"Kiev " and " FED
": 12 years later Sergey KISELYOV
"Sheets" Or Why have not Ukraine become a camera
The post-war life of our former country has been
inextricably connected with two names of cameras as
now called brands: "Kiev" and "FED". The first was
issued in the Ukrainian capital, the second - in
Kharkov. Today modelling line of "FED" has died, "Kiev"
is being produced by tiny parties of only two kinds.
Though the state enterprise a factory of "Arsenal"
is in the center of Kiev, nevertheless during Soviet
times and today its phone number is confidential. If
you want to be convinced of it, it is enough to call
to the city help 09 and that will be the answer:
this number is not in service. Nevertheless phone
number of reception of factory's director is
specified... on the web-page of the enterprise in
the Internet. By the way, there you can also find
phone numbers of the deputy director on marketing, a
department of marketing and a sales department...
During mentioned Soviet times the factory of "Arsenal"
was a part of the USSR's military-industrial complex
and was not just a giant of MIC but in some way a
symbol of historical power of socialistic formation,
according to plan developing to communistic society.
Ancestors of workers of this enterprise in far 1918
have seen light communistic future and have started
to struggle for its approach with the weapon in
hands and under red flags. That is the way we were
taught at school, and a confirming was a gun that
have become a monument; "Arsenal" workers with this
gun ostensibly shot in "blue-yellow" Petlyura
followers at 1918 , and also traces from shells on
the factory wall, left by guns of Petlyura followers.
They shot in "Arsenal" workers more successfully
that is why they have won then.
However "Arsenal" have won anyway, Petlyura
followers from Kiev have been expelled, factory have
received a name of Lenin, and nobody knows when and
why it was dismissed (it is hard to remember public
refusal of it). And workers have selected the
proletarian leader as the honourable turner of a
factory and have allocated for his work the best
for that time machine tool which stood in 7-th shop
of the enterprise on a wooden eminence up to
disorder of the USSR.
"WIDELY CONSUMED GOODS"
What factory of "Arsenal" produces and how many
people are working here, the last time public could
find out in ... 1763 when for repair of guns and the
military equipment kept in warehouses have been
constructed metalwork, forge and woodworking
workshops and a barracks for soldier - workers "
numbered by 170 souls and under command of the
lieutenant above masters " as it has been told in "
Establishment about Kiev Arsenal command ".
Beginning with 50th years of the last century the
guides, who acquainted tourists " with famous
revolutionary, fighting and labour traditions of the
Arsenal ", told that here only well-known cameras "
Kiev " are produced. Kiev inhabitants joked that
from the small details of camera " Kiev " which are
released on "Arsenal" at one change it is possible
to combine one big rocket easily. However it was a
lie - rockets "Arsenal" did not produce. But optics
for them, and also for submarines, tanks, satellites
and planes have been really released. "Arsenal"
workers indulgently called cameras as "WIDELY
The modelling line of the "Kiev" cameras then was as
wide as a ceremonial step of cadets company. It
began with the "Kiev" in 1947 made out of the
trophy equipment of German firm Carl Zeiss and with
the German technology. That is why it is no wonder
that the first cameras which have been released in
Kiev, as two drops of water, were similar to German
Another giant of Ukrainian Soviet camera
constructing - factory "FED" - was in Kharkov. In
December 1927 the children's labour commune by the
name of Dzerzhinskiy has been organized here. Some
time after on its base a small factory has been
created. In January, 1934 it began a serial release
of copied from German "Leica" the first in Soviet
Union a little format camera with narrow film " FED
", that was deciphered as Felix Edmoundovich
Dzerzhinskiy. A modelling line of the Kharkov
cameras was, perhaps, more longly then "Arsenal" one.
Photo from archive " SHEETS "
workers made cameras for simple citizens and for
special agents of KGB (committee of state security),
created photographic bombers equipment fixing
defeat of the targets, cameras for space researches
and so on.
- If to speak frankly, - Eugeny Vodotyka, the head
of marketing department of closed joint-stock
company " Corporation " FED ", tells - during the
Soviet times cameras " FED " were a screen which
covered our aviation manufacture. Photomanufacture
always was unprofitable for us that is why on
government subsidies - the same as for Kiev "Arsenal"
and for other enterprises of military-industrial
complex pretending to be photomanufacturers .
Ukraine with such powerful industrial giants of the
Soviet photoindustry as the Kiev factory "Arsenal"
and Kharkov factory "FED" seemed to have all bases to
take a worthy place in world camera constructing
after disintegration of the USSR. However it did not
happen. Moreover, factory "FED" in 1995 has stopped
release of the well-known cameras at all (the
quantity of workplaces then was reduced from 10
thousand up to 3,5 thousand). Though the enterprise
continues to sell the cameras - Eugeny Vodotyka has
told, for the future so many items were created that
" at least 5 years for selling we have ".
On the "Arsenal" only two models in small parties
are being produced today: middle format camera "
Kiev - 88SM " and little format mirror camera " Kiev
- 19Ì ". However, according to the Tatyana Solovyova,
the expert in marketing of a factory (she answered
my question concerning volumes of the photoequipment
release as all "arsenals" : "I won't tell" ), such
cameras are accessible not to everyone - "Kiev -
88", for example, costs 1600 up to 2100 grivnas
($1=5.1grv) . And though a certain firm in the USA
buys small parties of them , in own motherland they
have not great demand. And Europe also do not need
them, as, according to my interlocutor, there are
no service centers for repair and service of "Arsenal"
“CROSS” ON THE “COMPACT CAMERA” (“SOAP TRAY”)
Why Ukraine in market conditions has failed to
master the release of competitive cameras,
proceeding at least from the doctrine of domestic
motor industry: better we make worse things but much
cheaper, than the abroad? Differently: why here have
failed to create not only Ukrainian digital Canon or
Nikon, but even - the simple Ukrainian camera "soap
tray"? (it’s called so because it has a plastic
compact camera-body .aut)
Here is the way experts answer this question.
The 70-years old designer of the "Arsenal" cameras,
who have come on the enterprise in 1949:
(His photoappliance flied into space, he
developed on "Arsenal" a copying photodevice which
has consisted on arms in the Soviet military
aviation and soon has been officially named after
- To buy the new modern technological equipment,
most likely, some money were necessary.
Technological because photomanufacture on the "Arsenal"
worked with out-of-date equipment. If briefly, some
push was necessary. The same push as in motor
industry "Fiat" has given to "Zhigulis" in the due
the head of marketing department of closed
joint-stock company " Corporation " FED ":
- Earlier "FED" as well as "Arsenal" had two
main components at camera manufacturing: exact
mechanics and optics. And today's camera
constructing is electronics and optics. The digital
camera is a computer. And even simple "soap tray" is.
But we practically do not work in computer
The picture editor of the newspaper the " Kiev
Sheets ", the winner of competition of the European
photo in Switzerland:
- The phototechnics market is divided for a long
time . For amateurs "soap trays" have appeared,
where it is necessary just to press the button to
get a qualitative picture. And for the professionals
there are Japanese narrow film cameras such as Canon,
Nikon, German ranging camera Leica and large-format
Swedish camera Hasselblad. In the meantime cameras
made in the USSR were basically expected for
amateurs photographing inside the country. The state
was closed, the western cameras never let to come in,
and our own were produced. However when the world
became a slightly opened, the fact that the Soviet
cameras in the world market are noncompetitive
By the way
The experts name one more reason for such modest
successes in camera constructing business in Ukraine,
however, as well as in Russia; it's the absence in
the USSR an internal competition in the market of
the photoequipment. On the other hand in
manufacture of tanks in Soviet Union the competition
also was absent. But there's a fact: now Ukraine
produces in the same Kharkov tanks T-80 and Ò-84 ,
as said, on a high level of the world standards, and
successfully participates with them in the
international tenders. And Russia successfully makes
and sells abroad tanks T-90.