Farewell to the Kiev-19 and to the Nikkormat FTn

I don’t want to part with these cameras.  They were my first 35mm shooters, and they were the cameras I used when I was involved in my Kodachrome project last year.

But right now my camera collection is expanding to the breaking point.  I have three 35mm shooters – my Kiev-19 Soviet “Red Special”; my Nikkormat FTn “Blue Special,” and my Nikon F100.  And as much as I’ve enjoyed using my Kiev and my Nikkormat, right now all they’re doing is sitting on a shelf, enjoying a peaceful retirement.  The custom-made camera strap that I originally ordered for my Kiev-19 – and which was later transferred to the Nikkormat – is now adorning my Nikon F100.  For all intents and purposes, these two cameras are done.

And all they’re doing is gathering dust on a shelf.  That’s not retirement.  That’s exile.

The Kiev-19 Red Special. Photo by Chuck Miller.
Blue Nikkormat FTn with films
The Nikkormat FTn Blue Special. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yet, these are good cameras.  I’ve taken hundreds of pictures with them, and I’ve had some great adventures with them. 

And now, it’s time to find new homes for my vintage shooters.

Enter the Film Photography Podcast, an online destination for those who appreciate shooting in the analogue world.

One of the goals of the Film Photography Podcast is to provide cameras to young photography students who might not otherwise be able to afford one.  And if my old shooters can help spread the world of photography to a new generation of film buffs, then certainly that’s more important than my cameras just sitting on a shelf.

So with that in mind, I contacted the Film Photography Podcast.  The FPP’s organizer, Michael Raso, wrote me back with an address for donation.

Yes, these cameras still mean a lot to me.  And as I encase each camera in protective bubble wrap, and securely pack each shooter into a shipping box, I can’t help but contemplate who used these cameras before they came into my possession.  The Kiev-19 came all the way from Moscow; did it belong to an amateur photographer who took magnificent photographs of Red Square?   The Nikkormat FTn was discovered in a Schenectady thrift store; could the prior owner have taken it on family trips to the North Country?

I take one last look at the Kiev-19.  I still remember standing near the walls of downtown Quebec City, shooting my Destination Voyage Rouge et Bleu with this Russian beast.  Next to the Kiev, I placed the bubble-wrapped Nikkormat.  This was the camera that took my Kodachrome shot of The Railsplitter, the weed poking through the abandoned Voorheesville railroad tracks.  The Red Special and the Blue Special, I called them.  I put a few rolls of fresh film in the box – best that the cameras at least  start out with a roll or two of film apiece – and sealed the package.

And after these cameras are handed to the postal clerk, I may never know what will happen to these two shooters.  All I can hope for is that the cameras give as much joy and excitement to its new owners as both cameras have given to me.

And they’ll have the only red-leathered and blue-leathered 35mm cameras out there.  That’s a status marker in and of itself.

So it’s до побачення to my beloved red Ukrainian workhorse. And さようなら to my beloved Japanese blue snapper.

If you want more information on how to donate your old film cameras to the Film Photography Podcast, visit their website at http://www.filmphotographypodcast.com and click on the “DONATE” tab for more information.