1. februar 2015

FSU cameras, the Moskva-5

During the fall-months of 2014, I bought a very nice camera while I was in Prague.

The store I bought it in, is called Foto optika video Jan Pazdera (http://www.fotopazdera.cz/)
If ever in Prague, go visit, it is just 1 block further from Fotoskoda and they have all kinds of old cameras, binoculars, microscopes etc, a real gem of a store.

The camera in question, was a Moskva-5, made in the former Soviet Union (FSU) in the 50's.
This is a medium format 6*9 rangefinder camera, originally made as a copy of the Super Ikonta C, later it was....."refined"....and "Sovietified" (cruder, heavier, more solid, easier to produce in large quantities).

The camera is dual format, which means that you can slip a mask inside the camera, switch a knob and shoot 6*6 if you so prefer.

Selector between 6*6 and 6*9 and the button to open the front-end of the camera

Film type reminder (if you can understand Cyrillic) and the shutter-release button

Mine did not come with the mask (many don't).
In fact, the camera-store in Prague, had secured the back of the camera and glued/locked it to 6*9 (the camera is known for light-leaks trough the red windows).
Red windows and sliders to alter between 6*6 and 6*9

I was ok with that, I have other 6*6 cameras and was planning to use this for 6*9 exclusively.
- I may go onto eBay and see if I can get hold of another one, with mask and proper CLA's/working bellows and back, they aren't really expensive cameras. :)

Front view, using the little kick-stand on the cover, so it stands on it's own

After some initial shooting, - where you operate most things backwards, I found the focus to be off. (back-focus)
Back-focus close up (close focusing distance anyway) example, focus was on the larger piece of the fence, sharpest point was about 10-15cm behind it.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Focus was set on the statue, it's apparent that the focus is really behind the statue
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Bottom of the camera, showing the tripod mount. This mount is different from modern mounts, but you can get converters for them

After some Googling I found this very helpful resource over at Rick Oleson, illustration and explanation, showing how to properly adjust the focus on a rangerfinder.

How to measure up your rangefinder

I measured the distance as shown in the illustration, then put the "+" and the "x" on a piece of paper with the same distance between them. Then I set my camera to infinity and checked.
- Sure, mine was off, as suspected.
The beauty of this method, is that you can check your infinity on a target which is at any distance starting from the close focusing distance, so this can be done in-house, the marks should form a star when you have your camera at infinity -at any distance from the initial close focusing distance.

I adjusted my Moskva-5 by loosening the screw, holding the rangefinder-coupling. When you do this, you can remove the black part around it, and you expose two small screws below.

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

Illustrations are borrowed from The Kiev Survival site

These two screws must then be LOOSENED (NOT taken off, or you will be in a world of hurt!).

Turn each screw around 1 turn and check if you can loosen the coupling to the lens focusing gear mechanism.
After LOOSENING the two screws a little, you should be able to gently lift the coupling up from the lens focusing gears.

In this position, the rangefinder and the lens focus operate independently

Make sure your lens is at infinity, then adjust the loosened rangefinder with the normal focusing knob on it, until the "+" and the "x" on the paper form a star "*" shape in the focusing window of your Moskva-5. After that, gently push the rangefinder coupling back into it's place, making sure that the gears take on the lens focus and that the rangefinder is engaged well.

Fasten the two screws and then put the black lid back on and securing it with the final, single screw.

My Moskva-5, lens detail

After this adjustment, the camera was spot on. The optics on mine isn't sickeningly sharp, but I suppose there are variances in the production-line.

It's a funny camera over all, you do everything "backwards" while operating it. For example, pulling the film from the right to the left, your shots will come out "upside down" on the film as well and finally, you need to press the left button and not the right one to take the photo. ^^

Example after rangefinder adjustment, focus is spot on.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, far away subject
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

Example after rangefinder adjustment, corner sharpness and film-flatness test.
Moskva-5, Acros 100 @ 400 HC-110B

All in all, I really like the Moskva-5, it's solid, the negatives are huge and it's also pretty fun to walk around with. It's not super heavy and it is also impressively compact when folded, you can slip it into a coat-pocket of the larger kind with no big problems. :)

- Never advance the film, before you are actually going to take a photo. If you advance the film after a shot, close the camera, walk around and open it, the film may have developed slack, the suction-effect from the bellows opening up can also cause slack on the film. So always advance, then take the shot. ^^

- Never use the self-timer with speeds faster than 1/100s, the shutter on this thing is very strong and it's not recommended to use the self-timer with the faster speeds due to the great tension in the mechanism.

- Set your shutter-speed before you wind up the shutter.
I am not sure if you will ruin the camera, but you will strain the shutter if you change your speed after winding up the shutter.

You can read more about the Moskva-5 and the previous versions here:
Alfreds camera page
Matt's classic cameras

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