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The Iskra is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 format, built from 1960 to 1963 by Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod, KMZ , (Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk), Moscow. Iskra means "spark". It was made for professional photographers.

It was inspired by the Agfa Super Isolette. The camera shown seems to be a late type 2. It has all good features from a top class camera in those days: coupled rangefinder, a good lens (Tessar type, 4 elements in 3 groups), an ingenious automatic film advance which detects the film itself and a double exposure prevention.

Size (mm): 154 x 110 x 53
Weight: 880 g
Lens: Industar-58 3.5/75, closest focus 1 m
Shutter: not named, B. 1 - 1/500, F 3.5 - 22, Light value system
Finder: coupled rangefinder
Film advance: fully automatic, even first frame

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

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Camera front closed. Top: film advance, shutter button, rangefinder window, viewfinder window and film type reminder.


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Seen from the back. On top: Film type reminder, viewer, shutter button, film advance.

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Seen from above. Film type and speed reminder, opening button, shutter release button, film number indicator and film advance knob.

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Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.

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Camera front open. Little lever: shutter cocking.

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Seen from above, camera open. Focusing at infinity. Aperture/speed ring, shutter cocking lever, depth-of-the-field scale. focusing ring. The camera was also built for the light value system, so aperture and speed are connected (LV scale on the next photo). Once set to the appropriate light value, there is a choice different shutter speed/aperture combinations, you change the speed and the appropriate aperture is set at the same time.


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Left side, camera open. Front (lens): light value scale, flash synchro, distance scale. To change the light value, you have to lift the front part of the ring and turn. Half values are possible.

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Right side.

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Camera back open. It's not hinged. The knobs on the bottom retract the pegs (right one in open position).

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Film chamber. Note the little dented wheel near the top of the chamber (towards the film advance) and the small roll  near the bottom, both part of the automatic film advance.


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Original leather case.

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Leather case open.

Handling an Iskra is easy, it's mostly like other folding rangefinders. Loading film is quite as usual, very easy because the pegs retract by turning the knobs on the bottom counter-clockwise. Open the camera back, retract the peg and put the take-up spool into place. Turn the knob clockwise and the peg engages into the spool. Same procedure for the film spool. The knobs are blocked when the back is closed. Insert the film paper backing into the take-up spool and advance it using the advance knob until it's well engaged. Close the camera back. Now comes the magic part of the film advance: Just turn the knob, it will detect the film start, it will stop automatically and move the counter to "1".

Open the camera.
Cock the shutter, set the light value (or the appropriate speed/aperture combination), you have to lift the front part of the ring and then turn to a new setting. Be cautious: You must change the shutter speed for 1/500 before you cock the shutter. It's a good habit to do so for the other speeds, it's less stress for the shutter system. And please don't stock the camera with the shutter cocked. Set focus by the ring near the bellows, focusing moves the lens out. Press the shutter release button. That's it. The double exposure prevention will block the release until you turn the film advance. To close the camera, set focus to infinity, press the hinges of the struts as usual, it will fold easily. Turn the film advance. It stops automatically and shows the next number.

The Iskra is a very nice and very sturdy camera, it's on the bigger and heavier end of the range. In comparison to my other camera models, mine feels a bit rough, it maybe due to heavy use, but there is nothing to worry about. I had no issues with it, neither with spacing nor with the shutter or the film advance. The film advance is marvellous, I wish, other cameras had this. The lens is very good. So it's a wonderful camera, if everything is working as it should.

A general advice for spacing problems. In "the old days", film and/or backing paper were thicker than now. So the roll would be thicker and hence move film a bit further if the automatic film advance is determined via turns of the roll. If the spacing is too tight on your camera, there is an easy trick to compensate to a certain degree: When you open a new roll, it's held together by a paper strip around the roll. Open it cautiously and leave a part of this strip attached to the backing paper. Insert the paper strip into the take-up spool and wind. The beginnig of the backing paper will follow. Wind, until it's firmly engaged. Your spool core is now a little bit thicker than usual. This might solve your problem, just have a try.

Iskra880154 x 110 x 53CAuto, DEPIndustar-58 3.5/75 | 1B 1 - 1/500 | 22, LVauto 1st frame

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