Yes I like my ARAX 60. Although there are a lot of negative articles about the reliability and functionality of the Kiev cameras and even some complains about the ARAX, I can’t confirm this. I just recently took the camera brick with me on a trip to China where it gave me beautiful results. Although, the camera is not as smooth operating like a Hasselblad or not as quite as a Rolleiflex TLR I found my love in the ARAX60. I like the tank design, the brand name and even the fact that pressing the shutter release button results in an unmistakable but solid “clonck” sound. That's why I decided to write a short review about the upgraded medium format Kiev camera from the Ukraine.
But what is an ARAX?
Why the ARAX 60?
There is a simple answer to the question. It’s because of the amazing variety of available lenses which can be found with very reasonable price tags. You can use all the fantastic lenses made for the Pentacon Six mount. Beside the Biometar 2.8/80 I own also the Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/180 and Zeiss Flektogon 4/50. Both are legends and deliver amazing results for incredible small money. I think I paid for the camera with all lenses less than others pay for a used Hasselblad body only. A selection of lenses with the Pentacon mount can be found here Pentaconsix lenses or here Exakta66 lenses or here Kiev 60 lenses
Pentacon Six, Exakta 66, Kiev 60 and ARAXAll of these cameras are having the same Pentacon Six mount. I owned several Pentacon Six cameras and although I enjoyed shooting with them, they had sometimes trouble with film advance and shutter accuracy. Based on my experience I would judge them less reliable than the ARAX 60. The Exakta 66 (not to confuse with the vintage Exakta 66), is basically a West Germany labelled Pentacon Six TL in a new housing. This camera is usually offered way to expensive and might be therefore more interesting for collectors. Like with most of east Europe cameras, getting a Kiev 60 is like playing Russian roulette. You can be lucky and you get a perfect copy but you can also get one which passed the quality check in the factory when the staff was on lunch break. A comparison of the cameras can be found under (in German) www.baierfoto.de
Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 2.8/180
All owners of Mamiya 645, Pentax 645 or Contax 645 cameras can use Pentacon Six lenses by getting an according adapter which is also available for several SLRs/DSLRs.