I have been shooting film for the last 6 months to a year, and in that time I have done quite a bit of research, as well as buying, of older film cameras. Having started with a Nikkormat FT that was lying around the house, but always carrying around my DSLR, I found carrying to SLRs was just too cumbersome.
A friend had given me a fully functioning Minolta AL, which is what got me addicted to rangefinder cameras. I had never used a rangefinder up until getting this camera, but something about it really intrigued me, maybe it was the size, maybe it was the ease of use and sharp photos I was getting with it; whatever it was, I was hooked.
My Minolta broke after a while, and not wanting to spend one hundred dollars at the time to get it fixed, I started searching for a newer rangefinder that would fill my needs. I landed on the Kiev 4a. This camera goes with me everywhere, and is my main 35mm camera.
The first thing that I had noticed about this camera was its strong build, packed in a small, portable size. I wear big pants, and this camera easily fits in my back pocket.
The rangefinder base is one of the widest on any rangefinder made, allowing for extremely precise focus. This did take a while for me to get used to, but when I did I have been very happy.
The camera came with a Jupiter-8m, it is a 50mm F2 lens, that is super sharp.
Shutter speeds are full stops ranging from B-1000th. The shutter is strange in that you have to set the speed only after you have cocked the shutter. Not doing this can damage or break the shutter ribbon.
The only problems I have had so far with this camera have been: the leatherette has come off on the right side of the camera, which does not affect the camera at all, and sometimes the frames are not spaced properly, varying from one frame to the next, which just wastes some film.
There are extensive reviews and history on this camera available online. I purchased this camera from a really good guy, you should do the same. His site is here.
Photos shot with my Kiev 4a
Other photos can be found in this set.