This is the biggest change introduced by the Kiev B.i.G., and the main reason I bought the camera (along with the availability of the Polaroid back). The standard Kiev 88 has a now-unique coarse thread mount that was in the first Hasselblads. The Kiev B.i.G. adopts the Pentacon Six mount.
The Pentacon Six
Praktisix, were manufactured in the former East Germany between 1956 and about 1990, and although dealers who never supplied it were unstinting in their criticism of it, claiming it was extremely unreliable, its users – including me! – have found it to be utterly reliable. With regular heavy amateur use over the past twenty-eight years(!), my Pentacon Six has never let me down, although other cameras that I have owned (e.g., Minolta, Olympus) occasionally have.
The East German manufacturers achieved a level of design and consistently high quality of production never approached by factories in the former Soviet Union. A wide range of superb Carl Zeiss Jena and Pentacon lenses from 50mm wide angle to 1000mm mirror telephoto were produced, all manufactured within strict tolerances, and bellows and sets of automatic extension tubes were available and can still now be obtained fairly easily within Germany, as well as from specialist shops in a number of countries including England and the USA. A 2x converter was also made by the Japanese firm Panagor.
I believe that no bellows or tubes have ever been produced for the standard, unmodified Kiev 88 (although the lens elements can be removed from the 2x converter to produce a single extension tube). With a Pentacon Six mount, you should be able to use the East German or Exakta 66 bellows.
The Pentacon Six mount, which was also adopted by the Arsenal
for their Kiev 60 and Kiev 90 cameras, is a breech-lock bayonet
to the Canon mount used in the 1960s and 70s, but with the
ring on the camera body. It is fast and easy to use, and
wear on the key surfaces affecting focus: the back of the lens
the front of the lens throat on the body. Any wear on the
ring (not that I have observed any in twenty-eight years of
is compensated for by rotating the locking ring fractionally
The Exakta 66
Significantly, in 1986, the major West German lens manufacturer, Joseph Schneider of Bad Kreuznach, released the Exakta 66, which was based on a Pentacon Six body and prism to which electronic circuitry for metering had been added, as well as a finish that was cosmetically different. To go with this new camera, Schneider designed a range of outstanding lenses from 40mm to 250mm, including a perspective-control 55mm lens, a 2x converter and the two Variogon zooms that they also supply for the Hasselblad and some other medium format cameras. Unfortunately, the 40mm Curtagon has apparently never been produced, but all the other lenses, as well as automatic bellows, are available new from specialist dealers in several countries.
(For more information on the Schneider 40mm lens, click here.)
There is almost complete inter-changeability between Exakta 66 and Pentacon Six lenses and accessories: the front of the Exakta 66 metering prism prevents fitting the 500mm Pentacon lens or the 1000mm Carl Zeiss mirror lens while the prism is in place, but as the contacts on this prism do not engage with the Pentacon Six lenses, they can be used without it. All other Pentacon Six lenses can be used on the Exakta 66, and vice-versa.
Brenner announced that as well as the range of Ukrainian lenses
30mm fish-eye to 250mm telephoto, all Carl Zeiss Jena, Pentacon
lenses would fit the Kiev B.i.G. Unfortunately, this is not
true, as we shall see.
Compatible or not?
The arc-shaped piece of metal within the throat at the bottom
actuates the lens diaphragm pin.]
|To enable Pentacon Six and Kiev 60/90 lenses to focus on
the Kiev 88 body, it has not been possible to add the
Six lens-mount onto the front of the body.
This is because the register distance of Pentacon Six mount lenses (the distance between the rear flange of the lens mount and the film) is 74.10mm, while the register distance of the Kiev 88 (and Hasselblad 1000/1600) is 82.10mm, so the lens has to sunk within the camera body, or it would not be possible to achieve infinity focus.
So, a different mount accepting Pentacon Six lenses has been designed. Instead of aligning the lens to the body in vertical (or “12 o’clock”) position, as on all the other compatible cameras, and then rotating a locking ring on the body, the lens is inserted into the throat of the body at “10 o’clock” position, and then rotated to the normal “12 o’clock” position, at which point it locks in place. There is no breech lock ring, and theoretically there could be wear on the back of the lens mount/the front of the body, and even conceivably on the automatic diaphragm pin, as it glides along a curved track within the throat of the mirror box.
What are the immediate consequences
of these differences?
If the lens has its aperture ring set very close to the back of
lens, it is slightly less accessible than on all the other bodies,
mount on the Kiev B.i.G. is recessed. More significantly,
88/ Kiev B.i.G. body does not have a stop-down lever for the lens
Fortunately, all the Zeiss, Pentacon and Schneider lenses have
stop-down lever. As well as giving a depth-of-field preview,
is the quickest way to meter and fire. Unfortunately, this
is set behind the aperture ring on most Zeiss lenses, making
it extremely difficult (but not impossible) when the lens is
the Kiev B.i.G. Some of the Ukrainian lenses do not
Lenses by Joseph Schneider
|Schneider lenses with a maximum aperture other than
f/2.8 all have
an additional tiny pin outside the mount, designed to
engage with the Exakta
66 metering prism. This little pin does not cause
problems when the lenses are mounted on the Pentacon Six
or the Kiev 60
(I don’t have a Kiev 90 to try them on).
Unfortunately, due to the
differences between the Kiev B.i.G.’s recessed mount and
the original Pentacon
Six mount, it is not possible to mount these Schneider
lenses on the Kiev
B.i.G. Brenner’s publicity now states that “some”
can be used on the Kiev B.i.G. In practice, only the
(of which there are three) can be used.
Not being able to mount Schneider’s zoom lenses on the Kiev B.i.G. is a big and unexpected minus point.
Unfortunately, the aperture stop-down levers on the
Exakta 66 mount
Biometar (“III”) and Exakta 80mm lenses are behind the
lens aperture ring
and are for all practical purposes inaccessible when
either lens is mounted
on my Kiev “B.i.G”. As I find stop-down metering
the best way to
work, this makes these lenses unusable in my normal
operating mode for
me. However, others who wish to use an Exakta 66
standard lens on
their Kiev 88-6/“B.i.G.-Six” might find this possibility
using the full aperture metering approach.
Curtagon 60mm wide-angle lens]
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© TRA February 2002, August 2008 Minor formatting improvements: