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View of Christchurch (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
Evening view of Christchurch (Pic: Hunter Benbow)

By Hunter Benbow

Around the World in 80 Cameras‘ visits 80 cities around the world, shot on 80 different cameras by 80 different photographers.

Christchurch is New Zealand’s third-largest city, located in the South Island of New Zealand on the Canterbury plains – a vast flat area of land in between the Southern Alps and the South Pacific Ocean. The area which is now the city was first settled upon by the native Maoris in the 12th Century, and then Europeans settled there in the mid 1800s.

Taken from the top of the Port Hills on the Crater Rim walkway. The whole upper plains were covered in a fogbank that morning. The background is the Okuku Range with the Puketeraki Range behind, foothills of the Southern Alps.

I grew up about a 30-minute drive from the city, in a rural area called Aylesbury. Given that I didn’t grow up in the city and haven’t spent much time in it, Christchurch is still a maze. It’s a big place with lots of small side streets which make it easy to get lost, especially in the Central Business District (CBD).

New Rent Street (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
New Regent Street (LOMO CN100, Volna-3 80mm)

Christchurch has a large central park, Hagley Park. Within this is a golf course, rugby and football fields, the Hagley Oval (a cricket pitch), as well as walkways along the Avon River, a small lake and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

IR image of riverboats (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
Punting on the Avon (Kodak Aerochrome CIR, rated at 400iso, Y12 filter, Volna-3 80mm)
Oaks in Little Hagley Park (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
Oaks in Little Hagley Park (Kodak Aerochrome CIR, rated at 400iso, Y12 filter, Volna-3 80mm)

A defining event in the history of Christchurch and the surrounding area is the earthquakes that happened in late 2010 and early 2011.

In late 2010, the previously undiscovered Greendale fault line erupted about 2km down the road from where I lived. The 7.1-magnitude earthquake was a pretty scary awakening at half past 4 in the morning. This knocked down a lot of old weak buildings in Christchurch, causing no loss of life and almost definitely saving lives in the events to come.

Six months later, I was at school on a cool overcast day in the only classroom with a cement pad floor.  It was about 12:50pm when it started, and it felt like I was surfing a wave. Some friends and I were having a great time, and due to the low intensity and weak feeling where we were, we felt pretty safe. Of course, we wouldn’t have been laughing if we’d known what was going on 40km to the east of us in central Christchurch.

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake centred 10km southeast of the CBD and a 5.4 10 minutes later killed 185 people. Most were killed or injured by collapsed buildings in the CDB, and even some from landslides around the Port Hills.

It just about cleared the whole CBD of safe buildings. If they hadn’t already toppled or fallen many were too unsafe to be re-entered and had to be demolished. It also damaged more than 10,000 homes beyond repair and cut off water and power to the whole city.

White Chairs memorial (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
The current memorial to those who lost their lives in the earthquakes. 185 White Chairs (Verichrome Pan 125, expired 1963, shot at box speed developed in Caffenol, Volna-3 80mm)
Christchurch Anglican Cathedral (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
The remains of the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral (Arista 400, Zodiak-8b 30mm fisheye)


Shipping containers (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
Post earthquake thousands of shipping containers were used as buffer barriers in case of a building collapse (Arista 400, Volna-3 80mm)

Even though the earthquakes changed, effected and cost so many lives, It has offered an extremely unique opportunity for a complete rebuild and restructure of the CBD as well as changes to building safety so that we are future-proofed for future events.

Central library (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
Central library (Arista 400, Zodiak8b 30mm fisheye)

New Buildings such as the new central library, Tūranga, (above) was built on the site of an older building lost to the earthquakes.

The Bridge of Remembrance is a war memorial dedicated to our fallen soldiers of World War I, and is a memorial to every other conflict New Zealand has been involved in over the years.

And this? This is Ivan.

A 1986-built Kiev-60, made in the Arsenal Factory funnily enough in Kiev, Ukraine. A mere 100km from the Chernobyl power plant that melted down that same year. They’re a big camera, a similar style to 35mmSLRs, but more than twice the average size and come in at about 2kg with the Volna-3 80mm 2.8 kit lens attached.

Ivan was found in late October of 2018 when I was cruising around New Zealand’s secondhand trading website; Trade Me. The listing was for the Kiev 60, Volna-3 80mm F2.8 kit lens and Arsat Jupiter-36B 250mm F3.5. Since then I have also added to the collection a MIR 26B, 45mm F3.5, and the well-known Zodiak-8B 30mm F3.5 Fisheye.

Kievs in general are considered to be extremely unreliable, but I had found an exception.  The guy I bought it from had the camera re-flocked and the spacing calibrated, and as well as only having shot four rolls of film with it before I bought it, this Kiev-60, dubbed Ivan by its previous owner, was in mint condition.

Indoor tram (Pic: Hunter Benbow)
The indoor tram station on Tramway Lane (LOMO CN100, Volna-3 80mm)

The Kiev-60 is a Soviet copy of the Pentacon Six cameras made by Kamera Werkstätten in East Germany and uses the same mount (also called the Pentacon Six mount).

This particular range of medium format SLRs included the Foto Kamera 6 (ФК – 6). One of them can be seen here in this photo in the hands of Soyuz Flight Engineer Valeri Kubasov on the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.

oyuz Flight Engineer Valeri Kubasov and camera
Soyuz Flight Engineer Valeri Kubasov on the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975

The FK-6 is based on the Kiev-6C would be produced, the most obvious difference between the 6C and the later 60 was the left-hand shutter button.

Kiev cameras have a reputation for unreliability. This is mostly because of manufacturing defects such as rough machining on gears, and using the wrong materials such as brass for mechanism gears. As Sam Sherman said on his second episode of the Film Photography Podcast (FPP Episode 202), a quote from a guy he met that used to work in the factory making the cameras: “This reason, why cameras no good: Camera factory in Kiev first week of month, make parts. Do nothing but make parts. Second and third week, sit around, smoke and drink vodka. Fourth week, throw cameras together fast.”

Kiev-60s were apparently rolling out of the factory up until 1999, and continue to be rebuilt (re-geared and finished) by Arax Foto, and Hartblei to this day.

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Hunter Benbow
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Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
3 years ago

Great article!

Jeroen van Weert
Jeroen van Weert
3 years ago

That is not only quite a story and quite a camera, but remarkeable photo’s as well! The infrared is stunning!

2 years ago

Thanks Jeroen!