Leaf shutter or backrear shutter Ibm rather newbie P


New Member
Hello There!
As I mentioned I'm rather new in medium format cameras (mostly financial issues :p ). For beggining I've bought a cheap and relatively crappy but still working Kiev 88 camera - it's a poor replica of some hasselblad.
I noticed most similarity to 501 models and that's why I picked this forum.
And now my questions are as follows:
1.Which model of hasselblad is it copy of exactly? I like it's form and design the most of all mediums I've watched. And when I'll "grow up" in medium photography and gather money I want to buy the original one

2.The next one is about shutters:
- What it's all about those leaf/lens shutters? Are they an option to back shutter? Or maybe cameras that use lens/leaf shutter can't have back shutter and vice-versa? If so, which hasselblad model uses which shutter?
- How do they work? seems a bit strange for me to maintain same exposition on whole photo area when opening and closing to the center.. or maybe I imagine this mechanism wrong... ;)
- What are pros and cons of leaf shutter vs back/rear shutter? Is one better, smoother more reliable then other? Is there some visible "effect" on photos?

Thank You very much for patience and for all upcoming answers :D
Oh, and please answer as simple as possible :p


New Member
1. The Kiev and the Salyut cameras are not absolutely exact copies but derived from the Hasselblad 1600F camera. They have more in common with the 1600F than with the Hasselblad 1000F which followed.

2. The Hasselblad 1600F/1000F had focal plane shutters. Advantage was that lenses could easily adapted to these cameras because there is no mechanical linkage except for the mount. Shutter speeds were very fast for this time with 1/1600 s and 1/1000 s respectively. But these shutters were vulnerable and especially with the 1600F not very reliable. This and the emergence of short duration elecronic flash led to the Hasselblad 500C-series in 1957 with leaf shutters which allowed flash synchronization at all shutter speeds (shortest is 1/500 s). Although the incorporation of a shutter into the lenses makes the Hasselblad a very complex machine these cameras have proved to be very reliable and are the backbone of the Hasselblad V-system. The current 503CW is nothing more than a slightly improved Hasselblad 500C.

Nevertheless Hasselblad later also built cameras that had a focal plane shutter. In the late 1970s the 2000-series appeared together with a number of shutterless high speed lenses. But you could also use lenses with leaf shutter and chose whether you wanted to use the focal plane or the leaf shutter. Unfortunately the 2000-series camera's weakness is again the shutter, made of very thin titanium foil. It can easily be damaged or develop cracks over time and no spare shutter curtains are available.

In 1991 Hasselblad introduced the 200-series cameras. They had more robust cloth focal plane shutters and featured more electronics. These are great but very expensive cameras.

That was just a very brief overview. If you want to buy a Hasselblad, a 500-series camera is a cheap and versatile choice. But is really fun to have at least one camera of each series...



New Member
I think you are a courageous man to ask information about a K... camera on a Hasselblad dedicated forum.

Victor Hasselblad designed and built the first single lens reflex camera that carried his name some sixty years ago.
This model had a focal plane shutter and is later referred to as the 1600F but at the time when no other Hasselblad models were in existence yet it was just Hasselblad.

In Russia the Saljut company did not honor Hasselblads patents and copied his design. From Saljut you go to Zenith who took over.
And finally your camera came to live from the ashes of Zenith.

So your camera is based on an old design that was superceded in 1957 by the 500 series that used leafshutters in the lens.
All Hasselblad cameras since that time, with exception of the 2000 and the 200 models that are no longer in production, use leafshutters including the more recent 501C or 501 CM you mention.

From second hand experience I know these Russian cameras suffer from poor manufacturing quality.
Some say they have no quality at all.
They are unreliable and only vaguely resemble Mr. Hasselblads original design.

Hasselblad cameras are to be found at very friendly prices today so my advice is save some more money and do not invest in your camera and do not even try to have it repaired.

Many years ago a well known trainer of Hasselblad repair specialists was in Moscow to visit the import company for Hasselblad cameras in Russia.
At the time this company also repaired the K... cameras.
From time to time one of these was offered for repair.
After the owner had left the guy who accepted the camera threw it in a large container about 6 meters from where he stood.
This happended several times so the trainer got curious and asked what are you going to do with these cameras?
The answer was: "We wait till the owners stop making enquiries and throw them away."

I am sorry I have no better news for you but what you bought has nothing to do with Hasselblad.


- How do they work? seems a bit strange for me to maintain same exposition on whole photo area when opening and closing to the center.. or maybe I imagine this mechanism wrong... ;)


Opening from the center, a leaf shutter starts exposing the entire (!) frame from the moment the tiniest opening appears until it is fully closed again. So no fear for not exposing the whole photo evenly at all.

The same is not true for a focal plane shutter.
At shorter speeds (shorter than 1/30 on your Kiev), the shutter forms a slit that travels across the frame, exposing not the entire frame at once, but one bit after another.
So if the shutter curtains speed up (which they do) the slit moves faster across the last bit of the frame than it does across he first bit. The last bit will be underexposed compared to the first bit of the frame. That, of course, poses a problem.
A solution can be found in changing the slit width while it moves across the frame. Or by designing a system that prevents the curtains from speeding up. Both is difficult.

Not exposing the entire frame at once produces another problem: distortion. If the camera and/or the subject to be photographed moves, the image will be distorted. Between the time the slit exposes the first and last bits of the subject on film, the subject will have moved.
A famous ex&le of this is Lartigue's racing car picture:
Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!

The distortion of the trees and onlookers is caused by the camera's movement (Lartigue tried to follow the car), the opposite distortion of the wheel by the movement of the car (it was too fast for Lartigue). Lartigue's focal plane shutter's slit obviously moved from top to bottom. Admittedly, his now about 100-years old focal plane shutter wasn't the fastest of things, and modern focal plane shutters move faster, showing a less pronounced effect. But still...
Neither of these effects can be reproduced using a central shutter.

- What are pros and cons of leaf shutter vs back/rear shutter? Is one better, smoother more reliable then other? Is there some visible "effect" on photos?

The lack of the above mentioned distortion is one advantage of central or leave shutters.

One other is that, because the entire frame is exposed at any time, leaf shutters will synchronize with flash at all shutterspeeds.
Fire a flash when the slit of a focal plane shutter is moving across the film, and only that bit of the film that is uncovered by the slit is exposed. So you can only use flash with focal plane shutters at speeds where the entire frame is uncovered (with your Kiev, that's 1/30 and longer).

Leaf shutters are also a lot quieter. And they cause less vibrations than the travelling curtains of a focal plane shutter.

A disadvantage of central shutters is that they have a relatively slow top speed. And that at the faster speeds, the aperture used plays a role in determing the exact time the image is exposed.

Will you see anything in the images they produce?
Apart from the focal plane shutter distortion of fast moving objects, no.



It is in no way certain that 'the russians' copied the Hasselblad 1600 without Victor Hasselblad's permission.

The copy-cameras differ in small, but important ways from the original, so most 'russian' bits do not work on the 'originals', while the bits of the 'originals' do work on the copy. So Hasselblad could sell stuff to owners of Salyuts, but not the other way round; no fear for Hasselblad users substituting cheap 'russian' bits for expensive 'original' bits.
And it is even said that Victor Hasselblad sold his surplus steel shutter curtains to 'the russians'.

So it may well have been a regular business deal, in which Victor Hasselblad sold his then 'abandoned' camera and still made some money of it.


New Member
Oh thanks Ulrik for that brief!
"at least one camera of each series"? lol! I'll be happy when I'll afford just one :D

So seems that 1600f/1000f are just too old, more collectible and not recommended for common, nice use anyway for me ;)

Something from 500 line would be the choice then.
But still I'm so used-to to "focal-plane" (just lacked this term before) that this lens-shutter must still convince me ;)
Is there any disadvantage in using it instead of focal-plane?
Any "feel" and ergonomical issues that differs it from focal-plane?
And I'm worried about later availability and prices of different lenses too.

What set (with 2-3 spare lenses and backs) of 500 would be most recommended and of course with reasonable price?

(or 501, 503 or any other similar maybe?)
I assume standard would be 80mm, but what wide angle? what semi-tele i.e?

On the other hand, if I'll remain stubborn at focal-plane anyway what should be my choice of hassel for now? (with similar spare set as above) IF THERE IS any sense in staying stubborn of course!

And I'll notice that it has to be fully mechanical machine
I don't all this electronics and stuff in such cameras :p

Still hungry for more impressions and advices, both technical and more "feel-like" ones. Convince me to hassel :D :D


New Member
You are right, 1600F and 1000F are more collectible cameras (though a 1000F is a more usable camera than your ukrainian one).

All 2000- and 200-series camera's focal pane shutters rely on electronics.

Go for e.g. a Hasselblad 500 C/M with 50/80/150 mm lenses. This set will be fully mechanical, can be had at affordable prices on the secondhand market because many of these are out there. No reason to insist on a focal plane shutter. Only if you want to use high speed lenses, adopt lenses of other makes, want auto exposure, stuff like that.



New Member
Q.G. de Bakker (Qnu);

Russians are very good at making idential copies, just look at their military aircraft.

Richard Loarie



Which would indeed suggest that the differences were deliberate, part of a deal between Hasselblad and the 'russians'.


New Member
Paul, and Bakker thank you too! I was typing my above answer and didn't notice your posts before ;)
They answered much questions to me and convinced me to leaf shutter much, much more now!
So that shutter must be placed very close or almost exactly at the "image cross-line" of whole lense system to work as you describe?

I also assume now that absolute most of hassel lenses are designed with leaf shutter and they are much easier to get then other ones?

What about proposed hassel set I asked above then?

P.S. Paul, I mentioned Kiev only on purpose of changing that crap into rolls-royce
do not lynch me yet :D


Active Member

Thinking that Russian military aircraft are nothing but copies is not at all valid.

You might know that the German Luftwaffe inherited some MIG-29 aircraft from the former East-German airforce. These machines follow quite different design philosophies compared to the Western-block aircraft. For ex&le they continue to work in environmental conditions in which the flying computers from the Western airforces turn into unservicable scrap metal. I've been talking to Luftwaffe people who were present when the MIG-29 were test flown against planes like the Tornado, F16, F15 etc. A capable pilot in a MIG-29 is very likely to turn the F15 jockeys very very pale indeed. Sure, the Russian designs appear to be less sophisticated but they are very formidable fighting machines.

Hm, time to go back to our regular ramblings about cameras..




Yes, the place of the leaf shutter in the lens is important. So is that of the diaphragm.
But neither is problematic.

500-series (i.e. the ones with leaf shutters) Hasselblads are indeed very easy to find. Easier than 2000 or 200-series (the ones with focal plane shutter) Hasselblads.
And shuttered Hasselblad lenses (C, CF, CFi/CFE) are also much easier to find than Hasselblad lenses without shutter too.

A 500 C/M, or the later 501 CM, wouldn't be a bad choice.
Ulrik's suggestion for a set of lenses is, of course, a very good one.
Add lens hoods, two A12 magazines and a light meter to that, and that will keep you happy for the rest of your life.


New Member
Thank you all!

And Q.G. considering all that was written during this discussion and explanations, your last three lines are probably the answer I was looking for ;)
Now it's time to start saving money and hunt for good occasion

Or maybe you wanna make a donation?? :D :D
The "GET RID OF KIEV88" foundation is now open :D


New Member
> There is something to be said for going "less tech". Sure there are > lots of fancy, helpful, & 'neato" features in the electronic > cameras, but maintenance under adverse conditions is a big problem.

The old US military Jeep was designed as a tin can with an engine...because its life expectancy in a war zone was estimated to be about 6 months. On the other hand, you could use a piece of rope or stocking for a fan belt, and I still see some around (running fine) that date back to WWII and Korea!

The closest thing today would be the mechanical vs digital/AF proponents. Digital/AF is great. I have a 553/ELX, a H1, a D70, a D1H, and a F5...all are electronic and need POWER to operate. Yet I also have a 501CM, 903SWC, and a 30 yr old Pentax Spotmatic in the event the batteries DIE or I forget to recharge them the night before!


New Member
@ Q.G.,

Thank you for shining some more historical light on the 1600F and its Russian deratives.
I was thinking of the common practise in Russia not to pay for the use
of patented Western technology so maybe there was a deal between Hasselblad and Russian camera makers.

@ Richard,

I think I will vote in favor of the originals.
I like to stay around a little longer if you do not mind


New Member
From what I heard, Russians had license agreement with Hasselblad, at least in the beginning. They had to control quality then, and first Kiev exemplars were (as some say) very good. Soon licenses timed out, but Russians continued production without Hasselblad supervision anymore and good times ended


New Member
As far as my information goes from a reliable source Russian factories never had a license to produce cameras or anything else for that matter that were designed in the other countries.

Read the book "The future is now" by Novak where it is explained in detail.
It is not very likely that Victor Hasselblad decided to grant permission to copy his cameras to Russian factories without being able to control quality. Salyut started work on their copy of the Hasselblad 1600F in 1957 at the time the 1000F was still in production. The first Salyut was available in 1959.
A member of Hasselblad staff was asked to see what Russian lookalikes
where available at the Photokina. This person reported: Nothing to be afraid of.



"Nothing to be afraid of" is also why Hasselblad could/would indeed grant permission to copy (!) his cameras "without being able to control quality".
The copies were not (!) Hasselblad cameras. And with better 'originals' also available, the worse the copies were, the better for Hasselblad.

1957 is the year Hasselblad started selling the 500 C. The decision to stop the 1000-series was obviously taken well before that.
So the dates would match either scenario.


New Member

From what I heard there was no deal between Russian camera makers and Hasselblad in Sweden.

I know you are interested in historical matters regarding the Hasselblad company and will send you a list of literature and copies from the relevant text to make this clear.

You are right about the dates for the development of the 500C of course but do you think it is likely that
Mr. Hasselblad would agree to the production of a similar system camera to the 1000F in Russia when the 1000F was still in production?

BTW the person spying on the Russian cameras at the Photokina was Dutch by origin. Nice to know.