Hasselblad 1600, 1000, Salyut/Salut, Zenith 80, KIEV 80, KIEV 88 Medium Format Cameras.
Their origins, design, working and similarities.
A Project by Steve Ash

History of Hasselblad and its Russian copies

Design and operating principles

Origins of the Russian copies?

Similarities and differences between the Hasselblad and Russian copies

Cameras, lenses, hints, links, acknowledgements

I would like this website to act as a focal point for information on the relationship between these two medium format cameras. To the untrained eye the two machines may look almost identical but there are enough differences between them to make many parts incompatible between the two cameras.

*******NEW - 16/01/2008 - click here for Hasselblad Historical with free downloads of 1000f and 1600f brochures etc******

Accuracy of information.
Researching the history of these cameras in what is still quite a closed post-Soviet era has proved to be quite difficult and I acknowledge that some of the information may prove to be inaccurate. I would welcome any new information from readers.

History of Hasselblad and its Russian copies.
Victor Hasselblad was born in 1906, the son of Karl Erik Hasselblad. The Hasselblad family ran a photographic company in Gothenburg, Sweden, which had been founded as long ago as 1841. Victor’s early training in the photographic trade was in Dresden, a major hub for photo cameras and lens manufacturing.
He travelled the world during his early years, and worked for a time with Kodak, who were a business partner of the Hasselblad Company at that time.
Victor was a very keen photographer and eventually left the family firm to set up his own company, ‘Victor Foto’, and gained a high regard from many for his photographic expertise.
It was to Victor that the Swedish military turned in 1940 when they needed assistance in reproducing a captured German aerial reconnaissance camera.
Victor went one better and produced an improved version known as the HK 7. This was followed by the SKa 4. Both cameras were used for military purposes.
In 1942 Karl Erik Hasselblad died. Victor Hasselblad purchased the majority of the company shares. Once the war ended, he turned his attention to ideas for a new civilian camera, which would eventually become the Hasselblad 1600f.

The Arsenal works in the Ukraine was established as long ago as the 18th century. It was effectively a military factory producing various items of war.
During World War Two it demonstrated an ability to produce items to fine manufacturing tolerances, and was subsequently chosen as the site to produce the ‘Kiev’ Contax II clone. The production lines were assembled by Zeiss and Russian engineers in the Russian sector of Germany, and shipped to the Ukraine following pilot production of some cameras in Germany. This was part of ‘war reparations’ and is well documented elsewhere.
The Arsenal works quickly proved their ability to manufacture what was effectively a German camera – early Kievs at least met the manufacturing standards of Zeiss Ikon. In addition, the designs of numerous Zeiss lenses were captured, giving the factory the facility for manufacturing fine quality lenses.
It was against this background that the Arsenal works would eventually manufacture the Salyut camera.

Hasselblad 1600F

Salyut 1500

Superficially the cameras look identical. Closer examination shows that the Salyut body casting differs by the winding knob to facilitate a self-timer device, the very earliest did have the extra shutter release on the side of the camera. In addition the Salyut has adopted the later Hasselblad 500 style of body casting with the higher brow over the lens and nameplate on the leatherette rather than engraved in a chamfer on the chrome trim.

A short history of the cameras.
The Hasselblad 1600F
first appeared on October 6th 1948. The camera was a modular design, that is to say:

· There was a separate unit containing the shutter, mirror and focussing screen, shutter speeds could be adjusted from a very fast 1/1600 second down to 1 second,

· The separate film backs could be quickly attached/removed from the unit so that several backs with various film types could be used at the same shoot,

· There was a set of interchangeable lenses, from wide angle to telephoto,

· Various viewfinders, from simple hood finders to pentaprisms, could be fitted depending on the type of work.

So flexible and successful was the concept that it is still with us today, nearly half a century on.

Unfortunately the first 1600F proved to be delicate and unreliable. Hasselblad redesigned the camera, eliminating the high top speed, and released it in 1952 as the Hasselblad 1000F. This camera proved much more durable but was still not 100% reliable. One of the major problems was the ease with which the large titanium foil shutter curtains could be damaged, often by an errant thumb during a rapid film back change.

Eventually in 1957, Hasselblad released the 500 series camera which, although almost identical in appearance, eliminated the focal plane shutter in favour of shutters in the interchangeable lenses.

The Salyut appeared in 1957 and shared almost all the attributes of the Hasselblad 1600F, including the range of shutter speeds though 1/1600 was substituted for 1/1500. So close was the copying that some Hasselblad accessories such as viewfinders and some early film backs would fit it.
It too suffered the same reliability problems as the Hasselblad, and by the early 1960’s also had the top shutter speed reduced to 1/1000 second.
It had similar pre-set diaphragm lenses to the Hasselblad, but they were not interchangeable without some machining of the lens bayonet.

Around 1970, the Salyut ‘C’ appeared. Some internal components were re-designed but more importantly they were able to take automatic diaphragm lenses which remained ‘wide open’ up to the point of the image being shot. Some Salyut ‘C’s were hybrids, and could take both pre-set and automatic lenses, however this facility was deleted around 1972.

In about 1975, the cameras were marketed as Kiev 80, the Salyut name being phased out by about 1981. The Kiev 88 followed and latterly the Kiev 88 CM, which had a Pentacon Six lens mount and shutter release relocated to the right hand side of the camera. Production ceased around 2004/5 and ARAX continue to sell highly upgraded examples based on new-old stock from the factory.