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KMZ Moskva 5.

Since the purchase of my Solida I decided that old folding cameras were not as bad as I had originally thought.
I read a bit more on the web and was pleased to see that some old folders had rangefinder focusing.
The Zeiss Iconta Super seemed very nice.  Then I came across a Russian copy, the Moskva range.
According to the material I read the Moskva 5 was the last and best.  

I bid for one on an internet auction and was lucky enough to win it.  I waited for it to arrive.

Initial reactions:
When my parcel arrived from the seller in the Ukraine it was heavier than I expected.  
After unwrapping the Moskva 5 I was amazed at the condition of the item.  It looked like it was almost new.
However according to the serial number it was made in 1959.  The top plate of the camera and the carry case read "Mockba 5" - I assume that "Moskva" is the pronunciation of this script which means Moscow.  The overall size was a bit bigger than I expected, the fact that it was in a thick leather carry case only added to the dimensions and weight.  I removed it from the case and noted that it was still smaller than my Kiev 60 and not much bigger than a 35mm SLR camera.  

I pushed the button to check the bellows and lens. The bellows seemed to be in good condition. 
Setting the shutter to "B" and removing the back cover I checked the lens.  I had one tiny oil drop near the edge, but looked fine.
The shutter sounded very "fresh", so maybe the oil was from a recent service..?   The self-timer knob has been broken off.

Trying it out:

I wanted to see what the 6 x 9 images would look like, so I removed the 6 x 6 mask and loaded some Fuji Provia 100F.
I wound it on until a "1" appeared in the red window on the back door of the camera.  I walked to the front yard and aimed the camera at some water lillies.  I focussed through the rangefinder setup, set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/250, composed the shot and pressed the shutter button, but forgot to cock the shutter first!  The "double exposure prevention" feature meant I had to wind on to "2" before I could try it again.  One frame lost.  
I remembered later that I could have fired the shutter from the front standard as this is unaffected by the "double exposure prevention" feature.  I had read that somewhere on the web before I got my Moskva.  
I had also read that some people attributed blurry images to a loose front standard or bent struts.  I checked the front standard mounts and they were very firm. The struts look new except for some scratches on the lower one.  Maybe this camera hadn't been used so much, I'm not sure.

I really didn't expect to see good results on the first roll of film.  The shutter speed selection felt tight selecting 1/250 so I wasn't sure if it would even work properly.  I was pleased with the first test roll.

Image 1 Click for larger photo  
This is the first exposure.  It was taken at f/16 for 1/250 sec in the front yard. It is quite sharp at the edges too.
Further examination shows that light has leaked on to the film, probably through the back door.

Image 2 Click for larger photo
This exposure of Brisbane was taken at f/11 for 1/250 sec from Kangaroo Point.  I was very happy to see no vignetting.  A real bonus.
The image is reasonably sharp at the edges.  I thought it might be better, I guess a shot from a tripod would be sharper.
This image still shows light leaks.

Image 3 Click for larger photo
Another view of Brisbane, this one was taken at f/16 for 1/125 sec.  Some of the shutter speed markings are not the same as today's format (Eg: The Moskva has 1/5, 10, 25, 50, 100) so for the 1/125 setting I moved the dial forward from 1/100 to where I imagined 1/125 would be.
I was pleased with the result.  This exposure also has no light leaks.

Image 4 Click for larger photo
I took this at work.  The shot was focused on the main lilly in the centre.  It seems quite sharp and was taken at f/16 for 1/250 sec without a tripod.  Once again light leaks can be seen.

I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  I imagine better results could have been had by using at tripod, but the purpose of these exposures was to check the shutter, focus and vignetting.   

Considering the age of this camera it is in excellent condition.  The 6 x 9 format is lovely and will knock the socks off 35mm images.
I put some black card strips on the film door to stop the light leaks.  The second film had leaks on the first exposure only, so with some more adjusting I should have a 100% light tight camera. Fingers crossed.
This camera is very inspirational to use.  It is fun.  I thought 1/250 might have been too slow for the bright Australian sun, but with ASA 100 film it seems to work very well.

See below for fixing Moskva bugs.
Case Front view Back with 6 x 6 plate 
Closed Open 
Interestingly I have just read about the advantages of the Moskva 5 over the Zeiss Super Ikonta C it was based on.

The Moskva 5 has:
1. A more solid cast body, as opposed to the brass body of the Zeiss.
2. A better dual format mask design.
3. A better set up for the red windows (only the relevant format window opens). 
4. A better back door.  It lifts off, as opposed to the Zeiss's hinged design.
5. better loading due to the lockable spool pins.
6. A better viewfinder.
7. A better flush top plate which is flat with no projections to get snagged.
8. A better shutter and lens for the price.  It has flash sync and a coated lens.

I have since read that the Iskra 6 x 6 folding camera could be better than the Moskva for sharpness as it has a better focusing system.
Maybe I should buy one... 

Light leak fix!:
After receiving too many films back from processing with light leaks I decided to investigate further.
I cut a felt template the entire length of the film back (with a hole cut for the "6x6" and "6x9" windows.  This has cured the problem.
Closer examination revealed that the light was coming in though the window slides.  This is why the Moskva 4 is better in this area.  It's "6x6" and "6x9" windows are more self contained so light doesn't enter the film area at all.

Blurry photos fix!:
Through trial and error I have discovered that the shutter kick is worse at high speeds.
I took a lot of photos at 1/250 to avoid shutter kick (as one would with a generic 35mm SLR), but, to my surprise these images were *more* blurred than the sharp images recorded at 1/50.  I have concluded that (depending on the camera) 1/250 is best avoided. 1/100 works fine.

Blurry infinity fix!:
I have read a few opinions that the element set up on the Moskva range means the focus at infinity is compromised.
Once again through trial and error I have found that photos taken at f/32 have nice detail at infinity.

By using the above fixes/work arounds the Moskva range can produce some awesome results.
I conclude that they are one of the best bargains in the 6x9 arena.  If you can find a good one, hang on to it.

This page was updated on Tuesday 29th June 2004