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After World War II, much of the tooling at the Zeiss factory was appropriated by the Soviets and installed in the Ukraine, at a defense factory in Kiev known as Arsenal. Arsenal is best known for having cloned some notable cameras, including models by Hasselblad, Zeiss Ikon, Nikon and Pentacon. Most of them were not copied directly, but were instead simplified for production behind the Iron Curtain. Some, such as the Contax clones, were quite good. Arsenal also created one of the most original of all cameras: the Kiev 10. Of all Soviet camera manufacturers, Arsenal also has the largest cult following, given their product complement of cheap yet usable medium format equipment.

The Arsenal factory produced all Kiev (cyrillic: Киев) cameras. The most well-known camera produced at Arsenal is the Kiev 88 (derived from the original Salyut), which shares origins with the original Hasselblad 1000 F and 1600F. Who borrowed whose design is the subject of endless debate, which you can read about in a number of places.

The Arsenal factory also made Mir and Arsat lenses, which were good Zeiss copies. Their ubiquitous quality-control problems notwithstanding, the Ukrainian lenses are quite good, and some of them are outstanding. It was reported in 2009 that the Arsenal factory had ceased production[1]. The company Arax took over part of the product line.




Fixed Lens

Medium Format


16mm Subminiature


  1. "ARSENAL Closes its Doors" 29 November 2009 post by Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer.


  • Princelle, Jean Loup (2004), The Authentic Guide to Russian and Soviet Cameras ('Made in USSR'), Le Reve Edition. ISBN 2952252106; or the earlier edition: Hove Foto Books, 2nd edition, 1995. 200 pages. ISBN 1874031630. Paperback.