want to use with this. <br> <br>I'm not from an extremely technical background, and hence i'm stuck at the Page 6 points, with a lot of questions. <br> <br>One being, what exactly is the point of this alignment that you speak of? Is it aligned to the red dot of the lens to the red dot of the adapter? <br> <br>and does the screw type protrusion in the adapter align with the single protrusion on the below part of the lens that the Jupiter has? <br> <br>I'm looking forward to your reply, to figure how i can make this awesome lens work with my digital mirrorless cam. <br> <br>Is there anyway you could please guide me further in making this happen? It would mean a lot + i get to use lenses that are simply lying around and put them to good use. <br> <br>Appreciate the effort you've put into this instructable. <br> <br> <br>Best Regards, <br> <br>pbafna
The alignment is of the sweep of the aperture control pins of the lens and adapter, so that moving the open/close ring will actually open/close the lens aperture. Moving from open to close needs to have the adapter's pin move right under where the corresponding tab on the lens moves through. The adapter pictured is correctly aligned, so note where the red dot on the flange is relative to the red dot on the FD adapter.

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Bio: I'm an Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor at the University of Kentucky. I'm probably best known for things I've done involving Linux ... More »
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