The Iskra-2 is a 120 film folding rangefinder camera, 6x6 format, built from 1961 to 1964 by Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod,
KMZ , (Mechanical Factory of Krasnogorsk), Moscow. Iskra means "spark".
The Iskra-2 is the light meter version of the Iskra, launched in 1960.
Except the window for the light meter cell, the rest of the housing is
the same. The Iskra-2 is quite rare, only a bit more than 6000 were
made. Both models were sold to professional photographers.
Iskras were largely inspired by the Agfa Super Isolette, including its ingenious automatic film advance. The camera shown seems
to be a
late type 1 (Cyrillic inscription). 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 automatic film advance which detects the film
itself, a double
exposure prevention and, on top of it, a non-coupled selenium light
meter. Working light meters are very rare. If you want one, read the
description with care and ask the seller.
Size (mm): 154 x 110 x 53 Weight: 889 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, accessory shoe, light meter
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.
front closed. Top: film advance, rangefinder window,light meter cell, viewfinder window and meter setting.
from the back. On top: Meter setting, viewer, accessory shoe, front opening button, shutter button, film advance.
from above. Light meter setting, accessory shoe, opening button, shutter release button, film counter and film advance knob.
The light meter is a matched needle type. Do not forget to set the film
speed. Aim the camera at the subject. Turn the wheel intil the red mark
meets the needle. Then read the EV value opposite the little arrow,
it's 11 on the photo.
Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket.
front open. Little lever on top of the lens: shutter cocking.
from above, camera open. Focusing at infinity. Aperture/speed ring,
shutter cocking lever, depth-of-the-field scale. focusing ring. The
camera was built for the light value system, so aperture and speed
connected (LV scale on the next photo). Once set to the appropriate
light value, there is a choice of different shutter speed/aperture
combinations, you change the speed and the appropriate aperture is set
at the same time.
Left side, camera open. Front (lens): light value scale (set to 15 on the photo), flash socket and synchro,
distance scale. To change the light value, you have to lift the front part of the ring and turn. Half values are possible.
Camera back open. It's not hinged. The knobs on the bottom retract the pegs.
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.
Original leather case, has written Iskra 2 on it.
Leather case open, can be used as half case.
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
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
into the take-up spool and advance it using the advance knob until
well engaged, 1 to 1.5 turns are sufficient. 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".
the camera. Aim the camera towards the subject, match the needle of the light meter and read the EV value. Cock
the shutter, set the light value, 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
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
close the camera, set focus to infinity, press the hinges of the struts
usual, it will fold easily. Turn the film advance. It stops
automatically and shows
the next number.
If you forgot to cock the shutter before pressing the shutter release,
the double exposure prevention might get engaged. So you can't press
the shutter release after cocking without a new film advance and you
would lose a photo. In this case you can release the shutter at the
little lever at the bottom of the lens. A toothpick or other small
object might help.
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 Iskra cameras, this
one is smooth. I had no issues with it, neither with spacing nor with
shutter or the film advance. The film advance is marvellous, I wish,
other cameras had this. It has a well working light meter, a big
advantage to most other models. The lens is very good. So it's a
camera, 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.
I had already bought other Iskra-2 cameras, none of them worked. One has
a working meter, but the film advance is broken. The other one looks
good, but has both broken, the meter and the film advance. I got
this one from a Russian camera dealer, okvintagecamera.com. He has a
good reputation and my camera met his reputation of selling fully
serviced and tested cameras.
3 Iskra-2 cameras, 2 with working meter.
3 Iskra-2 cameras and an ordinary one. The housing is the same except the window for finder/meter cell/rangefinder.