Main -> Photography -> Classic Cameras -> Russian -> FED-2 [sitemap]

Created 9 September 2005 ... Updated 15 October 2005

FED-2 When the people in the West were still playing with box- and folder cameras the Russians (well, actually Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, hence the name FED) had a better idea: simply buy a Leica rangefinder, improve the technical design slightly and produce so many of those improved "Leicas" that everyone can afford to buy this camera. That's what the FED Factories must have thought. With the pre-war Leicas you had to have a lot of patience (small fingers also help), scissors at hand to cut the film leader and a lot of patience to fiddle in the film through the bottom of the camera. With the FED you only have to remove the entire back/bottom part - be careful not to drop the take up spool - put the film in, close it all up again and you are ready to take pictures.

With production quantities of literally millions, the FED could indeed be produced very cheaply. Maybe not up to Leica standards but a range finder that everyone could affort and with an adjustable rangefinder eye-piece. No need to put your glasses up to the little window to look through as with the Leica series (until the 1980s Leica did not have this idea). Of course this also means that the cameras are also inexpensive now and the West has been made happy with many second-, third-, or fourth- hand cameras from the early 1990. The original colours were just... well, camera colors so after a while the market got slower and sellers started to buy cameras, take them apart to clean them up, give them a new colour and then sell them. Thus started an active community of Leica-copy collectors. Sometimes these copies sell for nearly as much as an original pre-war Leica and to be honest, they sometimes are real works of art.

I've bought my camera from a Ukrainian dealer who also has a shop in Vienna. A very nice guy who always has many directly imported cameras in stock and for a fair price. I've chosen a blue FED-2 which looks brand new.

hints 'n' tips
  • Before you set the shutter speed make sure to wind the film first. Winding the film also cocks the shutter, when you change the shutter speed before cocking, the camera might brake (worst case) or might have incorrect shutter settings for the next few frames (best case).

  • There has been some discussion about wether or not to wind to the next frame, and thus cocking the shutter, after having taken a picture (and not planning on a next picture anytime soon). With other cameras I usually already wind to the next frame in order not to make any double exposures but of course in case of a FED, this means cocking the shutter, putting tension on the mechanical system and also incidently pressing the shutter and wasting a frame. So with this camera I usually do not wind on the next frame.

  • When you buy a FED camera, or any camera with a cloth shutter curtain, make sure the cloth and the rubber are still perfectly in order. Remember these cameras are now over 50 years old.

  • These cameras do not work very straight forward, or at least that's my experience. It's best to download or buy a manual. Make sure you get a non-Russian version :o)
    See the below for a link to some manuals.

  • Before you can rewind the film make sure to set the ring around the shutter button on the right position. Failure to do so may result in torn film sprockets or breaking the winding/counter mechanism. Always handle a camera slowly, thoughtfully and carefully.

  • The film setting information on the winding knob is only for your own convenience. Not having a built-in light meter, there is no other use. So no need to worry about recalculating the GOST value to ISO (with 0.9 GOST being 1 ISO, i.e. 90 GOST being 100 ISO), so much for the sunny-16 rule...

  • General consensus is that the Industar 50/2.8 is the better lens but in my eyes the FED 50/3.5 collapsable is the better looking one. So it's up to you: do you want to go for the looks or for the quality?

FED-2 Type II

Type  :  Rangefinder
Manufactured  :  Fed-2 Type 1 - 1955-1956, Fed-2 Type 2 - 1956-1957
some resources say these were produced from 1955 up to 1970
Lens  :  Leica Mount, Industar 26M 2,8/52
Shutter  :  B, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500
Winding  :  wheel
Cable release  :  standard connector
Film Type  :  135
Negative Size  :  24 x 36 mm
Material  :  appears to be cast aluminium, but it's definitely some kind metal

links FED web links
links Matt Denton
links Description, Tips, Tricks and Links for the FED-2.

links PhotoEthnography
links FED3 overview and Tips.

links Rick Oleson
links Disassembly chart and repairing Tips.

links Mark Tharp
links FED and Zorki Rangefinder Manuals.

links CameraMate Vienna
links Where you can buy good quality, working cameras.

All photos copyright of M. Koning 1997 - 2005

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