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Yolka S-64   Ëлка С-64
USSR reproduction camera - under construction

The Yolochka 1 RA-1, later referred to as the Yolka 2 S-64 (Russian: Ëлка С-64), was a portable photographic document copier, or reproduction camera, Manufactured by KMZ, and introduced around 1985. It was used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the former USSR and its allies, for quickly making a large number of photocopies at a specific (clandestine) location.

The unit consists of a base plate on which the document is placed. At each side is an arm with a lamp, that illuminates the document from the sides. At the center is an arm holding a camera with an adjustable Industar 30 mm f5.6 lens that focuses at short distances of less than 1 metre. Furthermore, the hight of the camera can also be adjusted by extending the length of the arm.

The arms of the camera and the sideways lamps are foldable, so that the entire unit, including the camera, the arms, the lamps and the power cable can be stored inside the base of the unit.
  
Yolka and A6+ document

When folded, the unit measures 375 x 265 x 75 mm, similar to a large phone book, and weights approx. 5 kg. The folded unit can easily be hidden inside a common briefcase and can be carried around inconspicuously. When needed, it can be setup in less than a minute. All it needs is a nearby wall socket for powering the sideways lamps. The camera is operated by means of a short shutter-release cable. This avoids unsharp images caused by shaking during long exposures.

The centre piece of the reproduction system is the S-64 camera shown in the image on the right. It has an Industar f5.6 lens with a focal distance of 30 mm and a viewing angle of 50°.

Two film cassettes are mounted to the sides of the camera: one holding the supply spool, the other one holding the take-up spool. Depending on the thickness of the film, the cassettes can hold up to 40 metres of Micrat-N or Micrat-200 film, which is equivalent to approx. 400 shots.
  
Releasing the shutter

During the Cold War, making photocopies in the Soviet Union (USSR) was not as common as in the free Western world. In fact it was strickly regulated and any reproduction cameras, like the S-64, were kept under locks. They were commonly used by the police and by border security for making copies of traveller's documents, passports, permits, etc. As the final copy was 'printed' on photographic paper, it was easily recognised as such. The device was also used by the KGB.

The camera shows great resemblance to the Geopol (Геопол) camera, made by BelOMO during the 1970s. It has a similar size and uses nearly identical film casettes that are clipped-on at both sides. It is believed that the Geopol was a modified or improved version of the Yolka S-64 [2].

  1. Yolochka is sometimes written as Iolochka or Jolochka. It means Christmas Tree.
  2. Yolka (Russian: Ëлка) is sometimes written as Jolka, Elka, Jelka, Yelka and Елка. It means Christmas Tree.
  3. Micrat is sometimes written as Mikrat.

Yolka folded in storage position Camera and lamps stored inside the base Camera mounted on an arm Setting up one of the lamps Polka setup (camera not yet in position) Yolka and A6+ document Front view Front view
Adjusting the height Putting the camera in position Adjusting the focus ring to the same number Transporting the film and arming the shutter Releasing the shutter Opening the back of the camera Supply spool removed Mains power cable
A
×
A
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Yolka folded in storage position
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Camera and lamps stored inside the base
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Camera mounted on an arm
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Setting up one of the lamps
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Polka setup (camera not yet in position)
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Yolka and A6+ document
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Front view
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Front view
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Adjusting the height
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Putting the camera in position
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Adjusting the focus ring to the same number
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Transporting the film and arming the shutter
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Releasing the shutter
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Opening the back of the camera
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Supply spool removed
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Mains power cable

Features
For transport, the entire device is stowed inside the base, below the document table. Setting it up is straightforward and takes less than a minute. Open the hinged document table and fold-out the two sideways panels. This reveals the camera and the lamps in their storage position. Now lift the camera and put its arm in the vertical position, until it clicks. The arm is now locked. Next, unfold the lamps and put them in the sideways position as shown in the image below. Connect them to the sockets at either side of the camera arm and connect the device to the mains.


Decide what size of document you would like to copy. The document should fit within one of the four rectangles (numbered 1-4) on the document table. Put the camera at the desired height by extending its arm vertically, until the mark at the left side lines up with the selected number (1-4) and set the camera's focussing ring accordingly. Now pull the camera toward the center of the unit, until it is lined-up horizontally above the centre of the table. This locks the camera height.

If the camera is loaded with film, it is now ready to make copies of the document inside the selected rectangle. Wind the film transport knob clockwise intil it stops. This arms the shutter. Select the desired exposure time with the knob at the left and press the shutter-release knob.

Camera and lamps stored inside the base 4 different frame sizes Connecting the mains Height adjustment (position 2) Position 3 and 4 Putting the camera in position Transporting the film and arming the shutter Releasing the shutter
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Camera and lamps stored inside the base
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4 different frame sizes
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Connecting the mains
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Height adjustment (position 2)
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Position 3 and 4
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Putting the camera in position
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Transporting the film and arming the shutter
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Releasing the shutter

Other uses
The camera used at the heart of the Yolochka (Yolka) system, was also used in other 'specials', mainly for use by the Soviet intelligence agency KGB. A good example of such a special is the modified Yolka (Yelka) camera that is also described in Keith Melton's book Ultimate Spy [3].

In this setup the camera body is used seperately and is mounted on a 90° angled metal plate that can be used as a mounting bracket. The bracket was designed to install the camera 'hanging-off' the side of a nightstand, or bedside table, with the lens facing the floor. The bracket was held in place by a heavy object or a couple of books.

Adjusting the height and position of the camera is rather critical when taking copies of (secret) documents, so the operative had to use some simple measuring tools in order to ensure sharp and correctly positioned shots...
  

The camera was set to the longest exposure time to allow pictures to be taken at ambient lighting conditions. In some cases the camera was modified for making even longer exposures. The unit shown here was used for covertly copying documents in an airport hotel room during the 1980s.

Images to follow

Controls
The diagram below shows the various features of the bare camera which consists of a small metal body with a lens at the centre, and two large detachable film cassettes. Mechanically, both film cassettes are identical, but one of them is mounted upside down. Seen from the front, the left­most cassette is loaded with a fresh film, whilst the rightmost one takes up the exposed film.


At the bottom is an axle with a pulley that is connected to the spring-loaded automatic winding mechanism inside the camera body. The axle drives the pulley of the takeup cassette by means of an external spring-belt. Also at the bottom are various stubs and screws, that allow the camera to be fitted to a variety of concealments and mountings.

Front view S-64 camera with lens cap removed S-64 camera showing the film transport mechanism Bottom view Top view Red marks on the lens Exposure counter Shutter speed
Camera with shutter release cable Shutter release cable Mounting the shutter release cable Back panel and supply cassette removed Fitting the supply cassette Aperture setting spring-belt film transport mechanism Camera mounting
C
×
C
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Front view
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S-64 camera with lens cap removed
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S-64 camera showing the film transport mechanism
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Bottom view
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Top view
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Red marks on the lens
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Exposure counter
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Shutter speed
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Camera with shutter release cable
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Shutter release cable
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Mounting the shutter release cable
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Back panel and supply cassette removed
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Fitting the supply cassette
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Aperture setting
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spring-belt film transport mechanism
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Camera mounting

Document sizes
# Size [cm] Height Remark
1 32 x 24 40.5 A4+
2 24 x 18 31 A5+
3 16 x 12 21 A6+
4 9 x 6.7 13 Camera in the lowest possible position

 
References
  1. USSR Photo, Yolochka (1985-1993)
    Retrieved September 2015.

  2. USSR Photo, Geopol
    Retrieved September 2015.

  3. H. Keith Melton, Ultimate Spy
    1996-2015 ISBN 978-0-2411-8991-7. 2015 edition, page xxx.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Sunday 15 November 2015. Last changed: Sunday, 02 July 2017 - 07:04 CET.
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