Kinor 35, 35mm Motion Picture Cameras (Sat, 27 Nov 2004 21:21:49 +0000)

Subject: [Konvas] Re: Kinor 35
Date Posted: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 21:21:49 +0000 (GMT)
From: cexton at
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2 perf Konvas??? Do you convert them and if so, how much?

Does anyone know of labs here in the US that will work with Techniscope format?


Author wrote:
> Hi all,
> Back in the game after a Moscow snow storm and a complete hard disk failu=
re (Maxtor hard drives are completely unreliable and that's the TRUTH! :-) =
> The following on the other hand I do not claim to be any sort of absolute=
truth, but just my own honest opinion about the Kinor 35 cameras, and thei=
r main weak points. And yes, I know, I'm one of the people that can actuall=
y remedy these problems, so I will do my very best to not have this posting=
sound like an advertisment for those services. =

> Matt, the "horse hair" dampening material that you had the misfortune to =
have in your 90's camera is in fact (and thankfully) quite rare. Almost all=
Kinors have felt sound dampening material, and most of them have the felt =
pieces covered in thin fake leather material, so hairs ending up everywhere=
from the dampening material is usually not a problem with Kinors. =

> Kinor problems are generally of another character: A year or two ago, for=
example, I bought a Kinor 35H from a guy who now sells camera gear on EBay=
. Despite his claims to the effect that the camera had been completely serv=
iced throughout and was in "excellent condition", upon opening up the motor=
compartment I found it contained spider cobwebs (!!!) and a rather large d=
ead spider. As I had planned to rebuild this camera completely anyway this =
wasn't that much of a problem, but it obviously wasn't very nice (the camer=
a works very well after having had REAL service throughout, though). Hopefu=
lly this seller has learned a thing or two since then...
> Anyway, in my opinion the Kinor has 3 weak points (that can all be fixed)=
> 1) The original electronics, that due to age can get unreliable after a =
while. This is not, in fact, due to the electronics design being particul=
arly bad or because of bad Soviet components (most of the components were m=
ade by the Military Industrial Complex to Defense Ministry specifications a=
nd are quite reliable), but simply because of age. In fact, the material t=
he circuit boards are made of is slowly disintegrating (it wasn't made to l=
ast forever, but just the estimated life span of the camera in a Soviet fil=
m studio), thus inevitably causing problems sooner or later. Arri electroni=
cs get dodgy with age, too, ask any camera electronics tech. When I shoot o=
n location with cameras that have not had their electronics converted, I al=
ways bring an extra electronics box with the kit, just in case. I have rare=
ly had to use the extra box, but it's good to have it just to feel safe (I =
always bring an extra 17Ep motor for the Konvas for the same reason). New e=
lectronics for the Kinor 35H can be had from Slow Motion (for, I think, mor=
e than the $4,000 Matt stated, but I don't really keep track of their price=
s), or from me for considerably less (does not have all the bells and whist=
les and time-lapse functions of Slow Motion's excellent electronics, but th=
ey do the job and do it reliably).
> 2) A prism in the viewfinder system, that due to a mistake in the constr=
uction used an inferior glue for the silvered mirror side, which blackens w=
ith age, darkening the viewfinder. This should be resilvered on any Kinor (=
the resilvering will last at least 10-15 years, probably more).I've never h=
ad any real problems with the long viewfinders (some of them - especially i=
f it's from another Kinor camera - need adjusting to focus properly and hav=
e the image centered), but I do find the long viewfinder a bit dark in real=
low light conditions. I'm going to try Naturalite/LaserBrighten, and see h=
ow much that helps. Has anyone of the forum tried this ground glass improve=
ment mod?
> 3) As Matt has already pointed out in no uncertain terms, the rear motor =
bearing of the Kinor 35H and 35C cameras (or more specifically: the bearing=
between the optical encoder at the rear of the main camera motor and the m=
ain belt drive) is the main mechanical weak point of the Kinor cameras. The=
reason not to use ball bearings in this design, but a metal-straight-on-me=
tal bearing, was for camera noise reasons.
> This bearing should be oiled every 30,000 meters or so, that is before or=
after a feature film shoot, or before a major shoot if the camera has not =
been used for more than 4 months. In my experience, if regularly oiled (eve=
ry 15,000 meters to be on the safe side), the camera performs well.
> Oiling this bearing requires disassembly of parts of the motor - this can=
be done by any qualified camera technician, but you should, if you're care=
ful and have worked with cameras before, be able to do this yourself. So, a=
s Matt points out, if you're not comfortable with pulling some of your came=
ra apart every now and then and do some oiling (you don't need to be a mach=
inist, though :-) ), maybe you shouldn't buy a Kinor.
> The only real Kinor breakdown I've ever had, was due to this bearing. How=
ever, I had myself to blame as the camera had not been used for some time a=
nd I - due to time restrictions and pure forgetfulness or whatever - had no=
t oiled it before starting to shoot. After oiling the camera worked flawles=
sly and has done ever since.
> The front bearing connecting the motor with the reflex viewfinder is unde=
r very little real stress, and has never caused any problems for me or anyo=
ne I know of. Has anyone on the forum had any ACTUAL problems with this bea=
ring? =

> The alternative to having to oil the rear bearing regularly is to have it=
replaced with a self-lubricating modern silenced ball bearing (or needle r=
oller bearing), which would mean you would never have to think about this b=
earing at all, but you run a risk of the camera becoming ever so slightly m=
ore noisy after such a conversion. This bearing replacement does not necess=
arily have to cost several thousand dollars, but more along the lines of a =
few hundred dollars.
> The main good points of the camera are (besides price), and I agree with =
Matt completely here: the vast range of good optics available for it, and (=
to me personally at least) that the camera is comparatively easy to convert=
to 2-perf techniscope, which is a format I've come to love, as well as the=
fact that other conversions and modernisations for the camera are not as e=
xpensive as the same conversions done for older Arri BL's for example.
> We use these cameras consistently on (for Sweden) high profile music prom=
os (all on European music television hit charts, btw), TVCs, and a document=
ary shot all over Europe over the course of a year, and they perform flawle=
> So the unreliability of these cameras may be an absolute truth to some, a=
nd not necessarily so to others.
> For our upcoming feature film shoot ($2M+ budget) we'll be using three 2-=
perf Kinors, two 2-perf Konvases (one 1M and 2M), one Temp for high speed w=
ork, an MKA 35 for time-lapse and VFX work and one or two Kinor 16 (!) (con=
verted to Ultra 16) cameras as throwaway stunt cameras. (we'll have two uni=
ts and a lot of FX / stunt work). So it's all Russian cameras and all LOMO =
glass. And yes, all the cameras have been modified and fine tuned as you wo=
uld for any major shoot, they are not off-the-Moskinap-factory-shelves came=
ras. The test films we've done so far look stunning. Cold weather testing r=
emains to be done. Has anyone on the forum had any experience with Konvas /=
Kinor cold weather shooting (-5 C to -20 C) for more than a few days? I wo=
uld really appreciate any input on this subject. =

> So, what to buy, Arri or Kinor? I really couldn't say - if you can find a=
n Arri BL I or II with good lenses at a price you can afford, and there is =
a reasonably priced Arri servicing facility near you, and an Arri BL is wha=
t you need to shoot your film, then why shouldn't you buy an Arri? The ques=
tion is more - since we're still talking buying cameras at prices of decent=
used cars - do you really need to BUY a camera, maybe renting is better? A=
n old used camera regardless of make will always cost you more than you thi=
nk (to really get it to do what you want), at least that's my experience.
> Well, that was maybe a bit more than just my two cents on the subject of =
used cars - do you really need to BUY a camera, maybe renting is better? A=
n old used camera regardless of make will always cost you more than you thi=
nk (to really get it to do what you want), at least that's my experience.
> Well, that was maybe a bit more than just my two cents on the subject of =
Kinor cameras and their pros and cons, I hope it was of some help to at lea=
st someone...
> /Anders
> MATT HURLEY wrote: =

> I can,t I have to tell the truth to the new generation of film makers=

> about ALL my experiences i have had with these camera,s , both good and=

> bad. I did not by a dud . If your a machinist and a electronic,s wiz =

> then by all means buy em . I learned my lesson and i will pass it on to=

> everybody else It is a ok camera , but not trustworthy .I stand by my =

> statement . There was absolutely no difference in quality of =

> manufacture from the 80,s models i have worked with . It seems to me =

> that everyone out there is trying to justify the Greatness to these =

> cameras and i don,t see it . Oh , as i live in Atlanta i have had the =

> chance to see some of the work you guys have done with the video tap,s =

> etc. on another new Kinor. Good Job. anybody else care to share ? =

> Matt H, =