Click for homepage
Kiev
  
Kiev John Player Special
Kiev camera in cigarette pack · USSR

Kiev-JPS 1 is a Kiev 30 consumer camera 2 , disguised as a common pack of John Player Special (JPS) cigarettes, made between 1978 and 1988 by Arsenal in Kiev (Ukraine), at that time part of the former Soviet Union (USSR). The disguise makes the camera very suitable for inconspicuous photography. The camera can take 25 pictures on a single 16 mm unperforated film cartridge.

The camera is housed in a black metal enclosure that measures 102 x 55 x 28.5 mm and weights approx. 230 grams. One end has been modified so that it looks like a bunch of cigarette filter tips, three of which are sticking out somewhat.

Two of them are fixed in place, whilst the third one (the longest) can partly be moved in and out. It is internally coupled to the film transport mechanism. When it is pulled, the lens becomes visible and the film advances to the next frame (unless it has already been advanced). The user can now aim the camera and shoot a picture.
  
KIEV camera disguised as a pack of John Player Special cigarettes

The Kiev 30 16 mm camera was manufactured from 1978 onwards by the Arsenal factory in Kiev (Ukraine). Although it was originally thought that this variant was made especially for the Soviet Unions's intelligence agency — the KGB — it later became clear that they were most likely aftermarket 'inventions', made in Poland and/or Ukraine to fool naive Western collectors. They were usually supplied in a (real) JPS carton cigarette box, together with a spare film cassette.

Quite a few variants of this camera exist. The exterior can be printed with gold or silver letters, and on some variants, the settings at the right are covered by the enclosure. Furthermore, some versions have space for one or two real cigarettes. It is typically housed in a metal enclosure, but plastic variants are also known. The print quality varies, and different versions of the JPS logo have been observed. In practice, it would have been suitable to fool only a casual observer.

  1. The actual name for this camera is unknown, so we are using JPS as a substitute.
  2. According to some websites [2], the camera used inside the JPS, is a Kiev 303, but given the production dates of the observed JPS cameras (1978-1988), plus the fact that the Kiev 303 was not in production before 1990, it is more likely that a Kiev 30 or Kiev 30M was used.

KIEV camera disguised as a pack of John Player Special cigarettes JPS camera Close-up of the fake cigarettes Very similar to a regular pack of cigarettes Pulling the longest cigarette to transport the film Aperture and film speed settings at the bottom Lens opening 16 mm film cartridge
A
×
A
1 / 8
KIEV camera disguised as a pack of John Player Special cigarettes
A
2 / 8
JPS camera
A
3 / 8
Close-up of the fake cigarettes
A
4 / 8
Very similar to a regular pack of cigarettes
A
5 / 8
Pulling the longest cigarette to transport the film
A
6 / 8
Aperture and film speed settings at the bottom
A
7 / 8
Lens opening
A
8 / 8
16 mm film cartridge

Features
The diagram below gives a quick overview of the features and controls on the body of the JPS camera. At the front is the lens opening, which is normally covered by a protective metal sheet. As soon as the longest fake cigarette is pulled out, the lens opening is uncovered and the film is advanced to the next frame. A picture can now be taken by pressing the button at the top.


Note that there is no viewer, so the user has to estimate distance and direction when taking the picture. When ready, the fake cigarette is pushed back in, and the lens will be covered again. At the right side are the usual film and lens settings, plus a lock that gives access to the interior.


Known varations
  • Gold or silver (white) letters
  • Different versions of the logo
  • Different typefaces
  • Different layout
  • Different types of fake cigarettes
  • Space for one or two real cigarettes (or not)
  • Camera controls covered by enclosure (or not)
  • Mounting of the fake cigarette to the transport mechanism
  • Metal or plastic case
  • Camera body partly painted black



Interior
The camera is housed in a black metal enclosure, that carries a black self-adhesive label printed with the JPS logo and additional text in either gold or silver. The interior can be accessed from the right side, where a recessed lever can be twisted to release the camera from the metal enclosure.

The image on the right shows the bottom of the Kiev 30 camera, after it has been removed from the enclosure. The front of the camera (the side with the lens opening at the centre) is painted black, so that it is less likely to reveal itself, as is the case with some not-so-good reproductions.

At the left is the fake cigarette that is mounted to the film transport mechanism by means of a curved lever and two rivets. In some versions a straight metal lever is welded to the mechanism. At the right are the usual knobs for settings the aperture (3-11) & shutter speed (1/30-1/200).
  
Bottom side of the bare camera

The mechanism is very similar to that of the original Kiev 30, although the horizontal plate of the transport mechanism has been shortened somewhat. The frame counter at the centre has been left in place, but the old case locking mechanism has been removed from the advance-bracket.

The upper side of the JPS camera is virtually identical to the original Kiev 30. It is shown in the image on the right with its film compartment open and the 16 mm film cartridge removed. At the right is the advance lever (fake cigarette).

The diagram above this section, shows a JPS camera (with serial number 8810683) behind a Kiev 303 camera (with serial number 9162510). It is clear that the cameras were very similar and that probably only the outer plastic case was swapped for a metal one, which made it easier to disguise as a John Player Special cigarette pack.
  
16 mm film cassette removed from the camera

Production dates as early as 1978 and as late as 1988 have been observed, which suggests that this was not a limited production run, but more likely a post-Cold War hype, possibly composed from production left-overs of the Arsenal factory, staged by people in some former Eastern Block countries to fool naive West European and US collectors, in order to generate an extra income.

Modified Kiev 303 removed from its JPS disguise Modified camera with fake cigarette Bottom side of the bare camera Top side of the bare camera Camera with open film compartment 16 mm film cassette removed from the camera 16 mm film cartridge JPS camera (rear) with a regular Kiev 303 (front)
B
×
B
1 / 8
Modified Kiev 303 removed from its JPS disguise
B
2 / 8
Modified camera with fake cigarette
B
3 / 8
Bottom side of the bare camera
B
4 / 8
Top side of the bare camera
B
5 / 8
Camera with open film compartment
B
6 / 8
16 mm film cassette removed from the camera
B
7 / 8
16 mm film cartridge
B
8 / 8
JPS camera (rear) with a regular Kiev 303 (front)

Specifications
  • Camera
    Kiev 30 (S/N: 8810683)
  • Film
    16 mm unperforated
  • Frame size
    17 x 13 mm
  • Exposures
    25
  • Lens
    Industar-M 23mm f/3.5
  • Aperture
    (5) 3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11
  • Shutter
    (3) 1/30, 1/60, 1/200
  • Focus
    50 cm — ∞
  • Dimensions
    102 x 55 x 28.5 mm (without fake cigarettes)
  • Weight
    230 grams (without loaded film cartridge)
References
  1. Subminiature cameras, Kiev John Player Special
    Retrieved January 2019.

  2. Collectiblend, Kiev Arsenal: John Player (Kiev 303)
    Retrieved January 2019.

  3. Auction Team Breker, Image of JPS camera with different logo
    26 September 2015.

  4. Westlicht, Image of JPS camera with welded bracket
    11 June 2016, Action lot 0391.

  5. H. Keith Melton et al., The secret history of KGB Spy Cameras
    ISBN 879-0-7643-5616-2. 2018. pp. 176.
Further information
Any links shown in red are currently unavailable. If you like the information on this website, why not make a donation?
© Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 17 January 2019. Last changed: Monday, 21 January 2019 - 10:33 CET.
Click for homepage