Monday, March 17, 2014

16mm First Test: Kiev Alpha 16 Camera

I took my Kiev Alpha 16 down to the Thames one evening last week to get some test shots. Unfortunately the camera jammed again. However, this time the fault happened some way into the session, after I'd shot about 40 feet or so of film.

Tonight I DIY developed the film. The Film is Kodak 2210 (Black and White negative 'Surveillance ' Film). I processed the film in my home-made spiral processing tank using Ilford ID11 developer. I could see during the film washing that I had some images on the negative, but these seemed especially 'thin'. I think this is general under-exposure, not too surprising for these night-time shots. I put the film strip onto my light box and took a few stills. I'm always happy to see some kind of image for all this effort, but I'm pretty disappointed by the results here.

The focus is pretty awful, and there's probably a light leak here too. I think the focus problems are down to the dodgy eye-piece which moves about freely, making focus monitoring highly unreliable. I was hoping to be blown away by the 16mm frames (after working with so much Super 8) but this didn't really happen tonight.

The negative 16mm film as developed.
Digitally inverted to become a positive image.
Now desaturated to become proper monochrome.
More riverside architecture.
The London assembly building.
So in summary, I've tested out a 'new' camera and an unfamiliar film stock.The results and handling of the camera are somewhat disappointing, but on the other hand, this film works and can be home-processed. I've got a couple more of these 100 foot rolls left, so I'm encouraged to use this type of film again: but the camera... not so much.

I think I might keep an eye out for another 16mm film camera, maybe something Swiss next time.


Anonymous said...

Here’s a Swiss that has just bought an Alpha Kiev 16. It will arrive in a few days and I shall report on my experience with it. I can also process black-and-white films myself. If you’re up for a Paillard-Bolex H-16, I could help you since I know these cameras very well. Cheers, Simon

Anonymous said...

Back from disassembling, taking measures, and assembling it I’d like to state that this is a US-USSR technology transfer product with its typical signs of disinterest. I have found a strong contrast between some well made things, steel parts, and the rest of the camera in general. The biggest disappointment is how the part with the lens thread is mounted. I was already looking forward to using some longer lenses and eventually a mirror telephoto lens but the weakish inner support forbids such. I think that lens weights up to 1½ lbs. are tolerable. The oblong body finds perfect standing on a tripod. In combination with only 10 percent light loss with the reflex membrane it could have been a competitor to much more expensive products. Alas, no!

It’s a consumer camera, a late copy of the CinĂ©-Kodak K by the basic concept and of the Bell & Howell Filmo Autoload by the claw and shutter mechanism. Still after careful lubricating the Alpha runs noisily, due to the hollow spaces in the plastic body. On the positive side we have the possibility to rewind the drive spring during a take, a rather fast running governor that secures constand speeds, and of course the exceptional weight of less than 3 lbs.

The Kiev 16 Alpha is repairable and serviceable. Yet, work can become costly. Microscopy cover glasses can be used to replace a damaged membrane, thickness No 0.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting my cameras membrane is broken, where can I get a replacement from?

Anonymous said...

Have just replaced the broken membrane with an 8mm camera. Now I have a double image, so a glass must be coated on one side in order to suppress one of the reflections. Seems to become a little costly. Will report once I know about prices

chrisgavin said...

Hi Anonymous,

Many thanks for your interest in this item and posting your comment here too. It's a really handy tiny camera, pretty much as small as 16mm could be... It's just a shame the quality/reliability doesn't seem to be up to much. You're brave attempting a repair on the 'pelicule' glass, I would imagine the precision needed to get theat tiny optical part replaced and get the angle/position just right would be way beyond my means.
I hope you get yours working, mine had transport/take up reel problems, so sis not much more use than a paperweight!
Best Wishes Chris

Jed said...

Long shot, but I just bought one of these, and while playing around with some lenses... broke the mirror

I've ordered the microscopy glass like you said, but am curious how I'd go about actually dismantling the camera to get to that part at the front