What is a Konvas 35mm Motion Picture Camera?

The Konvas 35mm Motion Picture cameras are reflex, meaning that when a person looks through the viewfinder, they see exactly the same image as the film in the gate.

35mm Konvas come in several flavors and have different model numbers. The original Konvas cameras were made in the 1950's and production lasted through the early 1990's. They were used in the Soviet's race for space, as news cameras, in feature films, in documentaries, and were even used to capture aerial footage of Chernobyl. Named after its designer, Vasily Konstantinov, the 35mm MOS Konvas can be a great addition to anyone's arsenal of rugged camera equipment.

konvas with rheostat motor
konvas with rheostat motor and 200' magazine
The design of the Konvas was similar in appearance to the Eclair Cameflex CM3. The Konvas has several model numbers and went through several different design upgrades (but these changes did not always lead to a change in the model number).

The original models came with a rheostat motor and a 3 lens turret system, but the designs slowly changed over the next two decades. Some of the different design changes were a result of there being two different camera manufacturers in the camera's initial production years. Some of the changes included the conversion of the difficult to load top-latch magazines to the more simple side-latch magazines, changes in body style and functionality, different motors, and different viewfinders. Originally painted gray, it also came in black, with black eventually becoming the only color option. All models use a spinning mirror/shutter design, with a shutter opening of 150 degrees (which can be changed with the proper know-how).

Konvas 1M with 3 lens turret
Shooting a Konvas 1M
In the early 70's, the Soviets redesigned the camera and created the Konvas 1M which still had the three lens turret system, but better motor designs. The motors that replaced the rheostat were the 15epss electronic motor and the 17ep crystal sync motor. It was renamed to "7M" when sold to countries outside of the Soviet Union, but there are no real differences between the 1M and the 7M. The 1M mount is designated as OCT-18 and is similar to the Mitchell BNCR mount.

Konvas 2M with 400ft magazine and mattebox
Pierre Samuel Rioux's Konvas 2M
The Konvas 2M is the single lens version also released in the 70's. The only real difference between the 2M and the 1M is that the 2M does not have a turret mounted lens system. Virtually everything else is interchangeable between the modern 1M and the 2M though, including the motors, magazines, and viewfinders. The 2M mount is designated OCT-19 and is similar in workings to the Arri PL mount. It is considered by many to be a better mount design than the OCT-18, and, although extremely sturdy, it is not quite as sought after as the PL mount. Renamed to "8M" when it was sold to countries outside of the Soviet Union, there are no real differences between the 2M and the 8M.