Right at the beginning of the 90’s these Russian 16mm cameras became ubiquitous in Romania, at least in my town. It appeared that these little cameras were hidden somewhere, and right after the anticommunist revolt of 1989, all were released on the market, all models: Kiev 30, 30M, 303, and Vega of course. I remember the market was flooded by these Kiev 16mm cameras, with a PU leather brown case, 2 x filters inside the pouch, a 16mm plastic dev reel, 1 x 16mm film cassette, all stored in its original cardboard box. Various setups existed, not expensive, probably some 10-20 dollars at that time. A bargain of sorts.
This camera appears to be a Russian copy of Minolta 16mm, and the Minolta film cassettes will work in these Kiev 16mm cameras, go figure. Obviously, I had to have one, if only for the classic image of a spy camera. And so, in 1992 or so I became the proud owner of this camera, a Kiev Vega 2, made by the Kiev Arsenal factory, in the 60’s I believe, the first model to sport the KIEV logo onto its front plate. Not an export model, mind.
Film size is 16mm, which makes it a 10x14mm frame. As expected, film advance is by a push/pull action. The film is held in a double cassette, plastic, not very well made (light traps are not existent, and the plastic is rather soft). The lens is INDUSTAR M 3.5/23, probably coated (I might be wrong here). Shutter speeds are regulated via a thumb wheel on the side of the camera, ranging from 1/30, 1/60 and 1/200 th of sec. Focus is from 0.5m to infinity.
The aperture is from 3.5 to 11, cycling it through the top plate dial. The viewfinder is a fix one, no parallax. The front plate has a glass frame covering the lenses when body is extended, and filters can be mounted.
A spring loaded catch releases the body from the cover frame and one can load and unload the film cassette. Release button is visible when the body is extended only.
I never shot any film with this camera; to be perfectly honest, I never believed that this camera is a real one. For me, it was the camera of a spy in the movies, and as we all now, there are no spies in real life. So anything that goes with a spy’s kit has to be a toy of some sort. Joking.
Perhaps in the future, I will give this camera a chance to prove itself. I have had some surprises in the past, when judging low a camera only to find that it was actually a decent one.