Iskra ("Spark")
Soviet folding camera
Many Iskras have had a red window added, as the auto frame
stop mechanism is often broken. My camera doesn't suffer from
this problem.
There's definitely a family resemblance here... strikingly, the Iskra actually manages to out-bulk the
Ansco.
The strap lugs on the body of the Iskra are a useful addition. The larger range- and viewfinder windows
also translate into slightly better viewing.
This is an excellent camera for the price (I paid $80 US for mine).
The design of the Iskra seems to be based on the Agfa Super
Isolette (a/k/a Ansco Super Speedex) and this is about as fine a
model as the Russians could have chosen when building their own
6x6 folding camera. The Iskra is a robust photographic tool, with a
heft that reminds one of a workman's hammer.

I've heard that you have to be careful to get an Iskra that works
properly, especially the auto stop film advance mechanism. If
there's a red window in the camera back, you can assume the auto
frame stop is kaput and you'll be using the red window when you
advance film. The advance on mine works okay: the first two
frames just barely touch and then the spacing gets wider as the roll
progresses. I get 12 useable frames per roll, and it works
consistently, so I'm happy with it.
The Industar lens is a 4-element Tessar
design that is very sharp. I'd say it's
probably as sharp as the Solinar lens on
my Super Speedex, but I think the
color rendition isn't as good (images
from the Industar seem a little yellow
sometimes). The Iskra's focusing is also
not quite as smooth as it is on my
Super Speedex, but it works fine and
it's a great feature to have the helical
focusing with a coupled rangefinder.
The shutter release on mine is not very
smooth, which for me is a fairly serious
negative as it makes it harder to get
sharp handheld photos. The focusing
and shutter release could probably be
tuned up and made smoother, and I'm
not saying that all Iskras will share
these shortcomings that mine has.
Overall, you can get really nice results
from the Iskra and it's a very good
camera for the money.
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